If this wasn’t a blog devoted in large part to family travel, then dedicating an entire post to the pools at a hotel might seem like overkill. However, let me assure you that it is not. If you have been to the Grand Hyatt Kauai, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, then hopefully one day you will know what I mean. Before I get to the main attraction of the post, here is a chance to catch-up on this Hawaiian trip report.

Alaska Airlines First Class from San Jose – Lihue

Grand Hyatt Kauai Part 1 (Check-in, overview, the room)

Grand Hyatt Kauai Part 2 (Grand Club, Camp Hyatt, Spa)

The Grand Hyatt Kauai doesn’t just have a pool. It has many pools. I don’t even know the accurate number because it is more than I could easily count. The pools are all open 24 hours a day (though the action really dries up by early evening).

Saltwater Lagoon:

I’ll start with my favorite – the salt water lagoon. The beach that the hotel is situated on is actually not very good for swimming due to the rough waters, but what it lacks in calm ocean waters, it more than makes up with via the salt water lagoon that is located directly behind the ocean and beach. In the lagoon you can snorkel or rent a kayak, though I never saw anyone do either while we were there. What made me love the large lagoon is that my daughter could safely play in it without me having a panic attack.

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The water is clear, calm, and gets deeper at a gradual enough slope that there was plenty of space where she could safely stand up and play without me having to have a death grip on her. She is learning to swim, but at three years old is not a good enough swimmer to be able to safely play where she can’t touch the bottom. However, in this lagoon she can have the freedom and independence to play with the other kids while I sit on the side-lines and supervise. Win – win for all involved.

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So fun to watch when C made friends with a girl from DC!

It is also made of a sand-like substance that she could play in with her beach toys. Note that the sand-line substance can hurt your feet a little to walk on when you are out of the water, but it didn’t bother us at all in the water.

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If you want to get away from the three-year-old crowd, there are deeper parts of the lagoon where even I couldn’t touch the bottom, so it is a really great area for adults as well as children. We spent most of our pool time in the saltwater lagoon, and it is one of the features of this hotel that very much makes me want to return.

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Freshwater Pools:

If you want a little bit more of a traditional pool experience, there are plenty of those.  There is an adult pool, two jacuzzis, and countless other pools.  There are some larger open areas, but then there are also some little “rivers” that take you from one spot to the next.  It is not all one inter-connected complex.  There are upper pools and lower pools and some of the little “rivers” do hit dead-ends.

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The plus side of this is that it is really easy to find your own little “corner” of the pool to get away from everything.  The downside of the pools is that there is not a shallow kid’s pool or splash area that I saw for the younger crowd.  Though the saltwater lagoon makes up for that…  There are multiple water falls and tons of tropical foliage surrounding the pools.  There is also a pool with a volleyball net and basketball goal that is designed for the more active pool experience.

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In one of the pools there is a pretty large water slide that requires you to be 42 inches or taller.  It actually took me a while to figure out how to let my daughter safely do this since I was traveling solo with her.  Eventually I realized the best plan was to go up there with her, and I go down the slide first to catch her at the bottom (since no guarantee she would safely swim to the side).  This worked fine, though the wait for her to come down the slide on the turns I couldn’t see felt like forever!  There is a staff member who works at the top of the slide while it is open (not open 24 hours).

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There are many cabanas along the side of the pool that are available for rent.  I rented one for free thanks to choosing it as my Hyatt Diamond amenity at check-in.  Based on what I was told when I went to reserve mine, it sounds like they also offer them to those there on their honeymoon.  Otherwise the poolside ones are $50 a day.  The ones next to the ocean cost a bit more.

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If you plan to spend a good chunk of the day by the pools with your family, I think this is a good investment.  It allows for some guaranteed chairs (though there were plenty available while I was there) and it also guarantees you some shade and a nice place to have a drink or snack brought to you by the servers who are working the pool area.

