The Hawaiian island of Kauai exemplifies paradise with its beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping canyons, and vast rainforests. But with so much to see & do, choosing where to stay in Kauai isn’t always easy.
Each of Kauai’s areas brings something spectacular to the table. And staying at one of the best hotels in Kauai, you’ll never be far from the action. At the end of yet another memorable day, you can relax at your luxury beachfront resort or in a cozy suite surrounded by jungle.
Ready to start planning your ultimate Hawaii getaway? Find the perfect accommodations with this guide to the best places to stay in Kauai.
Best places to stay in Kauai, HI
Famed for its Jurassic Park filming locations, Kauai combines stunning beaches and luxury resorts with outdoor activities through its green mountains. Each part of this beautiful Hawaiian island has something unique to offer travelers.
Kauai is split into four major regions: North Shore, South Shore, East Side, and West Side. The regional split means travelers can chase a memorable beach vacation with plenty of cocktails or the peace and quiet of lush valleys without much crossover.
Figuring out how you want to experience the beautiful island will help you decide which area of Kauai will work best for you. Along the shorelines, families will find plenty of spacious accommodations leading to calm beaches. Hikers can chase towering jungle summits while couples can kick back beside the candlelight in the many high-end resorts spread around Kauai. (Keep in mind that some lodgings are more remote than others.)
The best areas to stay in Kauai are:
✓ Best area to stay in Kauai for first-time visitors
With popular beaches, historic sites, and the exceptional Napali Coast, the North Shore is one of the top areas to stay in Kauai. Stunning scenery greets you wherever you look. In Hanalei Town, you’ll discover a charming town with a laid-back surf vibe and several art galleries. In contrast, nearby Princeville has a collection of upscale resorts, making the most of its exquisite location.
As you face the electric-blue Pacific Ocean on the North Shore, you’ll find Kauai’s finest beaches left and right. The crystal clear water in Hanalei Bay at Hanalei Beach Park and Tunnels Beach and Hideaways Beach offers amazing snorkeling. At Haena Beach Park and Anini Beach, you can break out the board and try to tame the local surf.
Looking away from the ocean, you’ll be surrounded by mountains waiting to be explored. You can do this along the memorable Kalalau Trail, or explore the beautiful Limahuli Garden, before resting your weary legs at the Queen’s Bath.
With private beach access and a spacious outdoor pool, Hanalei Bay Resort is one of the best Kauai hotels. Each of the condos comes complete with cable TV and A/C, while some offer full kitchens. All guests will love the on-site amenities, including a spa center, tennis courts, and hot tub.
In the popular town of Princeville, guests can chill in their oversized villas, with full kitchens, TV, and hot tub. The Westin also provides a large outdoor pull complemented by a bar with splendid views. Dine on-site at Nanea, or stop by the resort’s own market.
The beachfront Hanalei Colony Resort has either sparkling ocean views or stunning mountain vistas from every private balcony. Each suite comes with a full kitchen and tropical decor perfect for rejuvenating. Each room has Wi-Fi, and the resort’s on-site restaurant & bar is ready to entertain, with vast ocean views.
✓ Best place to stay in Kauai for a luxury vacation
With golden sands, effervescent waters, and many of the best hotels in Kauai, South Shore is a popular destination. It’s here that you’ll find the coastal town of Poipu, family-friendly beaches, large resorts, and condos. The weather on the southern coast tends to be drier than elsewhere, providing more sunny skies and longer beach days.
One beach all families should put on their Kauai itinerary is Poipu Beach Park. Protected by an off-shore reef, the swimming is pleasant and child-friendly. You can also walk to your left and find the aptly named Baby Beach with shallow, crystal water. Confident swimmers, on the other hand, can head to the more remote Shipwreck Beach.
Despite the rise in resorts, the landscape of the South Shore remains pristine and largely undeveloped. Explore the rugged coastline along the historic Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail or visit the heritage town of Koloa.
Keep in mind that there are few budget-oriented accommodations on the South Shore.
On a private 20 acres, the mesmerizing Sheraton Kaui Resort is pure beachfront luxury. From the outdoor pool, you’ll have envious views of the Pacific Ocean as you sip on tropical cocktails. Later, embark on one of several cultural activities run by the resort before watching the sun go down over dinner.
Close to three exceptional beaches, Sheraton Kauai Resort Villas is the perfect option for families. One of the top places to stay in Kauai, your villa comes with access to the sprawling outdoor pool and beachfront bar. When it’s time for the beach, you’ll be steps away from Kiahuna and minutes from Poipu and Baby Beach.
