I walked into base camp covered in mud and sweat, carrying my camera and backpack. I must have looked exhausted to those around me as they stared at me bit too long. I couldn’t wait to clean up, get some food, and lay down to assess the day and fall into a deep, deserved sleep. This was the 3rd day in a row that I had waltzed in muddy and haggard from trails. But the beacon of base camp was always welcoming. However, the beacon was not a fire, it was an illuminated sign – one that read Kauai Courtyard Marriott.
The beautiful resort/hotel was my perfect base camp for my Kauai adventures. A base camp doesn’t have to be high up in the Himalayas, it simply needs to meet this definition:
“a main encampment providing supplies, shelter, and communications for persons engaged in wide-ranging activities as exploring, reconnaissance, hunting, or mountain climbing.”
I was engaging in a wide range of activities in Kauai including climbing and reconnaissance. In fact, after 3 days, I had only really experienced the hotel at night thus far. In Kauai you don’t want to sit around in your hotel, you want to find adventure. It’s important to find a hotel that can serve as your ‘base camp’ for Kauai and that’s exactly what the Courtyard Marriott did for me. It ticked all the base camp boxes. But more importantly it did it with style.
Don’t let the ‘Courtyard’ name fool you; the hotel was nothing like what I was expecting based on prior knowledge of Courtyard Marriott properties. This was more of a small scale resort perfectly located in the town of Kapa’a. It didn’t have a big beach scene, but instead a rather simple beach super for watching sunrises and enjoying the glow of sunsets.
How did it meet my Kauai base camp needs?
A main road goes around the island. However, as you can see on the above map, it doesn’t fully connect into a complete circle which then makes location a very important aspect of a base camp. The road around Kauai is more like a giant ‘C” shape, and the Courtyard Marriott is located right in the middle at Kapa’a, the perfect central lodging on Kauai. It was easy to get to Waimea canyon on one end of the “C” and to Hanalei on the other end. You probably don’t want to do both on the same day as that’s quite a haul, but it’s easy to choose to explore one half of the island one day and the other half another day. I was able to slowly explore each half of the island using Kapa’a as my base.
The other great thing about the location was that it was secluded and off the main road. It wasn’t surrounded by other resorts and was flanked on both sides by empty, undeveloped fields which made the location feel that much more special and quiet for relaxing after a hard hiking day. There was a small and simple beach with tide pools and plenty of places to lounge around if you wanted to take a rest day.
Eating and Supplies
A good base camp needs to provide nourishment for its weary explorers. I ate quite a few dinners at the Marriott because the atmosphere at night was lovely. They often had local live music, happy hour cocktails, and cultural demonstrations at night around the pool. Plus the outdoor poolside fire was really inviting and a great place to hang out on the chilly nights after the sun went down. The pool patio every night was packed with weary explorers talking about their day’s achievements.
Oh yes – I must mention the free bottomless coffee in the morning…I’d always grab a cup as I raced out in the morning to go on my next expedition.
Shelter and Renewing
Once my head hit the pillow every night I was asleep in minutes exhausted. The rooms were large and comfortable. They also offered some great sunrise activities such as yoga which got me warmed up and ready to go for the day’s hiking. The resort operates on resort fees – but it’s completely up to you if you want the extras like yoga or if you’d rather just keep it simple and lower cost.
The best part about any hotel for me is of course free wifi. After dinner I’d work for a bit researching my next day and recording notes from my day’s hikes.
Base Camp as a Gateway to…
I had a varied itinerary on Kauai full of adventure, photography and sightseeing. Here were some of my favorite things I did while using the Kauai Courtyard Marriott as my base camp
- Nearby Hikes – I used the hotel as a gateway to a few great hikes to Hoopi falls, an easy 5km Wai Koa Loop near Kilauea , and the Sleeping Giant hike on the nearby Nounou mountain. In fact you can get up early and get to the top for sunrise if you’d like.
- I took to the air on an island Helicopter Tour
- I got up close to the Napali Coast and whales on a a sailing tour
- Drove to Waimea Canyon
- Learned how to make a Hawaiian food staple at Waipa Poi Day
- Improved my photography around the entire island on a photography workshop.
However it was always great to get back to base camp and rest my weary feet in comfort!
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Kauai Courtyard Marriott during my stay on Kauai. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own.