A Tropical Travel Blog
by Cate Lincoln

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If you’re planning a vacation to Kauai then you’re one lucky dog! It’s one of my favorite Hawaiian islands and probably the prettiest one at that. If you’re very far into the planning process, you’ve probably realized that picking the right place to stay is likely the trickiest (and most important) things you’ll have to do. Figuring out where to stay on Kauai can be overwhelming because there are soooo many options. Not to worry! I’m going to break it down for you, give you an overview of the island.

Here’s everything you need to know about where to stay in Kauai:

Where to Stay on Kauai

Kauai is divided into four major sections (North Shore, East Shore, South Shore, and West Shore). Each section has its pros and cons and own individual personality. Depending on what you’re looking for and what’s most important to you (budget, convenience, stellar views, beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, etc.) one area of the island may be more desirable. Here’s a breakdown of Kauai’s four main areas:

North Shore of Kauai

In my opinion, the north shore of Kauai (Princeville & Hanalei) is the most gorgeous place on the planet. It has beautiful beaches and the lush green mountainous landscapes that most people’s Hawaiian dreams are made of. As you might guess, it’s so lush because it rains more here than other parts of the island (especially in the winter). The north shore is home to the charming little surf town of Hanalei and some pretty spectacular luxury accommodations. While it’s stunningly gorgeous, it’s also a bit remote if you’re planning on exploring sites on the south and west sides of the island.

Where to stay in Kauai

 

 

Stay on the north shore if…

  • You want beautiful beaches with gorgeous backdrops.
  • You want luxury accommodations.
  • You’re a golfer.

Best Hotels in Kauai (North Shore):

Where to Stay in Kauai

Princeville Resort: If you’re honeymooning on Kauai during the summer months (roughly April to October) there’s no place better than the Princeville Resort. It’s located on Kauai’s stunning north shore which is without a doubt the prettiest part of the island (although it rains a LOT in the winter months). The pool here boasts the BEST view of any resort in Hawaii hands down, and the luxe vibe is perfect for a honeymoon. Pricing starts at $405/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Hanalei Colony Resort: If you really want to get away from it all, this beachfront hideaway on Kauai’s lush north shore is the place to do it. You won’t find televisions or phones here but you will find plenty of natural beauty. Click here to check rates and availability during your stay.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Hanalei Bay Resort: This fabulous resort tucked away on Kauai’s secluded north shore, has a fabulous pool area, gorgeous beach, and even tennis facilities. It’s also a popular spot for destination weddings. Click here to check rates and availability during your stay.

East Side of Kauai

The east shore (Lihue, Kapaa, Wailua) is often referred to as the “coconut coast” and is the most developed part of the island. This is where you’ll find the most reasonably priced accommodations and it central location makes it a convenient location from which to explore the north and south shores. There are of course lovely beaches on the coconut coast (hello, this is Hawaii!) but you won’t find any awe inspiring backdrops as you will on the north shore and the amenities are usually not as convenient as those on the south shore. You’ll find more “local” beaches on the east side.

Stay on the east shore if…

  • Budget is the deciding factor.
  • You want a convenient home base from which to explore the island.

Best Hotels in Kauai (Lihue Side):

Where to Stay in Kauai

Kauai Marriott Resort: I think the Kauai Marriott Resort is the best “bang for your buck” beach resort on the island. It has one of the largest pools in Hawaii, a golf course nearby, and a full service spa. Starting at $215/night, the Kauai Marriott Resort is definitely a bargain. Click here to check rates and availability during your stay.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Kauai Shores: I stayed at Kauai Shores on my last trip to Kauai and I LOVED it! It’s easy on the budget but the rooms and common spaces are bright and airy, the onsite restaurant is amazing, and it’s right on the beach! It’s location on the east side of the island makes it perfectly situated for exploring both the north and the south shores. Pricing starts at $109/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach: Located right on the beach on the east side of Kauai, the Courtyard Kauai is a good option for families who need more space to spread out. There are a variety of suites available. The pool area and grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained and there’s a game room for families to enjoy together. Pricing starts at $230/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

South Shore of Kauai

Kauai’s south side (Poipu) is the driest and sunniest part of the island, which makes it very popular with tourists. There are plenty of big resorts so you’ll find plenty of shopping and dining options. You’ll also find a nice selection of beaches but expect them to be more crowded than beaches on other parts of the island. The south side is a convenient place from which to explore the west side (Waimea Canyon and Polihole beach) but not so convenient for seeing north shore sites.

