Aston Islander on the Beach Rating: 2.0 Pearls
Kauai, Hawaii, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

Cons

  • Smelly rooms
  • Rocky beach not good for swimming
  • In-room wired Internet $9.95 a day
  • No fitness center or spa; small pool
  • No elevators in three-story buildings
  • One beach towel a day, $35 fee if lost

Bottom Line

A low-priced hotel in Kapaa, Aston Islander on the Beach has no gym, no spa, and no restaurant. The only extras are a small pool, grills for guests, and an unassuming outdoor bar. What's worse, the rooms smell musty. The biggest draw -- or the only draw -- are the room rates, which are among Kauai's lowest.

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Oyster Hotel Review

 Scene

Low rates land you in Kauai, but few other selling points at this beachfront hotel

Three stories, no elevators
Three stories, no elevators

The Islander, eight motel-style buildings sandwiched between a shopping center and Waipouli Beach in Kapaa, has little going for it: The cramped rooms are cleaned just twice a week, the pool is small, the beach in front is so-so for Kauai, and there's no restaurant, gym or spa. Guests show up at the Islander mainly for one reason: As one of the most affordable hotels in Kauai, it can serve as a cheap base for exploring the island.

While the north and south shores are home to Kauai's best luxury resorts, the east coast town of Kapaa has the island's greatest number of budget hotels. With few crowds, the town's narrow beaches are nice for romantic walks, but little else. Rocks and choppy surf make it a poor choice for swimmers, snorkelers, or surfers. Sticks and other debris litter the shore, making the sand uninviting even for sunbathing. The town is filled with small shops, gas stations, grocery stores, activity-booking offices, and the occasional bar, so amenities like groceries and sunscreen are within handy reach just about anywhere. But in terms of atmosphere, Kapaa could be any other budget beach town in the U.S.

But even for a budget hotel in a budget town, the Aston Islander lacks appeal. The two rooms I looked at (I switched after the first, and braved a night in the second) both smelled like mildew. The design is Island kitsch, the beds are unremarkable, and the others features, like a tube TV and an empty mini-fridge, are middle-of-the-road. The hotel has no gym and no restaurant, though a convenience store, a kayak tour office, and Trees Martini Lounge share the same parking lot. The kidney-shaped pool with a hot tub and bar nearby is small. The hotel doesn't provide room service, rations beach/pool towels, and charges extra for cribs and rollaways. Check-in was quick and the clerk offered help with my bags, but for orientation, she simply handed me a map.

Kauai travelers who simply want a low-priced home base for exploring the island may not mind Aston Islander's shortcomings. Room rates on Kauai generally don't get much lower. And if the rooms smelled fresher, this place would be a hands-down great value. For anyone with a little more wiggle room in the budget, the Kauai Coast Hotel next door has a well-regarded restaurant, an better pool, and cleaner rooms.

 Service

Minimal help for guests

A do-it-yourself hotel, the Islander offers a budget-hotel level of service; most of the courtesies involve staying out of guests' way. Check-in staff smile and engage in chitchat, but they're mostly there to field basic requests, like handing out pool towels.

  • No room service
  • Housekeeping comes every four days
  • One beach/pool towel per person per day, $35 charge if not returned
  • Free parking
  • Activity desk mainly geared toward booking guided tours and activities, versus giving advice about the area

 Location

On the beach in congested Kapaa; most top attractions are at least 20 minutes away by car

Kapaa, Kauai's largest town (with around 10,000 residents), is home to many low-priced hotels like the Aston Islander. Sitting on Kauai's eastern shore, Kapaa lacks the picturesque beaches of the south shore or the rugged cliffs of the north shore. Shopping centers with grocery stores, unremarkable restaurants, and other basic services are its main feature. Without the high-end restaurants, golf courses, and other vacation amenities found in Poipu or Princeville, the town serves mainly as a home base for travelers who want a cheap place to vacation in Kauai. Kapaa also has the worst traffic in Kauai, especially near the city center (north of the hotel) and at the bridge over Wailua Bay (south of the hotel).

  • Coconut Plantation Marketplace, with 60 shops and restaurants, is just across a quiet side street.
  • Beach in front of hotel is narrow and rocky, and its surf mainly hosts local boogie boarders.
  • Nearest good beach for snorkeling about a 10-minute drive away at Lydgate State Park
  • Nearest great beach for snorkeling, boogie boarding, and surfing about a half-hour away by the Kauai Marriott in Lihue
  • Nearest golf course, Wailua Municipal, an 18-hole public course, a five to 10-minute drive
  • 12 miles, 30 minutes from Lihue Airport
  • 25 miles, 50 minutes from north shore and Queen's Bath and the Na Pali Coast, two of the island's most popular sights
  • 35 miles, 80 minutes from must-see Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific

 Beach

Narrow and litter strewn, with choppy waves and rocks that limit even wading

The small beach is poor for Kauai.
The small beach is poor for Kauai.

