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Like it or not, 2021 is kicking off as a year of domestic travel. While we wait impatiently for international travel to return, our attention turns inward as we consider adventures within our own borders. Road trips are more popular than ever, but they’re not for everyone. Many of us want nothing more than to arrive at a beachside resort or tropical cabin, throw on some shades and tune out the world for a while. This might seem incongruous with a domestic trip right now, but you’re forgetting one important destination: Hawaii. Come September, United States citizens can escape to paradise without ever leaving the country. As long as you meet the testing requirements, nothing is stopping you from enjoying a sunny, quarantine-free island vacation next month. There’s really only one question left to answer. Where to stay?
Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, is covered in rainforests, white beaches, state parks, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. You might think that a lengthy stay would drain your bank account, but that’s actually not the case. These Airbnbs on Kauai are not only breathtaking but also surprisingly affordable. From a cabin in the mountains to oceanfront villas, these are the best Airbnbs on Kauai.
1. Dunson Kauai Vacation Condo, Koloa
Located in a resort community in Koloa, this modern villa is surrounded by tropical gardens and some of the island’s best beaches. As a guest of the resort you have access to the property’s two pools, and you’ll be within walking distance of restaurants and shops. Just across the street you’ll find Koloa Landing, a favorite spot for diving and snorkeling, and the Sheraton, Lawai, Kiahuna, Poipu, and Brennecke beaches all within striking distance.
Price: $132 per night
2. Cedar Cabins, Kokee Park
The Cedar Cabins might be the most unique accommodation in Kauai. If you really want to get out of the busy resort atmosphere and plunge into the island’s rustic side, these cabins in Kokee Park are the ideal choice. Located 3,000 feet up in the mountains, the cabins are within walking distance to some of the park’s best hiking trails and give you the perfect base for exploring Waimea Canyon. Since it can get chilly at that elevation, don’t be surprised if you find yourself building a fire to stay warm at night.
Price: $120 per night
3. Sunny condo, Poipu Beach
Within walking distance to snorkeling and surfing on Poipu Beach, this one-bedroom condo is also close to the area’s restaurants, shopping centers, and even a golf course. The prime, central location of this sunny condo, combined with its tropical decor, make it the perfect couples getaway on Kauai.
Price: $199 per night
4. Makai Golf Club cottage, Makai Resort
On the north shore of Kauai, the Makai Golf Club cottage is ideal for those who want to use their tropical getaway to improve their golf game. The two-bedroom accommodation is right next to the Makai Golf Club — and several beaches — giving you easy access to a relaxing round of 18 surrounded by some of the island’s most stunning scenery. As a guest of the cottage, you’ll also have access to a pool, hot tub, fire pit, bike rentals, and BBQ grills.
Price: $159 per night
5. Two-bedroom townhouse with putting green, Poipu Beach
Staying in Poipu gives you the best of both worlds: the beach and mountain views. This one-bedroom townhouse sweetens the deal by giving you access to your own putting green and is just five minutes away from the Kiahuna golf course. In addition to the putting green, the property also has a custom waterfall and creek to really make you feel immersed in Hawaii’s natural beauty. If you do eventually get bored of hanging out at the house, Poipu Beach is known for its diving, snorkeling, and surfing, as well as opportunities for viewing monk seals.
Price: $159 per night
6. The Surf Shack, Princeville
The Surf Shack in Princeville certainly lives up to its name. This two-bedroom house is defined by aesthetic touches like vintage tiki shot glasses, a curated newspaper filled with local pictures, surfboards hanging from the wall, and other homey beach house decor. The place even has its own Instagram page. Guests can even stroll down a paved trail to a private Hideaways beach, where there’s a swimming pool and hot tub.
Price: $214 per night
7. Garden Isle Oasis, Wyllie Beach
This place doesn’t take the name “oasis” lightly. The two-bedroom garden apartment has wicker furnishings, tropical turquoise walls, and a wrap-around veranda with both sunrise and sunset views. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for tons of natural light and a view of the lush gardens surrounding the complex. Located in the north of the island, it also includes a pool and is close to several hiking trails and popular kayaking spots like Hanalei Bay.
Price: $240 per night
8. Romantic Garden Cottage, Wainiha River
On a secluded acre of land along the Wainiha River, this garden cottage offers stunning views of the river valley and a private pool and spa. The property is defined by its garden filled with exotic birds, flowers, and fruit trees growing papayas and bananas, and leads down to a private stream where you can go swimming. It’s also just two miles away from some of the island’s most beautiful beaches on the north shore. If you’re looking for a restorative getaway surrounded by nature, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Price: $375 per night
9. Oceanfront condo, Kauai Shores
This private one-bedroom condo on the east coast of Kauai has one of the most unobstructed views of the ocean anyone could hope for. From the veranda, you’ll have a front-row seat to watch the sea turtles and whales playing in the water. Just steps away from Lawai Beach, the condo is furnished with floor-to-ceiling patio doors that ensure you always have a view. It’s also just a five-minute drive from the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and Spouting Horn Park, where you can take a break from the beach to hike through the native greenery.
Price: $255 per night
10. Suite at Kaua’i Beach Club, Lihue
Sometimes you want a nice, serviced apartment and the benefits of a beach resort, like the epic pool and the ocean views. This place offers both, with the added benefit of it being a Marriott property — so you know the cleanliness and service standards will be top-notch. Plus, there’s a kitchenette to brew coffee and a balcony on which to enjoy that coffee while gazing at the waves from not-so-afar. Having your cake and eating, too, actually is possible.
Price: $142 per night
11. Ohana Condos “BALIHAI GETAWAY,” Princeville
Few things welcome you with ohana like this condo just above Hideaways Beach. This condo allows you to get away in style on a bluff above Kauai’s north shore, the ocean crashing into the rocks 200 feet below and the views extending three directions for maximum blue, green, and sandy yellow contrast. The surrounding property hosts a hot tub and restaurant, along with the seldom-seen Pali Ke Kua Beach. Few places on the island are at once this romantic and accessible.
Price: $199 per night
A version of this article was previously published on August 24, 2020, and was updated on February 5, 2021, with more information.