This 10-story, multiwing hotel—the tallest on Kauai since opening in 1986—may be what prompted the local ordinance that no new structures be higher than a coconut tree, but it would be hard to imagine the island without it. Superlatives include Kauai’s largest swimming pool, a sort of Greco-Roman fantasy that would fit in at Hearst Castle; its location on watersports-friendly Kalapaki Beach; and the popular beachfront restaurant, Duke’s Kauai, among other dining choices. The long escalator to the central courtyard lagoon, the immense statuary, and handsome lobby sporting a koa outrigger canoe make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere truly unique. Harbor Mall and Anchor Cove shopping centers, with more restaurants, are within a short walk; in the opposite direction lies the 18-hole championship golf course of Hokuala. Rooms tend to be on the smaller side but feel plush and look chic, with hues of taupe and burnt umber. Book at least a partial ocean view—Nawiliwili Harbor, the bay, and the rugged green Haupu ridge provide a mesmerizing backdrop.

Note: The “vacation ownership” Marriott’s Kauai Beach Club (; 800/845-5279 or 808/245-5050) shares the grounds with access to all its facilities. You can book a guest room, “parlor” room with wall bed and kitchenette, or one-bedroom/two-bathroom and two-bedroom/two-bathroom “villas” with kitchenettes (from $259–$559 nightly). There’s no resort fee, or charges for Wi-Fi, but self-parking costs $25. Guests at the newer, nearby Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons—Kalanipuu (; 800/845-5279 or 808/632-8200) do not have privileges to use the Kauai Marriott’s pool or its lounge chairs at Kalapaki Beach (reached by a hillside elevator or free shuttle), but it offers roomier, two-bedroom/two-bathroom and three-bedroom/three-bathroom villas with full kitchens, overlooking the oceanfront Hokuala golf course (from $519, including Wi-Fi and self-parking). Note: Details below apply only to Kauai Marriott Resort.