Kauai, Hawaii: Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Let me start this blog post off by saying; if Hawaii is on your travel list, or you have been thinking about going to Hawaii, DO IT. Shane and I haven’t traveled just the two of us since our honeymoon and Hawaii has been on our list for a while now. Shane had never been and I had gone once but it was a Hawaiian cruise, so I felt like I didn’t really get to see all of the islands we stopped at. Once we decided that Hawaii was the place, we then had to narrow down which island we would choose.

Now, most people tend to island hop but with everything going on we didn’t want to have to jump through all the hoops to be able to island hop and instead decided to stay the entire time on one island; Kauai.

After A LOT of research, by Shane of course, we decided on Kauai. To me, Kauai feels the least touristy, it is a much smaller, quaint island, that feels more local than commercialized. PLUS, it is the Garden Isle… what more could you want?! Below I have laid out our ENTIRE trip as organized as possible! Enjoy!

Travel

Alright, first up, booking the trip. We booked the trip through Costco Travel and this was actually the first time we have used them, and would 100% use them again. Now as with anything, there are always going to be pros and cons.

COSTCO PROS: You can literally book everything through this website (flight, transportation, and hotel) all in one swoop. Not to mention, there are always a variety of incentives based on the package you choose. For example, when we booked we received complimentary transportation to and from the airport, the $40 daily resort fee was waived, $100 to use towards excursions, and $100 gift card to Costco. Other packages we looked at included; car rentals, upgraded rooms, food credit to your hotel/resort, etc.

COSTCO CONS: A lot of the times you are flying two different airlines. Fortunately for us we flew Delta both to and from Hawaii. The transportation we had was subpar, I will talk about this a little later on! A lot of people have written that they’ve had the same experiences, so hopefully Costco will review those and find another transportation company! Lastly, if you needed to get ahold of someone for any reason it was best to go directly through Costco Travel, which wasn’t always the fastest.

PRICE: One of the main reasons we jumped on booking this trip was the price. We paid about $2,000 round trip per person ($4000 for both Shane and I). This included round trip flight, transportation (to and from the airport), and the our stay at the Ko’a Kea Resort and Hotel!

TRANSPORTATION (to & from the resort): Transportation came with our Costco Travel package, but I will say it was least organized. When we landed in Kauai, we were supposed to have a private sedan waiting for us… it wasn’t. When we tried to called the company, using the number provided to us with our travel information, we reached a voicemail that stated they were closed. Finally, Shane was able to get a hold of someone and they told us they were just running behind. We got picked up about 25 minutes after we landed. We did get picked up in a private sedan and everything worked out once we were able to get a hold of them!

Fast forward, to the night before we left. We were directed to call the transportation company 24 hours prior to when we wanted to be picked-up. When we called the number provided, we kept getting a busy signal. Finally, we got through, but when we were able to talk to someone they told us that there was no reservation for “Miller” party of 2. I tried to get a hold of Costco Travel and the wait time was over 2 hours. After 49 minutes on hold we gave up, Shane decided to go to the front desk at Ko’a Kea, and thank goodness we did because they were INCREDIBLE. They asked for our phone number, where we could be reached and said “Go enjoy your last day, we will get everything figured out!” and they did! They ended up booking us another taxi, unfortunately it was going to be $50 but we didn’t care! We just wanted to make sure we had a ride to the airport. However, on our last day, about 20 minutes before our taxi was supposed to show up, Shane was at the front and their was a shuttle waiting for “Miller” party of 2.

Long story short, our Costco Travel transportation was booked through a different company on the way home than from when we arrived. HOWEVER, this was not shared with us via our travel information. We got to the airport and we didn’t have to pay but definitely something I hope Costco gets figured out!

