What creates a beautifully therapeutic conduit between Nature and shelter? Waterfall-type outdoor showers, in all kinds of attractive and appealing variations!
Open-air shower facilities are perennially popular all over the world, but they make the most sense in places like Hawai‘i, where it’s more or less summer throughout the year. The materials used tend to reflect local culture and resources, so here in the Islands it’s only natural that outdoor showers nearly always incorporate lava rocks. Those gorgeously rough-hewn stones, born of fire and cloaked in myth, come in a surprising range of hues, from the familiar black, gray, rust, and gold to the rarely seen green, pink, and silver, and they can be relied upon to produce an earthy, dramatic and quintessentially tropical effect. Along with the superb rockwork, outdoor showers on Kaua‘i almost invariably feature lush plantings and specialty shower heads that aim to recreate the invigorating sensation of standing under an actual waterfall.
By our definition, an outdoor shower can be anything from a rain-fed cascade deep in the mountains, to a single aluminum nozzle at a white-sand beach, to a bespoke residential feature that resembles a miniature resort spa. The winning formula of stunning stonework + luxuriant landscaping + waterfall showerheads can take many marvelous shapes, as shown in the eclectic gallery below. Here at Kukui‘ula, we admire (and enjoy) outdoor showers in every form—in sunshine, or moonlight, or rain!
Lava Rock Luxe: The Open-Air Shower That Inspired Them All
Any celebration of outdoor showers in and around Kukui‘ula has to begin with the trendsetting prototypes in the Club Spa. Like this one in the women’s locker room, they all radiate an irresistible appeal that makes people exclaim, “Ooh, I need one of those at home!” The idyllic ambience, in tandem with an extra-large, bowl-shaped shower head, transforms the basic act of bathing into an unforgettably relaxing and restorative treat. An enclosed garden in vivid year-round bloom reminds us of the beauties of the island beyond, and all the incidental perks—a sleek wooden bench, a bamboo caddy stocked with fluffy towels and shower-enhancing products, a clever kukui-nut door hanger (not shown) that signifies “occupied”—add to the overall aura of comfort, elegance, and charm.
Next, let’s take a peek at a quartet of member-owned homes, each with its own distinctively decorative spin on the enchanting spa shower that started it all.
In this private yet expansive haven, graceful palms soar into the blue-denim sky above subtly ombréd walls in shades of buff, sepia, charcoal, while a louvered wooden door leads into the fairy-tale garden. Tropical foliage flourishes in modernistic ceramic planters, and the trident towel rack adds a gleam of brass. A jumbo-size bathtub, visible in the foreground, reflects the contemporary trend of bringing the outdoors inside—and vice versa.
Window on the World
The unusual focal point of this intimate alcove is a glassless window in the lava-rock wall, opening onto a vibrant vista of blues and greens: the sky above, the sea beyond, the flawlessly manicured golf course all around. Inside the rustic walls, a harmonious medley of plantings is anchored by lacy ferns and the famously fragrant white ginger. Other uncommon touches include the wooden planter beneath the aperture, and a jaunty copper-capped light fixture tucked amid the stones, to guide the way on moonless nights.
Point of View
No indoor-outdoor ambiguity here: this magnificent shower goes full alfresco, with nothing but balmy trade winds between the bather and the bright blue sky. A lowered wall seems to bring the extra-vast landscape of sea, hills, and greenery right into the space. The dinner-bell-shaped nozzle may appear narrower than some, but the waterfall-drench effect is in no way diminished. Lavishly verdant flora fills the corners with color, while potted orchids and ceramics add interest at foot level.
The Art of Surfing
The tawny lava rocks in this compact outdoor shower are familiar, but the center¬piece—a colorful, custom-crafted mosaic in the shape of a surfboard—adds a uniquely artistic flair. This innovation isn’t merely ornamental; the sculpturesque “board” also houses the shower controls and a waterfall-style shower head. The seashore-themed mosaic is endlessly fascinating—if you can take your eyes off the watercolor-worthy view of sky and clouds and palm trees dancing in the breeze. A visual bonus: the mosaic’s glowing floral motif is wittily reprised by an actual bird of paradise plant in brilliant bloom.
Once More, with Orchids
Exquisite candy-hued orchids nestle among the primordial rocks, while long-leafed ti plants add a soothing splash of green. Even the towel rest exudes character and charm: crafted from lustrous wood, it echoes the shape of a traditional Hawaiian drum. Who wouldn’t want to stand amidst all this loveliness and bask in a refreshing torrent of water—and sunshine?
The Best of Both Worlds
This elegantly streamlined layout is the ultimate in indoor-outdoor shower design, with a fully appointed interior complemented by the soul-nourishing natural elements on the other side of a glass wall. The visual composition is accessorized by a pair of wooden stools, strikingly patterned in the same subtle shades as the basaltic rocks, which serve as caddies. The roof provides a partial overhang in case you’d rather not be caught in a sudden burst of liquid sunshine—although to quote a Kukui‘ula sales executive, “We find that rain or shine, people prefer outdoor showers over the ones indoors!”
On the right, another view of the same set-up, this time from inside, shows the organic way the outdoor-shower area becomes a full-length extension of its indoor counterpart. The sepia-tiled floor and the variegated-marble countertops inset with rectangular basins reflect the color scheme of the protective walled enclosure, which is enhanced with rugged rockery and plush plantings.
Here’s another stylish illustration of the seamless (and super convenient) merging of sparkling indoor facilities with an outdoor shower. A floor-to-ceiling wall of glass showcases the eye- pleasing textures and geometrics of marble, teak, and woven baskets indoors, and the classical rock-and-foliage tableau outside. Other visual fillips, emblematic of the thoughtful attention to detail, include large, square stepping stones and pale peace lilies that echo the creamy surface of the double-sink counter.
The tallish walls of this courtyard-style gem are entirely open to sunshine, cloudscapes, and the ever-changing sky. Radiantly healthy potted plants, ensconced in an intriguing variety of containers, can be easily changed out to reflect the seasons, or match the mood. In counterpoint to the golden-toned warmth of the lava rocks, the artful combination of rainforest pebbles and smooth flagstones evokes the cool serenity of a Japanese garden.
Lava-Rock Luxe, Take Two: Another Inspiring Spa Shower
And now, for something completely different: located in one of the Club Spa’s treatment areas, this high-tech shower boasts a dozen powerful jets in addition to an extra-large overhead waterfall-style nozzle, for maximum effect. The multi-jetted feature creates an immersive experience: a full-body water massage that’s almost like liquid shiatsu. It’s so deeply relaxing (and energizing, too) that revitalized spa-goers may find themselves borrowing a chant from the NFL: “J-E-T-S—Jets, Jets, Jets!
The Real Thing: One of Kaua‘i’s World-Class Waterfalls
It goes without saying that most of Kaua‘i’s outdoor showers are designed with the island’s spectacular natural waterfalls in mind, so what better way to conclude this tribute than with the genuine article? The internet is overflowing with rapturous lists of “Top Ten Amazing Waterfalls on Kaua‘i,” and this epically picturesque cascade is one of literally hundreds scattered all over the Garden Isle.
In a perfect world, everyone would have the chance to experience the transformative magic of a tropical waterfall in the wild, at least once. Fortunately, we can all replicate that exhilarating sensation every time we step under an outdoor shower—in our own homes, or at the Club Spa, or anywhere the weather is too good to be true and natural beauty becomes a glorious form of therapy . . . and delight.