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“Great place but avoid the traps”
Review of Pono Kai Resort

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Pono Kai Resort
Ranked #8 of 11 Hotels in Kapaa
Certificate of Excellence
Forest Grove, Oregon
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great place but avoid the traps”
Reviewed November 10, 2008

We are with Interval International timeshare, and exchanged to Pono Kai from our five star resort in Vermont, the Trapp Family Lodge. Pono Kai's facilities are nowhere near what Trapp's is, but about the same as your better than average Best Western Motel with kitchenette. The rooms were clean and comfortable, and the location right next to the beach, and in Kapaa which is basically half way around the island from north to south, was an advantage. The staff was helpful and courteous during our stay. There's a great walking / biking /running path right next to the resort that runs for miles along the coast.

The big disappointment was the kind of dishonesty with the supposed 2 for 1 on tours etc. They stage a continental breakfast for free (when will I ever learn that these are NOT free at timeshares), and under the guise of an island orientation, hold drawings to allow you to WIN 2 for one tickets on various tours and activities. DON'T DO IT!!! We "won" a 2 for one on North Coast tours, which consisted of driving around the island, pointing out beaches and going to the lighthouse at Princetown, a way overpriced lunch, and a boat ride up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto. We'd never been to Kaui before and thought this would be a good way to find out about the island. Our tour guide, Steve, was great, BUT the tour is simply not worth the price. It cost our family of 6 nearly $700!!! The resort takes a hidden deposit which is NOT applied to the cost of the tour, so we had $150 in charges when we returned home that we knew nothing about. Invest in a good map of the island, and ask some questions, and you'll be able to do as much as we did by renting a car and exploring on your own. Maps mark supposedly hidden places like Secret Beach up in Princetown, and Lydgate Park.
There's a great family place to snorkel at Lydgate Park, ample parking, and very safe - they've dropped boulders in the ocean to form a tidal pool, no more than 5 ft deep, with lots of tropical fish to see, and virtually no risk from the tides, which can be problematic elsewhere unless you're a great swimmer. The resort is out to gyp you with the 2 for ones and continental breakfast, so stay away - they even called on the phone and woke my wife up to come to it.
So avoid the tours, and enjoy your stay.

I will put in a plug for Coconut Coasters, a bike rental place near Pono Kai. They rent great bikes for reasonable prices, and biking can be a lot of fun to get around if you're into it.

I also did Silver Creek Ranch horseback ride. I'm an experienced rider and own my own horses. My recommendation: skip it, unless you just want the novelty of being on a horse. The ride goes to a pretty but small waterfall, where the water is ice cold and the mosquitos are fierce - not the ideal swimming hole.
The scenery is nice for a ride, but at $50 - $120, you're paying a lot to see it from the back of a horse. Experienced riders will be bored, they only walk, and the horses know the route like they know their stalls. They almost don't WANT to be steered, though of course I could make them. And if, like me, you get paired with people on the ride that haven't been on a horse over once or twice, you spend most of your time waiting for them to get their horse under control and moving in the right direction, instead of grazing their way to the falls and back.

  • Liked — proximity to beach
  • Disliked — Ripoff continental breakfast and hooking you up with overpriced tours / activities -bring your own snorkel gear from the States
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank dadoffour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Hillsboro, Oregon
Level 6 Contributor
58 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
Reviewed November 8, 2008

We stayed in a Vacation Internationale condo at Pono Kai, F-106, in October 2008. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that our one-bedroom unit had a great view of the ocean. It would have been slightly better to be on the 2nd or 3rd floor, but it was nice to be able to walk straight out our sliding-glass door onto the grass, and then out to the beach.
A drawback to being on the first floor was that the drapes were semi-sheer and not lined, so we felt that after dark anyone walking by outside could see into our living room area.

I loved getting up before the sun every morning, and watching it rise from our lanai. Being from the west coast, I’ve seen lots of sunsets over the ocean, but had never seen the sun rise over the ocean, so it was wonderful to see.

I had read reviews here about noise from people on the floor above. We didn’t notice much noise the first 5 days we stayed; I know there were people staying there, but they must have been quiet. Then the last 2 days we got a loud family upstairs. They seemed to wear shoes all the time, and not just flip flops or sneakers, but shoes with heels. They must have still been on another time-zone, because they were up and talking before 5:00 a.m. each day.

The kitchen was less well-equipped than other condos we’ve stayed in. Appliances all worked fine and were newer, but cabinets (white laminate with wood trim) and counters (white tile) were probably from the 80’s. There were only 3 basic small appliances: blender, toaster, coffee maker. There was a smallish TV in the living room, with a DVD player; a larger TV in the bedroom (which seemed backwards to me). There was wired internet access, which cost about $41 (including tax) for 7 days. There was an air conditioner in the living room, along with ceiling fans in living and bedroom. The stacking washer/dryer was in the bathroom. It made the bathroom hot and steamy, but was definitely nice to have. The patio had a round table and four chairs, made of wicker-looking resin. It would have been nice to have a lounge chair, though.