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I highly recommend investing in a tube or floatation device of some sort while you are here.  They rent tubes, but the price to buy was less than renting for two days.  I didn’t write down the price to buy, but I would guess it was about $12 – $14 for an inflated tube.  We used the heck out of that thing – especially since the pools were too deep for C to stand in.  We also used it in the lagoon pool to go on “adventures” in the deep parts.  As a bonus, it is also fun to play with in the room, apparently…

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When we left, we gave the tube to another family who had yet to buy one as my bags were already way too full even for a deflated tube.  It would be cool if they formalized this “pay it forward” process…though I suppose it would not be in their financial interest to do so.

There is both a reservations desk and Captain Andy’s Watersports Center in the pool complex where you can buy or rent pool related items.  The reservations desk is a bit hidden, but it is located on the lower pool next to The Dock restaurant.  This is where you can check-out towels, rent a cabana, buy a float, etc.  I did have to give my name and room number to get towels, but there wasn’t a limit nor did you have to return them to the reservations desk itself.  I didn’t visit Captain Andy’s, but it is next to the Saltwater Lagoon and it is where you can rent rafts, snorkel gear and kayaks.

The pools are truly the crown jewel of the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  I do wish they had at least one freshwater pool or splash pad area designed for the five and under crowd, but that would be like asking for a fourth scoop of ice cream in an ice cream sundae.  These pools are absolutely amazing and it is the most extensive pool complex I have personally ever visited.

Have you played in these pools?  What did you think?  Did I leave out your favorite spots?

Posted by mommypoints | 26 Comments

26 Responses to “The Gem of the Grand Hyatt Kauai – The Pools”

  1. Sarah says:

    We agree that these pools are fabulous and way better than those at any other resort we’ve been to. We took my son there when he was 2 and 3, and we’re hoping to go this year when he’ll be 5. He also loves the lagoon the most, I think because he feels much more secure walking into the water and having it be so calm. What I love is that there are always chairs available and they are spaced out a bit so you get a little privacy and aren’t right in the center of your neighbor’s conversations.

  2. Pools are a very important part of vacation and I’m sure it’s surprising I have even more questions! I am looking at Grand Hyatt for a trip to Kauai at some point (not sure when!). Can you comment on the water temperature in the pool? In particular, are any of the pools heated enough to go swimming at night and not feel cold? The pool on my latest vacation in Maine was “super” heated and I found this to be a really big plus :)

  3. Chris G says:

    Great post! This is our favorite resort in the world. The main reason my wife and kids like this place is the pool complex. I just showed your post to my 11 year old son and he mentioned how much he liked the two small waterfall caves that feel hidden in the pool. My wife’s favorite spot is the island hot tub in the lower section. Our family rented two kayaks early in the morning and raced them in the saltwater lagoon. We did it early because there were very few people in the lagoon. I know this has nothing to do with the pools, but my wife also wanted me to mention the outdoor lava rock showers in the spa. What an experience! Thanks again for the post.

  4. mommypoints says:

    Sarah, the lagoon is amazing for the little ones!
    The Miles Professor, other than the hot tubs, none of the pools seemed heated to me. In fact, when I first got in it was a little cold to me at times (I’m a wimp), but you quickly adjust. I don’t know if they heat them sometimes (this update seems to state that they use heat from the air conditioning system to warm the pools http://www.grandhyattkauai.com/news-events), but we didn’t encounter any noticeable warm pools on our trip. The saltwater lagoon was the warmest in my opinion.
    Chris, awesome! We also loved going to the hot tub island in the lower pool! Agree totally that the lagoon is often empty in the early hours…which is when I took most of these photos. ;) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mo says:

    Loved the Grand Hyatt, went with our three kids (11 years old and under) last August. This was my first redemption of points & miles having jumped into this hobby only a year prior, what a great way to realize just what is possible even for a family of five!

