The Complete Kauai Vacation Guide

So, you’re planning a vacation to Kauai. This is the complete Kauai Vacation Guide based on my experiences, opinions, and preferences. I hope it helps you plan your trip. It is the online version of my ebook, Plan Your Best Vacation to Kauai Ever, Where to Stay and What to Do on Kauai. If you’d rather save it to your computer and read it there, right click on the link and download it.

Topics in this guide


So you’re planning a vacation to Kauai –

Congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you’ll be flying in to Lihue (airport code LIH) and you may be able to find a direct flight from your city or at least the west coast of the U.S. Mainland into Lihue. A few airlines do this these days. If not, your airline will probably schedule your connecting flight from Honolulu for you.

If you have to do it yourself, you can do so with either Hawaiian Airlines or Go! Airlines

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

My Favorites on Kauai

My Favorite area is either Poipu (or Koloa) or Princeville.

They both have their own charm. Princeville gets a bit more rain than Poipu, but not too much.

My favorite hotel:

Hands down, the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Koloa (near Poipu). This is one of those places that I just love. Lots to do, they’ll watch your kids or help you get married. The grounds are awesome. Nice place. $299 a night at expedia.

And, if you are military or GS and have access to them – I also *really* enjoyed the beach cabins on barking sands beach within the Navy’s Pacific missile range facility. This was in 1996 (on my honeymoon), and I haven’t stayed since, so I don’t know the current condition, but they were so fun and isolated and on the most awesome, empty beach you’ve ever seen.

Activities :

The hiking on Kauai is amazing, if you are into that kind of thing, and the Na Pali Coast boat trips are also a must-do in my opinion. Every time we have gone out on the rafts, we have seen dolphins. The rafts can’t leave from the North Shore anymore, so these days I mostly recommend so these days I mostly recommend Na Pali Catamaran.

Best Weather on Kauai

Kauai is an island full of great weather

Sure, there’s a bit more rain on Kauai than some of the other islands, but there’s never much on the south and west shores (so you can always find sun) and there’s still not a whole lot. Passing showers means 5 minutes of (warm!) rain and then 1 to 5 hours of Sun. We never give up on what we are doing for a passing shower.

Sunniest weather is in Waimea (20 rain inches per YEAR) and second sunniest is in Poipu or Koloa.

Kauai in the winter is still warmer than California much of the year, and the ocean is still 72 degrees. Oh yeah.

Best Hotels in Kauai

These are the best hotels in all of Kauai, in my opinion.

If you consistently find higher prices than what I have found, maybe prices are up due to season high season or some other reason. If you find lower, don’t question it, just book it!

Best Overall, Beach-Locations, or Luxury Hotels On Kauai

Best Family Hotels in Kauai

  • Aloha Beach Resort Kauai, $84 at priceline
  • Lae Nani, $147.00 at website, $158 at priceline
  • Hyatt Regency Kauai, $299.00 at expedia
  • Sheraton Kauai Resort, $189.00 at expedia
  • Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, $199.00 at expedia

Best Budget-Priced Hotels on Kauai

Many of these hotels don’t list with expedia and priceline. If you call them directly for reservations, be sure to ask “do you have any discounts that could bring my rate down?” You could get a yes and a better rate off the bat.

I also highly recommend bidding on priceline. Many of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like a resort or a 2 to 4 star hotel. Remember, you can’t pick your hotel if you bid, just your desired star level.

You’ll have the most luck with getting low bids accepted on priceline when the hotels are hurting for visitors, but try anytime. You could really get some good deals.

As an example, if you visit bidding for travel you’ll see the Kauai Marriott has accepted bids around $110 to $125 in the past. Compare this with the best price I could find at $199 a night, and the savings are substantial.

Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Kauai

Bidding on Hawaii Travel at Priceline and Hotwire

Bidding on Priceline and hotwire is a great way to save money on hotels and sometimes even flights to Hawaii. I have personally bid and gotten $55 at the Royal Kona Resort, and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton, and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. All of these hotels are on the Big Island.

I know someone who bid and received a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu for $250. These are good deals!

Oh, and don’t forget car rentals. You can get great deals on car rentals by bidding.

The only issue with bidding for hotels is that you won’t know what hotel you get until you are locked in to paying for it. You just specify a certain star level or class of hotel.

