More untouched and uncrowded than its more well-known neighbours, Kauai is an island paradise filled with pristine beaches otherworldly beauty and towering cliffs and mountains. Stand-out beauty spots include the striking Waimea Canyon, the stunning Coconut Coast, the Wailua Falls and the very photogenic Na Pali Coast.
Sail the Napali Coast to see the whales, drive the Waimea Canyon, snorkel at the Haena Beach Park and Tunnels, go for a dramatic helicopter tour over Kauai, hike the Kokeʻe State Park and then beach hop along the South Shore.
Find a place to stay as memorable as the island itself then you have yourself a perfect trip! From chic and modern resorts to cute and quirky rentals, here are the best cool and unusual hotels in Kauai, Hawaii (in no particular order)...
1. Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort Lihue – one of the most Instagrammable resorts in Kauai perfect for couples, Millennials and Gen Zs
Here we have a garden island oasis, which enjoys an astonishing setting on golden sands, where guests can indulge in beachside spa sessions.
The hotel boasts four exquisite restaurants, as well as the largest one-level pool in Hawaii. Guests can make themselves at home in stylish, modern guestrooms, which feature panoramic ocean and garden views.
Located only a short distance away is the natural beauty of both Hanalei Bay and Canyon State Park, which are sure to fill your days in paradise with the enchantment of the purest form.
To unwind, guests can work out in the fitness centre, or head for a drink and meal at Kalapaki Beach, where a serene experience is guaranteed.
- To book, check prices or availability for Royal Sonesta Kaua’i Resort Lihue
2. Hotel Hanalei Bay – a stylish, unique and trendy beachfront resort that provides the ultimate upscale experience
Hotel Hanalei Bay brings a world-class wellness experience and flagship sustainability sanctuary to Kuai’s North Shore.
Throughout its 252 rooms, nature is brought into each space with thoughtful touches, indigenous greenery, reclaimed materials, and organic cotton.
Views of the soaring mountains and lush gardens top it off. The hotel’s seven restaurants serve local, fresh, and sustainably sourced produce from neighbouring farms and the hotel’s organic on-site garden.
In the hotel’s wellness sanctuaries, personalized programs for nutrition, well-being, and fitness offer a touch of class to this peaceful respite. The nearby shore offers an abundant flow of activities, perfect for all types of traveller.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel Hanalei Bay
3. Koa Kea Resort on Poipu Beach – a charming boutique resort that reflects the lush and exotic nature of Kauai
This beautiful resort is made for travellers who yearn for those beautiful moments to experience with friends and family. Discoveries are unearthed, dreams are fulfilled, and connection is found at the Koa Kea Resort, just steps away from beautiful sandy beaches.
The spacious guestrooms are inspired by Kauai’s vibrant colours and rich textures, offering a quirky resting place to reconnect after a day of uncovering the surrounding allure.
Guests, from their own private lanai, can bask in the island breeze whilst sipping on signature cocktails, before taking their senses on a journey through some of the island’s most tantalizing fare, in the onsite restaurants.
- To book, check prices or availability for Koa Kea Resort on Poipu Beach
4. The Lodge at Kukui’ula – a chic and modern heaven located on the sunny south shore located on a 10-acre organic farm
Within this haven of barefoot luxury, guests can enjoy exclusive access to many sprawling amenities and adventures. The elegant homes here at Kukui’ula feature authentic plantation-style architecture set gracefully in a lush landscape.
Guests can learn the value of ‘aina (land) on the property’s 10-acre organic farm, and even harvest fresh produce for their morning coffee alongside one of the farmers.
You can choose from one of the Club Bungalows, Club Cottages, or Club Villas, which all come in the form of a secluded sanctuary.
Many guests’ most memorable experiences here are spent walking the grounds and riding the trails on bikes, made easy through a fantastic staff presence.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Lodge at Kukui’ula
5. Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu, Autograph Collection – one of the most romantic resorts in Kauai ideal for honeymoons
This outstanding resort, surrounded by the scent of plumeria on a warm tropical breeze and the brilliance of turquoise waters on golden sand, boasts Poipu’s largest accommodations, which range from deluxe studios to multi-bedroom luxury villas.
