We spent the Winter Holiday in Sunny Poipu, Kauai – the northernmost island in the Hawaiin Island, otherwise known as `The Garden Isle`. It was breathtaking. We snorkeled and body surfed at numerous beaches, rode the Kauai Plantation Railway, visited one of the beautiful national gardens, saw whales, beached Hawaiin Monk Seals & rainbows, gazed at the stars and saw the sites. Kauai has so much to offer in a backdrop of untouched nature. We highly recommend a visit for nature lovers.
Top 10 things to do in Kauai with kids
1. Lydgate Park in Wailua (East Kauai) is the perfect spot to spend an entire day with little ones. Kids are free to run around the large, maze-like Kamalani Playground then cool off in the calm waters of the Lydgate Park swimming area. The playground is great for kids up to lower elementary equip with swings, slides, balancing structures, picnic tables and open grass areas. The Lydgate Park swimming area is safe from strong Pacific waves as it`s enclosed with large rocks. It`s the prefect spot to snorkel and view tropical fish, catch hermit crabs hidden along the rocks and build sand structures with finely ground sand. By far one of our favorite spots to visit with young kids.
2. We absolutely loved Hanalei Bay and Pier (North Shore). The location is breathtaking with the simple pier and picturesque mountains as a backdrop. The beach is perfect with finely ground sand, and calm waters – perfect for my almost 5 year old to try boogy boarding. Hanalei Bay and Pier is a short drive to restaurants that offer take out for the perfect picnic on the beach. We picked up Hawaiin mixed plates from Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. Local Hawaiin Food that hit the spot.
3. Kauai Plantation Railway: Take a 40-minute conductor-narrated train tour across the 105-acre Kilohana plantation of exotic fruit orchards and fields and stop to feed a herd of wild pigs and goats. Our kids loved this. The Kilohana plantation is also home to a manor house (like a living museum), an open-air courtyard restaurant, Gaylord`s, a Tuesday and Friday evening Luau, Rum tasting and shops with Hawaii made goods. Train only tours leave daily every hour from 10:00 – 14:00. Adults $18; Kids 3-12 years $14; kids 2yrs and younger are free. They also offer a hiking and lunch tour across the orchard Mon – Fri 9:30- 13:40; Adults $75; Kids 3-12yrs $65 and Train and Luau tour from 17:00; Adults $95; Teens $65; Kids $45 + train tour price. *Please check their website for changes in price and time.
4. Visit Poipu Beach Park for their gentle wading pool or body boarding/surfing down the way at Brennecke`s Beach. Poipu Beach park is also popular for picnicking. Note there is no playground as stated on some websites. If you didn`t have time to pack a lunch, Brenneke’s, across the street from Poipu Beach, is a great spot to take out hearty sandwiches or dine in.
5. Kalalau Lookout at the Waimea Canyon
We visited the Kalalau lookout on a clear day. It was magnificent. It almost didn`t look real. After taking in the view I highly recommend walking down the grassy trail (to the right of the lookout) to Mt. Wai`ale`ale (Waialeale means “rippling water” or “overflowing water” in Hawaiian and is the second wettest spot on earth). Gorgeous view, but not for the young, old or those afraid of heights. The walk down is steep and rugged. Sneakers recommended. Note it`s a long drive. Recommend snacks & car toys or a iPad to keep your young kids occupied during the journey.
6. Stop by the Shrimp Station in Kapaa after a visit to the Waimea Canyon. They carry a wide variety of shrimp dishes; garlic shrimp, Cajun shrimp, Thai shrimp, shrimp tacos and their popular coconut shrimp. We tried the garlic, Thai and coconut shrimp. Loved the sweet and crunchy coconut shrimp. Note if ordering the garlic, Cajun or Thai shrimp you have to peal the shrimp shells off yourself (washing basin located next to the premise). If your kids aren`t fond of shrimp Island Taco across the street, carries a number of non-shrimp items.
7. Visit one of the tropical gardens. We took a self-guided tour of the McBryde Botanical Garden on the South Shore of Kauai in Poipu. Note, there is a bus that takes you from the visitor center parking lot to the Garden (about a 10-15 min ride). The driver gives you a bit of history about the island as well as fun facts, and you get an unobstructed view of the Pacific – we were able to spot whale spouts on the drive down to the garden. The McBryde Botanical Garden was more lush with greenery than with tropical plants but beautiful non-the-less. Please remember to pack your mosquito repellant, water, hats and sunscreen. Across the street from the visitors center is the Spouting Horn, a beautiful view of the Pacific as well as small shops with Hawaiin-made goods.
8. Whale watching. There are a number of charters that will take your family out to see Humpback Wales December through April. One of the best is the Kauai Sea Tours. However, the age is from 3 years. Our littlest one is 2 so we had to pass this year. We did see whale spouts and fins from the Poipu coast a number of times during our trip. Keep an eye out!
10. Food: Dine at Keoki`s Paradise. We enjoyed dining at this family-friendly open restaurant with delicious food, live music and close proximity to the Poipu Shopping Village. They also carry a gluten-free kids menu. Reserve in advance. The place is popular. For local food Mark`s Place is a great option for hearty mixed plates. Another favorite spot for take out was Living Foods Market & Cafe at The Shops at Kukui`ula. The Dolphin Sushi and Fish Market, within `the Shops`, has take out fish for grilling.
Drive through the Koloa Tunnel of Trees – a scenic archway of eucalyptus trees planted more than a century ago. Located just past the juncture of Highway 50 and Maluhia Road (drive from Lihue Airport to Poipu).
- If you plan to travel to Kauai from November to March (the rainy season) stay in Poipu – your best bet for dry weather and sun. VRBO.com has some great buyer owned properties in the area.
- Take beach shoes for you and your family. We found broken coral scattered along most of the beaches and coral in shallow waters. The beaches were walkable, but would have been more comfortable had we worn beach shoes.
- Travel with a sound sleeper which should drown out the sound of wild roosters cawkling at the break of dawn. They.Are. verywhere. Amazon.co.jp has a great sound machine that we use at home and when overseas.
- Take time out to gaze at the beautiful stars at night. Download a star gazing app to teach your kids about the different constellations.
Top 10 things to do in Kauai with kids
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