Let’s face it: You probably flew long enough that you’d like to minimize travel time to the water once you’re in Hawaii. Here are the best hotels right on the best beaches, from the South Shore to the North Shore.
TIP: 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 Poipu may be the largest on the island with 602 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 sushi and spirits at Stevenson’s Library. 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.
- 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. Although Keoneloa isn’t typical swimmable, you will see adventurous locals boogie boarding and body surfing at the eastern end, close to where the spectacular Maha‘ulepu coastal trail begins; don’t be surprised if you spot a monk seal en route, but do keep your distance from these rare endemic mammals.
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Not to be confused with the rebranded Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort up the road in Kapa‘a, this low-key, low-rise beachfront hotel in Po‘ipu offers dazzling views of sunsets and surfers. A broad stretch of Kiahuna Beach lies a few steps down from the attractive Ocean Pool with a small water slide (there’s a more shaded, quieter pool on the garden side of the resort across the street.) Rooms are bright and recently renovated, while poolside dining at Lava’s and the cocktails and dinner at the more ambitious RumFire are solid choices.
- The onsite, beachfront luau is a fun way to spend an evening with the family. Don’t miss an opportunity to book a surf or scuba lesson, because the area is great for beginners.
Kiahuna Plantation and Beach Bungalows
Next to the Sheraton Kauai, the 35-acre Kiahuna Plantation is dotted with cottage-style vacation condos amid lush tropical landscaping and a lawn that runs down to the cream-colored sand of Kiahuna Beach. All the units are privately owned, with some managed by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts or Parrish Kauai (both recommended); they’re not air-conditioned, relying on breezes for cooling, so book in winter and spring for best temperatures. The resort includes community laundry and barbecue facilities. Guests also receive free use of the Poipu Beach Athletic Club, which features a swimming pool, tennis courts and restaurant.
- Kiahuna Beach typically has good conditions for swimming, beginners’ surfing and snorkeling year round, although waves are higher in summer. Enjoy a variety of cactus, orchids and bromeliads in the resort’s Moir Garden.
Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort (formerly Kauai Marriott)
Rebranded a Royal Sonesta at the end of March 2021, the former Kauai Marriott is in need of some renovations and will no doubt be evolving under new management. But you can count on it retaining the state’s largest single-level swimming pool, flanked by a half-dozen hot tubs under marble columns and overlooking wide, sandy Kalapaki Beach, where you can swim, surf or paddle-board in typically good conditions. Numerous shops and restaurants are on site, including lively Duke’s and poolside Kukui’s, with more a short stroll south.
- It’s just 2 miles south of the airport, so your vacation starts quickly. From your balcony, the beach or the pool, watch massive ships navigate Kalapaki Bay, guarded by distinctive green mountains, as they head for Nawiliwili Harbor, the island’s main port. The nearby Hule‘ia River allows for easy kayaking and other excursions.
Hanalei Colony Resort
The winding drive across one-lane bridges below emerald hills laden with lush foliage prepares you to slow down for this serene enclave of vacation condos, almost at the end of the road in Ha‘ena. A handful of two-story buildings offer suites with a full (if dated) kitchen, 1.5 baths, a king bed and a living room, separated by sliding doors, with a double sofa bed; the tropical furnishings have been recently updated by a top Hawaiian design firm, with luxury bedding and bath amenities. There’s Wi-Fi but no TV, for added tranquility. Large picture windows provide sweeping views of the ocean, miles of beaches and verdant peaks. The onsite Opakapaka Bar & Grill (open for lunch and dinner), Hanalei Day Spa and Na Pali Art Gallery & art gallery/gift shop with coffee bar provide reasons to linger, especially on rainy days.
- Kepuhi Beach may not be safe for swimming, but it makes for wonderful strolls and the sounds of crashing waves makes for great sleeping; there’s also a small pool on the property. Make a morning reservation to park at Haena State Park and you’ll have a terrific jump-start on hiking the Kalalau Trail or snorkeling at Ke ‘e Beach at the actual end of the road; the resort also provides shuttle service to Hanalei and other North Shore destinations.