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 beaches are your scene, then you'll be happy almost anywhere on Kauai, the entire island is full of them - more (arguably) than any other island in the state. If lush scenery is what you are looking for, again, it's hard to go wrong since the entire island is known as, "The Garden Isle." Though the north and east coasts are considerably more lush and verdant than the south or west coast. But beyond beaches and lush scenery you're probably wondering what the highlights () and detractions () are for each of the areas we noted above; so let's take a look.
(Koloa, Lawai, and Poipu)
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. Another great choice is the premier boutique resort, The Villas at Poipu Kai. At The Villas at Poipu Kai you will find 3-5 bedroom villas that are beautiful and ideal for families or a group of friends.
(Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea)
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"
(Kapa`a, Lihue, and Wailua)
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.
(Waimea and Hanapepe)
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.
No matter where you choose to stay on Kauai; some activities not to be missed are a Private Kauai Sightseeing Tour and a Private Kauai Air Tour. Both activities are operated by small local businesses that cater the experience to your unique individual needs, are affordably priced and make for an unforgettable day.
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.