I was searching for a very special place for a surprise (but planned) engagement and wedding. Hale Lani and Secret Beach delivered in spades! It was exactly what I was looking for: private, elegant, exclusive, floral, unique, memorable….
My wife and I believe the attention to details, which are important to us and enhanced the elegance, are worth noting in this review: Zen-feeling stone construction, ceramic Japanese-styled roof tiles, high-end finishes (like highest grade maple floors), seamless flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces, tropical flowers (orchids, birds-of-paradise, hibiscus, plumeria…) everywhere - inside and out, buttery linens and bed, high-end kitchen accoutrements (e.g. Henkel knives, All-Clad cookware, Sub-Zero fridge that is incorporated into the cabinetry, unique glassware – although some proper wine glasses are a much needed addition), a private hot tub with an “open outdoor” feel, indoor and outdoor party showers, and many other nuanced details to discover.
The space deserves the high-end finishes. It is only +/-500 square feet (a size dictated by the zoning – I understand). But I felt the layout and incorporation of outdoor space makes it feel much bigger. The location next to a tropically landscaped ravine and the extensive grounds exclusive to each cottage, including wide capacious bluffs, also add to the perceived size and privacy.
The management’s assistance with planning and facilitating our wedding was exceptional. When a wedding-monsoon (good luck, I’m told) preempted our outdoor ceremony plans, a house on a private estate was provided. The Hawaiian minister, the ipo (pronounced ee-poe) was incredibly gracious, warm and gently spiritual. The private caterer (ask Maryanne about Dani – she is awesome – all local and perfectly fresh ingredients), the musician, and the wedding florist, all, exceeded our expectations. (Please pardon the possible tone of this next statement, but here goes…) These people imbued our ceremony and souls with aloha spirit.
Not to dilute our wonderful experience, but there are some additional attributes to the property that may require individual consideration:
1) This is a 3-unit property without resort concierge-type servicing. If your vacation priorities include picking up the phone for room service and having someone bring drinks and fresh towel, while you lounge on a beach recliner, almost certainly the wrong choice for you. However, massages (indoor, outdoor, seaside) a private chef, and house keeping are not-at-all difficult to arrange.
2) The beach is a robust walk (hike?) away (+/-10 minutes down, +/-15 up) especially if you are lugging stuff. You will break a sweat on the way up. If you want to roll out of bed onto the beach, Hale Lani - no. I enjoyed the walk. My fiancé’ – not so much. I picked fresh papayas, avocados citrus on the route, and took in the views, flowers and wildlife. I love that stuff.
3) Retail needs require a short car trip. That being said, the nearby bakery at the Kong Lung Center is awesome. The fresh baked selections are many and interesting (e.g. vegan breakfast Stromboli and flowered muffins). It would thrive in NY, SF or other foodie cities. The organic produce and local farmers markets are also well worth a visit.
4) Some of the locals seem a little high-strung for paradise dwellers. As an example, we got our marriage license at a local hair salon (yes, a hair salon). You would think this experience would be fun…. - not. The proprietor should look into work at the DMV. Maybe I got her on a bad day. And the few marginal experiences were well out numbered by the pleasant experiences.
Should you find yourself at Hale Lani or Secret Beach, please give our regards (Tamara’s and Arthur’s) to the staff, Mr. Bird (the Brazilian cardinal who came for crackers every morning - see the pictures), the Hawaiian geese, Mr. Rooster and his chicks, and friendly Mr. Cat.
Arthur and Tamara
We stayed at Secret Beach Hideaway in Hale Lani for 4 nights of a 9 night vacation in Kauai. Four nights were not enough. This was our first visit to Kauai and we wanted to stay a few nights on both the southern and northern parts of the island. It is very hard to describe in a few words how absolutely breathtaking the experience at this cottage was for the two of us. The Pacific views were stunning, the gardens and grounds were perfection, and the cottage and everything about it was private, upscale, and luxurious. This vacation rental villa property was exactly like it appeared on the Secret Beach Hideaway Web site.
The sunsets we experienced from the cottage over Na Pali and Bali Hai (of South Pacific fame) are amazing and spiritual. You can see whales jumping out in the ocean. There were beautiful birds everywhere.
The owner, Michele Hughes, has put many years of thought and planning into this place and she is rightfully proud of it. She and Ms. Kusaka, the property representative, were both very gracious and really delightful and helpful. We felt really appreciated the whole time we were here.
The private estate in which the cottages are located is set on the cliffs overlooking the northern coastline of Kauai. There are three cottages and a large villa on the property, all designed by Ms. Hughes, a well known California and Hawaii designer. The property is so large and well designed that you have complete privacy in the cottage, on the private terrace overlooking the Pacific, the private outside jacuzzi area, and the gardens and flowers that surround the cottage.
The design of the cottages is very modern Frank Lloyd Wright style and the furnishings are upscale and contemporary. The kitchen is luxurious with stone countertops, Thermador convection oven, Whirlpool Gold dishwasher, Sub-Zero refrigerator, etc. They all work just fine (including the freezer drawers where one Tripadvisor member put his groceries and then complained that they were frozen.) The kitchen is fully furnished with hand-painted, dishwasher safe dishes, glasses, and very nice cooking pots and pans. The kitchen is gourmet class.
The bath is luxurious with travertine stonework, Kohler faucets and toilet, two shower heads, and a separate outside entrance. (There are 7 total outside entrances with sliding full glass doors.) The bath and hot tub towels are very plush.
The bedroom has a king size sleigh bed that is very nice and comfortable. The bedroom is certainly one of the nicest we have ever experienced in a cottage or villa anywhere, but what was more amazing was that Ms. Hughes had designed the closets in the bedroom with thick sliding doors to hide the sound of a up/down washer/dryer and a fully operational HP multi-purpose business machine with wireless printer, copier, and fax where you can print out items from the internet, including boarding passes.
I guess that something had to give considering space even though the cottage is large, so there is not much room for lots of luggage. But with washer and dryer handy, you don't need lot of clothes in Kauai and you can keep most of your snorkeling gear, etc. stored in your car or SUV.
There is DSL high-speed wireless internet and an Ethernet cord for folks who don’t have wireless in their laptops.
The trek down to the beach is similar to every other property in this part of Hawaii. The properties are on the cliffs over-looking the Pacific. The owner has built steps and terraces down to the amazing Secret Beach which do require some effort and common sense. The trek down takes about 10-15 minutes and is definitely worth it. Secret Beach is so private and stunning that you will want to spend a lot of time there. But there are some people who just cannot make that trek for some justifiable reason. If so, there are many, many beautiful beaches within a short driving distance of Kilauea that guests can drive to.
The cottage rental is about $650 per night at this time during most of the year. This compares with a regular hotel room down the road at the Westin for $585 and at the St. Regis for $705 or a small 2 bedroom condo at the Westin for $798. In my book, it is a no-brainer to stay at Secret Beach Hideaway.
The only other decent property nearby is the Aloho Sunrise and Sunset cottages, both of which are much less expensive, but you get what you pay for. They are very dated and have no view or beach access, not to mention the luxury of Secret Beach Hideaway.
I highly recommend this place for your stay in Kauai. You will dream about your stay here for a long time.
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This was the absolute best of the 3 places we visited in Hawaii on our honeymoon. It is pricey, but worth every cent. I wish that we had spent the entire time there, instead of just 1 week. The staff is very helpful & friendly, the location is gorgeous, and the town of Kilauea was charming.
The walk to the beach is long, but we are very fit, so we didn't have a problem. Plus, we had our very own beautifully landscaped hiking trails to enjoy, complete with waterfalls, fruit trees and wildlife.
The only bad thing about the place was the wild chickens... and the roosters who loved to crow at night. We didn't complain, but the caretakers did mention they were trying to take care of the problem. This was a minor problem, and would not prevent me from going back... but my bank account might!
