Aloha from “The Garden Isle”, Kauai! I don’t know about you but tropical islands are always making me so excited! And when it is a Hawaiian Island, you can be sure that it will exceed your expectations with its incredible scenery, stunning beaches, rainforests, and numerous waterfalls! Get ready because 97% of Kaui is composed of mountains and rainforest and that’s why it has a well-deserved nickname “The Garden Isle“!
Kauai is the 4th largest island among the Hawaiian Islands and consists of 4 regions which are the North, East, South, and West coasts. The west side of Kauai is home to the famous Waimea Canyon but there are no hotels on the west side so your only option will be camping (which I will speak about later) if you wish to stay there.
In this blog post on where to stay in Kauai, I will talk about the best accommodation options on the 3 coasts and will give you information about the fun activities you can do in each. Make sure you stay until the end because I also have some bonus choices for couples, camping, and some unique options!
I have to say that Kauai is an expensive destination and there are limited hotel options with good reviews so if you want to catch good deals on accommodations and secure your favorite place, do not forget to make a reservation in advance. Also, the best way to discover the island is by rental car so I recommend you to get one to easily access the pristine beaches.
So if you are ready let’s start discovering the tropical paradise, Kauai!
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. The South Shore (Koloa, Lawai & Poipu) – where to stay for the first time
- 2. The North Shore (Princeville, Hanalei & Kilauea) – for luxury travelers
- 3. The East Coast (Kapaa & Wailua) – where to stay in Kauai on a budget
- BONUS 1: The best hotels for couples in Kauai
- BONUS 2: Camping in Kauai
- BONUS 3: The Best Airbnbs in Kauai
- Frequently asked questions about Kauai
If you are in a hurry
Here are the best places for where to stay in Kauai from luxury to budget. They all have very good reviews and excellent locations!
Koa Kea Hotel
Best luxury hotel
Poipulani Paradise Villa
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Best value for money
Koloa Hawaii Torview
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Here is a map of where to stay in Kauai with all the best areas I will be talking about in this blog post so you can easily understand their location on the island:
1. The South Shore (Koloa, Lawai & Poipu) – where to stay for the first time
The South Shore Kauai is the best place to stay in Kauai if you are visiting for the first time as you will find a bit of everything from pristine beaches to outdoor activities and popular attractions! The main towns on the South Shore are Koloa, Lawai, and Poipu.
Koloa town is the place where you find beautiful historical buildings, churches, tourist shops, and a great selection of restaurants. Once you are done with sightseeing, head 2 miles (3 km) south and you will arrive at the charming town of Poipu, home to gorgeous beaches of South Kauai.
The south shore’s attractions like Poipu Beach and Shipwreck Beach will blow your mind! These picturesque beaches not only offer the most scenic view with golden sand and palm trees but also have the calmest water which makes them perfect for swimming. Already excited?
Another lovely town on the south shore is Lawai. Lawai is located next to west Poipu. This small town has stunning beaches that are famous for snorkeling and water sport activities. If you stay in one of the towns on the south shore you will have easy access to all these beautiful beaches and more!
Before talking about the best hotels on the south shore I have to warn you that there are only a few hotels with good reviews and they are selling too fast. So don’t forget to make your reservation in advance. Speaking of beautiful beaches, if you wanna add another Hawaiian Island to your travel itinerary check out the best places to stay on the Big Island.
Located on Poipu Beach, Koa Kea Hotel is one of the most unique places to stay in Kauai that has an amazing ocean view. This beachfront hotel offers a swimming pool, a fully-equipped fitness center, spacious rooms with ocean views, a very good breakfast, and an on-site bar. You can chill by the poolside under the palm trees or enjoy powdery sand on the private beach.
Other options in The South Shore (Koloa, Lawai & Poipu)
Sheraton Kauai Resort offers a private beach with comfortable beach chairs, a large swimming pool, a fitness center, and spacious rooms
This adults-only hotel has private beach access, comfortable rooms, a large garden, on-site parking and is within walking distance to restaurants
This Airbnb offers beautifully decorated rooms, a fully furnished kitchen, mini-golf, a nice garden and is within walking distance to the beach
Things to do in The South Shore (Koloa, Lawai & Poipu)
- Spend time at the stunning Shipwreck Beach and Lawai Beach
- Be mesmerized by the fire dances in Luau Kalamaku
- Discover the streets of Old Town Koloa
- See the natural blowhole, Spouting Horn
- Visit the beautiful Allerton Botanical Garden
- Take an epic ATV waterfall tour
- Take a day trip to the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon
- Fly through the native forest in Koloa (ziplining adventure)
2. The North Shore (Princeville, Hanalei & Kilauea) – for luxury travelers
The North Shore of Kauai is the place where you will find amazing landscapes such as lush valleys, mountains, waterfalls, and an abundance of stunning beaches. The North Shore is also my recommendation for luxury travelers as you will find more luxury resorts in this area.
