Aloha! Our family of five traveled to Kauai last year along with eight other extended family members, including five children ranging from ages two to seven. We researched extensively the best places to go and the best things to do in Kauai with kids and ended up discovering some amazing places for you to add to your own Kauai itinerary.
If you are planning your first trip to Kauai, you are in the right place! It has been our favorite family trip so far and we feel pretty confident that you will absolutely love it too! Because, in Kauai is there really anything not to love?!? Check out related posts here for our Hawaii Packing List and Hawaii on a Budget tips!
13 Best Things to Do in Kauai with Kids
1. Water play and Sand Castle Building at Kid-Friendly Beaches
Our favorite beaches for young children were Anini Beach on the North shore, Lydgate Park on the West side, and Salt Pond Beach, Poipu Beach Park and Baby Beach on the South shore. They each stretched out far from the shore with shallow water, had gentle currents, and some also had plenty of fish for easy snorkeling. We rented snorkels for our children and my 7 year old daughter loved it and was SO proud of herself for conquering her fear of trusting the snorkel to allow her to breathe. My 4 year old boys loved the boogie boards with viewing windows so that they could see under the sea too.
Not all beaches in Kauai, or any bodies of water for that matter, are kid-friendly, however these were spots where we were able to comfortably take our crew. For those that aren’t used to being near the ocean, the often peacefulness of it can give false confidence in its safety. We had many water safety conversations with our kiddos before and throughout our trip, but still kept eyes on them at all times, of course. Because none of our children were strong swimmers, we also filled one of our suitcases with life jackets which we were glad to have. If you can’t make the space, they can also be rented.
2. Kid-Friendly Hikes
I probably spent more time researching hikes for young kids than I did on anything else. The hikes that we chose were the Kuilau Ridge Hike and the Wai Koa Loop Trail. But due to a couple of days of the stomach flu for one of my boys, we didn’t get the chance to do either of them! I was super bummed but figured now we know where to go for next time!
3. Fresh Coconut Water at the Farmer’s Market
I don’t know about you, but one of our very favorite things to do on a trip is try out the local treats at the markets. You can view a list of Farmers Market near your accommodations here. We headed to the Farmers Market in Koloa on a Monday afternoon and picked out a coconut. They hacked off the top of it and stuck a straw in it. We had fun trying it, but honestly weren’t huge fans of the warm water. However, we tried a chilled coconut at my sister’s vow renewal ceremony, and that one was delicious! So I recommend looking for cold ones!
My children also enjoyed trying samples of local fruits from the various vendors. We chose a few fruits (pineapple!) to pick up for snacks and also some local bread for breakfast.
4. Shave Ice!
While coconut water was not a fan favorite, shave ice definitely was! We are hard pressed to choose the best shave ice in Kauai, but especially enjoyed Uncle’s Shave Snow in Poipu Village and a large tropical shave ice next to Chicken in a Barrel at Ching Yung Village in Hanalei. We also splurged on the last day for a higher priced shave ice poolside at the Grand Hyatt, and when we requested that they split it into three cups, each kid was treated with a huge portion that must have been more than 1/3 the size of their normal serving. Totally worth it!
5. Kauai Miniature Golf in Botanical Gardens
Our kids had an absolute blast miniature golfing on an island. The setting was beautiful and there were signs teaching us about all of the different plants. The prices were a bit high ($15 for kids and $18 for adults) but free for children ages 3 and under. We went on a warm afternoon and while the kids were in Hawaiian heaven, the adults were melting a bit in the heat and wishing for the beach. I still highly recommend the activity; we would just suggest going on a gray and drizzly day instead!
6. Play at Kalamani Park
Kalamani Park might be the biggest playground in Kauai. It was definitely the most fun for our kiddos. It was built by the community, is wooden, and offered lots of space for climbing and the running of little legs. We got lucky and the sprinklers turned on and our children squealed with delight and soaked themselves running through them. A bonus is that across the parking lot from Lydgate Beach Park which is one of the kid-friendly beaches that we mention above.
7. Visit the Taro Ko Chips Factory in Hanapepe
We stopped by the Taro Ko Factory on our drive through the area. It is not a place that would have grabbed our attention had we not learned of it beforehand. But I encourage you to stop for sure! Inside the shack, you will find two gentlemen making taro chips by hand and frying them in huge vats. There are a few flavors to choose from; they will give you samples, and you can pick up delicious, old Hawaiian snacks for about $5 a bag. They were super sweet with our kids even giving them an extra bag for free. We loved the Ling Mui flavor best! Yum!
While you are in town, take an adventurous walk across the swinging bridge! Hanapepe is also the home of Salt Pond Beach which was gentle enough for our kiddos as well.
8. Coconut Coast Bike Ride
This lovely oceanside trail is friendly for pedestrians, bicycles and strollers. The views are beautiful; the activity can be your daily cardio exercise or a relaxing stroll depending on your preference. The path is over 4 miles long and you can turn around whenever you’d like or stop for a refreshment along the way. Bike rentals with kid trailers are available at Coconut Coasters.