Stay on the south shore if…

  • You want sunny and dry weather.
  • You like a resort feel.
  • You want a lot of dining options.

Best Hotels in Kauai (Poipu):

Where to Stay in Kauai

Grand Hyatt Kauai: The Grand Hyatt Kauai is the flagship place to stay on the south shore and it’s perfect for families or anyone wanting a “big resort” experience. Click here to check rates and availability during your stay.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort: Ko’a Kea is located on Kauai’s best beach (in my opinion) in sunny Poipu. If you’re visiting Kauai during the winter months, this is probably the best place on the island to stay. It’s luxurious and swanky and it’s well situated for day trips to Waimea Canyon and the north shore. You’re also likely to see turtle and Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sun just steps from the resort. Pricing starts at $449/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Where to Stay in Kauai

Sheraton Kauai Resort: Located on what I think is the best beach on Kauai (Poipu beach) where finding turtles or Hawaiian monk seals sunning themselves in the sand is a common sight, you can’t go wrong with staying at the Sheraton. The pool is just steps form the sand and there are cabanas available for rent if you want a break from the sun. The resort also has a daily activity schedule with things like lei making, hula and ukulele lessons, island crafts, and water sport demos. Pricing starts at $230/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

West Side of Kauai

The west side (Waimea) is definitely the least visited part of Kauai (except for visitors to Waimea Canyon) and not very many people stay here. It’s very barren, dry, and isolated, and not convenient to seeing the rest of the island. Really the only people who are going to be staying over here are hikers and backpackers and people wanting to get away from it all.

Stay on the west shore if…

  • You’re planning to do hikes on that part of the island.
  • You want to spend a lot of time at Polihale beach.

RELATED: 15 Things to Do on Kauai

How to See the Napali Coast

Where to Eat on Kauai

Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.

Where to stay in Kauai

 

Best Kauai Resorts for Families

Kauai is probably the most laid back Hawaiian Islands. While there may not be as much “to do” on Kauai there’s no shortage of beaches, hiking, and other outdoor activities that appeal to kids. There also aren’t a ton of beach resorts on Kauai (compared to the other islands) but there are a few truly fabulous family friendly resorts on Kauai. I’ve covered some of these above, but here are 5 of my favorite Kauai resorts for families…

Family Friendly Resorts Kauai

Kauai Marriott Resort: The Kauai Marriott Resort is probably my #1 pick for families visiting Kauai. It’s PACKED with amenities that are perfect for kids. This pace has one of the largest pools in Hawaii and also has a separate kids pool with a waterslide. There is plenty of dining on property and nearby and the resort’s location in Lihue makes it super convenient to the airport but also exploring the north and south sides of the island. Babysitting services are also available. Pricing starts at $300/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Family Friendly Resorts Kauai

Grand Hyatt Kauai: This is my other favorite resort for families on Kauai. It’s pretty swanky, but very family friendly (comparable with the Grand Wailea on Maui). Located in sunny Poipu (south side), the only downside to staying at the Grand Hyatt is that the beach it’s situated on (Shipwreck Beach) isn’t very swimmable. However, the resort grounds and pool complex are so amazing that you likely won’t miss the beach. Besides the amazing pools, the resort has a lovely spa, plenty of dining and shopping, cultural activities (lei making, hula lessons, etc.) and a great kids club. Pricing starts at $450/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Family Friendly Resorts Kauai