TRANSPORTATION (car rentals/bike rentals): Last but DEFINITELY not least – getting around the island. We DID NOT rent a car, and looking back we wish we would’ve have. The island is small enough that if you have a car you can really take advantage of seeing most of the island. Also, ubers/taxis are REALLY REALLY hard to come buy especially if not planned in advance. Now, when we booked, rental cars were outrageously expensive and there weren’t many available. When booking your trip to Hawaii, especially Kauai, we would highly suggest renting a car. However, most resorts/hotels do make you pay for parking – Ko’a Kea’s was $25 a day, STILL worth it because taxis are MORE expensive than this.

Now, by the time we were in Kauai and realized it would’ve been nice to have a car, THERE WAS NO CARS LEFT. So, we did what any locals would do, we rented BIKES. We walked from Ko’a Kea to Pedego Poipu and rented bikes. We were going to rent the electric bikes but decided just to go with the good old fashion bikes and they were PERFECT! We only rented them for a day ($135 total) but they allowed us to get around a big part of the island and it was a FANTASTIC workout! We planned it, so that when we returned the bikes we ate dinner at the restaurant that was located above the bike shop called Kalapaki Joe’s, an true Kauai sports bar!

Resort

Front Entrance
Resort Lobby & Pool

We stayed at Ko’a Kea Resort & Hotel!
Shane and I are giving this resort overall a 4.7/5 stars.

Overall, we were EXTREMELY impressed. The resort was breathtaking and the views were out of this world. I felt like I was on the set of a movie, that’s how perfect it truly was. Shane and I would highly recommend this resort to others, especially for an adults only, romantic getaway, or even a baby moon trip!

Now, as always, I’m going to share the overall things we didn’t love about the resort too.

Shane and I had a long chat about what we weren’t happy with and it was HARD to find anything. The only things we could come up with is the fact that the little rental shop located on site sometimes ran out of items such as bike rentals, etc. Next, the hotel doesn’t necessarily have “beach access” right out front, instead you have to walk 50 feet to the left or 50 feet to the right to have actual beach access. Directly in front of Ko’a Kea is a rocky shore line. The prices were something we weren’t prepared for but that was universal across the island.

Room

Room 188
Walk from Reception to Room

We booked the Garden View room and were very happy with our location. You can tell from the videos above that the room was very private and easily accessible. We were SO close to the hot tub and the pool, PLUS we our door led straight outside which I absolutely loved!

Pardon the messy room, Shane took the video on our way out! As you can see, the room is a pretty typical room but when you have a resort like this one we weren’t spending much time in the room! I do think if we were celebrating something (honeymoon, babymoon, anniversary, etc.) we probably would have splurged and got an Ocean Front room because they were absolutely INCREDIBLE.

I did have a few of you ask me about this resort for honeymoons and baby moons. YES, I would pick this place for either of those. This place was extremely romantic, quiet, quaint, and tucked back far enough from the beach that you didn’t experience the foot traffic that some of the other resorts did.

Overall, we were very pleased with our room. We had a beautiful view of the resort and the beach. The room was average sized and very nice. We had a waterfall shower and a fully stocked bathroom (blow dryer, shampoo, conditioner, etc). The room also came with a complimentary bottle of wine. Not to mention, every night they delivered two fresh Nespresso pods (there is a Nespresso in each room), and two bottles of water!

Housekeeping never came, BUT that was our preference. Due to Covid-19 protocols they will only come and clean your room if you request a full cleaning. If you need refills on anything like towels, toilet paper, etc., you can call the front and they will quickly get those delivered to your room!

Complimentary Room – Freshen’ Up

Another perk of Ko’a Kea is the complimentary room they offer for people who need to freshen up before their flight. 24 hours prior to check-out, they suggest checking with the front desk. The front desk will offer you the latest check out based on how many humans are checking in the next day. For us, we were able to check out at 12pm (instead of the typical 11am check-out). At 12pm, we checked out, gave our bags to the front, and continued to enjoy our last day in Kauai. You can book the complimentary room for 1 hour blocks, so we booked the complimentary room from 4pm-5pm. The room isn’t anything special, it appears that it is a conference room that doubles as the complimentary room. Short video below.

