Wondering where to stay in Kauai? This detailed guide covers the top areas to stay (depending on what you want to see) and the best hotels in each one!
Choosing the best area to stay in Kauai, Hawaii completely depends on the vibe you’re looking for. While the whole island is revered for its great scenery, the South and West coasts tend to have more amenities than the lush North and East coasts, and you’ll get different atmospheres and activity options depending on where you stay.
It’s also worth noting that Kauai is also known as “the Garden Isle”, and is a lush oasis just 25 miles long and 33 miles wide, meaning you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The island is known for having some of the best, and most secluded, beaches in the state, as well as some of the most unreal views.
For every Hawaiian taste, here are the best spots to stay in Kauai!
Where To Stay In Kauai: A Guide To The Best Areas & Hotels
Koloa (South Shore)
Famed for its picturesque beaches and luxe resorts, the town of Koloa is where to go if you want the ease of a resort with a historic twist. Koloa is loaded with restaurants, boutique shops, points of interest, and hotels, so if you’re looking for a place on Kauai with all the amenities within grasp, then this is for you.
While in Koloa, be sure to check out Old Koloa Town, a charming village where you can learn all about the Island’s plantation and sugar production past.
Where to Stay in Koloa
Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu is an Autograph Collection Hotel that offers a fitness center, floor-to-ceiling windows in the suite, and a continental breakfast. The landscape of this hotel is gorgeous!
The Lodge at Kukui’ula is a five-star property located just 4 miles from Spouting Horn and features water sports facilities and a spa center.
Read more: How to Travel Kauai on a Budget
Poipu (South Shore)
Also known as “the sunny south side”, Poipu is right next door to Koloa and is home to a string of perfect beaches with mild waters, making it the perfect place to go relax on the beach, swim, surf, snorkel, and scuba dive.
Poipu is also home to a 4-mile coastal trail that will take you straight to Mahaulepu beach. This is a must while on Kauai!
Where to Stay in Poipu
Sheraton Kauai Resort is a great mid-range option that is situated on 20 acres and features two outdoor pools.
Poipu Bed and Breakfast Inn is a highly rated spot that features an array of on-site activities, including fishing.
Shipwreck Beach (South Shore)
The shipwreck for which the beach is named may be long gone, but Shipwreck Beach’s notoriety for being one of the best beaches in Hawaii remains. The waters here are strong, so swimming isn’t encouraged, although this is a top spot for surf enthusiasts.
However, surfer or not, Shipwreck Beach is worth it for the views alone.
Where to Stay Near Shipwreck Beach
The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa is a luxury spot that is right on Shipwreck Beach. This property features a golf course, seven restaurants to choose from, and a spa.
The Koa Kea Hotel & Resort is a boutique resort that offers furnished balconies, free Wi-Fi, and an onsite spa.
Hanapepe (Southwest Coast)
Hanapepe Town, located just west of Koloa, is the art capital of Kauai and is brimming with mid-century architecture. When you think of small-town Hawaii, Hanapepe may just come to mind, as it has been used as the backdrop to many movies, which is where it gained its fame.
Every Thursday starting at 3 pm, the town of Hanapepe hosts a farmer’s market in which local artists of all sorts open their galleries to visitors. It’s a total must when in the town.
Where to Stay Near Hanapepe
The West Inn Kauai is a few miles from the center of Hanapepe but is one of the best budget options around. This friendly hotel features barbecue facilities, and bright, colorful rooms.
Wailua (East Side)
A popular destination on the Coconut Coast, Wailua is most known for being near the Wailua River, Wailua Falls, Opaekaa Falls, and Fern Grotto. The town also has amenities such as restaurants and shops but is mostly used as starting off point to get to nearby attractions, as opposed to being an attraction in itself.
Wailua is also close to The Great Sacred Wailua (also known as the Wailua Complex), a National Landmark located along the Wailua River. This site features many sacred sites, including petroglyphs, a bellstone, and a birthstone.
Where to Stay in Wailua
The Kaha Lani Resort features fully furnished homes with private pools, sea views, and full kitchens. If you’re looking for a home away from home experience, this is the perfect spot.
Na Pali Coast (Northwest Coast)
Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park lies on the northwest edge of Kauai and is known for its sea cliffs, valleys, and waterfalls. This area may be remote, but it’s one of the most magical places in all of Hawaii. The coastline is 17 miles of beautiful shoreline and is accessible by water, foot (via the Kalalau Trail), or even helicopter.
While exploring the Na Pali Coast, you’re going to want to check out Open Ceiling Sea Cave and Waiahuakua stream, both of which are beyond beautiful.
Where to Stay on Na Pali Coast
The Princeville Resort is a luxury property set right along the Na Pali Coast that offers direct access to the beach, golf courses, a spa, and gourmet dining.
The Wyndham Bali Hai is a mid-budget condo option close to Bali Hai Beach. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and living room.
Read more: The Best Way to See Kauai’s Na Pali Coast
Kapaa (East Coast)
Centrally located, the historic town of Kapaa is great if you want a local feel but still have access to a choice of shops and restaurants. In Kapaa, you’ll definitely want to hit up Coconut marketplace – a fun market full of Hawaiian souvenirs, art, jewelry, and more.
If you want to explore the great outdoors while in Kapaa, then Ho’opi’I Falls, Kealia Beach, and Kapa’a Beach Park are all great destinations. As far as accommodation goes, the area is home to many condos and vacation rentals.
Where to Stay in Kapaa
Aston Islander On the Beach is a mid-range option that features its own white sand beach, oceanfront pool, and on-site barbeque facilities. They even provide a complimentary welcome drink and live music at the pool bar!
Hanalei (North Shore)
Hanalei Town is a peaceful little town set on Kauai’s North Shore and is full of historic buildings and art galleries. While here, you’ll definitely want to head to Hanalei Pier – built in 1892, this spot is where local residents go fishing, swim, and hang out on Hanalei Bay.
Also worth checking out in Hanalei is Queens Bath, a tide pool/sinkhole surrounded by lava rock – it’s a great photo op!
Where to Stay in Hanalei
The Hale Ho’o Maha Bed and Breakfast is a highly-rated mid-budget spot just steps from the beach. This boutique B&B boasts a hot tub and a full breakfast.
Princeville (North Shore)
Located on Hawaii’s North Shore, Princeville is, at first glance, a town full of condo’s, vacation rentals, and hotels. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find one of the most culturally-rich places on Kauai.
Princeville is home to fabulous shopping, authentic cuisine, and scenic views. For an easy stroll, check out the Princeville Path which starts at the mall and goes down Ka Haku Road – it’s only about 2 miles one way and offers great views of Namolokama Mountain and the stunning waterfalls.
Also, Princeville is arguably one of the best spots from which to view the sunset on Kauai.
Where to Stay in Princeville
The Wyndham Ka ‘Eo Kai is a mid-budget property featuring an outdoor pool, tennis courts, on-site business center, and is less than 1 mile away from the Woods Nine Golf Course.
Lihue (East Side)
Lihue is the biggest city on Kauai and is the commercial center of the island. Not only is the town home to the island’s airport, but it also has Kauai’s major commercial shopping center (Nawiliwili Harbor), Kalapaki beach, water sports, and the Wailua waterfalls.
Where to Stay in Lihue
The Kauai Inn is a great budget-friendly property that offers an outdoor pool and stunning views of the nearby Hula’eia Mountains.
Kauai Beach Resort is a 25-acre beachfront mid-budget option that features four restaurants, four swimming pools, and a waterslide.