The Ultimate Guide to Kauai’s Diverse Regions

Should you visit the North Shore or the West Side? Kauai is small enough that you don’t have to choose. Many guests use Hanalei Bay Resort as their home base for exploring Kauai’s diverse regions. We love the North Shore, but there’s something enchanting about the South Shore and the Coconut Coast.

West Side

Kauai’s West Side is more wild and rugged, making it ideal for those looking for outdoor adventure. Home to the famous Waimea Canyon, this is one side of the island you’ll definitely want to experience.

  • Hubs: Waimea Town, Hanapepe Town
  • Accessibility: About 35 minutes from Lihue Airport
  • Beaches: Mana, Polihale State Park
  • Attractions: Waimea Canyon, Captain Cooks Landing
  • Weather: Averages 35 inches of rain per year

The view from a path in Waimea Canyon

East Side

Also known as the Royal Coconut Coast, this region just north of Lihue is full of coconut palms and people, with about one quarter of the island’s population living nearby.

  • Hubs: Wailua, Kapaa
  • Accessibility: About 20 minutes from Lihue Airport
  • Beaches: Lydgate Beach Park, Anahola Beach Park
  • Attractions: Opaekaa Falls, Wailua River, Fern Grotto
  • Weather: Averages 48 inches of rain per year


The commercial center of Kauai is home to the island’s airport and main harbor. It’s also known for its cultural and historic attractions.

  • Accessibility: Home to Kauai’s airport
  • Beaches: Kalapaki Beach, Ninini Beach
  • Attractions: Alekoko Fishpoind, Kilohana Estate, Wailua Falls
  • Weather: Averages 48 inches of rain per year

South Shore

The sunny South Shore is brimming with attractions. It also boasts some of the best dining and nightlife on the island!

  • Hubs: Poipu, Old Koloa Town
  • Accessibility: About 30 minutes from Lihue Airport
  • Beaches: Poipu Beach Park, Shipwreck Beach
  • Attractions: Spouting Horn, Koloa Heritage Trail
  • Weather: Averages about 35 inches of rain per year

Hanalei Bay Pier at Sunset

North Shore

The North Shore has a more remote feel with plunging cliffs and taro plantations stretching into the distance. Take your pick of the gorgeous, uncrowded beaches.

  • Hubs: Princeville, Hanalei Town
  • Accessibility: About 50 minutes from Lihue Airport
  • Beaches: So many to choose from! Tunnels and Hanalei Pier are favorites
  • Attractions: Napali Coast, Kilauea Point Lighthouse
  • Weather: Averages about 85 inches of rain per year

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