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“No great shakes” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Pono Kai Resort

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Pono Kai Resort
2.5 of 5 Resort   |   4-1250 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #9 of 12 hotels in Kapaa
Langhorne, PA
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“No great shakes”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2013

We swapped into a timeshare at the Pono Kai for a week in May, 2013. The place was clean, the staff was friendly, everything was very average. Except for the bathroom. It was clean, but small and not well suited to more than one couple.
To me, the Pono Kai fits somewhere a resort and a condo. There is no "special" feel to it. We didn't have high expectations going in, and anded up having a very good time. If you adjust your expectations, and don't pay too much, the Pono Kai may be a good value for you.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (118)
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English first
Sunnyvale, CA
Top Contributor
195 reviews 195 reviews
50 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
789 helpful votes 789 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

RESERVATIONS: My wife and I stayed as guests of a timeshare owner at Pono Kai for one week, paying only maintenance fees for "bonus time" of $511 total for 7 days. The rack rate listed in the lobby entrance was $240 a day! We had made airline reservations from the west coast on fairly short notice of about 3 weeks, and had to pay more than the cheapest fare, which can only be obtained with about 2 months notice.

PACKING FOR HAWAII: There are a couple of special items needed when packing for Hawaii: a 3.5 oz (the largest liquid container allowed by TSA) sunscreen from Dollar store, a loksac from amazon, swimsuit with zippered pocket, one way (to be left in Hawaii) running shoes, one way old T-shirts (to wear when snorkeling to prevent sun burns on your back), a mobile GPS for the rental car, and the usual digital camera, and smart phone, and their respective chargers. If you bring a laptop or notebook you must pack it separately, preferably in its own carrying case, when going through the TSA scanners. Note that there is no wifi nor 4G internet access on flights to or from Hawaii to the mainland.

COSTCO: Usually I try to stop by Costco when arriving in Hawaii. However the Costco in Kauai is located in Lihue which is a bit of detour from the airport to Pono Kai . I stop by for milk ($4.53 per gallon, not two gallons!) , bread, chocolate macadamia nuts, snorkel gear ($45) , guava nectar, lunch meat, cereal, and gas up ($4.25) when returning the car to the airport.

LOCATION: Pono Kai is located on Kuhio highway in Kapaa on the eastern coast of Kauai. Pono Kai is a timeshare facility of mid-level condominiums, with the highway on one side, and the Kapaa beach park on other side of the facility. A very high hedge separates the parking lot from the highway, with parking along the perimeter of the complex.

KUHIO HIGHWAY: Anyone who stays at Pono Kai needs to know about the Kuhio highway. The Kuhio highway is mostly a two lane highway, and is the only connection between the towns in North Kauai, and the towns in South Kauai. During rush hour the traffic in Kapaa is the worst in Kauai, with bumper to bumper traffic stretching for miles. There is severe congestion in the late afternoons, with traffic heading south backed up for miles north of Kapaa, trying to enter the city.

LANDSCAPING: Beautifully landscaped complex, with wide expanses of neatly trimmed lawns with palm trees and tropical fish pond. Long paved pedestrian paths leading from parking lots on the perimeters to the buildings. Multiple tennis courts with plentiful bbq ranges available.

BUILDINGS: There are ten buildings in Pono Kai, each three stories in height, with exterior corridors, and entry doors on the west side facing the highway, and the lanais (covered balconies) on the east side facing the ocean. Buildings a,b,c,d are located right next to the beach park, with ocean front views. Buildings f and g have a partial ocean view, and are located behind the ocean front buildings. Buildings e,h,j,and k have no ocean view. Buildings j and k are across from the parking lots next to the Kuhio highway, and subject to traffic noise during rush hour. Buildings a,b,c, and d are occupied with timeshare owners.