With the turquoise waters of Poipu Beach in front of your floor-to-ceiling windows, the Koa Kea’s oceanfront location will impress. Spend the morning on your private balcony soaking in the view as the palm trees sway. Or let the breeze flow into your luxurious room, before diving into the pool or enjoying the beachfront bar.
With extensive suites, two resort-style pools, and easy access to the kid-friendly Poipu Beach, Koloa Landing is a fantastic choice for families. In each suite, you’ll find full kitchens to save on the restaurant bill plus your own private balcony. The hotel is also a short trip to Poipu Shopping Village.
Surrounded by tropical gardens and river pools, the Grand Hyatt is Hawaiian opulence at its best. Guests can choose between 7 on-site restaurants and the immense outdoor pool complete with water slides. Head to the beach, the Anara Spa and Salon, the tennis courts, or the resort’s golf course.
✓ Recommend region to stay in Kauai for budget travelers
Most guests will arrive in Kauai on the east coast. Featuring Lihue Airport and the largest town in Kauai, Kapaa, the East Side presents visitors with plenty of hotel options and budget accommodation. The East Side’s central location makes it easy for travelers to venture around the island. But there’s plenty to do nearby, too.
Pack your snorkel gear and head to Lydgate Park. At Lydgate Beach Park, you’ll discover aqua-blue water teeming with fish. It’s also a wonderful spot to watch the sunrise. Complement that with an afternoon at the idyllic Kalapaki Beach and you’ll have a duo of memorable beach experiences.
Looking inland, the East Side is no stranger to adventurous activities. Travelers must experience the Fern Grotto, a cave made from lava rock now enveloped by the jungle. Afterward, kayak down the Wailua River to reach the stunning Wailua Falls.
Tucked away in East Maui, Kauai Shores is a peaceful paradise. The oceanfront hotel has private beach access, on-site restaurants, and a casual 6-acre courtyard. Each room is complete with inviting tropical decor and your own balcony with ocean or mountain views. Wake up early to watch the mesmerizing sunrise.
A plantation-style resort, the Kauai Inn is surrounded by the beautiful Hula’eia Mountains on one side and Niumala Beach on the other. The bright and airy rooms come with cable TV and an ensuite bathroom. Guests can also make use of the resort’s BBQ facilities.
Enveloped in lush green gardens, Kauai Coast Resort offers studio and condo accommodations, complete with private balconies. Upscale rooms feature kitchenettes, while all guests can use the BBQ facilities. From your room, dive into the outdoor pool or enjoy direct beach access. While at Lydgate Park, go snorkeling or whale watching.
Between the popular North and South Shores, this beachfront resort is in the perfect location. Each well-appointed room comes with a balcony, sitting area, and cable TV. The full-service resort offers two on-site restaurants, four swimming pools, and two hot tubs. Guests will be 5 minutes from the amazing Lydgate Beach.
Alongside Kalapaki Bay and an exceptional golf course, you won’t have to go far to keep yourself busy at Royal Sonesta. Just minutes from Lihue Airport, this resort comes with luxurious rooms with plenty of natural light. Enjoy the fitness center, spa, or dine at one of the five restaurants serving international cuisine.
✓ Top area in Kauai for outdoor adventure
Although the West Side is home to some of the top tourist attractions in Kauai, few visitors choose to spend their nights on this part of the Hawaiian island. There are few restaurants and limited accommodation options, including only a small handful of resorts and family-friendly hotels. Staying in this part of the island can also make it difficult to embark on day trips to the other coasts.
Now, for those we haven’t scared off: In choosing the West Side on your quest for where to stay in Kauai, you’ll enjoy the island’s quietest region with two of its most spectacular sights. From here, visitors will have easy access to the incredible Waimea Canyon. From the deep valley, the burnt orange canyon rises to the heavens before being coated in a vast green jungle.
Some of the best views of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” can be enjoyed in Koke’e State Park. Here, some of Kauai’s best hiking trails take you to the canyon’s edge and further into the rainforest.
In Waimea, West Kauai Lodging is a budget-friendly option when traveling the west coast. Pick between the spacious king and queen suites, with separate dining areas, ensuite, WiFi and cable TV. Some rooms also come with mountain and ocean views. From the resort, you’ll be a short trip from the action, including Waimea Canyon.
Steps from Waimea Historic Town, the West Inn captures the heart of the west coast in its tropical-themed rooms. Guests will appreciate the wicker furnishings, alongside the cable TV, and the option of a full kitchen. The outdoor area comes with BBQ facilities and space to hang with friends and family.
Steps back from the sparkling black sand, the Waimea Plantation Cottages is one of the top Kauai accommodation options. The beautiful oceanfront resort comes with a range of well-appointed cottages with brilliant sunset views. Enjoy the full kitchens and island decor before hitting up the pool or the on-site BBQs.