by Sara Wellensiek
Located in Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore, the Hanalei Bay Resort sits above Hanalei Bay, offering its guests breathtaking island views.
Small parties (two people) can rent traditional hotel rooms, while one- or two-bedroom condo units are available for families. All the condo units are equipped with full kitchens, making a stay at the Hanalei Bay Resort like coming home. Plus, families can save money by cooking in condos, or at one of the BBQ grilling areas available for guests to use. Every room has at least one private lanai where you can enjoy meals or your morning coffee with a view.
Families will love the beautiful pool area, tennis courts and direct beach access. For families with young children, Hanalei Bay has relatively tranquil water for Kauai’s standards, so it’s a safe beach to play on.
Venturing off property for food or grocery shopping is easy as a shopping center is just a quick five-minute drive away in Princeville. Additionally, you’re less than a 30-minute drive from some of Kauai’s best beaches and most popular tourist destinations. When staying at the Hanalei Bay Resort, you also have one of the best places to watch the sunset on the island!
Our Editor Loves
- Condo-style units with full kitchens
- Direct beach access
- Tropical themed pool
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
Rooms & Rates
Guests at the Hanalei Bay Resort can choose between more traditional hotel-style accommodations and condo units. All rooms on the property are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi, cable TV and at least one lanai to enjoy the ocean breeze and beautiful scenery. Condo-style units are equipped with fully functional kitchens, complete with a dishwasher, stovetop, oven, microwave, refrigerator, coffeemaker, cookware, tableware, drinking glasses and more. With the full kitchens, every room type has a living area featuring a table with chairs, a sofa and entertainment area.
Hotel and Studio room accommodations are only available for small parties (singles or couples), so families will want to book condo units. Complimentary cribs are available upon request.
These condos are 1,091 square feet in size, with one king bed or two double beds in the master bedroom and a sofa bed in the living area. The rooms all have air conditioning and ceiling fans, along with flat-screen TVs, DVD players and free Wi-Fi. With the fully equipped kitchen, families of four will have all the comforts of home here.
Two-Bedroom Condos are a very spacious 1,630 square feet and sleep up to six people, making them ideal for larger families. Two-bedroom units actually are the equivalent of renting a one-bedroom unit with the traditional hotel-style room connected. Besides the one bedroom, there is another master bedroom with one king bed and a bathroom. The double master bedroom feature is wonderful for larger families or for two families/couples that are traveling together. These units also have two private lanais. Just like the one-bedroom units, the two bedrooms all have air conditioning and ceiling fans, along with flat-screen TVs, DVD players and free Wi-Fi.
We recently stayed here (wife and two kids) for 7 nights on spring break and had a great stay. I have almost nothing "negative" to say about this resort but am going to give you some of the pros and cons because I think it depends on what you want in a resort. My personal opinion is some of the negative reviews are based on what someone THOUGHT they were getting when they booked here when they say this placed lacked "hospitality" and "amenities." So, let me set the record straight so you know what you're getting for the money.
First, this is a beautiful place but it is not a 5 star luxury resort if you're used to all inclusive experiences with staff checking on your every need, taking drink orders poolside, etc. Hanalei Bay Resort is not that type of place. It's not meant to be that way.
It was built probably 30 or 35 years ago but has been well maintained and they have updated many units. Its closer to a vacation rental experience where you can cook your own food but also with a place you can walk up and order a drink. You will find it peaceful, relaxing and likely feeling uncrowded. I personally don't need someone to wait on me hand an foot but some people want that on vacation. Don't come here if that's what you want at a resort. The staff here was unfailingly friendly and helpful if you need them. They have a concierge to help you book things if needed. No one ever pushed anything on us. They also have a golf cart shuttle that runs you around the resort if you don't want to walk (there's one big parking lot so it can be a long-ish walk to your building depending on where they put you). We used the shuttle about a 10 times and never waited more than 5 minutes for it to arrive.
Pool temperature: You're coming to Hawaii so you may think the water is nice and warm even in winter -- right? No necessarily the case. I'm not going to lie, the resort pool was chilly (there are two pools - the main pool and then a much much smaller round pool good for kids). It is not heated other than by the Hawaiian sun which was shining during maybe half our visit. I can't speak for rest of the year. Kauai had been a bit cooler weather than usual (65 at night highs close to 75). It can be overcast on the north shore this time of year and it rains off and on -- often in brief spurts - almost every day in the winter. It is harder for the pool to warm up quickly without constant sun. The pool was not hypothermia inducing but it was very cool. If you want a pool with bathtub-like warm water on vacation this may not be the place for you at least this time of year. One guy said it is much better in the summer. I never saw more than 5 or 10 people swimming and I was often one of them. Saw several people take a quick dip and get back out to the hot tub -- my wife was one of them. It takes getting used to and I have a decent tolerance for cold! You won't find slides or pool toys, games or music thumping either. The pool is large and clean with a swim up bar. Again, not a negative UNLESS that's what you've come looking for a warm pool and lots of people laying out with pool action on your vacation. I personally liked the tranquil atmosphere.