Three resort pools including a 350,000-gallon main pool, a celebrity chef grill, a gourmet market, and various sporting facilities are featured here, making for a perfect vacation spot for families, friends, and couples alike.
Many guests return here annually to bask in the Hawaiian charm, immersing themselves in the tropical rhythms of island life, and there is no better spot to do this than Koala Landing Resort.
- To book, check prices or availability for Koloa Landing Resort at Po’ipu, Autograph Collection
6. Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences – an oceanfront upscale resort with chic decor just steps away from the beach
Timbers is the Garden Isle’s newest oceanfront luxury resort, which is part of the 450-acre Hōkūala resort community. It features Jack Nicklaus Signature Ocean Course golf, freshwater lagoons, and winding trails, and a dedicated concierge team assisting guests to live like a local.
The dining options are inspired by the island itself and offer a wide array of farm-to-table dishes. The thoughtfully crafted spa treatment weaves local ingredients into traditional practice, offering an experience tailored to offer the notion of ‘lokahi’ (harmony of body and spirit), to guests.
The fitness centre boasts high-end equipment and offers yoga, tai chi, and pilates classes in a beautiful outdoor studio.
- To book, check prices or availability for Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences
7. Hanalei Colony Resort – a laid back oceanfront resort perfect for a quiet location
Backdropped by the magnificent mountains of Kauai’s north shore, this intimate resort is the perfect escape for those looking to reconnect with loved ones.
Hanalei Colony takes pride in being a truly ‘unplugged’ island getaway, which steers the focus away from tech-savvy amenities and more to the leisurely ambience and sheer beauty of the surrounding area.
The commodious two-bedroom suites are perched directly in front of the Pacific, and boast stunning panoramic beachfront views which blend harmoniously with the natural environment.
The resort’s newly-opened Opakapaka Grill and bar offers a variety of menu items, from Hawaiian favorites to sea-to-table dishes, and specially-crafted cocktails.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hanalei Colony Resort
8. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas – an upscale resort that offers great facilities and spacious villas
Situated on a prime cliffside spot overlooking the rugged coastlines, this family-run resort exudes a casual but elegant charm, with opportunities for guests to cook up their own food on the many large barbeque grills.
After flying through the rainforest on a zipline at Princeville Ranch Adventure, guests can choose one of three on-site restaurants and bars to refuel, or swim in one of the sparkling outdoor pools overlooking the ocean.
Pure tranquillity can be embraced with a soothing massage by the pool, or in the comfort of your own villa, which features a furnished lanai, fully equipped kitchen, and washing machine.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
9. Sheraton Kauai Resort Villas – is a stylish, intuitively appointed retreat with many of the comforts of home
For a lush retreat on the garden island, this Sheraton resort is steeped in the natural beauty of Hawaii and offers enviable vantage points of Poipu Beach.
The premium vacation rentals boast superb resort facilities, which include two sparkling pools, a whirlpool spa, and multiple dining options.
The stylish, newly-renovated studios are decked out with home-like comforts and conveniences, and guests can spread out with separate living, dining, and sleeping areas.
The wide array of authentic eateries serve fresh Hawaiian fare in a tropical setting. Whatever brings you to Hawaii, the misty sea breezes at this gorgeous resort will ensure you’ll never want to leave.
- To book, check prices or availability for Sheraton Kauai Resort Villas
10. The ISO – a chic and elegant boutique hotel that features an oceanfront swimming pool
Placed exquisitely at the intersection of Island, Sky and Ocean, on a private oceanfront expanse, the ISO is Kauai’s newest boutique hotel. This is the perfect spot to gaze over a spectacular sunrise and simply disappear deep into your favorite novel in pure serenity.
