Where to stay on Kauai? Good question, and luckily compared to the other islands, it's a fairly simple answer. Kauai gives you four major geographic areas to select from. In order of popularity (by our account), they are as follows:
1.) The south shore including Koloa, Lawai, and Poipu. 2.) The north shore, including Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea. 3.) The east side, including Kapa`a, Wailua and the county seat of Lihue. 4.) The west side including the towns of Waimea and Hanapepe. It's worth noting that staying on the west side is much less popular than the other locations.
OK, that may not seem that simple, but it really isn't that bad because it's honestly hard to make a bad choice. Reviewing our Kauai weather article and knowing when to visit Kauai will also help you. But each area on Kauai has its own unique 'flavor' and atmosphere - including its own attractions and sights to be seen.
If you are looking for an all-inclusive, luxury vacation in paradise, Pure Kauai is a company that offers a soulful experience of Kauai catered to the unique, individual preferences of each of their guests. Committed to providing their guests with the best services and accommodations on island; the staff at Pure Kauai is top notch and everything they do is done with impeccability and care.
South Side (including Koloa, Lawai, and Poipu)
It's sunny and dry almost all year-round.
Good selection of beaches available.
Many good restaurant and dining options.
The beaches are more crowded than on North Shore.
A great alternative to the south side hotels are the numerous vacation rental properties which often offer an excellent value for first class accommodations. For Poipu Vacation Rentals we recommend that you check out Kauai Exclusive Management; they offer excellent rates, top of the line customer service and a broad selection of vacation rentals to choose from.
North Shore (including Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea)
Abundance of amazing scenery with a backdrop of gorgeous mountains to visually soak in. Green valleys bursting with waterfalls and lots of greenery.
Luxury accommodations are available for those who seek that type of accommodation.
Proximity to what may well be the best trio of beaches in the state. Kee Beach, Haena Beach Park (including Tunnels Beach) and, Hanalei Bay beach(es)
Rain! The north shore is considerably wetter than most other areas on the island. This isn't a big issue most of the year, but during the winter (late November - March) it can be much wetter as the tradewinds bring more moisture to the islands.
East Side aka "The Coconut Coast" (including Kapa`a, Lihue, and Wailua)
Accommodations in this area are typically much more affordable, even during times of high demand on the island (i.e.; Christmas, major holidays)
The area is close to numerous cultural sights and is a convenient "base" by which to visit the entire island. It's not too far from any one thing on the island, giving you proximity to both the north shore and west side (including Waimea Canyon, Koke'e and Polihale).
The Kauai Path has revitalized the East Side and is a wonderful place to take a walk or ride a bike - it currently extends from Lydgate Park in Wailua to Donkeys Beach north of Ke'alia and Kapa'a town.
Most of the beaches here are predominantly local beaches that lack the majesty of the North Shore beaches or the convenience of the South Side beaches.
West Side (including Waimea, and Hanapepe)
Good proximity to Kokee and Waimea Canyon State Parks. Ideal for hikers and backpackers.
Geographically is far away from most of the rest of the island. The north shore is a two hour drive away.
It's fairly barren and dry on much of this part of the island, and it can actually take away from the verdant beauty that is Kauai.
It is an experimental testing ground for multi-national GMO companies that spray significant amounts of restricted use pesticides and herbicides in the area.
Hopefully this article has helped narrow your choices down for where to stay on Kauai. For specific accommodation details we recommend consulting TripAdvisor.com for up to date reviews and details about each accommodation on the island. Best of luck as you continue to plan your Kauai vacation or trip.