Sure, Kauai’s got a lot more going for it than just its beaches: emerald jagged mountains and deep valleys along with waterfalls and meandering trails, to name a few.
But even if you have a penchant for other outdoor pursuits and things to do like hiking and biking, you’ll eventually long to frolic in or sit next to those lapping waves. Though these properties have plenty of other amenities that make them stand out (think golf courses, spas and creative cuisine) it’s their proximity to the Pacific that’s the real draw. Here are the best beach hotels and resorts in Kauai.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
The sprawling pool complex of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa on Poipu Beach has to be experienced to be believed. Plunge under lava rock waterfalls, float down the lazy river, escape to the adult pool or take a dip in the saltwater lagoon pool with sand and zero entry.
Among the eight restaurants and bars, the thatched-roof bungalows floating over a koi-filled lagoon next to a waterfall at Hawaiian cuisine-focused Tidepools are decidedly the most impressive, while poolside casual Hale Nalu satisfies swimmers with burgers and ahi banh mi. The 45,000-square foot Anara Spa is the largest on Kauai, combining ancient healing rituals with island botanicals in treatment rooms opening to gardens.
The water and Makana Mountain beyond form an almost surreal backdrop for Princeville Resort, situated above Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s north shore. Rooms and suites in a contemporary island design come in all kinds of categories and feature marble bathrooms and oversized soaking tubs; some also include private lanais.
The infinity pool is an award-winning architecture wonder, joined by a rock-lined whirlpool and keiki (kids) pool, and the powdery sand in Pu’u Po’a Beach beckons sunbathers, surfing, paddleboarders and kayakers. Halele’a Spa treatments use island botanicals and combine Hawaiian rituals and western techniques, and five dining options await, including a sunset table by the water at Hawaiian steakhouse Kauai Grill. The latter also makes this resort one of the best Kauai hotels for couples.
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu on the south shore features the largest luxury villas on the island. One-bedroom accommodations measure more than 800 square feet and feature a separate tub and shower, a lanai and fully-equipped gourmet kitchen. Even the deluxe studio rooms are nearly twice the size of standard hotel rooms on Kauai, equipped with a kitchenette and full-sized washer and dryer.
A new multi-terraced pool oasis tempts with an infinity pool, three waterfalls, a swim-through grotto, wooden bridges, two water slides and three Jacuzzis. Spa treatments balance earth and sea with indigenous mauka (mountain) and makai (ocean) elements, while signature restaurant Holoholo Grill serves elevated Hawaiian comfort food like pork tonkatsu ramen and sticky ribs in collaboration with James Beard award-winning chef Sam Choy.
Kauai Marriott Resort
Golf enthusiasts should opt for Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue, boasting a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course (the longest in Hawaii) winding past the bay and cliffs. Accommodations flaunt sun- and sand-inspired decor with categories spanning from a garden double room to a one-bedroom corner oceanfront suite with a wrap-around lanai, whirlpool tub and separate living room with a king bed facing the ocean.
The heated oceanfront pool is one of Hawaii’s largest, and the full-service salon and spa even offers the option for a massage in a beach cabana. Five dining concepts serve island-inspired fare, sushi, Italian cuisine, steaks and seafood, and a weekly luau includes dinner and a live show.
Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach
Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach on Kauai’s east side is named for the growing groves of coconut palms in the area. All rooms have updated contemporary decor, private lanais, refrigerators and fun island accents like wave murals and sea blue rugs.
The pool, whirlpool and beach have ample lounge chairs, hammocks and fire pits, and the Voyager Lanai’s all-day menu offers up mahi mahi fish and chips, tuna poke and slow-roasted pork belly with ginger glaze and Hawaiian slaw. Book a lomi lomi or coffee massage or other purifying treatment at Pua Day Spa; other activities include tennis, basketball, hula, corn hole, bocce, bike rentals, yoga on the beach and a sunrise experience. Bonus: it’s also one of the most affordable hotels in Kauai.
Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa by Outrigger
Because no traveler wants a one-size-fits-all vacation experience, Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa by Outrigger on Kauai’s east side offers different condo configurations; all are distinctly decorated but each has hardwood furnishings, gourmet kitchens and spacious bathrooms. These types of accommodations also make Waipouli a prime Kauai hotel for families.
The 2-acre property has a heated river pool with water slides and a sandy zero-entry, and Waipouli Beach is mere steps away. Oasis on the Beach focuses on local and sustainable ingredients like Makaweli Ranch grass-fed beef, ahi and ono, and the shops, restaurants and entertainment of Coconut MarketPlace are all nearby.
Sheraton Kauai Resort
The low-rise architecture of Sheraton Kauai Resort, located on Poipu Beach on Kauai’s south shore, means that everyone is awarded a view of either the ocean or the gardens, and rooms and suites are decorated in soothing neutral tones with touches of tropical color.
The pool is admittedly relatively small compared to other hotel complexes, but the golden-sand beach just steps away is why this proeprty is one of the best beach resorts in Kauai. RumFire is the signature restaurant with island dishes with global influences like misoyaki butterfish and Hawaiian paella; other dining options include casual Lava’s, a twice-weekly luau and a private beachfront table experience.
Aqua Kauai Beach Resort
Not only is this property one of the best beach resorts in Kauai, 25-acre Aqua Kauai Beach Resort also offers guests several ways to experience Polynesian culture, including a Nukoli’i Sunrise Ceremony, live local music, lei making, hula lessons and an education talk about how Pacific Navigators traveled without modern navigation tools.
Newly renovated plantation-style rooms in neutral tones face the mountains, ocean or gardens. The water complex has two lagoon pools with waterfalls, one regular pool and a sand-bottomed kids’ pool, a waterslide and a hot tub. Three dining concepts pique palates with upscale cuisine or casual fare (treats at the shave ice bar can be spiked with local Koloa Rum.)
The Lodge at Kukui’ula
One-, two- and three-bedroom cottages and four-bedroom villas comprise The Lodge at Kukui’ula, a boutique property on the island’s south shore. All have plantation architecture views of the golf course or ocean, along with a large lanai with a barbecue, a freestanding soaking tub, lava rock outdoor showers, hand-scraped hardwood floors, granite countertops and designer appliances.
The Makai Pool complex is perched above the ocean with an infinity serenity pool with built-in loungers connected to the saltwater lagoon pool below via cascading waterfall. Hi’ilani Spa has meditation gardens and a lap pool for post-treatment relaxation, and you can walk, hike or bike to the 10-acre farm to pick flowers, fruits, herbs or veggies for your kitchen; ingredients are also used at the resort’s hyper-local Umeke Kitchen + Bar.
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach
Direct beach access and accommodations that are closer to the water than anywhere else on the island are the key draws at Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach on the south shore, one of the best beach resorts in Kauai. Rooms also feature balconies or patios along with marble showers and dual shower heads.
The spa’s design is inspired by Hawaii’s natural landscape, and therapists use indigenous products like Kauai clay nut oils, coffee, sugar and native blooms for stress-reducing and balance-restoring treatments. Make a dinner reservation at Red Salt, a restaurant that celebrates the island’s bounty with cuisine like ahi tartare and vanilla bean-scented mahi mahi. Hoku Watersports has a beach hut where you can rent bikes, beach chairs, umbrellas, snorkels and paddle boards.