Where to stay in Kauai, Hawaii

The island of Kauai is only 33 miles long and 25 miles wide. This makes it a perfect size to explore no matter where you stay on the island. With that, you’ll want to figure out where you to stay in Kauai.

There are different reasons you’d want to make your home base in particular parts of the island. You might want a beach resort, you might want to stay up in the greener area of the island, you might want to have easy access to a sunrise or sunset. Or there might be a particular activity you want to be close to.

No matter what your goal you’ll find a perfect landing pad on Kauai for relaxing and exploring the island.

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Stay Near the Airport in Lihue

When you land on the island you’ll find yourself right in the center of Lihue. In the town, you’ll find some delicious spots to grab a bite, a local brewery and coffee shops, and some lovely resorts.

We stayed at a resort just north of the airport in Lihue and it was perfect for exploring the island. It was a shorter drive up to Princeville, yet still easy to make your way over to Waimea Canyon.

Also, if you’re flying in late this is the perfect area to stay in. The last thing you want when you land after a long flight is a long drive. A ten minute drive to your hotel is a much better option.

Tree on the beach outside the Kauai Beach Resort.

Take in the Greenery Up North in Princeville

If you want to get a little further away from it all when you’re staying in Kauai, head up to the North side of the island. Here you’ll find the community of Princeville that is made up of beautiful resorts and condos for rent. Or head into the small old town of Hanalei.

This area is filled with breathtaking beaches where you can see everything from sunrise to sunset. You also, depending on weather and trail conditions, there are some rather epic hikes in the area. Plus the area has delicious restaurants from food trucks to fine dining.

View over lush green Kauai.

You can find some of the island’s best resorts or if you’re looking to Airbnb it for the trip, you’ll find a lot of cute rentals in the area.

The only things to be aware of when you’re staying in Princeville is that it’s the rainy side of the island. So if you’re traveling in the rainy season be ready to have some most days.

A beach with branches and rocks on Kauai, Hawaii.

Get Your Sunrises in by Staying on the East Side

Do you like getting up early to catch the sunrise? I don’t do it most places but I sure do when I’m in Hawaii. You’ll find some lovely spots to stay in Kapa’a and the surrounding area right on the beach.

This area is a little dryer than Princeville and a little closer to exploring the rest of the island. You’ll also find some of my favorite places to eat in Kauai.

Plus there is a gorgeous walking/biking path that winds around the coast for miles. You can walk part of the trail or rent a bike and ride the whole thing.

Bike trail on Kauai coast.

Along this side of the island, you’ll also find some of the best happy hours in the area where you can get a nice treat on the beach for a great price.

Relax at a Southern Resort in Poipu

One of the most beautiful places you’ll find along Kauai is its Southern Coast. You’ll find breathtaking photos and pockets of sandy beaches. You’ll also find some of the best spots for watching the sunset.

Here you’ll find four-star resorts, cute areas with great shops, and tasty restaurants. You’re also not far from Waimea Canyon and the beaches along the West Coast.

If you’re looking for some luxury, beautiful beaches, and having most things nearby Poipu can be a great spot to stay in Kauai.

Sunset from Poipu, Kauai.

Launch off from Waimea in the West for All Your Adventures

We were a little surprised but we kept ending up on the West side of the island. Whether it’s a boat trip, Waimea Canyon, or beaches you’ll easily get to so much of what the island has to offer from here.

Waterfall in Waimea Canyon in Kauai.

If you’re looking for adventures in Kauai this can be a great launch pad.

You’ll also find the longest beach in all of Hawaii just north of Waimea. We only spent one day there but I would have loved to make my way back again.

A long sandy beach on Kauai's west coast.

You might not have the top-notch resorts over here as much, but you will find some good deals on places to stay.

Take in Everything the Island has to Offer No Matter Where You Stay in Kauai

Often on a trip I’d suggest you to stay a couple nights in one area and a couple nights in another. Part of what makes Kauai a great place is that you can see the whole island no matter where you stay.

So when you’re planing on where to stay in Kauai pick an ideal sunset location, a spot a little out of the way, or near one of the best beaches. Pick whichever area fits your style best and then make your way around the rest of the island.

Thankfully, you won’t go wrong no matter where on the island you decide to launch off from.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.