You don’t like to take sides but . . . your family had debated which side of Kauai is the best to stay on — the North Shore or the South Shore. You love the North because it manages to be both laid back and spectacular — with dramatic green cliffs, world-class surf, and predictably unpredictable rains. But this time you were all in for a luxurious beach villa on Kauai’s South Shore, and it does not disappoint.
The moment you steer your rented Jeep into that unmistakable tunnel of trees on Maluhia Road you feel the magic. They’re just trees . . . right? So then why do they make you so happy? A gift to Kauai from a pineapple baron more than a century ago, these Eucalyptus form a fluttering green entryway that welcomes every visitor to the South Shore — an aloha to one of the most stunning natural wonderlands on earth.
To say the South Shore is loved for being “the sunny side” is like saying a double mai tai is loved for being cold. There is that, of course – but there is so much more. Here are a few reasons why you think the South Shore rocks:
1. Abundant Sunshine
Okay, yes — an abundance of sunshine. Random rain showers happen all over a tropical island, but Kauai’s South Shore gets about 35 inches of rain annually versus the 85 inches the North gets. The North is wetter due to the tradewinds and the mountains. Kauai’s South Shore is drier which means more bright, warm, picture-perfect beach days. Which brings you to…
2. Beautiful Beaches
South Shore beaches look straight out of “Lost”: white sands, turquoise water, palm trees swaying, and with more sea life than humans. From calmer-gentler Kalapaki all the way to exclusive-and-pristine little Lawai, each beach along the way offers something unique and unforgettable — and most are within easy reach from wherever you find yourself on the South Shore. The southernmost beach, Poipu (which means “crashing waves” in Hawaiian), was dubbed “the best beach in America” by the Travel Channel for its cozy snorkeling cove, vast wading pools, surf-and-swim-friendly vibe, and adjacent grassy park. And you’re pretty sure you’ve never seen a tombolo before. You do some quick research on the beaches before you go and discover that each is ideal for certain activities — but not all for the same ones.
3. Easily Walkable
It’s no easy feat deciding which side of Kauai is the best to stay on, but jumping into the car every time you want to go somewhere can kill that back-to-nature feeling you often crave on vacation. Kauai’s South Shore offers plenty of beaches, shops, restaurants and other amenities within an easy stroll, especially around Poipu. You’re staying at Koloa Landing Resort where there is world-class snorkeling right outside your door and beautiful Kiahuna Beach is just a ten-minute stroll down a paved road. You also find loads of on-site activities and plenty of walkable restaurants. The Shops at Kukui’ula Village have gift and clothing stores, art galleries, a not-to-be-missed ice cream parlor and even a farmer’s market featuring a dizzying array of local produce and specialties. You can’t resist procuring two white sugarloaf pineapples to slice up in your villa’s kitchen.
4. Quaint Local Town
In addition to the walkable amenities, a quick car ride just two miles up the road gets you to historic Old Koloa Town. Quaint plantation buildings house art, music and clothing shops, and some beloved mom-and-pop restaurants. You also find the post office, food trucks, a grocery store and (your personal fave) the Koloa Fish Market where the mahi-mahi is so fresh it nearly jumps into your bag. Your spouse suggests grilling it alongside that pineapple at the resort’s poolside barbecue. Brilliant.
5. Convenient for Families
In addition to several grand hotels complete with pools, spas, dining and kids clubs, there are full-service condominiums and resort villas large enough to be affordable for families. Koloa Landing Resort has the largest villas on all of Kauai — with full kitchens, washer-dryers and all the comforts of home — plus a 350,000-gallon, multi-terraced pool that the Los Angeles Times calls one of the Hawaiian Islands’ best.
6. Lots of Adventure
Surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, horseback riding, kayaking, golf, and sailing are just a few of Kauai’s South Shore favorites. Nearby Koloa Zipline takes you through the heart of a rainforest and boasts the longest ride on the island: clocking in at half a mile. You hike the magnificent Heritage Trail uttering plenty of superlatives. You climb amid the roots of the same prehistoric Australian fig tree seen in Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” at Allerton Gardens in Koloa and then head to McBryde Garden in the Lawai Valley to gawk at unbelievable flora and waterfalls. (Kauai isn’t known as the Garden State for nothing!) You enjoy the unique lava tube formations at Spouting Horn — and muse about whether the huge lizard living inside is a myth or not. Your spouse jumps onstage and hulas with the pros at Kauai’s premier Royal Luau — a historic spectacle with a mind-blowing menu by celebrity Iron Chef Sam Choy.
You enjoy your days on the sunny side . . . and that cold double mai tai, as well. So, which side of Kauai is the best to stay on? The good news is that you are so close to the North Shore — and to all points in between — it hardly has to be an “either/or” situation. In fact, you drive from Koloa all the way to the end-of-the-road at Ke’e Beach in about 90 minutes. And what a ride it is! Maybe next time if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, you will split your trip into two or even three location changes and experience first-hand what it’s like to settle into all corners of this wondrous place. Then you can really cut back on driving and possibly misplace your shoes for days on end. . .
Book your stay at Koloa Landing Resort today! We are more than happy to answer any questions, make suggestions, and help you design a trip that’s perfect for you.
Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing