Where to stay on Kauai South Shore: Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club

Every time I visit a Marriott Vacation Club, I’m equally impressed. The Waiohai Beach Club is the fourth property I’ve seen, and won’t be my last. Why? While every Marriott Vacation Club is different, in order to fit into its setting geographically and culturally, core amenities and values remain consistent across the brand: roomy, family-friendly suites with kitchens and washer/dryers, above average customer service, and a focused effort on kid-friendly activities.

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If you’re not familiar with Marriott Vacation Club, go here to read more. In a nutshell, this ‘arm’ of Marriott offers a timeshare-modeled ownership plan, but also welcomes nightly guests at a fantastic value. I recommend MVCs often, because for a reasonable rate, families get tons of room and the ability to make their own meals. While service is good, the properties never feel ‘snooty’.

Features specific to Waiohai Beach Club:

poipu-beach

This property has the prettiest grounds I’ve seen at a Marriott Vacation Club. Located right on the ocean on the south side of Kauai, the eight buildings, or ‘hales’ nestle in a semi-circle, with the resort’s three pools and three hot tubs tucked amid beautiful landscaping between them.

The beach is the best I’ve seen for Hawaiian resorts, though families can find even better by venturing around the island by car. However, when you pick a resort over a vacation home or town living, it’s crucial the beach on-site delivers, as you’ll be spending the most time there. The beach at Waiohai Beach Club certainly does: the resort is adjacent to Poipu Beach, with several small natural coves perfect for different activities. There a very calm, reef-sheltered ‘keiki’ beach if you walk a few steps from the resort to the left, a nice snorkeling spot closer to the resort, then, directly out front, a sandy beach with waves perfect for boogie boarding. Further off-shore, expert surfers can be spotted (in season).

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Since it’s only a few steps from your villa to the beach, it’s easy to spend the day hopping from beach to pools to villa, returning for meals if you desire. If you want to drive elsewhere, several other Poipu beaches are within a few miles, or the wonders of the North Shore await if you’re willing to put in an hour plus drive (do…it’s worth it).

Additional activities:

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Marriott Vacation Club activities are always listed on a schedule you’re handed when you check-in, and are as extensive as on some cruise ships. In other words, if you want to be active, you can be. There are children’s activities daily, most of which are free.

New to Marriott Vacation Club is Club Thrive, which opened during my visit to Waiohai. This fitness program is much more than simply exercise. Four key elements of a healthy lifestyle and vacation are hit upon in every Thrive class: move, refuel, explore, and revive. The Thrive instructors are warm, energetic, and welcoming, and tell me their goals are to help guests try classes or exercises they may not have tried yet at home, and feel relaxed and rejuvenated during their trip. Thrive classes are offered daily Monday through Friday, and range from stretching/yoga classes to Zumba to nature walks. Some are ideal for the whole family, while others require the industry standard of 13 and up. During my visit, I tried a Thrive AquaFit class, Thrive walk, and Thrive stretching/rejuvenation class, and enjoyed them all. Thrive instructor Troy is so engaging and enthusiastic, MVC should make him the poster boy of the program!

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On site are boogie board, snorkel, and SUP rentals, plus surf rentals and lessons. If your kids (or you) have not surfed before, I highly recommend a lesson to start them off. Lessons are $75 per person, and after that, board rentals are much less expensive. During our Hawaiian vacation, we had lessons, then rented boards for the kids for an extra day, so they could continue working on their own.

The snorkeling is excellent from the beach, so definitely plan on renting snorkels (at the time of my visit, it was $25/week for gear). There are also gear rental shops in Koloa, located only two minutes by car from the resort.

The concierge on site can recommend various other excursions across the island. Definitely stop by to check out the offerings…there is so much to do on Kauai! We saw whales (in March) directly from the resort, but spotted even more, and up closer, on a catamaran cruise with Holo Holo Charters, located not far from the south shore in Port Allen.

What to expect from your villa:

We stayed in a two-bedroom villa (remember, all rooms are villas at Marriott Vacation Club), which slept eight. Honestly, eight would have been pretty crowded, but six would have been no problem. There’s a full kitchen, already stocked with all the silverware, plates, cooking utensils, and pots and pans you’ll need. Do a grocery store run after arrival, and you’ll be all set!

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The living space is connected to the kitchen in the center of the villa, and includes extra space in the form of the large balcony, with seating. There’s a full dining room table in addition, which seats eight. The living room space also has a large couch (which pulls out to a bed) and flat screen TV and DVD player.

The two bedrooms of the villa come off of the main room, and are spacious and light. We loved the natural tones used throughout, which fit the Hawaiian vibe throughout the resort. Each bedroom has a full bath attached, with tub and shower. In one bedroom, an additional couch pulls out to be a bed as well. Each villa also has a full washer and dryer…worth their weight in gold when traveling with kids!

Those extras that add up:

You know what I mean…in many luxury hotels, the room rate is just the beginning. Once you pay for wifi, parking, and dining, you’ve spent far more. At MVC, wifi is always free, and parking is either free or has a minimal cost. At Waiohai, it was $10/day. Coffee is resupplied in the villa daily.

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Dining:

Most, if not all, MVCs focus on causal dining and in-villa eating, so they don’t have a formal dinner restaurant on-site. At Waiohai, the Honu Bar and Grill, located beachside, offers very nice fare in an outdoor setting. Pick up lunch here, or drinks and smoothies. It’s open for dinner as well until 7:30 pm at the time of our visit. The same causal grill fare is offered during dinner, with the additional of a nightly dinner special. When we visited on a Monday, the dinner special was grilled mahi mahi with a garlic butter and the traditional rice and macaroni salad of the Hawaiian plate lunch. It was delicious.

In addition to Honu, Waiohai has a marketplace, as do all MVCs I’ve visited, which offers grab-and-go sandwiches, wraps, and bento or rice bowls. They also had convenience food items like chicken tenders and hot dogs. Our kids didn’t like the chicken tenders, so I’d stick with the freshly prepared items. Also in the marketplace are grocery items, wine and beer, and snacks. This market will not replace a full grocery run elsewhere, but is perfect if you need some snacks, milk for your cereal, or more coffee. They also offer some basic breakfast plates, Starbucks coffee, and muffins and pastries in the mornings.

So would we stay here again? Absolutely. There are basically two lodging options when visiting Kauai: families can rent a vacation home, or stay in a resort. There are pros and cons to each, of course, but if you’ve chosen the latter, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value in a beach-side resort than MVC. You’ll get more for your money here, and have the cost-saving conveniences of a rental home (the kitchen and laundry) combined with the fun and pampering of a resort.

Directions:

The Waiohai Beach Club is located at 2249 Poipu Road, Koloa. From the Lihue airport, it’s an easy 20 minute drive, following signage to Poipu.

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As we disclose whenever applicable, we stayed at Waiohai as guests of MVC, for the purpose of review.

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. This volcanic nature of Hawaii islands is really magnificent for any kind of sightseeing.

  2. Thanks for sharing, all of this information is super helpful. I live on Oahu but have many friends who come visit and now I can make some suggestions for some kid friendly options (they usually stay at Aulani on Oahu).

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