Driftwood and debris litter the narrow, steep stretch of sand at the foot of the hotel. You won't find crowds -- or much room to frolic. Boogie boarders and the occasional surfer congregate off shore, but the rocks at the shoreline and choppy waves make wading unpleasant. Travelers can find better beaches by the Kauai Marriott in Lihue and on Plantation Beach in Poipu, right by the Kauai Sheraton, Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, Castle Kiahuna Plantation, and the Waiohai Marriott.

  • Debris washes up onto the shore
  • Narrow -- about 25 yards at its widest point
  • The only beach gear the hotel provides are a few plastic loungers.
  • No beach hut for chair rentals or water-sports equipment
  • Subpar snorkeling thanks to choppy water
  • Not much room for sand activities like volleyball
  • Decent surfing and boogie boarding a 25- to 50-yard paddle from the shore

 Rooms

Typical for a budget hotel, except for the smell (cleaned only every four days)

The Standard Room
The Standard Room

Picture a Motel 6 room, then add a few island touches like teak furnishings, corny paintings, and hula-dancer lamps. The small, 311-square-foot standard rooms, all with balconies, open directly onto the grounds, motel style. The biggest problem is a musty mildew smell, perhaps owing to infrequent housekeeping visits.

  • Standard room available with garden view, partial ocean view, ocean view, and oceanfront
  • One-bedroom, one-bath ocean-view suites are 622 square feet.
  • Standard rooms have two double beds; ocean-view standard rooms have one queen and one sofa bed.
  • Bed: Simmons Beautyrest mattress, two pillows, generic sheets
  • Low tech: 27-inch Panasonic tube TV with 72 channels; clock radio
  • In-room wired Internet is $9.95 a day, $39.95 a week, $55 a month.
  • All rooms have small sink, coffeemaker, mini-fridge, microwave, and safe.
  • Small array of kitchenware: bowls, plates, cups
  • Air-conditioning -- standard for Kauai hotels
  • Hotel-brand toiletries in bathroom
  • Housekeeping only every four days

 Features

The budget-style extras are quaint at best, disappointing at worst.

The small pool and hot tub
The small pool and hot tub

About what you'd expect from a budget hotel. The main amenity, a small kidney-bean pool with hot tubs, adjoining bar, and grills, serves for quiet dips and abbreviated laps.

 Family

Very little to keep kids (or parents) happy

Even for families seeking a low-priced home base on Kauai, the Aston Islander falls short. While guests who want to save money by eating in can buy groceries at the shopping center across the street, the rooms lack real kitchens -- each has only a mini-fridge, sink, and microwave. That means relying on the poolside grills for cooking. Besides that, not much on the property caters to kids, and the narrow beach isn't kid friendly.

  • Most rooms a tight 311 square feet, enough for only one or two guests
  • One-bedroom suites, with one king bed and a sofa bed, fit up to four
  • No on-site restaurant; nearby Trees Lounge martini bar not kid friendly
  • Cribs available with advanced request (first-come-first-served basis); rollaways available, but they'll be a tight fit in the small standard rooms.

 Cleanliness

Needs improvement in rooms and on the beach

Washed-up debris is common
Washed-up debris is common

Musty rooms and debris on the beach, though the staff maintains the grounds and lobby fairly well.

  • Housekeeping every four days
  • Smelly rooms
  • Debris on the beach

 Food

No on-site restaurant, and just barbecues for preparing own meals

Grills are the only way for guests to cook
Grills are the only way for guests to cook

No on-site restaurant, but the hotel shares a parking lot with the Trees Lounge martini bar, which serves dinner. Guests can cook meals on the outdoor barbecue grills, but the rooms -- with only sinks, mini-fridges, and microwaves -- don't offer much help to chefs.

  • A five-minute walk down the road, the Hukilau Lanai at the Kauai Coast Hotel serves excellent Pacific Rim cuisine; entrees are $18 to $28
  • Poolside Sand Bar, open 2 to 9 p.m., serves snacks and cocktails.
  • Groceries available at shopping center across the street

 Bottom Line

A low-priced hotel in Kapaa, Aston Islander on the Beach has no gym, no spa, and no restaurant. The only extras are a small pool, grills for guests, and an unassuming outdoor bar. What's worse, the rooms smell musty. The biggest draw -- or the only draw -- are the room rates, which are among Kauai's lowest.

Things You Should Know About Aston Islander on the Beach

Address

  • 4-484 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI, US

Hotel Is Also Known As...

  • Aston Hotel Kapaa
  • Best Western Kapaa
  • Islander Beach
  • Islander Beach Kauai
  • Resortquest Islander
  • Resortquest Islander Beach
  • Resortquest Islander Beach Kauai

Room Types

  • Garden View Room
  • Ocean View Room
  • Oceanfront Room
  • One-Bedroom One-Bath Ocean View Suite
  • Partial Ocean View Room

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 198
Pool: Yes
Internet Access: Yes
Cribs: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Kauai, Hawaii
Address: 4-484 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI, US
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