Emphasis on environmentally friendly practices and products
Isolated location means driving 15 minutes for services and supplies
Winter surf makes beach unsuitable for swimming part of year
Housekeeping only every third day
Only coffee and pastries available for breakfast
The three-pearl Hanalei Colony Resort embodies what many travelers to Kauai seek -- a rustic, relaxed place to experience peace and quiet while immersed in some of the most spectacular scenery on the island. In keeping with the back-to-breathing theme here, there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms. Instead, the 48 spacious two-bedroom units all have full kitchens, island-style furniture, and generous lanais with views of the ocean, which laps at the property. Features include a small spa, pool, hot tub, and a Mediterranean restaurant, though housekeeping only takes place every three days and breakfast is a minimal affair. Those wanting a full menu of resort services will do better at the similarly priced Marriott in Lihue.
Small, laid-back waterfront property in lush jungle surroundings
Along a narrow highway that twists through jungle landscapes, with spectacular ocean vistas opening up at each turn, sits this semi-secluded condo-style property. At the far end of the parking lot, waves break just behind a shingled low-rise building, a fitting and understated welcome to an equally low-key property. Thirteen interconnected two-story condo buildings on groomed lawns spilling right to the sea.
Those looking for resort bustle might turn around and head back to civilization, but independent-minded couples and families seeking a close-to-nature vacation rental come back again and again. What guests forego in amenities and activities they gain in bright island-style condos with complete kitchens, a location that's a stone’s throw from several of the island’s top natural sights, and an intimate, laid-back ambience. Plus, the services that the resort does offer are particularly well chosen: a local shuttle service and a pizza night, for instance.
The resort emphasizes green practices. There are two guest recycling areas, the pool uses salt filtration instead of chlorine, the cleaning products are environmentally friendly, and there’s a shuttle to local sights to reduce emissions by minimizing the number of cars on the road. Guests can swim and snorkel at the resort’s beach in summer months when the seas are calm. During winter, when the surf gets more stirred up, they can opt for the salt-water pool or one of the calmer beaches just a few miles away. All in all, this resort is a fine way to escape and unplug on the scenic northern shore of Kauai.
In a mostly residential area amid Kauai's most spectacular scenery
The Hanalei Colony Resort is the only hotel north of the town of Hanalei, where the scenery turns into a lush, tropical wonderland emblematic of unspoiled Hawaii. It’s only a 10-minute drive to charming, colorful Hanalei town, where guests will find a range of restaurants, services, artsy shops, a health food store, and a supermarket. Famous Hanalei Bay Beach, where parts of "South Pacific" were filmed and where huge waves attract the best professional surfers in the winter, is also located in town. Just past Hanalei Colony to the north, the paved road comes to an abrupt end and the 6,175 acres of the Na Pali Coast State Park begins. The airport in Lihue is 60 minutes away by car, though roads are narrow, so budget more time. It’ll take about two and a half hours to get to Kokee State Park.
Other nearby sights include:
Tunnels Beach, the island’s best snorkeling location -- a three-minute drive.
The spectacular Limahuli National Tropical Botanical Garden -- a seven-minute drive.
The Na Pali Coast Trail, one of the world’s most famous hikes -- a 10-minute drive.
Ke’e Beach, fronted by 4,000-foot cliffs -- a 10-minute drive.
Golf at the Princeville Course -- a 20-minute drive.
Chocolate Tours at Princeville Botanical Gardens -- a 25-minute drive.
Airy, island-modern two-bedroom condos with full kitchens and spacious lanais
At 850 square feet (79 square meters), these two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath units have space to spare. Although they’re individually owned, each of the condos is decorated in a similar way, although the premium oceanfront rooms get a small bump in style, appliances, and amenities. Each has rich tigerwood flooring offset by white tiles in kitchens and baths. The abundance of windows gives the units an airy feel that's enhanced by the open floor plan, with bedrooms separated by louvered wooden partitions. Louvered front doors leading out to the lanai also create great cross breezes, and with the overhead paddle-fans at work, the lack of air-conditioning isn’t a problem except on the hottest summer days.