The grounds were very nicely kept. Pool was very clean. Not large, but not too small. Hot tub comfortably held 8 people. The staff we encountered were civil, but not overly friendly, smiling or helpful. Basically just there to do their jobs, which was okay.

There is a paved walking/biking path that runs along the edge between the property and beach. It’s about 8 feet wide, and ends just south of Pono Kai, on the other side of a bridge over a canal. It goes quite a ways north, for about 5 miles.

There were some chicken and roosters on the grounds, and they did crow in the mornings, but it wasn’t obnoxiously loud. More obvious were the cats that were plentiful. Skinny and stray, they were brave and would come inside if we left the patio & screen doors both open.

The beach view was slightly marred by a bright orange mesh “fence” that ran the length of the shore along Pono Kai. There has been erosion, and the warning signs indicated “sand holes” so I’m sure they are posting the signs and fence to avoid liability and warn guests not to go on the sand there. But walking just to the north end of Pono Kai provided sandy beach access. There was plenty of shade from palm trees, and it was very nice to sit on the grass or sand and watch the ocean. I saw quite a few people bobbing around in the ocean; not really swimming, but just playing in the waves. Supposedly it’s not a good swimming beach, but on calm days the waves were gentle.

There are quite a few restaurants and shops within a few blocks, including an ABC variety store and a couple coffee shops. A little longer walk to Safeway.

Overall I give Pono Kai a big “thumbs up” and look forward to staying there again.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
8 Thank meginoregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed November 3, 2008

My in-laws gave my wife and I their timeshare for Christmas. I did not have much time to make the decision (about 20 minutes) as to the property of choice.

Once I was informed of the property that we would be staying, I started google searches. I found this site and began to read all of the postings. I have to say that I was extremely worried about this property after reading all of the negative postings.

Once we finally arrive, we were pleasantly surprised at this resort. The pictures on the various website does this property no justice.

The two bedroom/two bath was nicely furnished and beachfront. We found this property to be centrally located and convenient to everything we needed. I did find it interesting that the air conditioning system had a timer on it. Not a big deal at all.

We were constantly on the go and out of the unit everyday. It was true that the beds are really, really hard. We would wake every morning with sore shoulders. We did not do much cooking but did find there to be enough cooking utensils to prepare a nice meal.

We stayed in building C which offered a direct front ocean view.

We both have travelled extensively and stayed in 5 star resorts. While the Pono Kai is no 5 star, we both would definitely stay there again.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Hard beds
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
5 Thank AlabamaFamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Germany
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed October 31, 2008

My husband and I just came back from a wonderful and relaxing vacation in Hawaii. Kauai itself is a dream-island . . . lushciously green, great beaches, friendly locals. We stayed at Pono Kai in Kaapa for a week. The Resort is located by beach, common grounds are well maintained, pool, his/hers sauna, tennis/basketball courts, BBQ grills are avaiable. Very nice resort. We stayed in 1 bedroom unit, with an ocean view -- just perfect. The unit is well furnished, kitchen is fully equipped, housekeeping service is very good. The appartment units are all made out of wood and not sufficient insolation. Although the occupants are very careful and considerate of the noise level, we were awaken by a loud snore next door a few times and they hear us too.

Check-in and Check-out was fast and efficient. The activity concierge is excellent, full of information and nice acitivities lined-out. Most of the staff have the hawaiin attitude, very friendly and warm and so helpful, except for one lady at the front-desk whom we found cold and unfriendly as we check-out.

Kaapa is an old town with convinient shopping and restaurants at every corner. Lydgate Park beach is great for snorkling.

  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank dwild2005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Utah
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2008

I traded my timeshare through RCI and I was a little nervous staying at the Pona Kai after reading reviews. I called the resort to see if I could request a top floor unit. They informed me that I had a partial kitchen and the only building I could be in was K. I called RCI and was able to up grade to a full kitchen 2 bedroom unit. RCI asssured me everything would be fine and to call if there was a problem and they would take care of it. When we arrived at the resort they put us in a top floor oceanview unit. It was wonderfull. Unit E302. I'm so glad that we changed buildings and got a top floor. The floor creeked every step we took. The unit was very large, it was clean, everything worked, no bugs. The view was great. We were very pleased. It is an older resort. Be sure to request a top floor unit. The grounds were very nice and the service was excellent. The location is good, central and Kapaa is a great little town. The path along the ocean was really nice. We love Kauai and will be back.. I would stay at the Pona Kai again only booked through RCI, still a little leary about those other reviews.

