Nawiliwili Kauai

Nawiliwili Spotlight

We take a closer look at the delightful Nawiliwili/Kalapaki Beach area of Kauai.

Tucked away around the corner from the Lihue Airport is the Nawiliwili Bay area, an area all to itself, with some of Kauai’s best accommodations, restaurants, shopping, golfing and more. Super-relaxing Kalapaki Beach, fronted by Kauai’s only high-rise resort (the Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort/Kauai Marriott Beach Club), is the center of activity at Nawiliwili. Nawiliwili Bay is also the location of the island’s cruise ship terminal where passengers first set foot on Kauai. Together, the resort and cruise ship crowd support a nice mix of shopping and dining opportunities in the area.

In addition to the high-rise resort, additional exemplary accommodations can be found on a bluff behind the Royal Sonesta at the Marriott Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipuu and the Timbers Kauai Ocean Club & Residences. A mix of accommodations are available at these properties, including luxury townhomes, residences with multiple bedrooms and chef’s kitchens, and oceanfront villas with large lanais. The Ocean Course at Hokuala, the only Jack Nicklaus course on Kauai, is here and features the longest continuous stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii. (There is also another golf course, the scenic Puakea Golf Course, located on the other side of the bay.)

Nearby is The Kauai Inn, a family-friendly hotel, and the Banyan Harbor Resort, with spacious condo-style amenities. The far side of the bay is famously, and some say unfortunately (for the spoiled view), lined by a row of beach houses, some of which can be found for rent on VRBO and Airbnb. However, no matter where you stay in Nawiliwili, the bay exudes a calming and relaxing vibe for all.

Though noted for its relaxing atmosphere, there’s also plenty of opportunities for adventures in the area. Across the bay is the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, the Haupu Mountain Range, the Menehune Fishpond and the Huleia River with hiking and kayaking opportunities. (Some of these areas are on private land and you will need to book the desired activity with a guided tour.)

The Kukii Point Lighthouse Beacon can be reached via a short coastal hike at the east end of the bay at Kukii Point. Beyond Kukii Point is the Ninini Point Lighthouse where incoming passenger jets fly directly overhead before landing. Additionally, almost every Kauai attraction is available from Nawiliwili with a tour package or rental car.

Best Restaurants in Nawiliwili

The Nawiliwili area boasts some of the island’s best restaurants. Duke’s Kauai, with live music at Kalapaki Beach, is one of Kauai’s most booked restaurants according to Open Table. Next door is the elegant Cafe Portofino with Northern Italian Dishes and harp music. Mariachi’s Restaurant, upstairs at the Harbor Mall, is a nice choice for authentic Mexican Food. The Noka Grill, in the former Kalapaki Beach Hut location, satisfies hungry appetites with breakfast, burgers and more.

Conveniently Located

Due to its proximity to the airport, the Kalapaki Beach area is the perfect place to kick back before your return flight, especially if you have an early check out from your accommodations and a late flight.

Despite everything Kauai has to offer, a grand Kauai vacation can be had without ever having to leave the Nawiliwili area. In fact, that’s what more than a few people do with a hotel package at the Royal Sonesta and easy days at the beach.



Kalapaki Beach


Grove Farm Homestead and Sugar Plantation Musuem
Haupu Mountain Range
Huleia River and National Wildlife Refuge
Kukii Point
Menehune Fishpond
Nawiliwili Bay
Ninini Point Lighthouse


Bicycling: Particularly in the Kauai Marriott Lagoons area.
Golf: The Ocean Course at Hokuala and the Puakea Golf Course
Hiking: Haupu Mountain Range
Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Huleia River
Snorkeling: Kalapaki Beach
Surfing: Nawiliwili Bay/Kalapaki Beach
Swimming: Kalapaki Beach


Hidden Valley Falls Kayak and Hike Adventure: Explore the Huleia River by kayak then follow a forest trail to a backcountry waterfall.
Kauai North Shore Private Guided Tour With Hotel or Port Pick-up
Private Waimea Canyon Tour With Hotel or Port Pick-up
Shore Excursion: Kauai Movie Sites Tour


Banyan Harbor Resort: One and two bedroom condo vacation rentals.
Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons: Oceanfront resort with spacious villa vacation rentals.
Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort/Kauai Marriott Beach Club:
The combined high rise hotel/timeshare at Kalapaki Beach.
The Kauai Inn: Family-friendly hotel near the Huleia River.
Timbers Kauai Resort: Luxury oceanfront vacation rentals.
Houses and condos for rent: Use VRBO and Airbnb.


Café Portofino: Upscale restaurant next to Duke’s offers Northern Italian cuisine, steaks and seafood.
Duke’s Restaurant: Legendary oceanfront dining with live music at Kalapaki Beach.
Hualani’s Restaurant: Oceanfront dining at Timbers Kauai Resort.
Kukui’s on Kalapaki Beach: Poolside dining at the Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort.
Lilikoi Bar and Grill: Family restaurant with a Hawaiian flair at the Harbor Mall.
Mariachi’s Restaurant: Authentic Mexican cuisine at the Harbor Mall.
Nawiliwili Tavern: Classic neighborhood bar with good food and strong drinks. Packed on Thursday nights with cruise ship passengers.
Noka Grill: In the former Kalapaki Beach Hut location, serves breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, plate lunches and more.
Skinny Mike’s Ice Cream and Shave Ice: At the Harbor Mall
Food trucks at the Harbor Mall: Including Smitty’s Smash Burger

(In addition to the above-listed restaurants in the immediate Nawiliwili area, there are restaurants located nearby in Lihue proper that are frequented by resort and cruise ship visitors.)


Anchor Cove Shopping Center
Harbor Mall
Vendor booths near the Kalapaki Beach entrance.

Nawiliwili Photos

Nawiliwili Kauai

The Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort/Kauai Marriott Beach Club at Kalapaki Beach.



Nawiliwili Beach Volleyball


Kalapaki Beach is a favorite spot for reading a book.


The pool at the Royal Sonesta Kauai Resort/Kauai Marriott Beach Club.


Nawiliwili Kauai

Nawiliwili Kauai

View of the Anchor Cove Shopping Center and Nawiliwili as seen from the Harbor Mall.

Nawiliwili Kauai

Sunset at Kalapaki Beach!

Nawiliwili Kauai

Nawiliwili Kauai

Nawiliwili Kauai

The Harbor Mall is across the street from the Kalapaki Beach area.

Nawiliwili Kauai

Kalapaki Beach is noted for its gentle waves, but be aware of potential hazards.