The look throughout is island-modern, with handsome tropical print fabrics and lots of natural wood, including bamboo, rattan, woven seagrass, or wicker accents. Couches and chairs look simultaneously sharp and appropriately casual, while coffee and accent tables hold designer lamps and nautical decor. There’s also a daybed that converts to a queen in a bamboo-floored area that works as an office for a couple, given the walnut work desk, or as a second bedroom if the party has a third or fourth person (although there’s an added charge when occupancy exceeds three).
The main difference between units is the views, with Ocean View Rooms set just 115 feet back from the beach, Oceanfront Rooms 30 feet back, and the Premium Oceanfront Rooms 10 feet away from the shore. The family-sized lanais in each room furnished make it easy to take in the sights and sounds. Each unit has a small kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, glass-top electric stove, microwave, blender, toaster, starter packs of coffee and tea, and cooking and serving utensils. The comfortable beds are all kings, some topped with striking custom-made white quilts bearing modern rust and red bamboo designs.
Bathrooms are small and the white tile a bit old-fashioned, but they’re sparkling clean and well maintained. The master bath has a shower/tub combo and Bath & Body Works amenities. The second bath is toilet and sink only, although a few of the premium units do have a full second bath. There are no televisions or radios in the rooms, but free WiFi is available. Housekeeping comes every third day. Guests who want clean linen or towels more often can get it by request.
Waterfront location, local shuttle service, barbecue area, and spa
The location right on the water is a highlight here, particularly during the warmer months when the seas calm down enough to swim and snorkel right off the resort’s beach. Nearby Ke’e and Hanalei Bay are nice options for both as well. With that in mind, a big plus here is the free van shuttle service which takes guest anywhere within a 10-mile radius. This means easy transportation to Hanalei town, Ke’e Beach, and the Napali Trail, places notorious for difficult parking.
Despite of the lack of a resort fee, there are a few well-chosen free events weekly including a Mai Tai party with pupus (appetizers), a lei making class, a free poolside continental breakfast, and pizza delivery to guest rooms. Entertainment happens at the adjoining restaurant several nights a week. Dotted around the grounds are open-pit barbecues with picnic tables. In the pavilion fronting the pool are the more sophisticated gas barbecues and outdoor cooking tools.
Massages, facials, wraps, couples’ treatments, and waxing are offered to guests in the informal spa. Treatment rooms are small, but guests can opt to have their bodywork done ocean side in a thatched roof beach hut. Prices are lower than at many of the other resorts on the island. Guests who want to shop without leaving the premises might find something worthy in the small gallery/gift shop. Local artists and jewelers have work for sale here, and the place doubles as a coffee shop.
Solar-heated saltwater pool in lovely garden setting
High split-bamboo fencing and tropical plantings with Zen fountains lend the pool area ambience and privacy. Solar heating keeps the water toasty warm, and there's a large bin filled with floats and other pool/beach toys for their use up on deck. There’s a housekeeping window dispensing beach towels right outside the pool. The koi pond to the back of the pool’s flagstone deck adds to the tranquil vibe, and there's a large pavilion fronting the pool with flagstone tile floors, raised bamboo roof, and paddle fans. Family-sized tables with comfortable chairs and guest bathrooms make this a nice gathering place.
Middle-Eastern restaurant serving lunch and dinner.
The restaurant here serves lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean bent in a spacious, high-ceilinged room overlooking the waves lapping the shore. Lunch includes salads, sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads, and the typical Middle-Eastern appetizers like hummus and babaganoush. Daytime prices are reasonable for hotel food. Dinner is pricier, with a menu featuring a gamut of seafood, meat, and vegetarian entrees. Most diners give the place favorable reviews, and the views and can’t be beat and it’s the only option at this end of the road.