We visited Kauai for six nights in February of 2022. For the first three nights, we stayed on the island’s south shore at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. While that property quickly became one of our favorite hotels that we’d ever stayed at, we had to say farewell after three nights as we had plans to visit the north side of Kauai for the rest of our visit. Thanks to everyone who suggested we split up our trip.
The drive from one side of Kauai to the other isn’t far but it can take a while because most of the drive is along two-lane roads (there are no highways anywhere on Kauai.) Unlike Kauai’s south and east sides, there aren’t many large hotels on the northern side. The ultra-lux 1Hotel Hanalei Bay (previously the Princeville Resort) is set to re-open this October after multiple delays and the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort is part of the Westin Vacation Club (bookable with Marriott Bonvoy points if you can find availability).
Instead of staying at a hotel, we looked for an Airbnb or equivalent vacation rental. There are plenty of rental properties in and around Princeville. Most of them are vacation homes rented out by the owners, often managed through third-party operators. We found several nice places, but none seemed a good fit. Eventually, we found a guest apartment attached to a home in the area and liked the idea of staying on a quiet residential street. A major plus was that we were within walking distance to the local shopping plaza which included several restaurants (including this great Tiki bar) and the only supermarket within a 30-minute drive.
The entry to our unit was through a gate on the side of the house.
An outdoor grill and a view of the disc-golf course were past the seating area.
Entering the unit (the owners request taking off your shoes), you enter the kitchen area. While not a full kitchen to cook large meals, a hotplate and microwave were good enough to make breakfast or a simple dinner. There is a full-size washer and dryer (which you share with the owners) through that yellow door in the 2nd picture.
There’s an air conditioner in the window to keep this area cool during the day but we didn’t need to use it.
Through a door and up a step was the living area. There’s a king-size bed, two chairs at a small desk and a couch by the window. The unit does have Wi-Fi but it’s turned off overnight unless you ask for it to remain on.
There was a large TV on the wall but we didn’t watch it as we rarely turn on a TV when we’re traveling. The ceiling fan did a good job at cooling down the room but wasn’t enough during the day. Behind the bed was a huge walk-in closet which was great for storing luggage.
It took a while but I found the controller for the AC unit that was by the ceiling. Once we turned that on, the room was much more comfortable. The bathroom is through the door next to the TV.
The bathroom featured a large walk-in shower.
We also appreciated the dual sinks.
As a total aside, of the three upscale hotels we stayed at during our trip to Hawaii, this Airbnb had the best towels anywhere. It made me ask why hotels, even the nice ones, have such cheap, terrible towels? (Note from Sharon: Because people would steal even more of them. Here’s what people steal most often from hotels & the nationalities of who steals what).
Based on the reviews in the guest book, one of the best things about this Airbnb is that the owners provide paddle boards, mountain bicycles, disc golf and golf clubs with the rental (FWIW, the owners wrote and asked if we were planning on using the paddle boards for one day of our stay and if we weren’t, they could use them for visiting friends.)
In my mind, renting an Airbnb is still a risk. No matter how much research you do, you never really know what you’ll get until you arrive. For every place which exceeds expectations, you’re just as likely to find a dud.
This rental was definitely a success and it delivered exactly what it promised. The location was great and we loved being just off the main road which made it easy to drive to nearby Hanalei. Sure, we weren’t right by the water, but we had just spent 3 days at the Hyatt with the ocean right outside our balcony, and would be leaving for Ko Olina on Oahu – we had seen and would still see a lot of water.
While we didn’t take advantage of any of the activities in the guidebook left by the owners, I could see that if you’re into hiking, snorkeling, biking or paddle boarding, this rental would be perfect. We also didn’t cook while we were there but the full-size fridge did a good job keeping our sodas, waters and Lydgate Farms chocolate cold.
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