  • Liked — Central location, oceanview
  • Disliked — creeky floors
  • Stayed October 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank UtahSkibum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
las vegas
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2008

Im a timeshare owner here at this resort, I've been coming to the Pono Kai Resort for the past 7 years and every year that I come my vacation has always been wonderful. The staff are always friendly and helpful. Front desk personel to see if in need of help can be Bernadette and Ryan who's always willing and able to help with island information and recommendations.

I highly recommend the Pono Kai Resort, its my home away from home.

  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank kaoticazn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Petaluma, CA
Level 5 Contributor
39 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
Reviewed September 11, 2008

My husband and I stayed at Pono Kai Resort from August 30 through September 6. We traded our Maui timeshare (studio) through Interval International and received a one bedroom condo. We had never stayed on Kauai, so we were excited to try something new. I had been watching out for reviews on this site, so I did kind of know what to expect. I was a little nervous about staying here, as some of the reviews were really bad. After staying there, I can see why they did receive bad reviews, although there are some positive aspects to this place.
I had taken the time to fax the resort and request an ocean view. They had responded that they would notate our reservation, but could not guarantee us anything.
We arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon, and our room was ready, which was great. It was a second floor unit, with a beautiful ocean view. This is the main positive aspect of this resort. It is right on the ocean and you feel like you can reach out and touch the water. Just beautiful. We were very pleased with the location.
The unit itself was ok. This is an old place. It was clean, and I didn't notice any mold, that others had complained about. The first night was fine. Very quiet. The second day, that changed. Someone checked in above us and they were up all night, walking around. It sounded like there were a hundred people up there. The floors creak and squeek so much that no matter how someone tries, the people below suffer.
We talked to the front desk the next morning to see what we could do. We literally got no sleep. They said there were no 3rd floor ocean view units available, but they could move us to another 2nd floor unit in a different building with an ocean view that would have someone moving in the next day. We thought we would get at least one night of sleep and hopefully the new people wouldn't be as noisy. They said we would have to pay a $50 ""cleaning fee" to make this change. We decided to try it, as staying where we were would mean no sleep the rest of the week. She told us that the room would be ready at 4:00 pm, but she called about an hour later and said it was ready. I really doubt they needed to clean it, but we were charged $50 anyway.
This room was again, right on the water and had a beautiful view. It was however, not as clean. There was alot of mold in the bathroom by the shower. I don't understand why they wouldn't try and clean it up better, but we really didn't care anymore, just wanted quiet neighbors. The first night was great, as no one was up there. The next day, someone moved in and, although you could hear them, it was not nearly as bad as the other unit. Again, I think this place is so old that structurally, the floors are just bad.
They did have air conditioning in the living room, but the bedroom just had a fan and it was very warm and stuffy in there. The mattress wasn't too bad. There was also a sofa bed in the living room which we slept on a few times, as it was much cooler in there, although it was not very comfortable.
The grounds of the resort were well maintained. The pool is very small and in a fenced in area. The hot tub did not work while we were there. We did use the grill our first night and cooked in two other nights, so that was great.
The "gym" is a small room with two treadmills and two bikes. I did like the "beach walk" that went along the ocean. I walked a few miles every morning, which was great.
The beach in front of the hotel is not swimmable and is littered with so much junk, you really can't walk on it. It is pretty to look at the water, though.
Kauai isn't that big and from where this resort is located, we were able to drive down to Poipu and up to Princeville very easily. Just a beautiful island.
We spent alot of time at the Marriott Kauai Beach Club, as we really loved the pool and the beach right there. As we are Marriott owners, they were very nice about letting us use the pool.
If we ever return to Kauai, this is where we would stay. We really enjoy the amneties such as a large gym, large pool, etc, and should have just traded into there and taken a studio. Live and learn, as they say. We didn't hate this place, just didn't love it.
As far as restaurants, we really enjoyed Hukialu Lanai and the Voyager Grill at the ResortQuest Kauai Beach Hotel. Very nice settings, reasonable prices and good food.
Our favorite was Cafe Portofino by the Marriott. A little expensive, but a beautiful setting and the food was very good. Also, Duke's right next door seemed nice. We had lunch downstairs one day and it was good.

  • Liked — Ocean front views
  • Disliked — Older units, squeeky floors, moldy bathroom.
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank PetalumaTraveler
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

Property: Pono Kai Resort
Address: 4-1250 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746-1658
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:
#3 Family Hotel in Kapaa
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Kapaa
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Kapaa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Pono Kai Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 217
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Also Known As:
Pono Kai Hotel Kapaa
Pono Kai Kapaa
Pono Kai Resort Kauai/Kapaa

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