Complimentary Room

Food & Restaurants

The best part of the trip, the FOOD. We tried to hit as many of the food places that we had scoped out before the trip and I have to say that we did a pretty good job, as you can clearly see. Each picture is a new place that we tried and I have linked the website below the picture for easier access! Starting from the top:

Puka Dog: We had heard SO many things about this little place but I was a skeptic because I am not a hot dog fan.. well, I stand corrected because I am a hot dog fan when Puka Dog is in charge of making it. These were the most incredible hot dogs I have ever had. I think it’s mainly because of the way they assemble their dogs. Puka Dogs is walking distance from Ko’a Kea and definitely worth the hype, especially for a quick and less expensive meal! DO NOT FORGET THE LEMONADE.

Little Fish Coffee: My ABSOLUTE favorite spot of the entire trip. It’s located on the side of the street directly across from the hotel and easily within walking distance. They open at 7:30am but you are definitely going to want to be in line by 7:00 or 7:15, so that you aren’t waiting all morning. I went to Little Fish 3 times and every time was better than the last. Their coffee in delicious but their BREAKFAST IS TO DIE FOR.

Leongs Meat House: The tiniest little shack on the side of the road with the BEST poke I have ever eaten. We stumbled upon this little restaurant on accident when we caught a ride back to the hotel with another couple that had been on our kayak tour and it did not disappoint! It is located in Lihue, so we most definitely wouldn’t have made it there if it weren’t for our new friends that we made BUT if you have transportation I suggest making this a stop!

Red Salt
Red Salt

Red Salt: Located on the grounds of Ko’a Kea, this restaurant is definitely worth the money. I would save this one for a special occasion, or celebration because it is quite pricey but the experience is pretty neat. Their food is incredible and out of a magazine. Shane’s aioli dipping sauce had GOLD FOIL in it – need I say more?

This most certainly isn’t going to be the place that you want to order from a lot due to the fact that it is VERY expensive but I would suggest making reservations for one meal, and definitely make the reservations in advance!

Poipu Rock ‘n’ Roll Sushi: Sushi was a MUST for me and we stumbled upon this little place while walking through some shops that are located just a little ways down the road from our resort. It’s actually located inside of a little Thai Restaurant. Shane and I split three rolls, which was PLENTY for us! I will say their menu was a little limited due to Covid-19, but what we did have was FANTASTIC.

Savage Shrimp: Another WINNER. This was located in a shopping center that was a little bit farther of a walk but WORTH IT. It is tucked back on the side of the shopping center and is extremely tiny BUT they aren’t kidding when they say SAVAGE shrimp. IT WAS SO GOOD but SO HOT. However, the tacos weren’t as hot and were DELICIOUS.

Anuenue Cafe: Last but not least, you all know I lurve a good avocado toast and I luckily found this spot on our last morning in Kauai. Also, located in the shopping center just across the street from out hotel was this little cafe. Tiny and quaint but their food was PACKED with flavor. I got the avocado toast and Shane got the stuffed french toast, both INCREDIBLE.

Beaches

Start of Poipu Beach
Lawai Beach

We really only hit two of the main beaches on this trip; Poipu and Lawai.

Poipu Beach is about a 50 feet walk to the left of Ko’a Kea and is known for sea turtles and monk seals, in which we saw both of them on our trip. It’s busy but not busy enough that you can’t find a spot. We were always able to find a spot no matter the time of day.

Lawai Beach is tiny but INCREDIBLE for snorkeling. It was actually recommended to us by the local that we rented the bikes from and it did not DISAPPOINT. We were able to walk right into the water and swim with a sea turtle and see at least 50 different types of fish!

Shipwreck’s Beach is just north of Ko’a Kea, past Poipu beach. It has a public swimming beach BUT it also has a little hike (about 5 minutes) that you can do to the top of Shipwreck’s Rock. The view was breathtaking and completely worth the hike. I did the hike in sandals if that tells you just how quickly and easily it can be done!

If you are hoping to rent umbrellas and chairs, that can be done at the local shop that is located right on the grounds of Ko’a Kea which is really convenient!

