Thursday 1 March 2018

Things to do in Kauai with the family

We visited Hawaii as a couple before we had children, and although it is a great place for a couples holiday there is also plenty to do to keep the children entertained. Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, with some amazing scenery and hidden beaches, as well as water activities, shopping and dining. I've picked out some of the best activities and attractions in Kauai if you are planning a trip with the family.

Things to do in Kauai with the family


If visiting with the family you'll probably want to stay on the more densely populated East Coast where you'll find a huge range of accommodation near to the family friendly beaches. There are lots of larger hotels and resorts, or you might prefer to look at some Kauai beach rentals. This would give you the option of self-catering, which always works well for us as our children are quite fussy and we never do all inclusive deals justice when it comes to the food and drink.

Getting around

Kauai is not very well served with public transport, and so travelling around the island with the family is much easier if you can rent a car. Although there are buses, the network doesn't cover all the main tourist spots, and it's much easier to explore further afield if you have your own transport. It's especially important when travelling with small children - you need more flexibility and can't spend too long waiting around for a bus. You also want to avoid too much walking to get to places.


Kauai is regarded as having more coastline filled with beaches than any of the other Hawaiian islands. With the family it's best to stick to the safer, more popular beaches, and you can find a list of the lifeguarded beaches on Kauai here. These beaches are located all around the island and will also usually have the facilities like toilets and showers which make a visit to the beach much easier with small children! Poipu Beach is particularly popular with families as it is a shallow sandy beach perfect for young children, and there is also a playground along with toilets and showers.

Although there are many hidden beaches around the island, make sure you are wary if you are tempted to visit a more secluded beach. Not all the beaches are safe for swimming and there can be dangerous rip currents and unexpected waves, definitely do some research before diving it.

Things to do with the family in Kauai
Photo credit Leo Rivas via Unsplash

Water activities

Children that are confident in the water will enjoy the chance to try out snorkelling. There are some reefs close to the shore, and Anini Beach in particular is excellent for snorkelling, although be aware that this isn't a lifeguarded beach. Poipu Beach also gives you the opportunity to see a wide variety of fish and turtles, although get there early before it gets too busy. If your children aren't confident swimmers then you could try a glass bottomed boat ride.

Turtle swimming in Hawaii
Photo credit Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Older and more adventurous children might also enjoy the chance to try kayaking, surfing or windsurfing amongst many other different activities, and there are lots of local companies which run different water activities around the island. I particularly love the look of a glass bottomed kayak tour, which even runs at night so that you can see the underwater world by darkness and is suitable for children aged three and over.

Na Aina Ka

Na Aina Ka is a botanical gardens and sculpture park. It can only be visited by tour, and if your children are aged 13 and under then you need to pre-arrange a children's tour which lasts about 2 hours. Tours can be booked in advance, or there may be space available on the day. Once a month the Children's Garden opens for Keiki Day which takes place on one selected Saturday per month and would be well worth a visit if it coincides with your stay. Find out more information here - Na Aina Ka.

Kauai Mini Golf

Kauai Mini Golf is in Kilauea at the north of the island. As well as a golf course it's also a botanical garden, and your journey around the holes takes you on a journey from the original native plants, through to plants introduced from various other countries, then on to the plants that you find in Hawaii today. The course is accompanied by water features, and nets are provided to fish out your mis-aimed balls.

Kilauea Point Lighthouse

You'll find Kilauea Point Lighthouse close to the Mini Golf, and it's a part of the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge. This is a protected area for threatened and endangered species, and you can borrow some binoculars from the visitor centre to see them close up without disturbing them.

The Ke Ala Hele Makalae Coastal Path

This scenic coastal path runs along the east side of the island. It's a long, flat path along the coastline and is perfect to explore for all ages and abilities. The path is pushchair friendly for walking, or you can easily hire bikes. As well as beautiful scenery to enjoy you might also see dolphins, turtles or even seasonal humpback whales, and there are lots of places to stop for a picnic along the way.

Kauai Plantation Railway

At the Kilohana Plantation you can ride reproduction railway cars from the period of King Kalakaua on a 40 minute train ride through dense tropical forest, past plantation era houses and then into the working Kilohana Plantation with more than 50 fruits and vegetables, including many exotic varieties, and all narrated by a local guide. There's even a stop at the farmyard, with the opportunity to feed some of the animals including pigs, goats, sheep, cattle and horses.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is known as the 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific' and is adjacent to Kokee State Park on the west of the island. The canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,600 feet deep. There are a couple of short hikes which are suitable for young children. If you want to visit the canyon with small children you can find some really good advice here - Tips for a good family day trip to Waimea Canyon.

I hope that I've given you lots of ideas for things to do with the family in Kauai! If you are visiting Hawaii you might also enjoy this article - Reasons to book a family holiday to Hawaii - with plenty more inspiration!

This is a sponsored post. 

Main photo credit Alexey Marchenko via Unsplash.

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