Sheraton Kauai Resort: Located on what I think is the best beach on Kauai (Poipu beach) where finding turtles or Hawaiian monk seals sunning themselves in the sand is a common sight, you can’t go wrong with staying at the Sheraton. The pool is just steps form the sand and there are cabanas available for rent if you want a break from the sun. The resort also has a daily activity schedule with things like lei making, hula and ukulele lessons, island crafts, and watersport demos. Pricing starts at $230/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Family Friendly Resorts Kauai

Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach: Located right on the beach on the east side of Kauai, the Courtyard Kauai is a good option for families who need more space to spread out. There are a variety of suites available. The pool area and grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained and there’s a game room for families to enjoy together. Pricing starts at $230/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Family Friendly Resorts Kauai

Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy: The Kauai Coast Resort has the perfect location for exploring Kauai. Not only is there a LOT to do on the east side of Kauai, but the central location is convenient for day trips to the north and south sides. The outdoor pool has been recently remodeled and the resort features many one and two bedroom units for families to spread out in. Pricing starts at $250/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Also, I feel like this list needs a bit of a disclaimer: pretty much anywhere you go in Hawaii is going to be kid friendly. Hawaii is not a stuffy destination. The most posh and expensive hotels on the island (hello, Princeville Resort, Koa Koa, etc.) caters to children quite amazingly and unless you’re at the adults only pool (many resorts have them, you’ll always find kids boogie boarding in the waves, bobbing around in the pool, and having dinner with their families. That being said, this list includes resorts that may appeal to children especially due to their pools or kids clubs, and parents due to their locations and convenience factors.

Best Kauai Honeymoon Resorts

Hawaii is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world and for good reason…it’s tropical, it has all of the amenities and activities you could want, and it’s relatively easy to get to for being on the other side of the world. Kauai is popular with honeymooners because of its laid back vibe and secluded nature.

Here’s my biggest tip for planning the best honeymoon…pick the right time of year to go. Hawaii is an extremely family friendly vacation destination so when kids are out of school, expect even the swankiest resorts to have a pool full of kids. While a lot of places have adults only pools, kids are always around everywhere else you go, so if you’re looking for a quieter time to go, pick spring or fall (or at least avoid the summer and winter holidays). I’m not telling you this to make you think Hawaii isn’t the perfect honeymoon destination (it is), but many people mistakenly believe that by staying at a super expensive beach resort they’ll limit the kids (noise) around, but that’s not necessarily the case. When you go has more to do with it than where you stay.

That being said, here are my 5 favorite Kauai honeymoon resorts…

Kauai honeymoon resorts

Princeville Resort: If you’re honeymooning on Kauai during the summer months (roughly April to October) there’s no place better than the Princeville Resort. It’s located on Kauai’s stunning north shore which is without a doubt the prettiest part of the island (although it rains a LOT in the winter months). The pool here boasts the BEST view of any resort in Hawaii hands down, and the luxe vibe is perfect for a honeymoon. Pricing starts at $405/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Kauai honeymoon resorts

Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort: Ko’a Kea is located on Kauai’s best beach (in my opinion) in sunny Poipu. If you’re visiting Kauai during the winter months, this is probably the best place on the island to stay. It’s luxurious and swanky and it’s well situated for day trips to Waimea Canyon and the north shore. You’re also likely to see turtle and Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sun just steps from the resort. Pricing starts at $449/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Kauai honeymoon resorts

Grand Hyatt Kauai: If lounging by the pool is a big priority for your honeymoon, you’re going to love the Grand Hyatt. The resort grounds are immaculate and sprawling and there are enough pools and grottoes to keep you busy for a week. The beach isn’t great (too rough for swimming), but it’s just down the way from Poipu beach and you’ll find plenty of shopping and dining (don’t miss Tidepools!) nearby as well as a great spa at the resort itself. Pricing starts at $450/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Kauai honeymoon resorts

Kauai Marriott Resort: The Kauai Marriott may be Kauai’s best overall resort period. For the price, the amenities are spot on. The beach is lovely, the pool area is huge, there are plenty of cultural activities, it’s located right near the airport, and it’s a great location for exploring both the south and north shores. Pricing starts at $300/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Kauai honeymoon resorts

Hanalei Bay Resort: If you’re looking for a true hideaway, book a room at the Hanalei Bay Resort. Located on Kauai’s stunning north shore, you probably wouldn’t even know this resort was here if you weren’t looking for it. The grounds are lush and tropical and you’ll be right in the heart of Kauai. Pricing starts at $250/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your stay.