Kauai’s North Shore has 3 main towns which are Princeville, Haneline, and Kilauea. Princeville and Hanalei are neighboring towns that both consist of affluent areas with many golf courses, upscale restaurants, and glamorous resorts. Here you will find the Hanalei Bay and Napali coast, this area is home to so many picturesque beaches that will give you the best Instagram photos!
If you go just east of Princeville you will reach Kilauea town which offers stunning landscapes with everything from mesmerizing beaches to botanical gardens and scenic hiking trails. Do you see how many things you can do on the North Shore?
I have already found the best hotels on the North Shore for luxury travelers who want to pamper themselves but if you don’t want to miss these glamorous places you have to be quick and make reservations in advance. For those looking for more upscale hotels in Hawaii Islands check out the best places to stay in Maui.
Now, here are the best places to stay on the North Shore of Kauai:
Westin Princeville Ocean Resort
Centrally located on the North Shore of Kauai, Westin Princeville Ocean Resort features an amazing infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a luxurious hotel room with a private balcony, a fully-equipped fitness center, and a kid pool with a waterslide! You can have cocktails by the pool while watching the beautiful scenery and enjoy mouth-watering food at the gourmet restaurant. This beautiful hotel is also a short drive to famous beaches in Hanalei Bay and plenty of golf courses.
Other accommodation options in The North Shore
This hotel offers stunning ocean views, a swimming pool, spacious rooms, a fitness center, a hot tub and is a short drive to Hanalei Bay
This hotel has a central location, comfortable rooms with a private balcony, a golf course, on-site parking, and free wifi
Located right by the ocean, this one-bedroom condo offers a large garden overlooking the ocean, modern rooms with great amenities, and a kitchen
Things to do in The North Shore
- Visit the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on the Napali coast
- Fly over the Napali Coast & Waimea Canyon!
- Swim in the crystal clear water at Anini Beach and Tunnels Beach
- Have delicious meals at Kalypso Island Bar & Grill
- Go hiking along Kalalau trail and check out the amazing views
- Have breakfast at Hanalei Bread Company
- Take a Deluxe Na Pali Morning Snorkel Tour
- See the impressive Kilauea Lighthouse
- Swim in the natural beauty, Queen’s Bath and see the amazing sea cliffs
3. The East Coast (Kapaa & Wailua) – where to stay in Kauai on a budget
The east side of Kauai is a more commercial area compared to other parts of the island and offers many budget-friendly accommodations, restaurants, and shops. This shouldn’t fool you though as the east side also has amazing beaches and incredible landscapes too! That means by staying here you will not only save money on hotel prices but also be able to enjoy the island’s amazing attractions!
The east side of Kauai is home to the famous Coconut Coast where you will find amazing rivers, waterfalls, and hiking trails. You can go for a walk in lush green parks, take helicopter tours to see this amazing scenery from above or go snorkeling on the beautiful beaches. So get ready for outdoor adventures!
If you are already curious about the best places to stay on the east side of Kauai let’s have a look at the best hotels:
Sheraton is one of the best luxurious resorts on the East Shore that offers spacious rooms with ocean or pool views, an upscale fitness center, a private beach, and on-site parking. You won’t want to leave the pool area with a fancy sun terrace surrounded by palm trees and overlooking the ocean! In the morning a very delicious breakfast is waiting for you and you will love the international cuisine at the on-site restaurant.
