You don’t like to take sides, but . . . your family had debated what side of Kauai is the best to stay on. While a variety of accommodation choices are available along the East Coast, commonly called the Coconut Coast, most people tend to lean towards Kauai’s 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 experience lives up to expectations, combining the allure of vacation rentals with the elegance of luxury resorts.
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:
Top 6 Reasons Why South Shore is Best to Stay in Kauai
1. Embracing Sun-Kissed Days on Kauai’s South Shore
Okay, yes — an abundance of sunshine. Random rain showers happen all over a tropical island, but the South Shore is known as the sunny side of the Garden Isle, Kauai, and 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. Paradise Found: Unveiling the Beach Wonders of the South Shore
If you are wondering what side of Kauai has the best beaches, South Shore’s stunning beaches look straight out of “Lost”: white sands, turquoise water, palm trees swaying, and more sea life than humans. From calmer-gentler Kalapaki to exclusive-and-pristine little Lawai, each beach offers something unique and unforgettable — and most are within easy reach from wherever you find yourself on the South Shore. The southernmost beach, Poipu Beach(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. Stroll into Tranquility: Walkable Delights of Kauai’s South Shore
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 comfortable walking distance, 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. Discovering Charms: Exploring Historic Old Koloa 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. Family Adventures Await: Unforgettable Escapes on the South Shore
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 — 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. Book your stay today at the best Kauai beach villa on the South Shore.
6. Thrill Seeker’s Paradise: Unleashing Adventure on Kauai’s South Shore
Kauai’s South Shore favorites are surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, horseback riding, kayaking, golf, and sailing. 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 the premier Royal Luau — a must do activity in Kauai and 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 close to the Kauai North Shore and 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. . .
Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing