Hotel Review: Kona Kai Resort, San Diego, California – Ring for the Bark Butler!

black dog with ball - Kona Kai dog-friendly resort reviewWhen you wake up at The Kona Kai Resort and Spa in San Diego, California, you’ll likely see a dog.

We’ll not in your room … unless you brought yours, which you can thanks to the hotel’s Island Paws Program. The Kona Kai Resort is pet friendly – truly pet friendly and so is most of San Diego.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring Victor, my best four-footed travel buddy to this city of sun. (I don’t fly him). But I did get my pup-fix everyday in the lobby, and in the parking lot and along the waterfront outside and in the café at breakfast … you get the idea.

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I met Criminal the Frenchie in the lobby waiting for an Uber (seemingly the transport of choice here) and Bentley the chihuahua mix when he greeted room service in the hallway.

Bentley might have been waiting for his own breakfast – The Kona Kai offers the Island Paws Dining Menu (delivered by a ‘bark butler’) with three kinds of limited ingredients wet and dry food, bag of dog biscuits and even dental chews, in case Fido forgot his toothbrush.

Island Paws Package

Book the Island Paws Package and get a dog bed and food dishes on loaner, a dog-walking map of the area and a special ‘do not disturb’ dog dreaming or ‘make up my room’ dog out exploring door sign. If you need it, the front desk has a mobile grooming service on call.

Cost and limitations: Dogs are $50 extra per day, limit two dogs per room but no size restrictions. Not all the 129 guestrooms are dog-friendly so are limited to availability. Adjacent self-contained suites were under construction when I visited.

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Hotel Amenities: An outdoor pool, tiki bar and hot tub over looks the Shelter Island Marina filled with privately owned yachts. The resort’s strip of private beach is lined with metal firepits so each evening guests can grab their smores kit ($18) from the room and re-live camping moments (yes, with your pup).

The SpaTerre offers all the services you’ve come to expect from hotel spas including Balinese message, treatment geared to pure relaxation and pain relief.

Vessel Restaurant overlooks the marina, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring generous portions of grill salmon, seared scallops, and lobster macaroni and cheese counter any perceptions that Californians eat light.

Where to Walk the Dog?

Across the Street: San Diego Bay is right across the street and across from that a major American Navel Base so it’s not uncommon to see gigantic grey military ships creeping their way into the harbour.San Diego cafe sign

What else is common? Dog walking. Locals (and presumably others) walk dogs hourly along the waterside trail stopping sometimes at the fishing pier and home of Fathom bistro, bait &  tackle craft beer bar with a to-go window facing the water so you can have lunch with your pup in the park.

Odd Fact: Shelter Island where Kona Kai is located, is not an island but a peninsula created when the US military dredged the San Diego Bay during World War II. Originally a sandbank, Shelter Island developed in the 1950s as site for hotels, restaurants, marinas and public parkland … and Polynesian-themed everything. Tiki bars prevailed, and there’s one original left: Bali Hai Restaurant along Shelter Island Drive.

Got a favourite Dog-Friendly spot in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below.



  1. […] Where to stay – dog-friendly – in San Diego? Check out our Kona Koi review.  […]

  2. Criminal the French!! What a name. So jealous, everyone says that SD is a wonderful place to visit. One day perhaps, but not with my Labrador Dudley. He certainly won’t be flying long haul……

    1. Yes, that was the dog’s name – for real. The fur-daddy said ‘because everything he does is bad.’ I don’t fly my dog either but someday hope to do a cross continent road trip all the way to California because it’s so very dog-friendly there.

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