ROOM INTERIOR: We were given room b-103. This was an older 1 bedroom, 1 bath 740 square foot condominium. The dated facility was most evident in the bathrooms with old plumbing, and older equipment in the kitchen -old style electric burners on the stove - no flat top electric stove, and two crt TVs -flat TVs had not yet arrived. Comfortable king size bed with firm mattress. Bathroom equipped with bathtub. Fully equipped kitchen with oven, old style built in microwave that looked like a bank vault, stove, dishwasher, sink, dishware, glassware, utensils and pots/pans. Full size refrigerator. Dining table in the living room with sofa, chairs, coffee table, and a screened, and sliding balcony door, leading to a lanai (covered balcony) facing the ocean. Ceiling fan but no AC. $10 per day for Wifi access in the room, although free Wifi hotspot in the lobby. Carpets and bathroom were not new, but very clean.

EXTERIOR: The bedroom was located right next to the exterior corridor in the front, with people able to walk right by and peer into the room. Noise from people going up and down the concrete stairwell leading upstairs, with the communal garbage bin and associated smells under the stairwell. We had upstairs and neighbors on both sides, but they were very considerate, and we did not hear them through the interior walls during our stay. We had no housekeeping, and had to empty our own trash daily. Communal washer and dryer located outside the room in a separate communal room. The lanai is separated from the ocean by an expanse of neatly trimmed grass and a maintained low hedge next to the Kauai coastal path.

SECURITY: We had to leave the bedroom screened window open along with the lanai balcony door to create cross ventilation for the ceiling fans in the bedroom and living room. However the bedroom screened window was on ground level next to the exterior corridor running to the other first floor rooms, and anyone could have hopped in by removing the screen, shielded by the overhead stairwell. The more modern designed timeshares, such as at the Kona Coast resort phase 2, have long individual paths leading from the central pathway to the individual ground floor doors, with no pathways near the windows, making them less accessible to strangers, and the window interiors less visible to prying eyes from the outside.

KAUAI COASTAL PATH: Directly in front of Pono Kai is the Kauai Coastal path, known in the local jingo as the Ke Ala Hele Makalae East Shore Beach. This is a beautiful maintained 12 foot wide concrete walkway in front of the beach running for 4 miles north of Kapaa to the end of Kealia Beach Park , and 0.5 miles southwards past a bridge over the Waikaea canal and ends in the Waipouli Beach Park just south of the canal. The pathway resurfaces after Wailua at the Lydgate Beach park and goes south another 2 miles. It is an absolute paradise for pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists, to be go for hours along the ocean shore, uninterrupted with motor vehicle traffic, or building structures.

KAPAA SHOPPING center is 8 minutes walking distance. Walk south on the Kauai coastal path past the bridge over the Waikaea canal, turning west along the path toward the Kuhio highway. Cross the highway at the traffic light and pedestrian crossing. There is a Big save Value Center shopping market , along with Verde restaurant. Pono Kai gave me a Shell Vacations restaurant discount card, and the Verde was one of those restaurants. There is also a Cost U Less warehouse (small version of Costco) in this shopping center. There is a gas station with a hosed vacuum cleaner, so that you can clean out all the beach sand from your car, before returning it to the rental.

WALK TO TOWN CENTER:one can walk to the center of Kapaa from the resort without crossing any major roads, along the Kauai Coastal Path, with restaurants within very easy walking distance: Restaurants less than 5 minute walk include: the Ono Family Restaurant, the East Side, Olympic Cafe, Sushi Bushido, Mermaids Cafe, and Hee Fat, a general foods store.

BEACH ACCESS: no direct beach access at Pono Kai without walking a short ways north or south, as the ocean runs against rocky land edge around here. The east coast of Kauai is dangerous to swim or snorkel due to strong currents and formidable riptides. The nearest snorkeling nearby is Lydgate beach 3.3 miles south along the highway, with a fully protected pond for beginners. The best snorkeling on island is in Poipu on south part of island in the winter, or in the summer at Ke'e Beach in the North. During the winter the northern part of Kauai suffers from strong currents and wave action.

