There are several thousand hotel rooms, condos and vacation rental homes on Kaua‘i ideal for a family vacation, but these resorts in particular offer great beachfront locations (or relatively easy access to the beach) and in some cases truly spectacular pools, as well as opportunities for cultural and educational activities for kids. Here are our favorites, from the South Shore to the North Shore:
Feature Photo: The Lodge at Kukui’ula Facebook
TIP: Don’t waste your day! Most hotels have 4 pm check-in. Ask for an early check-in.
If they can’t accommodate, they will let you store your bags so you can head to the beach!
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
This 52-acre bluffside compound above Keoneloa Beach (Shipwreck Beach) in Po‘ipu may be the largest on the island with 605 rooms, but it hosts many garden nooks where you can enjoy the sweeping ocean views in relative tranquility. It also boasts lively gathering places. Kids of all ages will enjoy the best pool complex on the island — including a lazy river, 1.5-acre saltwater lagoon with its own beach, multiple tiers and a 150-foot water slide — while grownups will appreciate the modern island fare cuisine and spirits at Tidepools. The quieter expanse and expertise of Anara Spa draw patrons from all over the island, as does the 18-hole championship Poipu Bay Golf Course next door. Good to know: With such a big footprint, the resort makes serious efforts to reduce its carbon emissions. Some highlights are the hydroponic garden which produces 600 lbs of lettuce for the restaurant and events, and the effort to eliminate single use plastics by providing reusable water bottles for guests and easy access to refill stations throughout the resort.
- Besides the all-day fun at the swimming pool, families will enjoy the convenience of an onsite luau as well as several casual cafes and restaurants.
- If the surf at Keoneloa Beach is too high for the kids (as is often the case), take them beachcombing or walk the easy, scenic Mahaulepu Trail that starts at the beach’s eastern end.
Daily Ohana activities entertain kids and adults with lessons in Lei making, Hula, Ukelele, a Hydroponic Garden tour, and much more.
Kauai Beach Resort
This nearly hidden low-rise hotel, only a few miles north of the airport in Lihu‘e, holds a lot of appeal for budget-minded families who don’t mind trading somewhat smaller rooms for four ocean-view pools and miles of sandy beach with gorgeous sunrises. The onsite spa, fitness center and restaurants make it easy to while away time at the resort, but you will want to take advantage of its central location to go exploring.
- Closest to the ocean, the largest of the four pools features a sandy bottom and waterslide that are kid magnets.
The resort’s two restaurants will help you create a picnic on the beach.
Waipouli Beach Resort
One of the newer vacation condominium resorts on the island, Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa in Kapa‘a encompasses one-, two- and three-bedroom units with high-end kitchens, multiple flat-screen TVs, sleeper sofas and luxurious finishes of granite, marble and exotic woods. Some of the privately owned units are managed by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts or Castle Resorts (both recommended) and some by smaller property management companies or off-island owners. The central heated river pool, which includes three sandy-bottomed whirlpools, traverses 2 acres with connecting water flumes and a sandy children’s area. Oasis by the Beach restaurant and Spa by the Sea day spa are destinations unto themselves.
- The beach in front of the resort isn’t the best for swimming, but nearby Lydgate Park not only has an extensive playground but also a protected children’s swimming area.
- The spa also rents beach cruiser bikes to take advantage of the paved shoreline path along the property.
Grocery, dining and boutique shopping are just across the road.
Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
It’s a trek to the beach from any resort in Princeville, thanks to its scenic setting on a massive bluff overlooking Hanalei Bay and the Pacific Ocean, but many don’t mind the short drive to Hanalei beaches to the north or ‘Anini Beach to the south. That’s in part because of views of green mountains and waterfalls, and in the case of this vacation-ownership resort, lovely amenities like multiple pools, hot tubs, three island-style restaurants and bars, in-villa spa servicesand easy access to golf, tennis, zip lining, kayaking and horseback riding. The villas include full modern kitchens, living rooms with contemporary decor and up to two bedrooms with two additional sofa beds, accommodating up to nine guests — plenty of room for your group to gather.
- The four outdoor pools include one designed for kids, and all are heated. Groceries and numerous family-friendly dining options can be found in nearby Princeville Center, as well as down the hill in Hanalei.
The Cliffs at Princeville
Like other Princeville resorts, you’re not on the beach here, but the Cliffs — a mix of 202 timeshare and vacation rental condos in eight three-story buildings — is unique in providing so many facilities perfect for families. Besides the lagoon-style swimming pool and two whirlpools on its 22 acres, the Cliffs offers two tennis courts, playground with shaded area, pickleball, bicycle rentals, a mini putting green, fitness center and a half-court basketball court; most equipment is complimentary. One-bedroom units are a roomy 917 square feet, and sleep four; two-bedroom units add a 314-square-foot loft with double beds (note that they’re on the third floor, with no elevators.) Ceiling and portable fans help trade breezes cool the condos, which are not air-conditioned; all have full kitchens, washer-dryers and two spacious lanais (patios or balconies.)
- The Cliffs feels secluded, but it’s also close to the numerous activities offered by Princeville Ranch (hiking, horseback riding, zip lining) and Hanalei outfitters (kayaking, surfing, snorkeling); the onsite concierge can help craft an ideal itinerary for your gang.
- Family-friendly dining and groceries are also close at hand.