I really like the Islander - it seems to offer good value, a central location, comfort, and a great staff. Kauai is less hectic as an island and the Islander fits that characteristic well - this is not the place for those looking for constant activity or the luxury hotel experience (and cost).
The beach here is very uncrowded and the hotel has lounge chairs right on the beach as well as around the pool and grass areas. It is a great walking area for those that want to stroll the beach and/or path that is slightly inland and suitable for jogging. Many folks were seen doing their morning yoga in the peace and serenity of this location. While this area is labeled as unswimmable and there are no lifeguards, I did not see any impediments such as rocky shoreline or rip currents and many folks do go in and get wet. There’s a local Monk Seal that often snoozes on this section of beach – do not be alarmed that there’s something wrong with it and be sure to admire from a distance.
The rooms are a little small (311 sq.') but very comfortable and nicely appointed. I believe each is individually owned and hence there may be some variances. We had an ocean view room and the view was postcard-perfect. They are still doing some renovation to the ocean front rooms, but it seems to be wrapping up. The activities are focused on the front of the units and the noise/disruption was very minimal - couldn't hear much from the other units and the waves cancelled out most anything while at the pool or on the beach. The rooms do offer A/C which is a bit unusual for rooms on the island. It was very adequate and quiet the few times we used it. The site’s pictures are very representative of the rooms, facility, and surroundings.
For those that want to roam the island, the location of the Islander is a big plus as it's about at the mid-point of the main highway that goes around 3/4ths of the island. It takes over an hour to reach either end though – the maximum speed limit was 50 with many slower areas, but hey, what’s the rush – slow down and enjoy the views.
The Coconut Marketplace is next door and seems to be about 50% occupied now. There are several small places for food, shaved ice/ice cream, sundries, clothing, souvenirs, arranging tours, etc. Of these, Eggbert's was our go-to place for breakfast. Two shopping centers are within a 15 minute walk and include Foodland, Safeway (hint: get the free customer loyalty cards for these on the first visit as lots of things are on “sale” that require the cards), Starbucks, Coffee Bean, ABC store, Longs Drug, Snorkel Bob’s as well as lots of small restaurants. The main city of Lihue where most folks fly into is 10-15 minutes away and offered a nice 4-screen movie theatre, a mall, and a Costco with the usual fare incl. fresh fruits, local fish, some Hawaiian clothing, fresh flowers and leis, and gas that was 30-40 cents cheaper.
As others have mentioned, the units are 3 stories (and there are no elevators), and there’s a $10 daily amenity/resort fee that covers reliable WiFi, movie rentals, nice pool towels, room safe, etc. - I hate these resort fees, but at least it was reasonable. The movies are available from a kiosk and offered a wide, but limited (maybe 100 total) selection. The room safe accommodated my 14.1” laptop. There is a coin-operated laundry facility. The BBQs worked great and the front desk even has BBQ utensils to help with the grilling. It was nice to have a microwave, small fridge, plates, etc. to supplement eating out. Parking is somewhat limited as others have mentioned, but overflow parking was always available and is just on the other side of the hedge.
One surprise of this trip was that a lot of places on the island do not accept AMEX credit cards. If you charge a lot, you will need a Visa/MC and may need to tell your bank that you will be traveling so it doesn't get blocked.
All-in-all, the Islander is a nice, comfortable, quiet place that offers many conveniences, a central location, and nearby shopping conveniences. I did not interact with the staff all that much, but when I did they were competent and pleasant. I would return to the Islander without hesitation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.