Other accommodation options in The East Coast
This hotel offers a private beach, tennis courts, spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, a pool bar, good breakfast, and on-site parking
Kauai Shores Hotel has a private beach, an outdoor pool, a good breakfast, comfortable rooms, on-site parking, and free wifi
This Airbnb features a swimming pool, private beach access, spacious rooms, a fully furnished kitchen, a hot tub, and free parking
Things to do in The East Coast (Kapaa & Wailua)
- Spend time at the beautiful Lydgate Beach Park
- Take a golf lesson at Wailua Golf Course
- Chill on the sandy beach, Kealia Beach
- Visit the Wailua River and Wailua Falls at Coconut Coast
- Join a helicopter tour and see the amazing landscapes from above
- Go hiking at the scenic Sleeping Giant Trail
- Have delicious dinner at Sam’s Ocean View Restaurant Kapaa
- Go for a walk at Kalepa Mountain Forest Reserve
|👑 Luxury price:||$600|
|💵 Mid Range:||$400|
|💰 Accommodation prices:||High|
|📍 Best area:||The South Shore|
|👪 Best area for families:||The South Shore|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Koa Kea Hotel|
|🧳 Best mid-range hotel:||Sheraton Kauai Resort|
|👛 Best budget hotel:||Koloa Hawaii Torview|
BONUS 1: The best hotels for couples in Kauai
Kauai is a very romantic island and also a famous destination for honeymooners and couples. That’s why I wanted to give some more hotel options to those of you looking for a romantic getaway. All of the hotels are sorted in descending price order so you can choose the best one for your budget!
Luxury (Over US$500)
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort – Located on the south shore, Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort has everything you need for a romantic holiday. You will love the beautifully decorated hotel rooms that have a private balcony overlooking the ocean and the fancy bar where you can watch the sunset and have a great selection of cocktails. There are 3 tennis courts, a large swimming pool, a private beach, and 7 restaurants that offer food from international cuisines.
- Koloa Landing Resort – For those dreaming about the palm trees, laying on the powdery sand, and watching the amazing scenery. Koloa Landing resort is located on the south shore and has romantic rooms with stunning ocean views, an upscale restaurant, 4 glamorous swimming pools, and a fancy bar. You can pamper yourself with good treatment in the luxurious spa and enjoy a very good breakfast in the morning.
Mid range (US$250 – $500)
- Hanalei Colony Resort – Situated right on the beach on the north shore, Hanalei Colony Resort features a private beach, a swimming pool, suite rooms with ocean room, and free parking. I love the on-site restaurant where you can have delicious food while watching the spectacular views. You can easily access hiking trails and famous snorkeling spots are just a short drive. There is also a full-service spa and free shuttle service to Hanalei Town.
Budget (Under US$250)
- Makai Club Resort – Located on the north shore, this hotel has very charming rooms with a private kitchen and a balcony, a swimming pool, a hot tub, free parking, and BBQ facilities. There is a very nice sun terrace surrounded by lush green trees and you can easily access famous beaches and restaurants with a short drive. Makai Club Resort is for sure one of the budget accommodation options for couples in Kauai.
BONUS 2: Camping in Kauai
Kauai has incredible landscapes and offers so many hiking and biking trails. For those who want to stay in nature and do outdoor activities, I would like to give some camping options here. As I said earlier, on the west side of Kauai there are no hotel or lodge options but if you want to visit Waimea Canyon you can also stay in one of the campgrounds I will talk about now.
Here are the best campgrounds in Kauai:
- Kalalau Beach – This campground is located in Kalalau Beach of the Napali Coast between the north and west side of Kauai. and allows you to camp on the beach. It is a 12 mile hike into the camp but imagine waking up with ocean sounds and seeing lush green valleys in the morning! Picnic tables and potable water are available but you must secure a permit online at least 30 days in advance. The camping price for a tent is $25 per night for residents and $35 per night for non-residents.
- Polihale State Park – If you want to discover the west side of Kauai, this campground is the best option. In order to camp at Polihale State Park, you have to take permission from their website and the camping price is $20 per night for residents and $30 per night for non-residents. From the campground which is accessible by a dirt road, you can easily access beaches, hiking trails and there are toilets, picnic tables, and outdoor showers.
- Kōkeʻe State Park – Located on the west side of Kauai, this campground is a perfect place for those who want to stay in the national park and have easy access to the hiking trails. Kōkeʻe State Park has a 4,000-feet elevation and offers amazing cliff views. You can drive to the site and you can use the picnic tables, toilets, and potable water on the campground. The camping price is $20 per night for residents and $30 per night for non-residents and bookings are essential.
