The 7 Best Kauai Hotels of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall: See Whalers Cove Oceanfront Resort Rates at TripAdvisor "Receives near-perfect TripAdvisor reviews for its friendly staff and high-quality accommodation."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: See Hanalei Bay Resort Rates at TripAdvisor "The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning scenery, with 22 acres of tropical gardens overlooking the mountain-fringed bay."

Best Budget: See Garden Island Inn Hotel Rates at TripAdvisor "A five-minute drive from Lihue Airport on the island’s east coast."

Best Luxury: See The Lodge at Kukui’ula Rates at TripAdvisor "Each villa has its own private pool and guest cottage, spa bathrooms with outdoor showers, a full kitchen and more."

Best for Families: See Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Rates at TripAdvisor "Kids will love exploring its tropical gardens and abundant pools."

Best for Romance: See Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort Rates at TripAdvisor "The lava rock hot tub is a particularly romantic place to while away your time in paradise."

Best Guesthouse: See Hanalei Surfboard House Rates at TripAdvisor "If you prefer intimate guesthouses to sprawling resorts, you’ll love Hanalei Surfboard House."

01 of 07

Best Overall: Whalers Cove Oceanfront Resort

Whalers Cove Oceanfront Resort

Courtesy of TripAdvisor 

Situated in friendly Poipu on Kauai’s southern shore, Whalers Cove Oceanfront Resort receives near-perfect TripAdvisor reviews for its friendly staff and high-quality accommodation. The location is also ideal, putting you close to several picturesque beaches, three golf courses and the island boutiques and restaurants of Kukui’ula Village Shopping Center. Each of the resort’s one, two and three-bedroom condos are uniquely decorated, with full or partial ocean views. A kitchen gives you the freedom of self-catering, while separate living and sleeping areas provide unlimited space.

The luxury Alii and Kaikala penthouse apartments also have their own private lanais. A daily resort fee entitles you to free parking, free high-speed internet, a grocery shopping service and all the equipment you need to have fun on the beach.

Grab a mask and snorkel and go for a swim in the sea; or pack a cooler box and lay down a towel for a spot of sunbathing. The resort also has a swimming pool and hot tub, and barbecue grills for dining al fresco. Although there’s no restaurant on-site, there are several excellent options within easy walking distance.

02 of 07

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Hanalei Bay Resort

Hanalei Bay Resort

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

For vacation rentals on the North Shore, pick Hanalei Bay Resort near Princeville. The first thing you’ll notice is the stunning scenery, with 22 acres of tropical gardens overlooking the mountain-fringed bay. One and two-bedroom condos come with a separate living room, a full kitchen, and a private lanai. Air-conditioning provides respite from the summer heat, while a dishwasher ensures that you won’t get stuck doing the washing up on vacation.

The beach is a five-minute walk away. You can borrow kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, snorkeling gear and more from the resort’s Activity Hut.

When you’re not on the beach, unwind by the free-form lagoon pool (complete with its own grotto spa) or benefit from pro coaching at the tennis center. The resort also hosts regular activities, from sunrise yoga to lei-making and hula lessons.

During the day, the poolside Ukelele Bar is a relaxed spot for live music and cocktails. Later, head to Happy Talk Bar & Lounge for pizza and pupu platters before mingling with your fellow guests around the romantic fire pit. All facilities are connected by a convenient resort shuttle service.

03 of 07

Best Budget: Garden Island Inn Hotel

Garden Island Inn Hotel

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Garden Island Inn Hotel is a family-owned and operated boutique with rave reviews for its welcoming atmosphere and excellent value. It’s located a five-minute drive from Lihue Airport on the island’s east coast. All 21 rooms and suites feature bright tropical decor, a Smart TV and free Wi-Fi; while a kitchenette with a mini-fridge and microwave means you can save money by self-catering. Your rate also includes a delicious complimentary breakfast featuring freshly ground coffee, pastries and tropical fruit picked from the hotel gardens.

Best of all (and unusually on Kauai) there’s no resort fee. That means you can use the hotel’s beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear, and coolers for free. Alternatively, spend your days relaxing amidst koi ponds and waterfalls in the landscaped gardens. With ample free parking, the hotel is the perfect choice for those with a rental car. However, there’s also much to explore on foot, including nearby Kalapaki cove with its sandy beach and laid-back cafés. The friendly staff can recommend budget-friendly activities and tours in the local area.

