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Only 5 minutes from the airport, but hidden from the highway by a long, palm-lined drive, this is the jewel in the crown of Aqua Hotels and Resorts’ 18 moderately priced hotels in the islands, thanks to its beautifully sculpted saltwater pools—four in all, with adult and children’s options, a 75-foot lava-tube water slide, whirlpools, waterfalls, and a sandy-bottomed beachfront lagoon. Decorated in a Balinese wood/Hawaiian plantation motif, rooms in the hotel itself are on the small side, and some “mountain view” (odd-numbered rooms) units overlook parking lots, where wild chickens like to congregate. No matter: You can linger by the pool, walk for miles along the windswept beach (not recommended for swimming), which passes by the Wailua Golf Course, or indulge in a spa treatment onsite.

Note: A number of hotel rooms are also individually owned “condos”; you’ll find lower daily rates when booking through an owner, but you’ll pay an extra $80 in resort/cleaning fees, with maid service upon request ($15–$30 daily). The 25-acre resort is also home to the Kauai Beach Villas, one- and two-bedroom condos operated as timeshares or privately owned rentals, all with access to the hotel facilities, for a daily resort fee. Kauai Vacation Rentals (www.kauaivacationrentals.com; 800/367-5025 or 808/245-8841) manages the majority of the nontimeshare units, with daily rates starting at $145, plus $125 cleaning and $35 reservation fees. Details below apply only to the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort hotel.