DO NOT IMMERSE: Our rental car came with an electronic smart unit built around the key. Unlike a toggle or fob key, this was could not be separated from the key itself. Along the key chain was a warning: 'Do not immerse in water: $140 replacement cost" We went to Poipu Beach, Tunnel Beach, Hanalei Bay and Ke'e Beach where I put all my valuables in the area below the trunk, and took my electronic key, and put it into a loksac, a heavy duty, water tight, triple sealed plastic pouch, widely available at dive shops, and at Amazon. I packed the loksac into my zippered rear swim trunk pocket, when I went into the ocean snorkeling . The electronic key stayed dry every time, even after hours of snorkeling in the ocean.

MAIN ATTRACTIONS: The main attractions in Kauai include the Na Pali coast, partially accessible from the Kalalou trail at end of the road in Northern Kauai, and the Waimea Canyon, the grand canyon of the Pacific according to Mark Twain. Pono Kai is centrally located to access either site in one day, although it will take up to six hours to reach the end of the Waimea Canyon. Bring heavy duty hiking boots for the Kalalou trail, which is starts off as a steep trail full of small boulders rising above the Ke'e beach, and intersected by numerous muddy streams.

TIMESHARE: Everyone who stays at Pono Kai gets saturated with daily phone calls to attend a activities prizes giveaway. Of course you also had to attend the 90 minute timeshare presentation. When we didn't say no right away, the timeshare presentation lasted 3.5 hours. We were offered a 1 bedroom timeshare at the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy for $23,000 for a two week annual stay, with undisclosed maintenance fees . When we didn't budge, they offered and sold us a two year Shell Vacations Explorer Program, with 6000 points for $1599 (this price includes all taxes). This is equivalent to staying at the Kona Coast Resort phase 1, an equal to the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy, for $140 a night, which is reasonable. Our friend purchased a Pono Kai timeshare for a $6000 on the resale timeshare market. And there was a place next to the Lava Java restaurant in Kailua -kona selling Hilton time shares $6000 and 3500 Shell Vacation points for $350, about the equivalent cost to stay at Pono Kai for a week in Shell Vacation points. My wife now refuses to attend any more timeshare presentations.

Room Tip: Buildings a,b,c,d are located right next to the beach park, with ocean front views. Buildings f and...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2013

I previously gave this resort 4 stars, based upon my 3-month stay a few years ago.

I've downgraded it to 3 stars based upon a one-week stay last month, because I now realize that you simply don't know what you're getting when you stay here.

If you stay at a timeshare resort managed by, say, Hilton or Marriott, you're pretty much assured that all the rooms will be uniformly well-kept. But that's not how it is at Pono Kai. And the problem is, you don't know which units are nicely updated and which are not. And forget about changing rooms; it doesn't work that way.

This time, my wife and stayed in unit D101 - an oceanfront two-bedroom. The plus side was that it was extremely spacious, with large bedrooms, large bathrooms a very large living room, a dining room and a large kitchen. We could sit in the living room and look across a nicely-manicured lawn at the ocean, with the sound of waves wafting in.

The downside was that the unit was very run-down. The furniture had to be at least 30 years old and the ceiling in one bathroom was mildewed and crumbling. There was no air conditioning and the ceiling fan in the master bedroom didn't work. The kitchen utensils were like something out of a Goodwill store.

Now, personally, I'm not all that picky about things like that, but since I'm writing this for your benefit, I have to warn you that the actual lodgings were two-star, at best.

Another problem is that most of the oceanfront units seem to be inhabited full-time by retired owners and they have an attitude problem. A lady upstairs from our unit yelled out her window at me while I fed bread to some adorable doves and threatened to call the police. There were other issues, but I won't go into them.

We were lucky that the unit was very well-stocked with towels and beach towels, because the housekeeping staff never showed up during the entire week. And we had to take our trash to the dumpster ourselves.