04 of 07

Best Luxury: The Lodge at Kukui’ula

The Lodge at Kukui’ula

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

For those with an unlimited budget, The Lodge at Kukui’ula is an ultra-luxurious option located in southern Kauai near Poipu. Its authentic plantation-style vacation rentals are arranged in three distinct neighborhoods amidst magnificently landscaped grounds, and offer one to four bedrooms. Four-bedroom Club Villas are the most opulent option. Each one has its own private pool and guest cottage, spa bathrooms with outdoor showers, a full kitchen, and an atmospheric al fresco dining area. All accommodations include exclusive access to The Club at Kukui’ula.

Discover an infinity pool and beach entry saline pools, tennis courts, and an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course. With Huaka’i Outfitters, you can make the most of your idyllic surroundings by signing up for surfing lessons, guided hikes or snorkeling and fishing excursions on the resort’s private boat. After a full day of adventures, Hi’ilani Spa tempts with an impressive range of massages and treatments. There are two restaurants to choose from, both of which serve hyper-local cuisine crafted with ingredients from the resort’s own organic farm. At ‘Umeke Kitchen + Bar, the food is complemented by expert sommelier wine pairings. 

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Best for Families: Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa enjoys a blissful location on a white sand beach in Poipu. Kids will love exploring its tropical gardens and abundant pools (including a lava rock river pool and a water slide). Sign them up for Camp Hyatt and be prepared for tall tales of hula lessons, arts and crafts, outdoor games and water fun when you pick them up later in the day. While they’re busy having the time of their lives, you’re free to relax at Anara Spa (the largest on Kauai) or tee off on the adjacent Poipu Bay Golf Course.

All rooms and suites come with a private lanai, a 65-inch TV and a small fridge (handy for storing kids’ snacks and baby bottles). Book a suite for the extra space afforded by a separate bedroom and a living room with a dining table for four.

There are five restaurants to choose from at Grand Hyatt Kauai. Families will feel at home at poolside surf shack Hale Nalu, while Seaview Terrace features a For Kids, By Kids menu and exciting live entertainment. Don’t miss the resort’s traditional Polynesian luau, held twice weekly. 

06 of 07

Best for Romance: Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

Couples planning a romantic Kauai getaway will love Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort’s idyllic location in between Poipu Beach and Kiahuna Beach. Spend memorable days snorkeling, surfing or stand-up paddling with on-site Hoku Watersports; or opt for uninterrupted relaxation by the saltwater pool.

With its panoramic ocean views, outdoor bar and lava rock hot tub, the latter is a particularly romantic place to while away your time in paradise. At The Spa, a dedicated couples suite creates a private setting for side-by-side massages – including the Hawaiian Honeymoon Ritual for Two.

Evenings are for sundowners by the oceanside fire pits, where oversized Adirondack chairs await. Red Salt Restaurant is known for its award-winning farm-to-table cuisine, which showcases fresh island produce and locally caught seafood.

Occasionally, the romantic seaview restaurant also hosts a pop-up sushi bar. Each of the 121 rooms and suites at Ko’a Kea boasts a private balcony or patio for quiet moments with your loved one. Perhaps the most romantic are the Oceanfront Suites, which spoil with spectacular ocean vistas and a marble bathroom complete with a deep soaking tub for two. 

Looking for more options? Check out our guide to the best Hawaii honeymoon resorts.

07 of 07

Best Guesthouse: Hanalei Surfboard House

Hanalei Surfboard House

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

If you prefer intimate guesthouses to sprawling resorts, you’ll love Hanalei Surfboard House. Located steps from breathtakingly beautiful Hanalei Bay, this North Shore property is lined by a row of vintage surfboards. Its beautiful garden is a wonderland of fountains, flowering orchids, and antique lawn memorabilia; and each of its three self-contained suites are uniquely decorated in retro Americana style. Choose the Elvis Suite, the Cowgirl Suite or the Love Shack and benefit from luxury touches such as a California king bed and Egyptian cotton sheets. There’s an outdoor shower and hammock in the garden and a kitchenette inside.

Ask the owner for directions to the nearby farmer’s market, then cook your purchases on the suite’s gas barbecue. If you don’t feel like cooking, the restaurants and bars of Hanalei town are a short walk away. Spend your days checking out the area’s world-class surf, or soaking up the sun on the beach.

Umbrellas, straw mats, and boogie boards are all provided for your use. In need of a little R&R? In-room massages with a licensed therapist can be arranged. Hanalei Surfboard House is adults-only. 

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