Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort
With its arrival in 2009, the 121-room Koa Kea Resort made a splash on the area’s beloved Poipu Beach. The tranquil property offers a more intimate escape than nearby mega-resorts, and because it was constructed on the footprint of a 1960s hotel, it has a superior location that’s closer to the ocean than most other Hawaiian hotels. Arranged in a U-shape around the deep blue outdoor pool, the boutique property still has all the requisite modern-day luxuries: private lanais, dual showerheads in the marble-accented bathrooms, and a full-service fitness center and luxury spa. Don’t miss one of Kauai’s best photo ops: on many warm afternoons, endangered Hawaiian monk seals climb up on the sand to sunbathe.