Hotels Accommodations

What Are the Best Places to Stay in Kauai?

Kauai, the fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, is a vacation paradise. Whether you’re interested in relaxation, adventure, great food, or natural beauty, you’re going to get all of them on the Garden Isle.

The island got its nickname because of the Waialeale mountain peak, which ensures all of the plants and vegetation are saturated with water. Located in the middle of Kauai, the mountain is typically obscured by clouds because it’s always raining up there. Central Kauai is considered one of the wettest places on Earth, averaging 300-400 inches of rain each year.

Kauai climate is important to know, because it’s going to affect where you decide to stay. For example, the northern part of the island is the best place to stay in the summer, when the rains subside and towns like Princeville and Hanalei shine in all their tropical glory. If you’re visiting Kauai in the winter (or anytime), the southern towns of Poipu and Koloa typically receive less rainfall. In fact, Poipu generally experiences a desert climate, and you will see tiny cactuses sprouting along the roads as you drive around. Located in the eastern part of Kauai, the towns of Lihue and Kapa’a offer in-between weather conditions. These “Coconut Coast” destinations are very close to the airport, making them convenient for vacationers who would like to spend less time driving and more time seeing and doing stuff.

If you can’t make up your mind where to stay on Kauai, here’s a simple table to help you with your decision-making:

  • North (Princeville, Hanalei): Stay here if it’s summer, if you have a longer vacation planned, if you want to swim at the “Queen’s Bath” beach, or if you plan to take a boat tour to the famous Napali Coast
  • East (Coconut Coast, Lihue, Kapa’a): You should stay here in the summer or fall, if you have a shorter amount of time on Kauai, if you plan to take a helicopter tour, or if you want to sample attractions around the island
  • South (Poipu, Koloa): This is the best place in the winter or off-season, if you want to visit the Waimea Canyon and Napali Coast, or if you plan to go snorkeling and surfing on Poipu Beach
  • West: You can’t stay here! The western part of the island is dominated by the Napali Coast, a beautiful and majestic series of cliffs that can only be accessed by boat tour or helicopter fly-over

The awesome news is that Kauai is small enough for a traveler to visit all of these areas during a single vacation. If at all possible, spend at least a week in Kauai to ensure you’re able to enjoy its beauty. Plan ahead for weather and location. You’ll find that your Kauai adventure will fall into place, no matter where you stay.