- Salt Pond Beach Park – For those who want to camp on the beach and enjoy scenic views you will love this campground. Salt Pond Beach Park is located on the south coast and offers restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. By staying here you can swim in the crystal clear water, snorkel, and hike on the scenic trails. The camping price is $12 per night for residents and $18 per night for non-residents but is closed every Tuesday from 10 am to 12 noon Wednesday. Make sure to get camping permits in advance!
BONUS 3: The Best Airbnbs in Kauai
I have already talked about the best Airbnbs in each area but for those who want to have their home comforts while also looking for a unique stay experience, here are some interesting vacation rentals just for you. All of these Airbnbs I will talk about are listed in price order from most to least expensive and are located in amazing natural settings and have great facilities, so here we go.
- Romantic Garden Cottage – Located on the North Shore, this Airbnb has an epic terrace and private pool overlooking the mountains and forests. There is a fully furnished kitchen, beautifully decorated rooms, and free parking. You can have meals in your outdoor dining area under the palm trees and enjoy the amazing scenery.
- Go Paddling & Biking – This Airbnb has a central location on the East Shore and offers a nice garden area with BBQ facilities, a fully furnished kitchen, a comfortable bedroom, and free wifi. It is just walking distance to the river and biking trails. You can use SUP and bikes for free and go on so many outdoor adventures!
- Oceanview Air Conditioning – Set by the ocean this Airbnb is located between the south and west side of Kauai and is a great place to stay for those who want to discover west side attractions such as Waimea Canyon. You will fall in love with this house’s terrace overlooking the ocean and a nice garden area. All of the rooms have modern amenities and the beach is just in front of you.
- Hanalei Bay Resort – Located in Hanalei Town, this Airbnb has an incredible lush green garden, an outdoor hot tub, a swimming pool, and a comfortable room. You can get a suntan at the fancy terrace area while watching the stunning views. The hotel’s great location also allows easy access to the beach and town restaurants.
Frequently asked questions about Kauai
🏝️ Is it better to stay on the north or south side of Kauai?
If you are visiting Kauai for the first time I recommend staying on the south side as you will find the most popular attractions and beaches on the island. Some of the best hotels here are Koa Kea Hotel and Sheraton Kauai Resort.
🗺️ Where should I stay in Kauai for the first time?
The South Shore is the best place to stay in Kauai for the first-timers as you will find a bit of everything from historical sites, to stunning beaches and outdoor activities. Some of the best hotels here are Koloa Landing Resort and Koa Kea Hotel.
🏖️ What side of Kauai has the best beaches?
Both the north shore and the south shore have amazing beaches. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort on the south shore and Westin Princeville Ocean Resort on the north shore are some of the best hotels that have very beautiful beaches.
🤔 What is the best side of Kauai to stay on?
● South Shore – for first-timers, stay at Koa Kea Hotel
● North Shore – for luxury travelers, stay at Westin Princeville Ocean Resort
● East Coast – for budget travelers, stay at Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach
👫 What are the best hotels in Kauai for couples?
Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach on the east coast and Westin Princeville Ocean Resort on the north shore are the best hotels in Kauai for couples that have romantic rooms and great restaurants.
🤩 What should I not miss in Kauai?
Here are some of the popular attractions in Kauai that you should not miss.
● Poipu Beach Park
● Waimea Canyon
● Kauai Beach
● Haena Beach Park
● Hanalei Bay
● Shipwreck Beach
That was fun! Sadly our island journey ends here and I hope you enjoyed discovering Kauai with me. I am sure you will have a great time on this paradise island and will have so many photos and memories!
If you have already found your dream hotel, do not forget to make a reservation now as Kauai hotels are selling so fast. Most of the hotels have free cancellations so don’t worry if you change your mind!
I know I have given dozens of hotel options but if you still cannot decide let me recap. Here are my absolute 2 favorite Kauai hotels that I definitely recommend you to stay in. They both have amazing locations and fabulous reviews!
- Koa Kea Hotel – The best luxury resort on the south shore that has an amazing beach and glamorous rooms
- Sheraton Kauai Resort – A great place to stay on the south shore with a large swimming pool and a private beach
Enjoy all the amazing landscapes and beautiful beaches in Kauai and let me know If you have any other suggestions or questions about Kauai or any of the Hawaii Islands by leaving a comment below. I’ll be more than happy to reply to them. Hope to see you soon at another destination!
Have a great vacation,
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