Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Families looking to stay near a Kauai beach for cheap hit up this cluster of 75 individually owned condo units in Lihue. You'd be hard-pressed to sleep this many for so little anywhere else in Kauai -- and the condos come with kitchens, so guests save even more by cooking in. That said, the Castle Kaha Lani costs so little for a reason: It's just off an unscenic stretch of Highway 56, a considerable drive from the best beaches in Kauai, and at least 15 minutes from Lihue's restaurants. Amenities are minimal -- other than a few BBQ grills, one small pool, and a single tennis court, there’s nothing here but the condos. And service is virtually nonexistent: no porters, daily housekeeping, or even a 24-hour front desk. (Unless they make special arrangements ahead of time, guests must pick up their keys at a one-room front office before 6 p.m.)
But perhaps the biggest problem with Castle Kaha Lani is that the individually owned condos vary widely in decor, furnishings, and level upkeep. It's a crapshoot as far as what you'll get. You can choose the pricier "ocean front" that's right beside the water or you can choose the "ocean view" condo that offers views of the grounds. But it's not guaranteed that they'll look like what's pictured on the website. (Compare the photos on the Castle Kaha Lani website of the cheery ocean-view condo with the dank, depressing one I actually stayed in, with its chained-up closet and old college-style futon).
It's definitely possible to find a better deal elsewhere on the island--and closer to the coveted beaches of the North and South Shore, at that. Those who want to know what they're in for would be better served at the Hanalei Colony Resort in the North Shore or the Castle Kiahuna in the South Shore. Both offer two-bedroom condos that cost about the same. At Hanalei Colony, the management dictates that all owners furnish their condos with similar furniture. And at Castle Kiahuna a much more consistent level of quality is maintained, even though all the condo units are decorated differently.
Housekeeping once every three days; no other service to speak of
Very limited service. Housekeeping comes once every three days. Other than that, you are entirely on your own: no porters, no room service, no concierge, not even a 24-hour front desk. Guests must pick up their keys at the one-room front office before 6 p.m. (or make prior arrangements).
Close to the airport, but otherwise pretty isolated -- you have to drive to all the restaurants, sights, and most of the beaches
Just off an unscenic stretch of Highway 56 and one to two hours from Kauai's best beaches, Castle Kaha Lani suffers from its isolated, unappealing location. While only 10 minutes from the airport and technically located in Lihue, Castle Kaha Lani is still a 15-minute drive from most of Lihue's popular restaurants. The hotel site mentions “lush tropical rainforests” that surround the property, but you're hardly pulling into an island escape nestled in the jungle. In fact, you approach the resort (which resembles a suburban apartment complex) along the trimmed lawns of a municipal golf course.
Individually owned condos vary widely in quality; no AC.
A serious problem with Castle Kaha Lani is that the individually owned condos vary widely in decor, furnishings, and general upkeep -- and it's virtually impossible to know in advance what you'll get. You can choose the pricier "ocean front" that's right beside the water (with panoramic views of Wailua Bay) or you can choose the "ocean view" condo that offers a view of the grounds. But it's not guaranteed that either will look much like what's pictured on the site.
The coastline in front of the Kaha Lani offers beautiful views from the condos, but guests can't swim or even really lounge here because of the water's strong current and the rocky, driftwood-strewn shore. For a swimmable stretch of beach, guests can walk five minutes or drive to Lydgate Beach Park, a public beach with lifeguards, picnic tables, barbecue pits, restrooms, showers, and ample parking. Hidden sandbars, rocks, and reef make it unsuitable for surfing, but a lava-rock-enclosed lagoon blocks out big waves, so little kids can swim and snorkel safely.
All the condos have kitchens; the rates are low; and the nearby public beach has calm surf and lifeguards on duty. But there's little else here to attract families. The pool is small and unimpressive. If you tire of preparing your own meals, you need to leave the property. And though there's no particular reason to suspect danger, the security is pretty much nonexistent.
No dining at the resort; closest restaurants are about a five-minute drive.
Castle Kaha Lani doesn't have any restaurants or convenience stores. And though it's technically located in Lihue, Castle Kaha Lani is still a 15-minute drive away from popular Lihue restaurants like Hamura Saimin or Kauai Marriott's Duke's. Kapaa's restaurants are actually closer -- with the affordable restaurants in the Coconut Marketplace shopping village just about five minutes away.
This 75-unit condo resort in Lihue offers some of Kauai’s most affordable units, and on that strength alone it’s worth it for families who just want a place to crash on the island. Still, this place is cheap for a reason: minimal service, small pool, inconvenient location, and rooms that vary widely in quality.