The hot tub though is REALLY nice and was often a social hub to meet new people. Much busier than the pool.
Location: We really liked the location of this resort because it was quiet and the views unbeatable. You will not find a more beautiful spot on the island. It is less busy than say, Kaapa and Lihue where the traffic during the day can be AWFUL and that area lacks views. The only downside to north shore is distance to certain activities if you're wanting to see all the island. And it rains more on the north shore in the winter as compared to south. It was approximately an hour and half to Waimea Canyon from here. It was about an hour drive to the mountain tubing near Kaapa and hour and half to south shore marina to take the boat rides to see Napili Coast. We were kind of worn out after driving to see those things three days in row. That said, the island is small and we stopped at neat road side food trucks and saw everything. We also LOVED the town of HANALEI more than any other we saw. Great for dinner and shopping. Just 10 minutes from the resort. The most central spot on the island is around Kaapa if you want to be equal distance to north and south shore activities.
Rooms: We loved our two bedroom two bath condo (I think they call them suites). It's really two places combined and was surprisingly large. About 1200 or so square feet. It had been updated in the last year or so with new kitchen cabinets, appliances and utensils. We cooked about half our meals here which can save lots of money in Hawaii. The beds were all comfortable. Our two kids shared a bedroom and each had their own bed. Master bedroom had a nice king size bed. The living area was large that opened up to a lanai with great views of Hanalei Bay. You'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful spot to drink coffee and have breakfast. Room was clean. Even had a washer and dryer in the unit and they provided laundry soap. Really nice to be able to do a load of clothes. They also have newer grills scattered around the resort we used one night.
Value: I shopped around a lot on the internet for a place to stay and this was one of the better priced resorts. We paid about $400 per night -- taxes, fees, etc. everything included -- and for that amount was a great value on Kauai. Very fairly priced for what we got.
Beach: There's a paved path that takes you straight down to the beach. You can walk it or they will drive you down on the shuttle - and pick you back up. The beach is not great for kids swimming. Waves aren't huge but there are some rocks near the shore. Lots of surfers there in the winter. We did find Anini Beach much better for kids and was only 10 minutes drive from the resort. It is a pretty place though just to hang out.
What's close: Foodland grocery is 5 minutes away in Princeville. Prices for some groceries were king's ransom ($5.50 for gallon of milk) but other things were very reasonable and not far from mainland prices. Overall not bad and don't think we spent much more on groceries than at home. There's not much in Princeville but a few restaurants and shops. Your better bet is to head to Hanalei for lunch, dinner, shave ice and more shopping. Only 10-15 minutes away. Also, if you're a golfer there's a beautiful public course in Princeville less than 5 minutes from the resort. I think green fees are about $300.
Also, there is a bar and grill on site open for dinner and I think lunch. We never ate here. The restaurant is still being renovated as of March 2019 but didn't seem anywhere near done. I assume it will reopen? Again, if you want restaurants on site know that your options are limited to just the bar and grill menu.
So, to sum it up, after reading this review, just ask yourself what you want in a resort? Restaurants and shops with large staff to check on your every need and serve you drinks? A warm pool as the focus of your vacation with lots going on? Expecting those you might be disappointed especially in the winter months. If you are more a "do it yourself-er" and looking for a peaceful setting to plant yourself but yet don't mind driving around the island to see other sites then this might be your spot.
by Norma C
We visited this lovely hotel & resort on a Sunday afternoon. A local musician invited us to listen to live jazz. This place is absolutely breathtaking. Just ordering a local cocktail, listening to live jazz, and taking in the sights made me feel like I'd died and gone to Heaven !!!
The Hanalei Bay Resort has two pools on its property. In the large, free form lagoon pool, waterfalls and tropical vegetation surround you while catching views of Hanalei Bay. This pool area is a quintessential tropical paradise in every sense of the term. You'll find a spa built into some volcanic rock and a sandy shallow pool area with beach-style entry for little ones.
Farther down the path, near the shared grilling area is another pool. This pool is circular, much smaller than the lagoon pool, and lacks the beautiful features that the main lagoon pool has. But for guests staying in the rooms nearby or adults/families who might be grilling, it's nice to have the pool there.
