Where to stay on Kauai North Shore: HomeAway vacation rental pick

We recently spent 10 days exploring as many off-the-beaten-path locations on Kauai we could. Our home base: this North Shore Kauai vacation rental. Located in the resort community of Princeville just a few blocks from the ocean, the home was perfect for our extended, multigenerational family of 11. If you’re wondering where to stay on Kauai North Shore with your family, read on!


When we booked this home through HomeAway, we were given maps and detailed information about where the house is located. We worried the neighborhood would feel to ‘suburban’, or, as one of my kids put it, ‘like it could be anywhere’. I understood what he meant: would our vacation rental and its neighborhood look just like our street at home?


The short answer: no, it did not. With plenty of grass for the kids to play on, beautifully landscaped around lush gardens, our vacation home felt like a tropical bungalow tucked into the jungle. I could meditate in the garden, even while the boys played football around the side of the house. We could sit out on our spacious lanai and watch the sun go down over the breathtaking mountains. And we could even see a waterfall from our upstairs bedroom window. ‘A regular suburban neighborhood’, it was not.


The house’s greatest asset aside from the lovely grounds is the spacious kitchen and pretty lanai with ample outdoor living space. Families can find a BBQ in the back, and just as important after days of swimming, a spacious laundry room off the garage. Several boogie boards, a surf board, some snorkeling gear, and other beach equipment (including a cooler) save families money on rentals.


A large master bedroom is located upstairs, with three more bedrooms downstairs (one of which has bunk beds). The house has three bathrooms, but only one shower and one bath. This was a problem for us, no doubt about it: one shower for 11 people needing to rinse off after a beach day? It got ugly! However, we knew this would be the case from the get-go: HomeAway clearly describes all layouts and house configurations, and several reviews brought it to our attention as well. Vacation rental tip: always read the reviews from past guests!

We had wifi, parking for two cars (or more), and ample space and amenities for enjoying big family meals. We had movie nights and Mai Tai nights (virgin for the kids, of course), and game nights. We didn’t have a pool, and frankly, we didn’t miss it. With so much swimming in the ocean every day, we were ready for some fun out of the water by evening.


Nearby amenities and activities:

If you opt for a Princeville North Shore rental, you’ll be within walking distance of at least one beach (at the base of the St. Regis), Queen Emma’s Baths, and Hideaway Beach. You’re also close to golf. You have the Princeville shopping complex just outside the Princeville planned community (about 5-10 minutes away). There you’ll find a thorough (yet expensive) grocery store, the best shave ice on Kauai, Kauai Shave Ice (best, in our opinion, due to the natural, non-GMO flavors used), several restaurants, and the North Shore General Store, which is both a convenience store and a great take-out location, with pizzas, plate lunches, and sandwiches.


Just about 10 minutes away is the town of Hanalei, which is adorable, right on the shores of Hanalai Bay, and offers everything you need in terms of activity rentals, restaurants, and surf. The start of the Na Poli Coast is just a bit further, and you’re 45 minutes from Lihoe and only 30 from Smith’s Luau and other West Shore gems. We found Princeville to be a great home base, and we certainly didn’t mind doing some driving…there’s so much to see on Kauai!

Pros of a Kauai vacation home rental:

Space and price are the top reasons we love renting vacation homes from HomeAway. Our rental came out to under $300 per night, for a family of 11. No where on Kauai could we find three hotel rooms for the same combined price. We always save additional money by buying and cooking our own meals. If this sounds good, here are other indicators a vacation rental home is for you: 1. you want space for the kids to play, 2. you want to be able to do your laundry easily, 3. you want to be able to separate kids and parents so Mom and Dad don’t need to go to bed at 8 pm.


Cons of a Kauai vacation home rental:

Renting a house for your Hawaii vacation may not be for you if guest services and hotel pampering are a big part of your vacation experience. This is true everywhere, not just on the Hawaiian islands. When you rent a home, some of the nitty gritty details you may not want to think about on vacation fall to you: do we have enough toilet paper? Should we run to the market for trash bags? Where do we take the recycling? Is the fridge leaking? If you’d much rather not think about such things (and are willing to pay more for that privilege), opt for a hotel or resort stay instead.

Want a preview of some of the nearby activities on Kauai? Check out our video:

Other reasons you may not want a rental home:

  1. if you don’t want to drive often in your car to reach amenities such as tennis courts, golf courses, and beaches
  2. if you don’t wish to stay in a neighborhood or town (preferring a resort atmosphere)
  3. if you don’t want to shop for food and cook your own meals

Have you rented a vacation home on Kauai? Where?