True romance at Kauai's Ko'a Kea Resort

I’ll never forget my first morning in Kauai. I threw open the curtains from my room at the Ko’a Kea Resort on Poipu Beach. It was about 5 o’clock, and the rolling ocean was already peppered with surfers. The rising sun cast a hazy pink glow over the puffy clouds. Bright orange blossoms — the size of grapefruits — hung heavily from the trees. I knew immediately that everything anyone had ever said to me about Hawaii was not an exaggeration.

I got married in June 2022 and have since traveled to South Africa, Mexico, Croatia and beyond in what has felt like a never-ending honeymoon. But my visit to Kauai in January was easily the cherry on top of an overly romantic year, and Ko’a Kea can take a lot of the credit for that.

Ko'a Kea's newly renovated Oceanfront Suites are roomy and feature a private balcony and a living room.

Ko’a Kea bakes the romance right in. The waterfront property on Kauai’s south shore sets the scene with stunning views out to the ocean and lush gardens bursting with tropical colors. Though not directly on the beach, Ko’a Kea is sandwiched between two golden, sandy beaches — Kiahuna and Poipu.

The oceanfront rooms or suites are the spaces to book here. I recommend an Oceafront Suite, with its 624 square feet of space, private balcony, and living room. The Ocean View Suites are also beautiful, with even more space and either a private patio or lanai.

• Related: Enjoying the magic of Maui at Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort

A must for couples is a dinner at Red Salt, the resort’s signature restaurant. The ahi tuna steak and miso monchong were especially delicious; I highly recommend ordering a few sushi rolls, as well. The Cane Fire roll was supremely decadent. But guests of the resort are also within a short distance of some of the island’s other top restaurants. Merriman’s, for example, is a five-minute drive away; a dinner on the terrace at sunset, of course, with a glass of sparkling wine really dials up the level of romance.

Guests of Ko’a Kea have their pick of activities. The resort has a lovely spa with treatments that make use of local ingredients like Kauai clay; locally grown coffee and sugar; and native flowers. There is also outrigger canoeing, surfing, paddleboarding, and for those more interested in relaxation, there’s beach bonfires, yoga, a poolside tiki bar and live music.

The oceanfront pool is the center of activity at the Ko'a Kea Resort on Kauai.

My favorite activity was our daily sunrise stroll along the waterfront from beach to beach. We made 5 a.m. the preferred wake-up time (a combo of both jet lag and excitement) for as long as our bodies allowed it. Starting the day watching the swirl of pastels that danced across the sea and sky, the sensory overload of extreme color, soft sounds and naturally perfumed breezes was enough to make every moment, no matter how small, feel infinitely more romantic.

Ko’a Kea’s location was perfect for me.
I’m a traveler who opts for off-the-beaten-path over the well-traveled
tourist trail; Kauai in
general is further off the radar of tourists than places like Oahu or
Maui. And its south shore, with its beautiful beaches, small villages and proximity to Waimea
Canyon State Park, feels even further removed from the crowds.

•  •  •

One of the nicest touches for couples at the resort is Ko’a Kea’s dedicated
Honeymoon Registry. Couples can create an ideal registry with a series
of experiences or amenities and have friends and family gift these experiences, from room upgrades and sunset catamarans sailings to
romantic dinners, outdoor massages and helicopter tours of the island.

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