Centuries-old rainforest, sky-scraping mountains and hidden bays, lapped by turquoise ocean, make the oldest island in Hawaii feel like an exotic wonderland. Although much of Kauai is only accessible by sea or air, there is still plenty to be wowed by including beachfront towns, fragrant tropical gardens and meandering rivers. Make your stay even more special by booking one of these equally spellbinding boutique hotels, where generous extras include complimentary airport transfers, bike rentals and even free chocolate.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
Courtesy of Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa / Expedia
This resort at Poipu may be significantly larger than your average boutique hotel, but its personalized service keeps things intimate. There are private cabanas and an adults-only pool, a spa with open-air yoga room, a mediation lounge and thatched treatment bungalows, while every room has its own private lanai (covered porch). At night, dine by a koi-filled lagoon in the Tidepools restaurant or choose a meal under the stars on the shoreline, served by your own butler.
It’s all about authentic details at the Ko’a Kea hotel, the closest resort to the ocean on Kauai. From the nightly ceremony lighting the Tiki torches to the locally produced coffee, clay and nut oils used in the spa treatments, the resort guarantees guests a gloriously Hawaiian experience. Spend days bobbing on the waves on a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe, then sample local seafood and a fruity Hawaiian mai tai at restaurant Red Salt.
When an anonymous hotel room just won’t cut it, these palatial oceanfront suites offer guests (considerably more) space to call their own. Even the smallest one-bedroom suite here sleeps four comfortably with two balconies, a private living room and separate dining area, and even a washer and dryer. The property itself is located within the prestigious Princeville Resort on Kauai’s North Shore and offers tennis courts, a putting green, swimming pool, two shuffleboard courts, bike rentals and a children’s playground.
You’ll be on the sun loungers before most travelers have even reached their hotel at this resort, just two miles (3.2km) from the airport in Lihue. There’s plenty to fill every spare minute, too, with the largest one-level outdoor pool in Hawaii, a 24-hour fitness center, onsite spa and the longest stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii. Hungry? Choose from five restaurants including a sushi bar, Italian café and al fresco poolside eaterie.
Keep things simple if you’re travelling with friends or family, and swap a hotel holiday for a villa vacation. Though the biggest two-bedroom villa can sleep up to nine people, this resort in Princeville on the north shore of Kauai still offers all the amenities of a top hotel. Expect an all-day restaurant serving island-inspired dishes, a grab-and-go market for in-villa cooking and a state-of-the-art fitness center with regular classes, including aqua aerobics and yoga.
This boutique beachfront property, a short stroll from Kapa’a town, goes the extra mile for guests who are made to feel more like family. Handy extras thrown in for free include a daily breakfast, bike and DVD rentals and all-day tea and coffee in the lobby, while there are microwaves, fridges and coffee-makers in every room so you can truly make yourself at home.
The little things matter at this resort of one- and two-bedroom condos spread across 22 acres (8.9ha) in Princeville. There is a packed activity schedule including daily tennis clinics, poolside chair massages, wine tasting and movie nights with free popcorn, while complimentary chocolate is dished out every day from the lobby office. Elsewhere, there’s a free-form lagoon pool overlooking Hanalei Bay, a ukulele bar known for its Mai Tai Mondays and even a spa in a grotto carved from volcanic rock.