    Here’s a video I made of our few days on Kauai; the Grand Hyatt is near the end: http://youtu.be/WwDasHR4oio

  6. Tim says:

    We just returned from the Grand Hyatt Kauai, and I have to say it is our favorite Hyatt worldwide (we even prefer it to the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris), largely due to the pool complex. Our favorite feature of the pools, which wasn’t mentioned in your blog, is the lazy river. It’s a nice slow ride that winds through the pool complex, under bridges and ends near the top of the water slide. My 12-year-old and I spent several hours floating, talking and laughing as the current slowly carried us downstream. The current is slow enough that you can easily walk back to the top against the current (provided you can reach the bottom). My son’s favorite activities included hiding in the caves along the river and jumping out to surprise us as we floated by.

  7. mommypoints says:

    Tim, we did some lazy river but every one we did was pretty short. Guess the complex is so large we might have missed a longer one!

  8. James says:

    Re: the inner tubes-
    If you buy them they will hold them for you when you leave the pools and then re-inflate them for you the next day if you don’t want to lug them back and forth to your room. Also my feet got ripped up walking around the salt water lagoon (our 4 y-o was fine) – wish I had worn water shoes, but then I’d really look like a tourist!

  9. mommypoints says:

    James, awesome! They should advertise that! Certainly wasn’t mentioned when we bought ours. Was a pain lugging it around sometimes.

  10. Michael says:

    great report, mommypoints!

    @Mo — loved that video. Can you describe the helicopter ride — what company did you use and the cost? Think my ten year olds would love to do it.

  11. Mo says:

    @Michael: the helicopter ride was with Blue Hawaiian – highly recommended! I chose it because of favorable comments from a few people I asked (plus the Ultimate Kauai guide book) and it didn’t disappoint. Well-run operation, very professional, and the ride was excellent – a fantastic way to see Kauai. Check out their website (http://www.bluehawaiian.com/) for cost and other details.

  12. mommypoints says:

    We also did a heli ride and it was awesome – well worth it. Will post on that and other Kauai activities soon. ;)

  13. WeddingSpend says:

    Great writeup. Heading there myself end of July for honeymoon, any idea if the ocean cabana can be the diamond amenity or is it just the pool cabana?

  14. Chris G says:

    WeddingSpend: When we were there in January, they told us that our diamond amenity included a subset of the available cabanas. When I looked at the diagram, it looked like the ones we could pick were the ones in the pool complex and the lagoon. They told us that the ocean cabanas were available, but had to be purchased. We chose cabana 9 (near the water slide exit) because it had low foot traffic. By the way, the servers were very attentive in that area – even to our children (7 and 11)

  15. mommypoints says:

    Our experience was the same. We could pick any cabana by the pools or some of the little covered chairs by the lagoon as the Diamond amenity. I can’t remember the price of the ones by the ocean, but I think they were roughly double that of the pool cabanas, and weren’t offered as a choice.

  16. AMJ says:

    Question about the inner tubes…are you suggesting to buy an inner tube that Hyatt sells or to bring some sort of inflatable inner tube along with you to the resort. We leave for Oahu/Kauai in a couple of days and I grabbed four tubes at Target today after reading this post this morning. Now I’m confused that I misinterpreted.

  17. mommypoints says:

    AMJ, your plan sounds perfect. I didn’t have the bag space to add anything since I already packed for two in one carry-on. Good idea to bring your own!

  18. Erik says:

    @AMJ – I would proceed with your plan, but you should check with the resort. Some will not allow tubes/rings unless they are “Coast Guard approved” lifesaving devices (luckily, “puddle jumpers” fit that definition). In my experience, the rule doesn’t follow the brand, it’s more of an individual property decision. We are currently starting week 3 of our vacation in Hawaii and are fans of http://www.saltwater-sandals.com for lakes and oceans. They are waterproof and great for walking in the water and on sand/rocks. As a plus, they are stylish and very durable (I’ll put it this way…my 3 y.o. daughter will eventually be able to wear her 5 y.o. sister’s pair again, no problem). We usually can find them on sale at one of the shoe web sites or Nordstrom’s. Yesterday we visited the Kapoho tide pools near Hilo and our girls loved it. Lots of interesting fish, coral, and critters to see. We’re now at Hilton Waikoloa which also has several pools and a sheltered lagoon that is inhabited by fish and sea turtles. Also, check your local library for the Hawaii Revealed series of books, they have so much good local information (they also have ebooks/apps at http://www.hawaiirevealed.com)

