Updated: Mar 2, 2022
I truly wish I could say I have been to all the Hawaiian Islands at this point in my life, but sadly, that is not the case. However, that doesn’t mean each individual island doesn’t hold a special place in my heart. It also doesn’t mean that I haven’t done any research as to what I would personally do when I do get to visit all the islands I haven’t been to yet.
Kauai is one of the Hawaiian Islands I have had on my to-visit bucket list for quite some time. I can’t wait until I finally get to fly there to see the rushing waterfalls, massive canyons, and gorgeous mountains. Of course, you can’t forget about the sparkling water and crashing waves that come with all the different islands in Hawaii.
Kauai happens to be the perfect island for families who love outdoor adventures. As your travel advisor, I can easily plan an itinerary that will have you ziplining one day, taking a helicopter tour the next, and finishing up your family vacation with a little time paddling down a river or exploring a deep dark canyon. The choice is always yours and no worries because downtime is always an option on this spectacular island!
The 9 Best Family-Friendly Things to Do in Kauai
On the south shore of Kauai, you will find Poipu Beach. This is a very popular beach for families because there is a section that contains a wading pool for younger children. You will find the wading area to the left of the sandbar. Of course, your older children, and yourself, will love the areas of the water that are perfect for surfing, snorkeling, boogie-boarding, and swimming. The restrooms and picnic tables make Poipu Beach an excellent option for when you want to spend an entire day at the beach while on vacation in Kauai.
Hanalei Bay is located on the northern shore of Kauai. While there is a lot to do in this area, you may find yourself spending your entire day down by the Hanalei Pier. The water by the pier is quite calm, which is perfect for families who want to do a little swimming without waves crashing over them. If you choose to stay away from Hanalei Bay during the day, I urge you to at least consider venturing over that way to watch the sunset one night. If you time your visit right, you can see Bali Hai sparkling under the brilliant colors of the setting sun.
If you happen to be over on the eastern side of Kauai, you must spend a little time at Lydgate Beach. This beach is perfect for family vacations in Kauai. There are two ponds located at Lydgate Beach and they provide a calmer option than the massive waves of the ocean for swimming. Despite being closed off from the ocean, there is still plenty of fish located within these two ponds. Therefore, if your family is new to snorkeling, this area is the perfect option for your first snorkeling adventure! When you are not enjoying the coolness of the water, you may find yourself wandering along with the two-and-a-half-mile-long coastal pathway or enjoying a picnic lunch near the playground.
The Kilohana Plantation
The Kilohana Plantation is one of the original working plantations on the island of Kauai. There is so much to do at this plantation, so I recommend planning your visit for when you have an entire day available. You can easily walk around the grounds of the Kilohana Plantation. However, taking a ride on the Kilohana Train is a much better option. From the moment you board the train, you will find yourself learning about all the history of this stunning plantation. A Kauai Rum Safari is another option if you want to taste the delicious rum this area is known for during your visit.
Helicopter Tour or Catamaran Tour of the Na Pali Coast
The Na Pali Coast is fifteen miles long. It is located between Haena State Park and Polihale State Park. You can hike along the Kalalau Trail to see the beauty of this coastline. However, I recommend taking a helicopter or catamaran tour of this area instead. When you choose one of those two options for your time on the Na Pali Coast, you will find yourself discovering all the sights from a different vantage point.
A catamaran tour of the Na Pali Coast will have you exploring sea caves and snorkeling off Nu’alolo Kai Beach. A helicopter tour will show you the sights from the air and you will have the option to take a ride on either a closed-door helicopter or one where the doors are off. Each one offers pros and cons, which basically come down to the weather, elements, and whether or not you want the glare of the glass in your photographs!
Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden
The name of this botanical garden literally means Lands by the Sea, which is a fitting name in my opinion! Ed and Joyce Doty founded this beautiful, lush botanical garden to show everyone how to preserve natural areas for the future. If you have young children, I recommend taking the family tour, because it includes the Children’s Garden. However, you may also love the Formal Gardens and Wild Forest Garden tour that is given via an open-air cart.
Smith Family Garden Luau and the Fern Grotto River Ride
You will discover it is easy to have fun adventures when you take the time to visit Smith’s during a vacation in Kauai. Attending a luau in Hawaii is a must for everyone and the Smith Family Garden Luau is the best of all the luaus in Kauai. This luau includes the traditional pa’ina of a pig roasted in an earthen imu oven, teriyaki beef, chicken adobo, ono mahimahi, and poi. When you are not indulging in the delicious foods, you may find yourself being pulled up on stage to learn the Hawaiian hula. Of course, you won’t be able to leave until you have watched at least one of the incredible Samoan fire knife dances.
The Fern Grotto River Ride is another adventure you can enjoy as a family at Smith’s. Upon your arrival, you will board one of the cruise boats for a two-mile journey down the Wailua River. Along the way, you will get to hear stories and songs about ancient Hawaii. A couple of the best ones are the First Hau Tree, King’s Highway, and Mount Kapu. When you reach the Fern Grotto landing, you will disembark to enjoy a slow walk through the rainforest on a nature trail. Don’t forget your camera, because there are plenty of native Hawaiian plants to capture on film, as well as the grotto itself.
Waimea Canyon is considered the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. The cliffs surrounding this canyon, reach heights of three thousand feet in areas. During your visit, you must hike to some of the waterfalls. One of the favorite waterfalls is Waipo’o Falls, which can be easily reached via the Cliff Trail. I recommend checking out the Koke’e Natural History Museum to learn more about this area and then taking a break to see the magnificent views from the Pu’u O Kila Lookout.
You cannot take a family vacation in Kauai, or anywhere in Hawaii for that matter, and not indulge in shave ice at least once! Wherever you go on this island, there will be a shave ice shop or stand right there waiting for you. The flavors will seem endless at many of them, so do not be afraid to try something new instead of getting a tried-and-true favorite. Although, your favorite flavors will never disappoint! 😊
These are the nine best family-friendly things to do in Kauai, but there are so many others I can share with you! I would love to learn more about your family’s interests, so I can customize a vacation in Kauai for you!
So, are you ready to plan your next family vacation in Kauai??
If you are more than ready to start planning your vacation in Kauai, I would love to invite you to schedule a planning session with me by clicking here. When you click this link, you will be taken directly to my digital calendar, where you can set up a meeting time that is convenient for you.