Where to stay in Kauai
Kauai was everything I dreamed it would be and more. Okay, fine, I imagined a few more sunny moments, but all that rain is what makes the island so beautiful. Clouds moved in and out quickly, always bringing a rain shower and a colorful rainbow along. We stayed in the north shore at the St. Regis Princeville and the south at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, however, that’s not how I originally planned our trip.
A friend had recommended Hanalei Bay to me, saying that her family goes back to this beautiful paradise every year. After doing a little research on the area, I fell in love and used Airbnb to book our entire stay at a beautiful house right on the bay. Unfortunately, the island experienced a devastating, historic flood the week before we were set to arrive. I was so sad to learn that our Airbnb in Hanalei Bay had to be cancelled the day before our flight to Kauai. Even though the house was undamaged, Airbnb took the precaution of canceling all bookings in the area.
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We had our helicopter tour and sailing trip scheduled on the south side of the island, and with conditions uncertain in the north shore, we ultimately decided to book the first two nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipu. The entrance to this hotel is stunning and staying here turned out to be a really good decision that prevented us from having to commute an hour each way to our activities. Poipu is also known for sunnier weather and great snorkeling which we definitely found to be true.
For our last two nights, we decided to splurge for the St. Regis Princeville which is in the next town over from Hanalei and was spared from any flooding damage. This resort is a popular choice for destination weddings and honeymoons due to its first rate service and the most amazing view of Hanalei Bay and the Na’Pali Coast.
We arrived salty and windblown after our sailing trip and stepped into the most fabulous hotel lobby. The sun was just starting to set and everyone was gathered on the outdoor patio to enjoy the view. After a hot shower in our gorgeous marble bathroom, we freshened up for a quick and delicious sushi dinner at the hotel bar. The seafood in Hawaii is absolutely incredible, and we made sure to enjoy it for every meal. Our favorite meal at the St. Regis, though, was the incredible buffet brunch which had the most amazing spread each morning.
Most days we spent relaxing by the stunning pool and beach just enjoying the incredible views. We even managed to find the illusive hidden beach in Princeville. Even though the beach is just right across from the hotel entrance, the access point can be tricky to find.
It’s basically a narrow path behind the tennis courts with a rope threaded handrail for easing your way down the muddy path. At the bottom is a beautiful cove and a great place to have a quiet day on the beach.
Eventually we did drive the short distance over to Hanalei, but the weather quickly turned moody threatening another rain shower. The beach was mostly deserted which is usually unheard of in this town.
I would have loved to take a long walk around, but we saw several work and cleanup crews picking up trash on the beach, loading rescue supply boats for the neighboring towns that were trapped by landslides, and working to repair the once iconic pier. We felt we might be in the way, so we detoured into town and ate a delicious hawaiian bbq pizza at Hanalei Bay Pizzeria.
I loved our stay at the St. Regis Princeville and would definitely visit again. Though, I would also love to go back for a longer time and see Hanalei Bay back in its former glory. The town is known for its laid back hawaiian vibes, amazing restaurants like The Dolphin and AMA, and has been named one of the best spots in Hawaii for surfing lessons.
Here are a few places in Hanalei that I considered to rent pre-flood:
Hale Yangkey: three bedroom private house steps from Hanalei Bay and the pier.
Hanalei Surfboard House: owned by a successful former music producer, the house is decorated in full vintage hawaiian fashion, complete with a jukebox, an impressive record selection, and of course surfboards in every detail. It’s further down the bay, but still just across from the beach and a short walk to town.