Sunny Poipu

Poipu draws visitors with its diversity of accommodations and range of activities

By: By Marty Wentzel

2009 Special Events

Prince Kuhio Celebration: March 22-29
Honoring the birthday and birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, one of Hawaii’s most beloved monarchs
Koloa Plantation Days: July 18-26
A full week of special events surrounding Koloa’s plantation heritage, culminating in a parade and hoolaulea (outdoor party)
Kauai Music Festival: July 29-Aug. 1
A chance for songwriters to network with producers and publishers
The Kauai Marathon: Sept. 6
Inaugural world-class full and half marathons on a scenic course certified by USATF and AIMS, with proceeds donated to local island charities
Hawaiiana Festival: October
Festivities designed to teach and perpetuate Native Hawaiian cultural practices and values
Malama Ola Celebration: October
A celebration of the health and wellness practices of the many cultures prevalent in Hawaii


Kauai Vacation Concierge Service
Koa Kea Hotel & Resort
Kukuiula Village
Papalani Gelato
Poipu Beach Resort Association
Pono Foods

Poipu Beach has been called one of the best on Kauai.  // (c) Poipu Beach Resort Association
Poipu Beach has been called one of the best on Kauai.

No matter how great a destination is, it needs some positive buzz to put it on the map. In 1983, that’s how marketing professional John S. Kay viewed Poipu, a burgeoning visitor getaway on Kauai’s South Shore. Understanding the advantage of brand recognition, Kay consolidated the area’s five major hotels — Poipu Kai Resort, Kiahuna Plantation Resort, Waiohai Hotel (now the Marriott Waiohai), Poipu Beach Hotel and Sheraton Kauai — into a promotional entity called the Poipu Beach Resort Association (PBRA). Today, the nonprofit corporation boasts more than 150 members, from accommodations and activity providers to dining, shopping and service organizations.

Boosted by PBRA’s collective marketing over the years, Poipu has enjoyed increasing name recognition and visitor accolades, including a recent fourth-place finish on the inaugural TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 25 U.S. Destinations list. PBRA executive director Jody Kono Kjeldsen credits Poipu’s success, in part, to its diversity of accommodations.

"We have everything, including luxury hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, condominium resorts, villas, vacation rentals and timeshare options," said Kjeldsen. "Most lodging establishments in Poipu are either on the ocean or within a five-minute walk to the coastline. And, no building is taller than a coco palm in order to maintain the island’s coastal integrity."

When it comes to weather, it’s hard to beat Poipu, said Kjeldsen. With a semi-arid tropical climate, it basks in winter temperatures between the mid 70s and mid 80s and remains in the upper 80s through the summer. When showers do make it to the area, they are usually brief, which explains the resort’s nickname of Sunny Poipu.

As with any beachside destination, the ocean-hugging Poipu commands attention. PBRA promotes Poipu Beach Park as among the safest and most versatile in Hawaii, with a lifeguard on duty seven days a week and offerings for everyone. Slightly offshore, surfers paddle some of Kauai’s best waves. Nearer to the beach, guests can swim in relatively calm waters, while toddlers and young swimmers play in the natural wading pool.

Snorkelers also love Poipu Beach Park. In 2006, Outside magazine went so far as to call it the best snorkeling spot on the island, thanks to its viewing of beauties like angelfish, striped damsels, Moorish idols, black tangs and yellow butterfly fish.

According to Kjeldsen, Poipu’s clientele comes mainly from the western U.S.

"They arrive here on vacation as a couple or with a family, selecting the island’s South Shore for its variety of accommodations and things to do," she said. "Our visitors are interested in beach activities, shopping, cultural attractions and outdoor pastimes like hiking, boat tours, helicopter tours and golf."

The resort has also enjoyed an increase in destination weddings and honeymoons, added Kjeldsen.

"We have also seen more visitors from Canada — thanks to more airlift and the strength of the Canadian dollar — and other foreign markets," she said.

As Poipu matures, it keeps evolving. Among its new offerings is Papalani Gelato, Kauai’s only gelato store, located in the Poipu Shopping Village. Clients can indulge in its organic and gourmet frozen treats, including some unique local flavors. Also new this year is Kauai Vacation Concierge Service, providing legwork for island guests by grocery shopping, delivering flowers, filling the refrigerator, stocking the shelves, planning and prepping a meal or providing a lei greeting at the airport. Then there’s Pono Foods, Kauai’s first full-service online grocery shopping and delivery superstore for vacationers. Clients can go online before their arrival on the island and choose from more than 4,000 items, knowing that the food will be delivered on the day they arrive.

Anticipation is building over the Spring 2009 opening of Koa Kea Hotel & Resort on Poipu Beach. The newest luxury accommodation on Kauai, this multimillion-dollar, 121-room resort will feature Red Salt restaurant, a lounge and a spa. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort uses the footprint of the former Poipu Beach Hotel and promises its guests unmatched proximity to the ocean.

Scheduled for a soft opening in May and grand opening in June, a new shopping venue called Kukuiula Village is a plantation-style center with island architecture and tree-lined streets. More than 87,400 square feet have been devoted to boutiques, cafes and restaurants, a country store and a weekly farmer’s market. Kukuiula Village is pitching itself as a true island experience that enhances the sense of living like a local.

Travel agents can stay abreast of Poipu’s news thanks to PBRA’s ongoing marketing efforts, promotional events and the free "Poipu Beach Guide," available through its Web site. During 2009, PBRA is partnering with state, county and private agencies on improvements such as beach enhancements, walking and biking paths, a promenade and shuttle service between nearby Koloa Town and Poipu Beach.

"All of these projects," said Kjeldsen, "will ultimately result in a better experience for our visitors and residents alike."