  19. Carrir says:

    We are in Hawaii right now on another island and my 13yo daughter is bummed out big time that we are not staying in the Grand Hyatt!! We visited some amazing beaches today and are staying at a lovely resort but she just said today yet again how bummed out she is we are not at “the lagoon”. She is very afraid of sharks and natural ocean, she much prefers the manmade type! It is the most beautiful resort at which we have ever stayed, and we hope to return on our next trip to Kauai, probably next summer. When we were there, our family did rent kayaks and they were super fun. We also enjoyed the smoothies that you can order right at that little bar near the lagoon. Our room was huge and had both a king and a queen bed in the same room, we loved it! Both of our girls really enjoyed the beautiful birds in the lobby, Rico and Molly. It blows my mind that you can stay at this resort for only 22k pts per night. If you are reading this and wonder if you shoukd go for it, my vote is YES!!

  20. AMJ says:

    @Erik…my hesitation was regarding whether outside tubes would be allowed. They are packed, but I’ll proceed as you recommended and check with the hotel when we arrive. I could understand if the hotel had a certain type of inner tube that they wanted used in the pools, for both safety and aesthetics.

  21. Erik says:

    @AMJ – I have seen it boil down to an individual lifeguard’s interpretation of “the rules”. One day you go to the pool with your inflatables and it’s OK. The next day, inflatable-hater lifeguard is on duty and pulls out the “Coast Guard approved” interpretation. It’s just so random, like airport security. The inflatables typically don’t take up much weight or space, so I pack ‘em anyway. Most places don’t have an issue but some will cite CG approval due to liability concerns.

  22. John says:

    Have to add that we actually took a day out of our vacation to just spend time in the pools. Loved that the saltwater lagoon didn’t feel very salty at all, and fresh showers were in hidden locals adjacent to the lagoon. Water was the perfect temperature when we were there in November. Because there are so many pools, it was rare to find any one of them busy. The ‘lazy river’ has two little caves hidden under waterfalls which are fun to duck into for a great photo opp, or just to hide out for a few minutes. Waterslide was not incredibly long, but was certainly a fun diversion for a half dozen runs. When we return to HI, we will prob do condos instead of hotels on the other islands, but the GHK is a definite repeat (in large part because of their little water park).

  23. mommypoints says:

    John, totally agree the pool complex here will draw you back in! The caves were fun, but man you sure get a good soaking getting in and out of them!

  24. Michael says:

    The real bonus is getting upgraded from lowest daily rate rooms — $325-375ish — to ocean suites (that go for $1000+ a night) with terrace and spectacular views. It’s one of the best upgrades in the Hyatt system and can real bump up a family vacation to a luxury feel…(it’s why I requalify for Diamond every year!)

  25. Cindy says:

    Spent a few days at the end of October at GHK and loved everything about my experience there, including the sunami (because we only had about 1 foot waves). It gave us the opportunity to sit in our rented convertible on the side of the road, feel the breeze, watch the twinklings in the sky and wait it out.
    I especially loved the pools/lagoon/water slide. We took one afternoon of our stay just to play in them and be kids again (never too old to play). There were plenty of chairs available when we were there. Also, the hammocks were a nice treat.
    Planning a return trip now. Will hopefully be back in a year or so.
    The best thing I took away was the friendliness and helpfulness of the Hawaiian people. Can’t wait to get back there. Maholo GHK for a wonderful experience.

  26. mommypoints says:

    Cindy, sounds awesome – and I agree you are never too old to play like a kid. So excited you are planning a return trip!

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