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Ko`a Kea Hotel & Resort

Stay & Dine at One of Travel + Leisure's World’s Best

Beach, luxury, and amenity cravings will all be satisfied at Koa Kea Resort. The property, which came in third last year in Travel + Leisure's World’s Best Awards for Hawaii, is a prime example of Pacific hospitality. Those who seek to capitalize on the Hawaiian aesthetic should book an oceanfront suite which comes with a lanai inspired bedroom, living room and balcony that gives guests a front row seat to Poipu’s iconic sunsets and surfer-dotted waves.

Koa Kea Resort and Red Salt

Red Salt, which is helmed by Kauai native Chef Noelani Planas. The restaurant’s windows overlook palm trees and the Pacific, while simplistic yet stylish design sets an ambiance ideal for any dining situation. Chef Planas’ cuisine, with its infusion of Hawaiian ingredients, parlays well against modern-American flare.

Where to Eat on the South Shore

Poipu’s buzzing tourism scene has given rise to a variety of culinary stories. One of my favorites in this region is Makai Sushi Bar, which finds its home in Kukuiula Market, one of Kauai’s only mom and pop shop’s left. Operated by Chef Matthew Oliver, the small stand is dolling out rolls and poke bowls stocked with high quality fish in an unexpected venue. Don’t miss their signature dish, the Gorilla Bowl or my custom roll order: Ahi tuna, king salmon and avocado with the works.

A quick walk outside and you’ll come face to face with Waikomo Shave Ice, owned by Chef Matt’s brother, Thomas Oliver. The stand’s mango and strawberry shave ice with coconut cream is a standout of my shave ice experiences on the island.

Makai Sushi and Waikomo Shave Ice, Kauai, HawaiiCREDIT: SALVATORE DIBENEDETTO

Travelers who seek scenic dining experiences on the south shore should book reservations at both Plantation Gardens and The Beach House.

Each restaurant offers different aesthetics that appeal to Kauai’s ocean and garden character. Plantation Gardens, located in the historic Moir Gardens, is a refreshing experience rooted in botanical aesthetic and cuisine (try the lavender piña colada!) While getting lost in the vibrant colors of your flowery surrounding, you’ll indulge in a menu that focuses heavily on local resources. Try the signature seafood lau-lau which substitutes prime fish, shrimp and scallops in lieu of the traditional pork.

The Beach House is best visited during sunset hours given its waterfront location. Start with their famous Monkeypod mai tai, which comes crowned with a honey-lilikoi foam. Take in the crashing waves and color changing sky while you sink into favorites like lobster deviled eggs, crispy fish tacos and a delicious seafood linguine.

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