Magazine names Kauai as world's No. 2 island getaway; best in Hawaii

The Hawaiian island of Kauai has been named the world's second best by readers of Travel+Leisure magazine.

St. Regis Princeville Resort pool
Thanks to resorts like the new St. Regis Princeville, Kauai was voted as Hawaii's No. 1 island by Travel & Leisure magazine.
St. Regis Princeville Resort poolThe Grand Hyatt Resort & SpaMakai Golf Club - No. 12
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Considering only by the Galapagos Islands topped Kauai in the magazine's 2010 World's Best Island survey, the Garden Isle stakes claim as the best island to visit that offers golf.

Travel+Leisure editors calculate the awards on reader input, ranking five qualities: natural attractions, activities and sights, restaurants and food, people and value.

"People are touched by the serenity of Kauai's tropical beauty," said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, "and how the island allows them to escape the stress of their daily lives and be rejuvenated by nature."

Maui (eighth) and the Big Island (10th) also made the list from Hawaii.

While Kauai includes fewer golf courses than Oahu, the Big Island and Maui, it offers exceptional play, reflected in a poll conducted by the Kauai Visitor Survey. Golf ranked as the second most popular activity on the island, with 65 percent of those surveyed calling their experiences outstanding or very good.

Overall, 75 percent of visitors to the island rated their trips as excellent, and 86 percent said they were very likely or somewhat likely to recommend the island as a vacation destination for their friends and family.

Upgrades abound on Kauai's golf courses and resorts

Kauai finished fourth in the 2009 poll by Travel+Leisure. The island's jump to second reflects its large effort to upgrade many top resorts and golf courses. On the North Shore, the Princeville Resort underwent an expansive renovation to its common areas and guest rooms and reopened as the St. Regis Princeville in 2009. In conjunction with the hotel, the resort's golf course, the Makai Golf Club, underwent a complete renovation and upgrade by Robert Trent Jones Jr.

On the South Shore, the Grand Hyatt is upgrading its guest rooms, a project set for completion in 2011. The golf course, Poipu Bay, currently reseeding with seashore paspalum, is expected to reopen Jan. 1, 2011.

The Kauai Marriott is renovating its guest rooms as well. And the Kauai Lagoons Golf Club reopened its closing stretch of holes, Nos. 16 through 18, on the Kiele Course to feature the demanding finish that designer Jack Nicklaus originally intended.

New Alaska Airlines direct flights come to Kauai

After losing some flights in 2008 related to the bankruptcy of Aloha Airlines, Hawaii has regained a steady stream of new routes. The latest to announce direct service to Kauai's airport of Lihue is Alaska Airlines. Service three times a week from Oakland and San Jose in California begins in March 2011. Rates are currently as low as $179 each way through May 17, 2011.

Last year, WestJet Airlines, a Canadian carrier, announced direct service to Lihue from Vancouver, B.C.

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