Cheap(er) Kauai Hotels

While most people think Hawaii is super expensive, it’s actually pretty easy to find a budget hotel on Kauai (easier than some of the other islands). Here are 7 of my favorites on the island:

Kauai budget hotels

Kauai Shores: I stayed at Kauai Shores on my last trip to Kauai and I LOVED it! It’s easy on the budget but the rooms and common spaces are bright and airy, the onsite restaurant is amazing, and it’s right on the beach! It’s location on the east side of the island makes it perfectly situated for exploring both the north and the south shores. Pricing starts at $109/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

Hotel Coral Reef: Located right in the heart of historic Kapa’a, the Coral Reef Inn is the perfect place to stay if you like a convenient location and being able to walk to restaurants and shops. It’s right on the beach and a bike path runs right by it giving you easy access to Lydgate beach. Pricing starts at $145/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

Kauai Palms Hotel: Located just 5 minutes from the airport in Lihue, Kauai Palms Hotel is the perfect efficiency hotel to set up camp for a week exploring the island. Studio rooms have air conditioning and either a full kitchen or a kitchenette. Pricing starts at $85/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

Courtyard Kauai: With a great location on Coconut Beach, the Courtyard Kauai is a great beachfront budget hotel that feels more like a resort. Pricing starts at $149/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay: Located right next to Lydgate beach park, rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn come with a mini fridge, microwave, and Keurig coffeemaker. Suites with an extra pull out bed are also available. Pricing starts at $149/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy: This well maintained, low key resort sits right on the water along the Lydgate pathway (for walking or biking). The resort has studio units as well as one and two bedroom units. It also features two outdoor pools, a hot tub, a poolside bar, and a casual restaurant. Pricing starts at $145/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

Kauai budget hotels

The Kauai Inn: This plantation style inn is family owned and operated and the perfect basecamp for exploring the island. It’s not beachfront, but situated in a lush tropical garden. Pricing starts at $118/night. Click here to check pricing and availability during your dates.

My Favorite Places to Stay in Kauai

If you’re going in the summer (April to October), definitely stay on the north shore. Stay at the Princeville Resort if at all possible. It’s got the loveliest location of any resort in Hawaii. If you can’t swing the Princeville Resort, there are plenty of condos in Princeville. Summer months will still get rain, but not as much in the winter and it’s worth it to stay on the prettiest side of the island.

If you’re going in the winter (November to March), stay in sunny Poipu on the south side. There are a bunch of great beach resorts as well as plenty of condos.

No matter what time of year you’re visiting, if budget is a priority and/or you’ll be spending most of your trip out exploring every day (not as much time lounging on the beach where you’re staying), then pick a spot on the east side. There are several really cute budget hotels that have great amenities.

Kauai Vacation Rentals & Condos

If a resort/hotel isn’t what you’re looking for, you want more amenities, or you’re not finding anything in your price range, YOU MUST READ THIS POST. It’s a roundup of the best condo complexes on Kauai (I’ve got details on 40+ complexes) that’s well organized so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Thanks for sticking around and reading this whole post! It’s always my goal to provide a TON of value to YOU. To that end, lately I’ve been packing my Instagram (@hula.land) FULL of content and adventures that you might want to check out. A lot of my post captions are like mini blog posts with travel info, I’ve got IGTV review videos for luaus and excursions, and helpful story highlights like grocery store prices and hotel reviews. Not to mention that my feed is pretty much the ultimate tropical eye candy! You can follow me here and share my account with your friends! Your support really helps me to keep this blog running!

Also, if you have ANY questions about planning your trip to Hawaii, you can join my free Facebook group here. I’m in there answering questions every day and there are 5000+ other friends who have a ton of Hawaii information to share!

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