Alright, here are the positives: I still think that Kapaa, despite it's occasional traffic jams, is the best location on the island. The units are incredibly spacious: if you're party of 4 or 6, you just cannot do better than this. And I love the broad, green lawns. And having a fully-equipped kitchen is a real plus - you don't have to spend insane amounts of money for room service or the island's uniformly-mediocre restaurants.

On top of that, Pono Kai is situated on a 5-mile bicycle and pedestrian path that takes you to three of the island's best beaches - Wailua, Kealia and Donkey Beach.

So here's the bottom line: the location is great; the two-bedroom units are spacious beyond anything else you could get on the island for 3 times the price and it's a good value. But if you're dreaming of staying in someplace where everything in the room is fresh and sparkling, stay somewhere else.

Room Tip: Avoid unit D101, even though the oceanfront location is great.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CondoRentalsHI, Condo Rental Agency at Pono Kai Resort, responded to this review, May 30, 2013
I am sorry you did not enjoy your stay in unit D101, which we manage. We are surprised that you did not like the unit, as this is the first poor review we have received for this condo. Most guests enjoy the ceramic tiled floors, island-themed furniture, and Hawaiian touches throughout. As soon as we became aware of the ceiling we blocked the condo from any future guests and had it inspected and repaired. The bedroom fan has also been repaired. We are sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your second stay as much as your first trip to Pono Kai.

Mahalo,
Keith
Condominium Rentals Hawaii
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Salinas, CA
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2013

We love it so much here that we bought a timeshare. We have stayed all over the resort and found that we love the 1br end units because there is an extra window in the dining room. The only thing I might change is putting washs and dryers in the units.And more comfortable seating. Otherwise, we always feel like we are home when we get there.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, BC, Canada
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 21, 2013 via mobile

Our ocean front suite was pleasant, clean and well equipped. Pono Kai is central - convenient to Kapa'a restaurants and equi-distant to the north and south shores. We enjoyed mornings and late evenings on the lanai. Our suite - and bedroom - were right by the stair well so there was no hope of sleeping in. We heard every bit of early morning chatter and every suitcase being humped up the stairs.

Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2013 via mobile

They had us switch rooms multiple times which is fine but without notice on the last time. The too.s are old and the appliances very outdated. 12in t.v and long walks to anywhere. Staff is just terrible.

  • Stayed May 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CondoRentalsHI, Condo Rental Agency at Pono Kai Resort, responded to this review, May 21, 2013
I am sorry that you did not enjoy your stay at the Pono Kai Resort. I don’t believe you stayed in one of the condos our vacation rental company manages as we would not move guests without working with them to find an agreeable substitute. Each condo owner at the Pono Kai can choose to furnish and upgrade their condo differently. In the future, I encourage you to view specific condos online before you solidify your booking, so you can assure your tastes and needs are met.

Mahalo,
Keith
Condominium Rentals Hawaii
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carbondale
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 10, 2013

The rooms are large enough for my wife and I. The kitchen and bathrooms are fine (large clean). The bed and pull down bead in the living room was comfortable for sleeping but the rest of the furniture was uncomfortable. The pool is nice (just a fairly long walk from our unit), barbeques clean.

We could see the ocean if we craned our necks off the deck. It was strung with plastic orange fencing warning of sink holes. Staff was friendly, parking close by. Air-conditioner ran 24/7 and didn't seem adjustable.

We stayed at the Kapaa Sands the first week. It's small and "quaint" and homey with a few quirks. The Pono Kai is very large and a bit sterile feeling. We enjoyed the beach at the Kapaa Sands and really didn't go anywhere else. That was restful. While at the Pono Kai we ventured out to other beaches each day so we had to do the packing and driving routine. Of course there is no shortage of nice shady beaches so who's complaining.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pono Kai Resort

Address: 4-1250 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746
Location: United States > Hawaii > Kauai > Kapaa
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Kapaa
#6 Family Hotel in Kapaa
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Kapaa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Pono Kai Resort 2.5*
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Also Known As:
Pono Kai Hotel Kapaa
Pono Kai Kapaa
Pono Kai Resort Kauai/Kapaa

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