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Kona Kai San Diego: Beautiful Resort & Spa on Shelter Island

Are you looking for a great resort hotel in San Diego? Perhaps one that has a great beachy feel and offers resort getaway amenities? After my recent stay on Shelter Island at the newly remodeled Kona Kai Resort & Spa, I can say it’s an ideal resort for anyone looking to get a little bit off the beaten path in San Diego on their southern California vacation.

Kona Kai Resort Location

The Kona Kai Resort is situated on the tip of Shelter Island, at the mouth of San Diego Bay. If you look to the east you can see a far-off view of downtown San Diego, while looking west features the hillside homes of Point Loma.

Its location is perfect for a resort escape to sunny San Diego while still staying close to the downtown corridor. It’s a 15-20 minute drive to Balboa Park, only 7 minutes to the airport, and 20 minutes to downtown San Diego.

kona kai resort location on shelter island

The Kona Kai Resort is on Shelter Island along the San Diego Bay across from downtown San Diego.

Kona Kai San Diego Rooms

The Kona Kai recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation which added two new buildings to the resort and revamped all the guest rooms. The new rooms all feature clean colors and lines with just enough pop of color to bring a beachy feel to the room. They also renovated one of their other buildings to have luxury suites. The Kona Kai is a Noble House Resort hotel, so it has a luxury boutique take on the local culture and feel of San Deigo.

The renovation also added 41 suites to the resort. I stayed in a Marina View Junior Suite and absolutely loved my stay and my room location. My room had a balcony with a view of the marina and adults-only pool. It was the perfect spot to sip on my cup of coffee while watching the sun rise over the hills of Point Loma. All of their guest rooms feature a balcony or patio.

marina view junior suite at kona kai resort

Marina View Junior Suite at Kona Kai San Diego

marina balcony view at kona kai

Marina Junior suite balcony view of adults only pool and Point Loma in the distance.

One of my favorite spaces in my suite was the bathroom. I had an amazing sunken, jetted-tub that had shutters that allowed you to open the bathroom up to the rest of the room. The shower was also amazing with full glass sides and beautiful tile work.

kona kai bathroom

Bathroom in Junior Suite room

As for room amenities, I thought the Kona Kai offered an excellent amenity purchase basket with the standard candy and drink options as well as unique local touches like Sun Bum sunscreen. They also have a nicely curated gift shop at the resort in case you want some cute tote bags or hats, as well as some luscious skin products.

Dining – Vessel Restaurant

One of the real delights of the Kona Kai is their restaurant, Vessel. Hotel restaurants can be hit or miss, but the Vessel is definitely a hit! I enjoyed all three meals at the restaurant and each time I enjoyed the flavors and experience. The menu feels very “Californian” with plenty of healthy and clean eating options as well as unique dishes created by Chef Roy.

I definitely recommend the Big Kona burger for lunch, especially if you choose to eat out on the balcony with a view of plenty of pricey yachts. Breakfast and dinner are also fabulous. Try the California Burrito for breakfast, and definitely fill up on side dishes with friends if you’re eating dinner at Vessel.

big kona burger at vessel restaurant

The Vessel Restaurant offers unique menus for each meal of the day and you can dine inside or out.


There are two pools at Kona Kai. The first is the main outdoor pool that has a standard rectangle design and plenty of lounge chairs. There’s a pool bar and the lounge chairs come with service flags so you can order without having to leave your sunny chaise. In the early mornings, they set the pool for lane swimming, but by the afternoon it’s open to all recreationists.

main pool at kona kai resort

The main pool at Kona Kai San Diego

In the new section of the resort is the adults-only outdoor pool. This pool is the place to dip your toes and relax away the day. Again, there is a pool bar at this location as well.

adults only pool kona kai san diego

Adults Only Pool at Kona Kai

Each of the pool spaces has cabanas for rent. A cabana rental comes with snacks and butler service from the bar staff, as well as TVs. The adults-only pool cabanas are newer and have safes. The cabana rentals will cost you anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on the day, location, and season.

Resort Activities

Beyond enjoying the pools, there are some other unique places on property that you can find activities. There is a sandy private beach area along the marina where you’ll find kids playing and sandcastle building during the day and at night you can cook some s’mores over a fire pit for an after-dinner dessert.

kona kai marina beach fire pits

Fire pits at the marina beach at Kona Kai San Diego

In the lobby, there’s a great seating area near and the front desk. You’ll also find a cute reading nook and business center in a vaulted loft.

You can also arrange to borrow bikes to explore the local area. They even have kids bikes and provide helmets. If you’re a runner, the Kona Kai is a great resort since you can run along the Shoreline Park trail just outside the front doors and run the full one-mile length of Shelter Island.

kona kai lobby entrance

Lobby entrance at the Kona Kai Resort

bikes at kona kai resort

Complimentary beach cruiser bike rentals at the Kona Kai

Families won’t want to miss the Friday Night Flix, a family-friendly flick is shown poolside with cozy blankets, fresh popcorn, and juice. And if they’re visiting during the summer months, I was excited to hear that they employ an “Ambassador of Fun” staff member who is responsible for organizing activities for kids staying at the resort.


The Kona Kai is home to SpaTerre where you’ll find a full menu of spa services at the resort. I will say that the spa is small and not a day spa. It’s more of an opportunity to have spa treatments while staying at the resort. Check on their website because they often have specials and spa offers.

They have a heated sand table treatment that sounds absolutely divine to me! And if you enjoy eucalyptus, I definitely recommend a visit to the steam room in the ladies’ locker room.

spa bear at gift shop at kona kai

The cute boutique gift shop at SpaTerre, the Kona Kai spa.

There is also a small gym by the spa where you can do your daily workout or take part in group classes like yoga.

Overall I can say I’d love to spend another vacation at the Kona Kai. It’s been beautifully renovated, has a delicious on-site restaurant, and offers you the chance to vacation in San Diego a little bit away from the busyness of downtown.

Check prices and reviews for the Kona Kai.

kona kai resort in san diego california is a great resort vacation hotel

Kona Kai Resort and Spa in San Diego, California

Kona Kai San Diego resort near the San Diego airport

Relax with California vibes at the Kona Kai San Diego – a resort hotel on Shelter Island.

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