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Find Solace Amid the Bustle at This Beachfront Resort in Kauai

Find Solace Amid the Bustle at This Beachfront Resort in Kauai

Kauai is Blooming Again for Visitors – With a thronged airport and full resorts, Hawai‘i’s Garden Isle is back in business post-pandemic. But there is still plenty of peace and love to uncover.

With a thronged airport and full resorts, Hawai‘i’s Garden Isle is back in business post-pandemic. But there is still plenty of peace and love to uncover.

A traffic jam in Kauai?

The whole idea of going to one of Hawai‘i’s least populated islands was to escape the pandemonium of urban life (in my family’s case, L.A.). An oceanside bridge project north of the Lihue Airport (“Endless,” the Uber driver groaned about the construction) had my husband, son, and I crawling for nearly 40 minutes on our six-mile journey to the hotel. But as the congestion dispersed south of our home base of Kapaʻa, the hula music started playing in my head and the fragrance of coconuts and gardenia wafted through the Kia.

Our Kauai starting point was emblematic of the trip as a whole: surrounded by beauty and no shortage of people, but with quiet and solitude just minutes away.

Our trip was centered at one of the island’s loveliest hotels, the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort. Considering we weren’t offered a bite to eat (or purchase) on the American Airlines flight and the Lihue Airport is minuscule, we high-tailed it to the resort’s pool bar and restaurant, the Crooked Surf. As the sounds of Robert Palmer’s “Every Kinda People” filled the air, we dug into poke bowls and fish tacos, and sipped our piña coladas (including a virgin variety). Stress levels soon dropped even more precipitously.

Sunrise at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort's infinity poolThe infinity pool at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort

With a little down time before check-in, we explored the Sheraton’s vast footprint. Airy, lively, and never stuffy, the hotel had nearly everything one could want from a Hawai‘i hotel. Let’s start with the food, since the Crooked Surf just scratches the surface of the resort’s offerings — First Light Coffee and Juice Bar serves the best macadamia nut latte I’ve ever had (also try the ube latte, which is made with local yams), while a sit-down restaurant, Daybreak, offers a hearty breakfast with a buffet option. The upscale eatery, Moa Moa, fires up prawns, steak, and market fish in an indoor/ourdoor dining room; eating on the lanai, complimented with stringed lights and delicate ocean breezes, is the way to go.

The Sheraton’s pool scene is one of the liveliest on Kauai; the infinity pool and hot tub were almost always well-patronized and, on the weekends, even “busy,” a word not often used to describe the Garden Island. The ocean fans out just beyond the pool, though it’s a rough stretch of water, so swimming is not advised. Many people lie out on deck chairs and meditate with the waves, drink in hand, while others play cornhole out near the sand. Twice during our trip, a monk seal plopped just outside our window and sunbathed for several hours on the beach below. At the pool, there is live music a few nights of the week and an assortment of (free) video games as well as foosball. If you want a more authentic Hawaiian experience, the resort even offers ukulele and hula lessons.

Looking west from Kauai's Coconut Coast at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut BeachLooking west from Kauai's Coconut CoastCOURTESY SHERATON

Settling down at the pool on that first day, we met a lesbian couple who described their adventures tubing through a cave. They were visiting the islands without their kids, but there was definitely no shortage of young people around the resort. Truthfully, Hawai‘i is an ideal family destination since it’s all about the outdoors and everything shuts down around 8 p.m. But if that isn’t in your wheelhouse, take it into consideration.

The next day, we took advantage of one of the resort’s best amenities: free bikes. We rode on a meandering cycling path that parallels the ocean and wends its way past residential streets, the backsides of hotels, and clusters of food trucks. Biking around Kapaʻa is the best way to access the charming town’s numerous eateries and shops; the main drag is probably the closest thing to urban life you’ll get in Kauai. We made a pit stop at Java Kai, in the middle of all the “action,” a place we’d return to several times for smoothies and iced mochas.

It was on the bikes that we found charming, quiet Fuji Beach, with a natural barrier that blunts the waves. Many beaches on the Royal Coconut Coast — a.k.a. the east side of Kauai, where Kapaʻa is located — can be treacherous, so do your research before jumping in. Later in the trip, we would uncover other glorious stretches of sand via car, like Anini Beach and Hanalei Bay on the north side of the island.

A bike path snakes around Kauai for miles \u2013 Sheraton Kauai Coconut BeachA bike path snakes around Kauai for milesCOURTESY SHERATON

While there is enough to do at the Sheraton and our son was happy to frolic in the pool for eight hours, the bounty of nature and escapes from civilization called to us nearly every day. There was that 4.5-hour kayaking trip ( through the Wailua River that included a mile-long hike in the forest and a dip in the basin of a waterfall. Later there was a walk around the cliffs that house the Kilauea Lighthouse, built in 1913; going inside an adjacent building yielded a Pride display highlighting same-sex mating rituals of local birds (go to to make a reservation beforehand). Unforgettable to all was a cruise around the stunning Nā Pali Coast; my husband and son marveled at the peaks that loom dramatically over the ocean as well as the pod of dolphins that cozied up to our boat. I, on the other hand, puked over the edge for much of the ride after we encountered major liquid turbulence (several operators, like Capt Andy’s and Blue Dolphin, cruise around the mostly unreachable north of the island). If you do want to get as close as possible to the Nā Pali coast, like Keʻe Beach, reservations are required and fill up weeks or months in advance.

The infinity pool at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach ResortThe infinity pool at the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach ResortCOURTESY SHERATON

Surprisingly, the pinnacle of the trip was the Luau Ka Hikina. I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of a luau, as it still conjures up images of tacky tourists scarfing down a giant pig while Indigenous entertainers sweat for the visitors’ pleasure. Thankfully, the Sheraton’s luau is heavy on history, telling the tales of ancient Hawaiian and Tahitian dance and how it reflects a sacred love of nature. Plus, the food was a lot more sophisticated than a split-open animal with an apple in its maw.

After performances by numerous cadres of dancers — some with several costume changes — the emcee dimmed the lights and invited the couples to slow dance. As we were one of the only queer couples at the luau, I was hesitant to be on “gay display.” But my husband pulled me up, and we rocked back and forth to “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” There were no groans or murmurs heard, just the sound of Elvis and the palm fronds blowing overhead.

Kauai's Coconut CoastKauai's Coconut CoastCOURTESY SHERATON

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Neal Broverman