The Hanalei Bay Resort is home to a Peter Burwash International (PBI) tennis facility, complete with two resident tennis pros offering private lessons, tournaments, classes and more year-round. There's even a junior program for kids of all ages. With eight courts on the property (four hard and four artificial turf), this is an ideal tropical escape for tennis enthusiasts! Tennis facilities are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The property is home to a variety of native plants and flowers, which add beautiful color to the resort. Ask the concierge about the weekly garden tours that are offered.
Scheduled Resort Activities
Families can enjoy scheduled activities at the resort, such as Mai Tai parties, wine tasting events, food truck parties, movie nights and more. All are complimentary.
Bali Hai Restaurant
Bali Hai Restaurant at the Hanalei Bay Resort was widely regarded as having some of the best views in Kauai. Sadly though, the restaurant was destroyed due to a fire in 2011. The hotel has been in the process of rebuilding and there are plans for a restaurant and lounge/bar to be reopening soon (likely late 2015).
Nalu Kai Grill and Bar
This poolside restaurant is part of the St. Regis Resort, located on the shared beach with the Hanalei Bay Resort. Guests of both properties are able to dine here. Pool, beach and cocktail service are available 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Lunch service is offered from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Given the luxury nature of the St. Regis, the prices are by no means inexpensive. But, the views are stunning and it makes for a convenient spot to get food if you're spending the day on the beach.
For families, one of the biggest perks about staying at the Hanalei Bay Resort is the condo-style units with the full kitchens. On the way to the North Shore from the airport, you'll find many small markets and large chain stores (including Walmart and Costco). Stock up on snacks and groceries for easy meals in your room. In addition to the full kitchens, guests at Hanalei Bay can make use of a large grilling area.
Located right along the highway and only about a five-minute drive from the resort, you'll find the Princeville Center. It's very easy to get to from the resort (you don't even need to venture out on to the highway). There are nearly 10 different eateries, including Lappert's Ice Cream, coffee shops, shaved ice and a bakery for casual food and treats. Then, you can choose restaurants that specialize in different cuisines like steak & seafood, Mexican and Thai/Chinese. Less than a 20-minute drive away in historic Hanalei, you'll find a number of other restaurants, as well.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
An activities host is available in the Hanalei Bay Resort daily, just around the corner from the front desk. He or she can help you plan a number of activities in the area.
The Fitness Center, Sundry Shop, Happy Talk Lounge and Bali Hai Restaurant are all closed due to a fire that happened in 2011. The resort is working to reopen them as soon as possible.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at 10 a.m. Contact the front desk to see about requesting an early check-in or late check-out.
The Art of Smart Timing
For those interested in staying on Kauai's North Shore, note that this area is home to very high surf during the winter months (generally October through March) and is generally the wettest side of the island.
As is true of most family travel destinations, Kauai's busiest months are those when kids are on school breaks -- the winter holiday season and the summer months. The high season generally runs from December through spring break (early April). During the holidays, you can expect to pay the highest rates for airfare and rooms. The summer months (mid-June to mid-August) make up the next highest season in terms of rates and number of visitors to the island.
The best times to visit the island in terms of lowest prices are usually during the fall (September through November) and late spring (mid-April to mid-June). These months also are typically regarded as the best weather months on the island.
Humpback whale watching is a very popular thing in Kauai for some tourists. If that's of interest to you, plan your trip between January and early April. During the height of whale season, whales can often be seen from land at various points all over the island. The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (a popular whale-watching spot) is a short drive from the Hanalei Bay Resort.
You'll fly into the Lihue Airport, which is the only main airport on the island. From the airport, visitors will take the clearly marked shuttle to the rental car area. Renting a car is a necessity on the island.
On your way from the airport to the North Shore, plan a stop at a grocery store to get supplies for your stay. There is a Walmart in Lihue, various stores in Kapaa, and the Foodland Supermarket in Princeville, just five minutes from the Hanalei Bay Resort.
Public transportation really isn't an option here, so visitors to the island need rental cars. On the way to the North Shore, traffic can slow in the Kapaa area, but there is a bypass route. Drive time from the airport to the Hanalei Bay Resort is normally about 30 minutes barring any major traffic delays.
Complimentary parking is included at the Hanalei Bay Resort. Once on the property, the bell desk offers complimentary golf cart rides to your room from the parking lot. Additionally, you can call them anytime to catch a ride to and from the beach!
For Mom and Dad
If you have a babysitter and are able to have an evening without the kids, plan to head next door to the St. Regis Princeville. You can choose from two different luxurious restaurants: Makana Terrace and The Kauai Grill. Makana Terrance offers "sophisticated casual dining" daily, but the atmosphere is still perfect for a date night. For a more fine-dining experience, you'll want to choose The Kauai Grill.