Excursions/Activities

Ali’i Kayak Hike
Ali’i Kayak Waterfall

Excursions. Shane and I live for adventure. We had three excursions/activities planned during this trip and it was the perfect amount of things planned without feeling too overwhelmed. One thing we weren’t able to do was a Luau, most of them had been shut down and were just opening back up. If you are hoping to do a Luau, you are definitely going to want to book that as far out as possible!

Dive Kauai: Shane always tries to dive when we are on vacation and this spot was conveniently located within walking distance from our hotel. This was shore dive, one of Shane’s first! He was satisfied with his two dives that he did but said we saw almost as much as he had when we hit the snorkeling JACKPOT in Lawai Beach!

Nā Pali Coast – Capt Andy’s Boat Tour: If you are going to book anything BOOK THIS. It was $205 per person but completely worth the money. I have never seen anything as beautiful as this coast line, honestly, I was completely speechless. They filmed a bunch of the Jurassic Park opening scenes along the Na Pali coast, so you can only imagine. We scheduled a taxi from our hotel to Capt Andy’s. We arrived early and were able to check in and walk around a few of the shops located near Capt Andys. We boarded the BIG catamaran/boat. On the way out to the Na Pali coast we were served fresh juice and coffee and spotted 4 pods of dolphins that swam right up to the boat. The ride out there was pretty smooth, not many bumps or big waves. Once we rode up the coast, we stopped, and snorkeled before coming back onto the boat for lunch! Lunch was better than I expected, they make it while you are snorkeling! I had the grilled chicken sandwich and Shane had the cheeseburger! On the way back, the ride was MUCH rougher and we went through some seriously big waves but I attribute a lot of that to the storm that we were trying to be back to the harbor!

Capt Andy’s Lunch
Capt Andy’s Storefront

Ali’i Kayak Tour: The other tour we did was through Ali’i Kayak and was definitely more adventurous and much more of a workout, in my opinion! We kayaked 2 miles both ways and did a 1.5 mile hike to the most beautiful and breathtaking “Secret Waterfall”. Our tour guide was incredible and was so knowledgeable of all the scenery that was around us! We were able to eat lunch and swim in the waterfall, which was an experience I never knew I needed. This tour was $75 per person and was one of the tours we were able to use our $100 travel credit from Costco towards. For the price, if you are into hiking, kayaking and waterfalls, then this tour is for YOU!

Covid-19

By far one of the most asked questions in regard to our trip was the Covid-19 testing, paperwork, and requirements.

BEFORE TRAVELING: Prior to leaving Shane and I both had to create and profile on Safe Travels Hawaii. After creating a profile, we had to “create a trip”, where we provided dates, flight information, and where we were coming from. Then, because both Shane and I are vaccinated we entered our vaccine information and uploaded a picture of our vaccination cards. Then, 24 hours prior to take-off they sent out a survey, after completing the survey, the website provided us each with a QR code.

DURING TRAVEL: We were told that once we landed in Kauai we would have to provide TSA with our vaccination cards and the QR code that was provided to us. HOWEVER, to our surprise while we were waiting to board in Seattle, a few Delta airport workers were walking around asking “if we had received our wristbands yet?”. Come to find out, they were prescreening anyone who had all of the necessary paperwork ready to go! Lucky for us, well actually, luckily for me, Shane always has his stuff together so we were able to get prescreened. Overall, probably saved us about an hour when we landed in Kauai. We bypassed all security and went straight to baggage claim.

While we were in Kauai I was extremely impressed with the Covid-19 protocols that the resort followed. There were people CONSTANTLY cleaning; the bars, the pools, the restaurants, etc. All staff were wearing masks at all times, and any of the staff working the bars or restaurants also wore hair nets. As for the guest, masks were required inside ALL buildings. Masks were optional outside and at all pools/swim up bars.

There were NO REQUIREMENTS to return from Hawaii.