9. Kamokila Hawaiian Village
This quaint and beautiful Hawaiian Village was one of the highlights of our trip and we highly recommend it as one of the best things to do in Kauai with children. I hadn’t heard much about it before we traveled, but I am so glad that we didn’t let that deter us. I called ahead and reserved outrigger canoes for 13 people with guides. Now, it is not required that you have a guide to rent canoes here, but with all of our young children, we really wanted guides steering the boats and keeping us headed the right direction stress-free.
When we arrived, they had our canoe reservation on the calendar, but had not noted that we needed guides. We weren’t so sure that they were going to fix the situation as it was a very relaxed place. However, they eventually did, and arranged for one guide to join us in one of the three canoes.
The Wailua river was so incredibly peaceful and easy to navigate. We made our way over to the Fern Grotto which can be filled with people if you take a large boat over. We had it to ourselves though and while we had been warned that it was no longer as majestic as it had been before hurricane damage, we enjoyed its quiet beauty nonetheless. The guide gave us a tour through the tropical forest pointing out exquisite flowers and introducing us to Kukui nuts. He warned us not to eat too many as they are a natural laxative and will leave you saying, “Alooooha!” if you consume more than four.
When we arrived back at the Village, we took a tour with another knowledgeable guide who showed us around the various structures where we could explore. Our children got to discover ancient Hawaiian dishes and place settings, feel their traditional sleeping mats, gaze at their weapons and war tools, play Hawaiian ball games, and learn reverence for their faith and traditions. There were peacocks to visit and plenty of green space for little legs to run. The property was stunningly beautiful and we are so glad that we took the time to spend the afternoon there.
10. Smith’s Family Luau
We knew that we wanted to take our kids to a luau but had a hard time choosing from all of the amazing options. We were so pleased with our choice of Smith’s Family Luau. It is best to arrive as soon as the gates open to get the full benefit of the stunning gardens. You can walk the paths on foot or hop on the tram for a guided tour.
Dinner begins with an emu ceremony as they unearth the pig. My kids were fascinated with this and taken with the delicious fruit juices as well. Buffet style dinner serves my family well; there were so many main dishes, sides and desserts to choose from that everyone was happily full.
There was live music during dinner and my daughter had another opportunity to do the Hukilau on stage again which she loved. As dark came over the gardens, we made our way over to the show in the amphitheater. We all enjoyed the show and it was sweet to know that the performers were mostly family members. Our children were the most fascinated with the fire dancers and their eyes lit up with excitement. After about a half hour, eyelids started to droop and the day in the sun had caught up with us. We made it through the full hour long show, but barely!
11. Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa
Staying at the Grand Hyatt was a huge treat for us! We are pretty frugal travelers for the most part, but the Chase Hyatt credit card had made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse (2 free nights at any Hyatt in the world as a sign up bonus; they have since ended this fabulous promotion). So we gladly took them up on their offer, and fully enjoyed our stay.
Our children (and us!) were in love with the fabulous pool and waterslide (this does have a height requirement; our 7 year old was tall enough but our 4 year olds were not). We could rent inner tubes for a few dollars a day and float down the lazy river and find waterfalls to hide behind in the rocks. The salt water lagoon was warm and luxurious and was also a favorite.
While staying at the Hyatt may not be a possibility for everyone, they offer several activities that are free for the public. I would recommend heading over to the resort for a delicious breakfast and taking part. Twice a week, children can feed the koi fish in the ponds, there is also a weekly parrot show, hula lesson, and lei making. One of the best activities is walking along the beautiful paths at sunrise or sunset and taking a break on one of the beachside wooden swings. A stay or visit to the Hyatt is heavenly and one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids.
12. Poipu Shopping Village Hula Show
Every Monday and Thursday afternoon (double check times here) the shopping village hosts a free hula performance. We gathered near the small stage for a small but lovely performance. The performers were talented and our children were captivated. They allowed an opportunity for children and adults alike to join them on stage for a mini lesson. Afterward, the dancers posed for photos with us which my daughter especially loved. That photo captured one of her favorite things to do and made the cover spot of her scrapbook.
13. Take a walk at sunrise
Watching Hawaiian sunsets can go without saying, but we are just as much advocates of watching the sunrise too, perhaps even more so. For anyone coming from the mainland of the US, the time zone works in your favor to watch the sunrise for at least the first couple mornings until your body clock adjusts.
Walking on the beach at sunrise is absolutely magical and one of the best things I can recommend that you do. My children were thrilled to take an early morning walk on the beach and be able to run in the sand with abandon.
I, on the other hand, was thrilled to soak up the beautiful display of creation and photograph my children under the beautiful sky dawning a new day in Kauai.
14. Take a Nap
I couldn’t help but sneak in a bonus suggestion! If you are traveling with children, even if you think that they don’t nap anymore, sun and island fun is exhausting! Do yourself a favor, stay flexible and rest when needed.
I hope this list of the best things to do in Kauai with kids helps you create your own perfect itinerary for your family. If you are taking a large family trip or looking for minimalist family travel tips, be sure to check out those posts next!
Kauai is one of my very favorite places to talk about so leave a comment or drop me an email if you have any questions about planning your trip to Kauai or to let me know which of these ideas you are most excited to try!
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