Kauai, known locally as the Garden Island, is one of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii that is still relatively unspoiled by tourism. With over 60 beaches to explore, some with great snorkeling and water-sport opportunities, you will never be short of something to do on Kauai. The island is very picturesque and is a haven for nature lovers, with magnificent views from the mountains and pretty waterfalls to marvel at.
Whilst towns such as Kapaa and Lihue pull in a younger, sporty crowd, there are child-friendly places to stay, with Koloa being the pick of the bunch, if you have cash to flash. Due to Kauai’s remote location and laid-back atmosphere, couples will also enjoy staying in Poipu, where they can lose track of time enjoying the town’s delights, and each other. The island attracts hikers wanting to explore the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali coastline. Kayak and explore the waterways of Wailua which has Hawaii’s only navigable river.
While the uplands of Waimea are home to rolling cattle ranches and the little-known paniolos – Hawaiian cowboys. So as you can see, Kauai is much more than just another surfer’s island. If you want a completely relaxing holiday on Kauai, Princeville is the place to stay, with a happy split of laid-back beach activities and the chance to explore old-world Kauai at attractions such as the Botanical Gardens.
Best town to stay in Kauai to explore the North Shore
The region of Princeville has a royal name and has a rich landscape to match. Originally built for Prince Albert Kamehameha, the resort offers a high class service to all of its tourists. Luxurious hotels and fine restaurants line the streets of Princeville and there are dozens of spas and massage centres, where you can relax and let somebody else do all the work in helping you to relax. Holiday homes and villas are popular in Princeville, for those wanting a long term stay on the island and there are serviced apartments for those who want the best of both worlds.
The views to be taken on in Princeville are spectacular, particularly over Hanalei Bay and down near The Queen’s Bath, a natural tidal pool surrounded by igneous rock. Hideaways Beach is great for snorkelling, with the chance to see sea turtles as well as a wide variety of fish and shellfish.
The resort is also home to two championship golf courses offering challenging holes and fantastic ocean views. Everything that you will need for your holiday can be found on foot but if you do want to head further afield, it is safe to hire a car and explore the rest of the island.
Nestled in a tropical setting with panoramic views of Hanalei Bay and the Na Pali Coast, Hanalei Bay Resort provides a tranquil and serene retreat. The resort offers spacious condominium-style accommodations with kitchenettes or full kitchens, multiple swimming pools, tennis courts, and a complimentary shuttle to Hanalei Bay.
Guests can relax in the peaceful ambiance, enjoy outdoor activities, and access nearby beaches and attractions.
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
Located on a scenic bluff in Princeville, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas offers spacious and well-appointed villa-style accommodations. The resort features one- and two-bedroom villas with kitchenettes or full kitchens, multiple swimming pools, a fitness center, and outdoor barbecue areas.
Guests can enjoy the comforts of home, experience the natural beauty of Kauai's North Shore, and access nearby beaches and golf courses.
Club Wyndham Shearwater
Nestled in a tropical paradise with breathtaking views of the ocean, offers a serene and idyllic retreat. Situated in a prime location, guests are treated to panoramic vistas of Hanalei Bay and the majestic Na Pali Coast.
The resort provides spacious and well-appointed condominium-style accommodations, complete with convenient kitchenettes or full kitchens. Multiple swimming pools beckon guests to unwind and soak up the Hawaiian sun, while tennis courts provide opportunities for friendly matches.
Best town to stay in Kauai for families
Kapaa is a small town at the base of Nounou Mountain, on the eastern side of the island. Although small, Kapaa is the largest town by population and is packed full of hotels, shops, restaurants and businesses. The popular Kinipopo Shopping Village is popular with both locals and holiday makers, as it is conveniently near to the main hotels and tourist attractions.
Like many resorts on the island, Kapaa is a popular surfing and water-sports hotspot but the area is also popular with lovers of land sports too. Cycling and hiking are popular activities on the island, with trails like the Kauai Path and Ke Ala Hele Makalae East Shore Beach Path proving popular with those wanting to keep fit whilst they are on holiday. Swimming and windsurfing is a staple of island life on Kauai, particularly in winter time when expert surfers can catch the best breaks. It is not all about keeping fit, though, a walk along the paths lead to stunning views of the picturesque coastline and beautiful beaches. The hotels in Kapaa are not as fancy as in some other parts of the island but they do cater for all budgets, so you can enjoy luxury as well as hostel standard guesthouses. As there is plenty going on in the centre of town, those who enjoy getting out and about on their holiday, rather than sitting on a beach all day, will enjoy Kapaa.
Located on the Coconut Coast in Kapaa, Kauai Shores Hotel offers a relaxed and colorful beachfront experience. The hotel features modern rooms with vibrant decor, two swimming pools, a restaurant, a poolside bar, and direct access to the beach.
Guests can enjoy the laid-back atmosphere, soak up the sun on the beach, and explore the nearby shops and restaurants in Kapaa.
Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort
Situated on the Coconut Coast, the Courtyard by Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach provides comfortable accommodations with tropical surroundings. The hotel features spacious rooms, a swimming pool with a whirlpool, a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar.
Guests can relax in a peaceful environment, enjoy water activities at the beach, and easily access Kapaa's dining and shopping options.
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay
Located in Wailua Bay, just a short drive from Kapaa, the Hilton Garden Inn offers comfortable accommodations in a scenic setting. The hotel features spacious rooms with private balconies, a swimming pool, a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, and a bar.
Guests can unwind by the pool, explore the nearby Wailua River and Fern Grotto, and take advantage of the hotel's convenient location for accessing Kapaa and other attractions on the island.