Frozen Coconut Mojito
Hiking to the Secret Falls
Our Pool View

Other FAQ

Q: Must go/see spots?!
A: I could write a whole blog on just spots to go see because they are all SO perfect BUT I won’t take up all your time. I think the most memorable things to see were Old Koloa Town, Na Pali Coast, The Secret Falls, and Poipu Beach. I know I’m missing a few but these were the ones that stood out the most to me!

Q: Would you stay at Ko’a Kea again?
A: Yes, we 100% would stay here again. Shane and I even talked about doing a couples trip here because it was JUST THAT GOOD. Not to mention, they have two LARGE fire pits that they light at night with big adirondack chairs around each other them which made for a perfect spot for a great night cap!

Q: Was it all inclusive?
A: No, it wasn’t. That was the one downfall. Nothing is included and everything is expensive. We ended up going to the local grocery store, buying our own alcohol, and making our own drinks while we were hanging around the pool. Minus the few frozen Coconut Mojitos that I couldn’t turn down.

Q: You book yourself?
A: If by yourself you mean Shane, then yes. Shane did all of the research and booked everything. Obviously Costco Travel helps put everything together but we didn’t talk to anyone or go through any sort of travel agent besides Costco. Honestly, Shane should probably become a travel agent because he’s just THAT GOOD.

Q: Maui or Kauai, which do you prefer?
A: I don’t think I’m the best to answer that. When I went to Maui, I was only there for a few hours during a stop on our cruise. However, before booking this trip I told Shane that I remembered loving Kauai and the local/less touristy feel that it had. I know Maui is extremely beautiful as well, but have also heard it’s becoming much more touristy than years prior. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with Kauai.

Q: How far is the resort from the airport and did the resort provide airport transportation?
A: The airport is about 30 minutes away from Ko’a Kea. Our Costco Travel package came with transportation, although it wasn’t the best. However, the resort itself can definitely get your transportation scheduled and they do a great job, BUT it won’t be included.

Q: Good place for baby moon?
A: YES x1000! I told Shane that we should come back whenever that time comes for us because it was PERFECT for that kind of vacation. The resort is quiet, quaint, romantic, and the most serene resort I have ever stayed at!

Q: Best adventure/excursion?
A: Capt Andy’s HANDS DOWN. Seeing the Na Pali coast was one of our top priorities and you only have two options; by boat and by helicopter. I wanted to snorkel, so we chose the boat tour and I would choose it a hundred more times. We booked the Snorkel BBQ Sail and it was so worth the money.

Q: How close is the actual town and is it easy to get around?
A: There are a bunch of little towns (Poipu, Koloa, and Lihue) in a close vicinity of the Ko’a Kea resort and hotel. If you have a car EVERYHTING is in close proximity. The three towns I listed above were easily accessible by bike but all other towns would have been a bit much on a bike!

Q: Did it rain a lot? Weather in general?
A: Actually no. Supposedly it rains every morning really early in the morning but we only witnessed it once and it was the day after we got in because we were up at 4:45am. We had fantastic weather, mid 80’s and sunny almost every day. However, we must’ve brought the Kansas winds with us because HOLY WINDY.

Q: Must do hikes?
A: Honestly, we didn’t do many hikes. The biggest one we did was through Ali’i Kayaks and it was incredible. We were actually able to use our $100 credit from Costco Travel to book this tour. We kayaked 4 miles and hikes 2 miles before reaching the most beautiful and breathtaking waterfall I have ever seen. Throughout the tour we say locations where they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, and the rocks that inspired Moana – if that let’s you know the views we saw! The other smaller hike we did, it was only about 5 minutes and it was at Shipwreck’s Beach. You hike to the top and it overlooks the ocean. We saw about 5 sea turtles right below us, definitely worth the little hike!

Q: How long did you stay? Would you stay longer or shorter?
A: We stayed 6 days and 5 nights. It was honestly the perfect amount of time. A lot of the people we met stayed between 4-6 days in Kauai before heading home or heading to another island!

take the trip

xo, brm.

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