The only issue with bidding for flights is that you won’t be able to specify an exact time, but they do tell you it will be sometime between x morning hour and x evening hour, so not too bad.

So How Should I Bid on Hawaii Travel?


I like to decide on a hotel I like, then find out what its star level is. Then on Priceline, I go directly to naming my own price, and during the process priceline will tell you what the average price is for that star level. I then bid half of that.

The priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful.

An awesome resource is the bidding for travel forum. If you scroll down on the home page you’ll see three Hawaii forums, based on which islands you are planning to visit. People bid, and then come here and post their accepted and rejected rates.

I have heard that the posted ‘median retail prices’ at priceline are sometimes inaccurate. I don’t worry about this in Hawaii because I am so familiar with what the hotels cost here. You, however, may want to check prices on the website of a few hotels that are the same star level as you want. You can then try to bid 50% of that.

Rental Cars –

$15 a day is a good place to start, and check the recent winning bids on Priceline.

Flights –

I like to bid 50% of whatever the going rate is and then bid up in $50 increments if that is refused.

Most Fun, Must-Do, Activities and Things to Do on Kauai

This is my list of the most exciting and fun things to do on Kauai in my opinion.

Inexpensive or Free Activities on Kauai

  • Queen’s bath – mostly cool because it looks so idyllic. Only good in the summer months when the surf is not high
  • Check out Waimea Canyon. Looks out of place in Hawaii but is pretty darn cool to look at.
  • Hiking – the hiking on Kauai is the best in the state. If you are into hiking, you are in for a good time.

Best Ways I like to Save Money on Kauai

Bidding for travel

I like bidding at priceline for hotels and rental cars and airfare. This can save a lot of money right away.

Hawaii Entertainment Book

Normally here, I would recommend the Hawaii Entertainment book from . However, if you will just be on Kauai, it won’t be much good for you. If you will be island hopping to Maui or Oahu, then think about it.

The book is typically best for Oahu, second best for Maui, and marginal for the Big Island and Kauai. I can’t recommend it for Kauai or the Big Island, really. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if that changed in the near future.

Best Kauai Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Kauai

Don’t hit all of these unless you are really into beaches. Just pick a few and take your time.


In Hawaii, all beaches are public. Anywhere that there is water, there must be public access to the shoreline. If you are in a residential neighborhood and want to check out the beach, just look for the blue signs that say “shoreline access” and follow the path, even if it’s directly between two houses.

Sometimes, though, residential beaches do not have restrooms or showers.

Don’t worry about directions too much. Kauai is a small island and you can see the ocean from almost everywhere. If you can see the ocean, you can find your way.

  • Kee Beach (north shore) – Calm with good snorkeling and swimming in the summer, a famous movie filming location
  • Tunnels – Large beach with good snorkeling and deep water caverns for scuba, no facilities
  • Hideways (north shore) – Amazing beach, 10 minute hike from parking area. Secluded but accessible. No facilities. Calm in summer.
  • Anini Beach (north shore) – Huge, protective reef, easy to get there, great snorkeling and swimming
  • Moloaa Beach – Protected, beautiful cove with good swimming
  • Lydgate State Park (east shore) – Awesome for families, very protected area, nearby playground
  • Poipu Beach Park – Excellent facilities, excellent swimming and snorkeling. Great beach
    Kauai really is an island of awesome beach after awesome beach and much of the shoreline is beach around the entire island. You can‟t go wrong, so I just listed some of my favorites here.


4 Comments on The Complete Kauai Vacation Guide

  1. batya chivers on Sat, 23rd Oct 2010 5:58 pm
  2. i would like to swim with the dolphines. Is there a place to do it on Kawai.
    Is the other island ohau far, could I acess it by a boat?
    what do you suggest/ thanks

  3. Lisa on Mon, 25th Oct 2010 11:21 pm
  4. There is no captive place to guarantee a swim with dolpins on Kauai, but there are some boat companies that will try to get you out for a wild dolphin swim. try

    Oahu is far, you can’t go by boat. you have to fly.

  5. Ron Gallion on Fri, 4th Jan 2013 2:28 am
  6. Looking for inland hike to waterfalls, swimming, somewhat secluded or sparsley traveled. Beautiful hikes with swimming

  7. Lisa on Wed, 9th Jan 2013 12:42 am

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