Best town to stay in Kauai to explore the island
Lihue is Kauai's capital city and is home to the island’s airport, so it acts as the gateway for the rest of the island. Kauai has a great bus service that runs across the whole of the island, meaning you get about and explore no matter where you choose as a base. Despite the rapid development of the town it has not lost any of its old charm and its beaches are relatively unspoilt.
You will see crowds on the beach at weekends, as locals like to hang out and relax in the sunshine, and why wouldn’t they? Nevertheless, even on a slightly crowded beach you will be able to lie back and forget about the stresses back home.
Kalapaki Beach is a great spot for swimming, with warm waters that do not experience as much wind as some of the other beaches on Kauai. Local food is a particular highlight in Lihue, with many small street food outlets dotted about town selling traditional Hawaiian cuisine and more upmarket restaurants, cafés and juice bars catering for the international crowds.
Situated on Kalapaki Beach, the Marriott's Kaua'i Beach Club offers a luxurious and scenic stay in Lihue. The resort features spacious rooms and suites with private balconies, a swimming pool with a waterslide, a fitness center, multiple dining options, and a full-service spa.
Guests can enjoy the beautiful beachfront location, take part in water activities, and explore nearby attractions such as the Menehune Fishpond and the Grove Farm Homestead.
Kauai Beach Resort
Located on the eastern coast of Kauai, the Kauai Beach Resort provides a tropical and relaxing getaway. The resort offers comfortable rooms with private lanais, four swimming pools with waterfalls and waterslides, a fitness center, multiple dining options, and a spa.
Guests can unwind by the pools, stroll along the beach, and explore Lihue's shopping and dining scene.
Banyan Harbor Resort
Situated near Kalapaki Beach and Nawiliwili Harbor, Banyan Harbor Resort offers spacious condominium-style accommodations in a convenient location. The resort features one- and two-bedroom units with full kitchens, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and barbecue areas.
Guests can enjoy the comforts of a home-away-from-home, explore nearby beaches and attractions, and take advantage of the resort's central location for exploring other parts of the island.
Best town to stay in Kauai for honeymoon
Koloa is a quiet, romantic spot where couples can enjoy long lazy days at the beach before taking full advantage of the amazing sunsets over dinner. The beaches of Koloa are postcard pretty and tend not to get too overcrowded, making it an ideal spot to relax and unwind. Being Hawaii, there will always be thrill seekers searching for the perfect surf but Koloa never gets too rowdy.
There are a few bars and clubs dotted about but the overall pace of Koloa is more much slower paced than other parts of the island. Hotels in the area cater for those wanting to splash out and are mostly 4 and 5 star, with fine dining restaurants and luxury spas attached.
There are also family friendly hotels that welcome children and put on a range of activities and have purpose built pools to keep the little ones fully entertained. Do not let children put you off, if you are looking for peace and quiet, as there are plenty of hotels to choose from, with some advertising as adult only.
Situated on Poipu Beach, the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa offers a luxurious and expansive retreat. The resort features spacious rooms and suites with private lanais, a multi-level swimming pool with waterfalls and a lazy river, a championship golf course, multiple dining options, and a full-service spa.
Guests can indulge in the resort's world-class amenities, relax on the beach, and explore nearby attractions such as the Spouting Horn Park and the Allerton Garden.
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu
Located near Poipu Beach, Koloa Landing Resort offers upscale accommodations and a serene ambiance. The resort features luxurious villas and studios with full kitchens or kitchenettes, multiple swimming pools, a fitness center, a spa, and on-site dining options.
Guests can enjoy the privacy and comfort of their villa, take a dip in the pools, and explore the beautiful beaches and hiking trails in the area.
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Situated on Poipu Beach, the Sheraton Kauai Resort offers a beachfront escape with stunning ocean views. The resort features comfortable rooms with private lanais, a swimming pool with a lava-rock waterfall, multiple dining options, and a fitness center.
Guests can relax on the beach, participate in water activities, and explore nearby attractions like the National Tropical Botanical Garden and the Kiahuna Golf Club.
Best town to stay in Kauai for hiking and horse riding
Hawaii is all beaches and surfers, right? Wrong. Waimea located in the northern upland’s of Kauai island is unlike anywhere else in Hawaii. With rolling green pastures and picturesque cattle ranches, this is Paniolo country, also known as Hawaiin cowboys. Expect scenes of rugged hat-wearing men on horseback rounding up cattle and you won’t be disappointed.
Waimea isn’t just cowboy action, the area is also a cultural centre and home to the 490-seat Kahilu Theatre, one of Hawaii’s most important performance spaces, offering frequent shows from the archipelago's most renowned musicians, dancers and performers. In addition, there is superb hiking to be found, and world-class stargazing opportunities. The Kohala coast – with the impressive cliffs of Waipi’o valley and Pololu – is just a short drive away, making Waimea something of a hidden gem. In terms of accommodation, Waimea doesn’t offer the wide range of high end accommodation found in the coastal areas of Kauai, there isn’t much of a luxury scene here and you certainly won’t find any golf courses, but there are some of the island’s most charming B&Bs.
Located on the western coast of Kauai, Waimea Plantation Cottages offers a unique and historical experience. The cottages feature rustic charm with modern amenities and are scattered throughout a coconut grove, offering a peaceful and authentic Hawaiian atmosphere.
Guests can enjoy access to the beach, relax in the outdoor pool, and explore the surrounding historic town of Waimea.
West Inn Kauai
Situated in the heart of Waimea town, West Inn Kauai provides comfortable accommodations with a convenient location. The inn features clean and spacious rooms, a shared kitchen, and a cozy courtyard area.
Guests can easily access nearby restaurants, shops, and Waimea Canyon, known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," which offers stunning hiking trails and scenic viewpoints.