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My husband and I recently stayed at the Secret Beach Hideaway for our 10-year anniversary. What can I say- it was absolutely wonderful! We stayed at Hale Nanea cottage and were more then impressed. The photos on the website are great, but being there in person was even better. The cottage was a perfect size, with great accommodations, and beautiful views. I honestly can’t find anything wrong with the place. The cottage was full of everything you need from kitchen utensils, laundry detergent, Kauai guidebooks, internet, beach supplies, and more. Everything in the cottage was high quality (appliances, linens, etc.). The bed was more than comfortable. The view from every window or door was breathtaking. We really enjoyed the jacuzzi and both showers. The grounds were more then beautiful. We found ourselves walking around just to look at all the unique plants and fishpond. Responding to another post, we only saw a few small geckos and some harmless cute frogs. None were in the cottage. The cottage is placed up high on a mountainside, so it gives a panoramic view. We enjoyed several meals on the deck and relaxed on the lounge chairs. The hike down to the beach is not as long as it looks, and is steep in areas, but it is more then worth it! Just take your time and take in the views along the way. The beach itself is like looking at a postcard. We were in awe when we stepped into the sand. When we visited Secret Beach there were only 1 or 2 people in the distance. It was unbelievable! We had no idea that the only people that have access to the beach are the owners along that beach. People pay to go to the lighthouse to see this beach along with its view. The contact personal were wonderful: Reservation-Maryanne was quick and accommodating. Housekeeping-Gloria was sweet and helpful. Her little personal touches around the cottage were very nice: fresh flowers, chocolates, etc. The owner Michele Hughes even visited us on our last day to introduce herself and make sure we had an excellent stay. Let me tell you- we did! We definitely plan on return to Kauai and when we do we will stay at the Secret Beach Hideaway!
Things we did and places we recommend: Snorkeling on Tunnels Reef- a must (get there early, limited parking), then have lunch at the Tropical Taco! Driving to the Waimea Canyon- it is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Wailua and Opaeka Falls- beautiful! When we were at the Wailua Falls a local Hawaiian was selling handmade coconut palm baskets. Kayaking the Hanalei River- peaceful, not busy. Pack a lunch and park your kayak right before the Princeville Hotel beach. Local eats: Kilauea Bakery- great pastries, bagels, and pizza! Lighthouse Bistro- great meal, nice atmosphere. The fish market across from the Kong Lung shops had great fish that we cooked on the grill. Definitely buy your groceries at the Foodland in Kapa’a- much cheaper than near Princeville. You can also buy a real flower lei at a local house right past the Kong Lung Center, just look for the sign in their front yard.
This was our first Hawaiian vacation and we were more than happy with the island and Secret Beach Hideaway.
We hope this review is helpful to people visiting Kauai and Secret Beach Hideaway!
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We stayed at the Hale Nanea cottage at Secret Beach Hideaway in mid-May. It was, quite simply, amazing. Here are some thoughts...
If you like to explore and create your own adventure, you can't come to a better island than Kauai, and more importantly, you can't find a better home base than Secret Beach Hideaway. Within 30 minutes or less of driving, you have restaurants, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, shopping, groceries, a farmers market and more. Or, take a 5 minute hike down your front lawn and settle on Secret Beach, a sensational mellow beach.
Upon your return, you can settle into your cozy cottage, complete with a spa, an outdoor shower with hot and cold water, a full kitchen with Wustoff knives and All-Clad cookware (and enough accessories to satisfy an eager chef), an outdoor gas grill, an amazing bed and linens, internet, TV, beach accessories and more.
In fact, if you like to cook, hit the Farmer's Market on Tuesday for fresh local produce, and hit the Kilauea fish market near the Hideaway for some fresh Ahi steaks. We ate out once in Hanalei but found our cottage so much more cooler.
In response to some of the more negative reviews, it is true. There are bugs, lizards and frogs in Hawaii, and some of them might make their presence known during your stay at Secret Beach Hideaway. If you don't like bugs, lizards or frogs, you might prefer a big resort.
It is also true that there is no "management" to give you tips and advice. If you want a concierge to tell you where to eat or kayak, you might prefer a big resort.
The walk to the beach is in fact not a simple stroll. The descent is steep though never dangerous; there are stairs where necessary. If you've had knee surgery or injury, it's true..you probably won't want to walk down to the beach. But that said, the grounds can be explored with ease and there are other more accessible beaches to enjoy via your car.
Also important to know, the north shore of Kauai, like Oahu, sees big surf and swells during the winter months, even into late May. There are many beaches, Secret Beach being one of them, where you simply cannot swim because of high surf and dangerous currents. There are plenty of beaches on the North Shore where, because they are protected via bays or reefs, you can safely swim when seas are high.
If you're looking for a luxury vacation, for honeymoon or otherwise, but do not want the resort/hotel scene, this is the place.
Just another perspective...hope it helps.