Guide to Kauai

By Olivia Cuccaro

Rich in history and lush with natural beauty, the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands offers both tropical tranquility and island adventure. On the North Shore, you’ll find waterfalls, white sand beaches and the two-mile Hanalei Bay surrounding quaint towns with exquisite local cuisine. The sunny South Shore is home to up-close wildlife as well as Poipu Beach and sophisticated hotels and restaurants. Explore attractions like Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast on foot or in the air, relax by the lapping waves, see the site of our March/April 2017 cover shoot and – as always – enjoy the comforts of Elite Traveler’s picks for top suites and private villas.

Where to Stay


A luxury resort community with different types of homes (available to rent and to purchase), Kukui’ula provides unique accommodations with luxury resort amenities. The Clubhouse is a hub for snacks and games within steps of the Makai Pools, where you can take your pick of where to cool off. There’s an infinity pool of freshwater, connected saltwater pools with waterfalls and a sand-bottom pool with manmade beach. A Tom Weiskopf-designed course is sure to impress golfers, while tennis courts are also open for practicing your serve in the Hawaiian sun. For the more adventurous, Kukui’ula employs a team of experts – known as Huaka’i Outfitters – to take guests on a variety of Hawaiian excursions. Book a 32’ Yellowfin boat for ocean expeditions, learn to surf or go mountain biking around the island. To unwind, Hi‘ilani Spa addresses individual goals for completely customizable massages, body treatments and skin care. Enjoy a complimentary Seven Step Wet Ritual as well as daily fitness classes, also available as one-on-one workouts.

Club Villa: One of Elite Traveler’s Top Villas, the 3,200 sq ft Club Villa at Kukui’ula features four bedrooms – three master suites and one guest house – all with private outdoor lava rock showers. An open-plan living area extends to a covered lanai, private garden and plunge pool. The outdoor lounge area seats eight, perfect for utilizing the barbecue grill or commissioning the on-site chef for a private dinner. The villa includes daily housekeeper, gourmet kitchen and access to the Club at Kukui’ula.

2700 Ke Alaula Street, Koloa, HI 96756,

St. Regis Princeville

On Kauai’s North Shore, the St. Regis Princeville combines a spectacular Hawaiian getaway with the luxurious amenities you’d expect from St. Regis. Book a private cabana and relax by the 5,000 sq ft infinity pool, which overlooks Hanalei Bay. Or, reserve a Beach Side Cabana and enjoy the soft sand and calm ocean waters. The Makai Golf Club is on site, offering a beautiful course encompassing lakes, woods and coastline to play to a par 72. For dinner, experience a live Polynesian performance with the Mailani Dinner Show or set up a private Romantic Dining Experience with a four-course menu, wine pairings by St. Regis Sommelier and a candlelit table. In the evening, a sunset champagne ritual at the St. Regis Bar toasts to your tropical vacation.

Royal Suite: Through a private entrance, the 2,400 sq ft Royal Suite features panoramic views of Kauai’s Hanalei Bay and mountain landscapes. The suite includes a master bedroom, entertainment room with sound system, guest powder room adjacent to the living salon, fully equipped kitchen with butler entrance and wet bar. The Royal Spa features a custom-built marble surround whirlpool bathtub, expansive walk-in shower for two and dressing area. Royal Suite guests also enjoy access to the signature St. Regis Butler Service, who will start your day with a fresh cup of Kona coffee delivered to your suite.

5520 Ka Haku Road, Princeville, HI 96722,

Luxury Retreats

With a personal concierge, villa rental company Luxury Retreats boasts exclusive accommodations with 24/7 service. Bringing a new meaning to exclusive is the Secret Cove property: an oceanfront villa is situated on a bluff above Secret Beach in Kilauea. The four-bedroom property at Secret Cove includes suites with king-size beds, outdoor showers, lanais, ocean views and ensuite bathrooms. Secret Cove features a formal dining area for eight, fully equipped kitchen, sun deck, infinity pool, hot tub, grill and wet bar, with Wi-Fi throughout the villa. An open-plan with neutral tones, high ceilings and large windows make for a tranquil atmosphere in your hideaway villa. The beach is a quick four-minute walk away, or head into town for horseback riding and water sports.

Kilauea, Kauai, HI,

Next, see Where to Dine in Kauai.