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Planning a Wedding in Kauai: An Overview - Part 1: Hotel/Resort, Restaurant venues

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The Kauai forum is pretty quiet on this subject - I haven't seen a new post in a while.  So I thought I'd share some of the information I've found so far.  


Kauai is known as the "Garden Isle," the oldest and northernmost of all the Hawaiian islands.  It's the least commercially developed, thus preserving a lot of its national landscape.  The island seems to be broken down into five parts as seen in this map:


  • North Shore (Anini Beach, Haena, Hanalei, Kalihiwai, Kilauea, Moloaa Bay, Princeville, Wainiha)
  • Coconut Coast (Aliomanu Bay, Anahola, Kapaa, Kapahi, Kealia, Wailua, Waipouli)
  • Lihue / Kalapaki (Lihue, Nawiliwili)
  • South Shore (Kalaheo, Koloa, Lawai, Omao, Poipu)
  • West Side (Eleele, Hanapepe, Kekaha, Makaweli, Waimea)


North Shore


Princeville contains the more upscale resorts (e.g. St. Regis Princeville).  Princeville and Hanalei seem to be the more popular sites for wedding ceremonies as they have the best views of Makana Mountain, made famous as Bali Hai mountain from the film South Pacific.  I've seen pictures and advertisements for weddings at Hanalei Colony Resort, Hanalei Bay Resort, St. Regis Princeville, and Na' aina Kai Botanical Garden. Be warned:  this area is likely the most expensive.  The North Shore has quite possibly the best views on the island - perpetual rainbows, breathtaking sunsets, and romantic mountain views.  However, it rains nearly everyday - more often mists and droplets, with occasional downpours.  So keep this in mind when planning your ceremony.


Coconut Coast


Kauai's East Side is called the "Coconut Coast" because of the coconut palms that grow in its resort areas.  This area is the most populated on the island - so it's likely your vendor is based out of this area.  Most residents live in the Wailua / Kapaa area.  Should you decide to have your wedding in the area, your guests will have plenty to do: shopping in Kapaa Town, kayaking in the Wailua River, boat ride to the Fern Grotto, and hiking up Nounou Mountains.  It's generally recommended that you rent a car if you want to explore the island, but if you were counting on public transit, the Wailua / Kapaa area may be your best bet since most residents live there.


Some popular wedding sites:  Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy (right next door to the property is Hukilau Lanai, revered as one of the best restaurants on the island.  There seems to be a partnership between the two establishments for weddings), Smith's Kauai (Fern Grotto is located within this establishment.  Smith's is famous for their luaus).




Lihue is the first place you'll see in Kauai:  it's where the airport is located :P  The only wedding site I've seen in this area thus far is the Kauai Marriott Resort.


South Shore


Famous for Poipu Beach (at one point named one of the best beaches in the United States), the South Shore is packed with places to have your wedding at and serves as a great home base for folks who want to explore Kauai's West Side.  You'll have plenty of venues to choose from:  The Beach House Restaurant (gorgeous views and consistently rated as having excellent cuisine.  However, some have complained that the service is snooty, with the servers less than gracious - this info is from yelp, Tripadvisor, and this bride), Plantation Gardens Restaurant (they are located in the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation.  You have the option of using a grassy knoll overlooking the ocean if you stay at the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation for $100 - there are limitations on wedding arches:  you can't put stakes into their lawn), Grand Hyatt Kauai, Sheraton Kauai Resort (they are currently undergoing revitalization from January - Summer 2011), Marriott's Waiohai Beach ClubSouthshore Visitors Center Garden and McBryde Garden (National Tropical Botanical Garden).


West Side


The West Side is home to the stunning Waimea Canyon, dubbed by Mark Twain as "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific".  There are two main towns here:  Waimea and Hanapepe.  I've only found one place so far to have your wedding at:  Waimea Plantation Cottages.


I recently received recent (March, 2011) pricing information from the Plantation Gardens, and am waiting for Hukilau Lanai's quote.   If anyone's interested, PM me.  Stay tuned!  I'm compiling information about beaches and private estates, as well as photography, hair/makeup/nails and florists.

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Wow! thanks for all of this great info.  I am starting my wedding planning and having all of this info in one place is great. As I get further along, I will probably PM you and see what you've got going.  


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Thanks for your awesome list so far.  I'm having such a hard time deciding amongst the many hotels and private estate/plantation.  Its hard to pick a hotel without being able to see the setting, gauge how private it is (away from the beachgoers) and how near the ocean the sites are.  I really wish the hotels had more comprehensive pics on their sites.  Google search is tough as well...  have you found any additional links that are helpful in reviewing hotels/sites?

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Thank you so much for sharing this information! I greatly appreciate it as I have just started planning my wedding to Kauai. So far I've gotten a quote fom Kauai Beach House Restaurant... And I was a little shocked, but the coordinator seems very nice, as nice as you can seem via email! Lol I'm so glad I found this site!

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If you ladies have any questions, I am pretty familiar with Kauai as my FI and I got engaged there and spent 2 weeks this past October!  Super small and quiet, but paradise.  Let me know if maybe I can help :)

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Thank you so much for sharing valuable and thorough research. By any chance, did you get any pricing information from Plantation Gardens after all? There's not much on there site and I'm still waiting for a response from them. Also, do you have any info on private estates? Any help is appreciated!! 

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I have been going to Kauai for the past 15 years with my family. I was lucky enough to have parents that had a timeshare there while I was growing up. I am having my wedding there next summer at either the St. Regis or Grand Hyatt. The St. Regis is "foofy" and very nice. More of a serious crowd for adults. The Grand Hyatt's grounds are beyond amazing, lush and by far the best resort on the south/west side of the island. Its a true Hawaiian setting next to Ship Wrecks beach with is actually one of the top beach wedding locations (aside from Bali Hai area which was mentioned). The Beach House in Poipu is a bit snoody BUT the location and views are worth a little sass in my book. They have a lava cake that is to die for! I agree with the post that the west side and Poipu area are far better priced for guest accommodations. Princeville is very limited in terms of resorts that have a range in price. You can always rent the vacation condos which are actually not too steep. I am going out there in a few weeks to check out some more restaurants (i.e Merrimans is new to Kauai on the South side) & alternative accommodations for my guests (i.e vrbo). The Marriott in Lihue was totally redone when hurricane Iniki hit and is def a nice property.  Plus it has a Dukes and an Italian place on site. 

Captain Andy's is a great catamaran tour along the Napali Coast (which is a must experience). Kipu Falls is a great place to do some rope swinging and act like a local. I am looking to have about 50 people attend, if I was having a smaller wedding (even though that's not that big at all) I would def go the route of renting a small estate property.  I saw a pretty wedding on www.stylemepretty.com that was done at an estate on the North shore. Anyways Kauai is def an A+ place to get married. I think the laid back style of the island also makes us brides take a semi laid back approach in that, its a beautiful island with mai tais.. how can things not go well :)  

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Any thoughts on the Sheraton for a wedding venue? My fiance and I are getting married in Jan and were all set to move forward with the Sheraton, but I am a bit concerned about several negative reviews...

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