Where to Stay on Kauai, Hawaii

Genie Davis February 27, 2011 No Comments

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For families visiting the Hawaiian islands, it’s really refreshing to find children welcomed just about everywhere you go, from beach resorts to restaurants and museums. The family spirit that pervades the island continues at many of the island hotels and b & b’s. On Kauai, the garden island, we found several great places to stay that were not only welcoming to children but offered something special that both parents and offspring could enjoy. 

Living room area at the Villas, Poipu, Kauai

The spacious living room area at the Villas, Poipu, Kauai

Located in the middle of the Kauai’s driving route, the Kauai Beach Resort, not far from the airport in Lihue, is a real find. Reasonably priced with expansive rooms and twenty five acres of beautiful gardens and lawns, we loved the resort’s high ceilings and the great views of garden or sea from the rooms. It’s the staff here that really makes a difference. Friendly, warm, and always accommodating – whether with a late night fruit snack not on the menu or sharing a legend about a man springing from a tarot root – the employees here were so welcoming they felt like friends. 

The beach here is not swimmable because of a very strong current and under tow, but the sand is pristine, uncrowded, and good for running, picnicking or a sunset view. Swimming is great for the kids at the resort’s four pools. One has a sandy bottom and another a seventy-five foot water slide. Lifeguards are on duty and the atmosphere is fun and friendly; for adults there are two pools with waterfalls. 

Meanwhile, the Naupaka Terrace Restaurant offered plate lunches with great macaroni salad and mahi-mahi and rice – at keiki – child – portions and prices. The restaurant also provides a perfect ocean and palm tree view – exactly that post card look you can day dream about when you leave the island. 

In the evenings, the hotel really puts on a show. We heard a ukulele concert and our kids were treated to an impromptu uke lesson when the show ended and they expressed their delight. Another night, hula dancers graced the Terrace Restaurant area. 

Nearby Lihue contains an interesting small historic museum; The Kauai Museum exterior is almost as interesting as the cultural artifacts it contains – its built from lava. 

Further south, in the heart of the driest, warmest part of Kauai, you’ll find the tourist town of Poipu and the wonderful Poipu Kai condo villas. These villas are enormous, and have fantastic kitchens with elegant, top of the line appliances and trendy granite counters. They also have washer-dryers and free WiFi which were both excellent choices for our family. Plus, we’re big on access to a kitchen and making at least some of our own meals, so this was a perfect destination for us on Kauai. 

But it wasn’t just the space, the updated appliances, or even the sunny location of the Poipu Kai condos that drew us here. It was also the range of activities offered for families to enjoy. 

A very nice, lifeguard- monitored pool with water fall, and lovely grounds for sunset strolls were wonderful, while an easy five minute walk to Poipu Beach through the grounds was delightful. Their staff will set you up with a beach umbrella or lounge chairs if you reserve in advance. We love the foamy waves of the beach, however keep an eye on very small children here when the tide is high. 

The Grand Hyatt, Kauai – a grand pool

The Grand Hyatt, Kauai – a grand pool

A completely different feeling awaits you south of Poipu in the less-tourist-traveled town of Waimea, not far from the vast beauty of Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. We loved the friendly Waimea Plantation Cottages located in a beautiful grove of coconut palms. These cottages are completely restored homes built in the early nineteen hundreds for the employees of a sugar company located here. We enjoyed learning about the history of this location – island plantations were at the center of Hawaiian life, and formed their own community. Staying here, we felt as if our family were a part of a community, too, of guests and staff in this peaceful and secluded environment. Each cottage also has a full kitchen. And each one has period styled furniture, individually decorated. We loved the wide grassy spaces and the feeling of a restored village. The kids felt free to wander around the plantation and we felt comfortable allowing them to do so. We also enjoyed the large cottage porches looking out onto the open green spaces of the property. There’s also a pool. 

We didn’t stay at these other properties but did take a look at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, with its large number of appealing looking swimming pools, some with slides and waterfalls, some fresh water, some salt water. The Hyatt touts a kids camp for ages three and up that can be purchased as full or half days as well as an evening camp that includes dinner and allows some time for adult dining options. The Hyatt is in the Poipu area. 

At the north end of the island, we found the Hanalei Colony Resort, with roomy two bedroom condos. We liked the look of the property and it’s great views of the sea and hills; we also liked the collection of kid friendly games on the premises – from croquet sets to the board game “Trouble.” 

Recommended by a friend is the easy on the wallet Kalaheo Inn located in the town of Kalaheo, about fifteen minutes from Poipu Beach. Beach towels, beach toys and golf clubs are gladly loaned to guests, and families can easily walk into the small town for shopping and dining. If it’s not important to you to stay beach front, this is an excellent option with some of the lowest rates on the island. 

Lastly there’s the Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club with an enormous central pool and a kids pool, not to mention plenty of fountains and faux waterfalls on the property. The resort is beachfront and offers a kids program less organized than the Hyatt’s, but equally inclusive.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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