In Hawaii, it is traditional and customary to remove your shoes before entering anyone's home. The same is true for most bed-and-breakfast facilities. Most hosts post signs or will politely ask you to remove your shoes before entering the B&B. Not only does this keep the B&B clean, but you'll be amazed how relaxed you feel walking around barefoot. If this custom is unpleasant to you, a B&B may not be for you. Consider a condo or hotel, where no one will be particular about your shoes.
If you have never stayed at a B&B before, here are a few other hints: Generally the host lives on property and their part of the house is off-limits to guests. (You do not have the run of the house.) Most likely there will be a common area that you can use. Don't expect daily maid service. Your host may tidy up but will not do complete maid service. Also don't expect amenities like little bottles of shampoo and conditioner; this is a B&B, not a resort. Remember that you are sharing your accommodations with other guests; be considerate (that is, quiet) when you come in late at night.
There is a strict nonsmoking law in Hawaii: no smoking in hotels, restaurants, bars, and public buildings. Most bed-and-breakfast units, condos, and vacation rentals also do not allow smoking. If this matters to you, be sure to check the policy of your accommodations before you book.
Moa Better: Chickens & Roosters
One of the first things that visitors notice about Kauai is there seems to be an unusually large number of moa (wild chickens). Kauai has always had a history of having more than its fair share of chickens and roosters running about, but after Hurricane Iniki picked up and scattered the fowl all over the island in 1992, they have been populating at a prodigious rate. Generally, having a few chickens scratching around in the dirt is quaint and downright picturesque. However, the "dark side" of the chicken population explosion is the increase in the number of roosters. In fact, a new industry has cropped up: Rooster Eradicators. Resorts hire these eradicators to remove the roosters from the well-manicured grounds because the large number of these male birds has led to, well, a sort of crowing contest. Generally roosters will crow as the sun comes up. But on Kauai, with the population increase, the roosters crow all day long and throughout the night in some places. Just be warned that part of the "charm" of Kauai is the rooster population, and you might want to consider bringing earplugs.
A Rose by Any Other Name: Timeshares
Timeshares are very big on Kauai, only no one will say that dreaded word. It conjures up slick salesmen from the 1970s hustling people on the beach with promises of nearly free vacations in Hawaii if you just sign on the dotted line. Timeshares denote a condominium project that sells the same unit to several owners, who are allotted a "time" when they can visit the unit. Today, timeshare projects have gone upscale in Hawaii; major resorts like Marriott, Westin, Hilton, and Shell are now building megaresorts with top-notch units, all furnished with the same top-drawer furniture and equipped with the best electronics and kitchen equipment. But they never, never, call them timeshares. The new, politically correct term is "vacation ownership" -- but the idea is the same: Several owners have a share in the unit and are allotted a certain amount of time every year (from a week to a month) to stay in the unit. These respectable management companies make sure that the unit is well-maintained and even rent out the units if none of the owners wishes to stay there. Sometimes you can get "deals" at the various "vacation ownerships" because, quite frankly, they are trying to get you to buy the place (or at least a share in the unit). So guests are offered everything from a free snorkeling trip to a free vacation in Hawaii, if you are willing to sit through a sales pitch. All this is great, as long as you know what you are getting into. The so-called "45-minute" pitch may last all morning, and the sales pressure may not be your idea of a tranquil vacation. So buyer beware; even in paradise there are no free lunches (or breakfasts, or snorkeling trips).
The King of Condos
One of the easiest ways to find lodging in the Poipu Beach area is to contact the Parrish Collection (formerly Grantham Resorts), 3176 Poipu Rd., Koloa, HI 96756 (www.parrishkauai.com; tel. 800/325-5701 or 808/742-2000, fax 808/742-9093), which handles more than 175 "handpicked" rental units for 15 different condo developments on the south shore and 5 on the North Shore, plus dozens of vacation homes, ranging from quaint cottages to elite resort homes. The Parrish Collection has high standards for their rental units and offers extremely fair prices. If the properties are not maintained to their standards, they have no problem taking the units (and, in one case, an entire condominium project) out of their selected rentals. The condos start at $119 for a spacious two-bedroom, garden-view unit in low season, and vacation cottages start at $275 and go up to $1,700 for their most expensive home. There's a 5-night minimum for condos and a 7-night minimum for homes.
If you're staying on Kauai for 5 days, ask the Parrish Collection about the "Frommer's Preferred Guest Discount." You'll get a large one- or two-bedroom condo, well-equipped (full kitchen, washer/dryer, wet bar, TV/DVD, phone, and most units have high-speed Internet), starting as low as $119 a night for one-bedrooms and $145 for two-bedrooms with garden views, or $159 a night for oceanview condos (see the reviews for Nihi Kai Villas, Poipu Crater Resort, and Waikomo Stream Villas). There's not a better deal on Kauai. Kudos to the Parrish Collection for these fabulous vacation bargains. New: Aloha Friday Travel Deals on the Parrish Facebook page (www.facebook.com/parrishkauai). Each week they post a screaming deal good if you book it by Friday's end.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.