vanilla beach swim

swimsuit here & here c/o, hat

I was planning to put together just one post on our trip to Kauai and my recommendations for anyone making the trip, but when pulling all of the photos from our week I realized I needed to break it up into two posts! It’s like The Hunger Games: Kauai – get it? How the finale is always broken into two parts? Am I delirious? Let’s move on.

We knew we would be vacationing in February, but had originally planned to go to Cabo.  After struggling to find a resort that we were excited about (if you have Cabo recs, I’d love to hear!), we said… let’s just go back to Hawaii (my Maui recs can be found here)!  We stayed at the Koa Kea Resort, and had the most amazing time.

Christian is more interested in smaller, adults-only hotels rather than large resorts with multiple pools, etc.  I like both, so I’m happy to go with his preference while we are a family of two!  We chose to stay on the south side of the island that doesn’t get as much rain as other parts of Kauai, and there are so many beautiful resorts in the area. Today I’m going to share photos snapped at the Koa Kea, and for my second Kauai post I’ll share the other restaurants and beaches we visited!  We usually divide our vacations into one part relaxation and one part exploring – so today, let’s relax. 🙂

drinking from a coconut

hat, sunnies, similar swim top (under $25)

koa kea resort pool coconut peixoto swimwear

hat, sunnies, swimsuit here and here c/o

kauai sunset koa keaissa de marissa-de-mar-bikini-top

hat, sunnies, similar swim top (under $25)sarong

hotel robe koa kea hotel koa kea resort suite eberjey lingerie

nightie, similar robe c/o, majorly obsessed with these right now

pool at koa kea hotelkayu designs beach bag

hat, sunnies, swimsuitsarong, bag c/o

yumi kim midi dress

dress c/o, similar heels here and here, hat, sunnies

sunrise in kauaimint blue swimsuit koa kea poolside

coverup c/o (also love this one), hat

photograph a sunset kathleen barnes bikiniperfect beach hat

Then I asked Christian to let me take a photo of him, and this is what I got…

christian barnescarrie bradshaw lied husband sunrise on the beach paddleboarding in hawaii

swimsuit c/o, sunnies

koa kea resort beach hawaii sunset koa kea resort sail to sable dress

dress c/o

sunset at the beach floral maxi dress

dress c/o, hat, clutch c/o

hawaii paddleboarding

other photos taken at the hotel here and here

The Koa Kea has an amazing breakfast and dinner at Red Salt.  We had breakfast in the restaurant one morning and room service for breakfast on the balcony on our last day and both times it was fantastic. The Lemon Pineapple Soufflé Pancakes and the Avocado Toast = yes.  A few nights a week they also have a sushi chef who comes to the hotel, and we had sushi on our last night – it was delicious!

Watching the sunrise each day from our balcony and watching the sunset with our toes in the sand had to be the peak of each day, and every day looked more beautiful than the last.  There was one night we sat on the beach drinking out of a coconut, watching the sunset and laughing deliriously (que Christian’s karate chop above).  It was one of those moments that I know I’ll never forget and reason 1349349387 why C is my favorite travel partner in the world.

At the pool, the mojitos are fantastic, but we also bought some Patron, Frescas and limes at the beginning of the week to make fresquilas.  I think I got Christian hooked!  Every room at the Koa Kea has an empty refrigerator which is fabulous if you want to buy some fruit to snack on or of course, cocktails to sip on.

At the pool they offer snorkel, surf, bodyboard and stand-up paddleboard rentals, so we paddleboarded one day and Christian surfed one day.  Paddleboarding in Hawaii is my favorite because the water is so calm – it is so peaceful. C was paddlin’ all around, getting his cardio on and I was like… I’m just going to lie down.  If there’s a shark, someone yell at me, kthanks.

Thank you guys so much for sharing all of your amazing recommendations with us while we were on vacation! My second post is going to share all of the other places outside the hotel we visited.  I took notes while we were there so I wouldn’t forget, so stay tuned! Thanks so much for reading – XO –

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29 thoughts on “Guide to Kauai, Hawaii

  1. Obsessed with that last bathing suit!!! <3 Looks like you had so much fun, makes me want to go back! Cant wait to read the second post.

  2. Looks beautiful! I can’t wait to go back to Hawaii! We were in Maui for our honeymoon in September, but I’d love to see Kona. Next year my friend is getting married on Maui so maybe we’ll hop over to Kona after the wedding. As for Cabo….there is the BEST resort that we stayed at for my friends wedding. We took over the entire place and it’s just amazing. It is smaller and outside of Cabo. But they have amazing, organic, local food. There are 2 pools, surf boards, paddle boards, etc. to use for free. And the rooms are amazing. Oh, and they bring coffee and a light breakfast to your door each morning. We can’t wait to go back!! It’s definitely for a more relaxed vacation so Christian would love it. Here is my blog post with pictures:

    1. Thank you so much Tess! I kind of write how I talk, so it means a lot to me that you can see that. 🙂 I had never been to Hawaii until last year and I am completely, madly in love with it. It’s impossible to take a bad photo there!

  3. Hi Kathleen – love these photos! I also wanted to tell you how much I love your Snapchat! I’m not an expert, but you seem like a natural on camera and I would love it if you did some video content on the blog.

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much for the kind words and feedback! I’ve been having so much fun with Snapchat and am really glad that it’s been well received. I’ve thought about video but video editing is SO HARD! I only know that from my previous jobs in social media… hopefully one day! Thank you so much for taking the time to share!

  4. Kathleen,
    Thanks for sharing you vacation with us! It looked wonderful. You mentioned not being excited about the hotels in Cabo…you have to research Hotel Esperanza. Luxury at its finest! Plus it is dog-friendly (we brought our pup from SF we’re those crazy people) so you might run into some cute pets and I know you love animals :).


    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation! I think we looked there but it’s like… real fancy. We would definitely need to save up – but it looks GORGEOUS! I love that you brought your dog – that is amazing!

    1. I have stayed in a private home in Pedregal, but I’ll have to look into that. Thank you so much for the rec!

  5. Kauai is one of my and my husband’s favorites as well (we honeymooned there so it will always be special), south shore specifically. I enjoyed living vicariously through on this trip. We use the “Kauai Revealed” tour book when we go, as well as pass it around to our friends who go, and everyone makes notes and flags things they tried, so it’s extra informative for the next traveler. I’m going to make note of any of your other suggestions as well and add them. 🙂

  6. Hi! I have been following you on Instagram because I love your style, but I had no idea you had such an amazing travel blog! My Husband & I are traveling to Kauai in Sept & are trying to decide between the Koa Kea & the St. Regis.. What are your thoughts? I love Red Salt and small boutique hotels are right up our alley! As for Cabo, the Hilton is a beautiful property & the Pueblo Bonita Sunset. I have been dying to go to Rancho Pescadero (I think someone mentioned it above)!

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