All guestrooms balance a contemporary, rustic beach décor with a tech-savvy style, topped with a private lanai. Daily Grab & Go breakfasts are also included, whilst the famous Bull Shed restaurant serves award-winning local fare, and features spectacular entertainment, performed nightly by local artists.
Here at the ISO, you will feel as if a little corner of this gorgeous island has been reserved just for you and your loved ones.
- To book, check prices or availability for The ISO
11. Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort – one of the best resorts in Kauai set on the sandy Coconut beach
At this stunning Sheraton, guests are treated to a transformative experience during their island getaway. New heights of relaxation await guests in the infinity-edge pool, which is surrounded by an oceanfront bar, lounge chairs, and fire pits.
The ‘Crooked’ Surf Bar and Restaurant is the perfect spot to savour culinary delights and signature drinks, and the Maomoa Hawaiian Fish House offers delicious sea-to-table fare.
The resort boasts a breathtaking location, with easy access to a number of Kapaa’s biggest hot spots, such as Smith’s Tropical Paradise and Wailua Falls. Local entertainment is also provided, alongside activities and sightseeing adventures with instructors.
- To book, check prices or availability for Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort
12. HBR Suite 9304, 5, 6 – a trendy and charming aparthotel where guests can benefit from panoramic sea views
HBR suite is the perfect Hanalei Bay hideaway, with one of the most amazing locations the region has to offer. Tropical sunsets, lush green mountains, and the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific can be gazed upon from the property, which is set on over 22 acres of Hawaiian paradise.
The surrounding area features cascading pools and lava rock waterfalls, and some of the world’s most beautiful white sand beaches.
All units at this luxury aparthotel boast a flat-screen TV, a well-equipped kitchen with a dining area, and a wellness area and hot tub are also provided to guests. In-room amenities include a private bathroom with a hot tub, bathrobes, and a hairdryer.
- To book, check prices or availability for HBR Suite 9304, 5, 6
13. Kauai Shores Hotel – a bright, colorful and fun hotel located in a prime location on Kauai’s Royal Coconut Coast
Here, guests can awaken to immaculate Kauai sunrises, and start each day with yoga, or relax by one of the two on-site pools.
The scenic heights and natural geologic wonders of Kauai are only a short journey away, whilst the surrounding area is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires, and jagged cliffs.
Owing to centuries of growth, forking rivers have formed, alongside cascading waterfalls and tropical rainforests. Each of the guestrooms have been meticulously updated with a bright, island décor, and boast private open-air lanais.
Guests come here to rest comfortably within the soothing sounds of the lapping ocean.
- To book, check prices or availability for Kauai Shores Hotel
14. View House Tower! – a colorful, kitsch, and fun party holiday home to stay in Kauai
This stunning home is a true showcase of Princeville and the North Shore. It has been thoughtfully re-modelled, with the living area now backdropped by awesome views in every direction.
Here, you’ll find the primary bedroom suite on the second floor and two more bedrooms on the first floor, all equipped with state-of-the-art amenities.
The kitchen has been totally renovated and features polished stainless-steel appliances, including a French-door refrigerator, natural wood countertops, and a peninsula breakfast bar.
The open living space boasts a flatscreen TV, and glass doors which open to a balcony with a gas grill. Set in a perfect location, guests can stroll directly onto the beach within minutes.
- To book, check prices or availability for View House Tower!
15. Castle Kiahuna Plantation & The Beach Bungalows – a quirky-chic cottage-style surrounded by lush tropical gardens
These breathtaking plantation-inspired condos are bordered by tropical gardens, and their landscaped lawns are lined by fragrant flowers.
Set on the edge of the white sand and shady palm trees of Poipu Beach, guests can choose either one or two-bedroom condos, which both come with garden or ocean views.
Friends, couples, and families alike have all commended the plush setting of this gorgeous resort, as well as the opportunity to maintain independence in a beautiful, intimate cottage.
The resort features a whole host of delicious dining options across three on-site restaurants, which all look out over the azure waters of the Pacific.
- To book, check prices or availability for Castle Kiahuna Plantation & The Beach Bungalows
Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.