Do You Have Any Kauai Recommendations?

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In the very near future my daughter and I will be off to Kauai for a really exciting girl trip to Kauai!  My husband (thanks to me) is out of vacation days, so he will stay behind and work while we head for some fun in the sun.  This trip was made possible by the very cheap Iceland Air miles that were for sale last year.  We redeemed the miles on their partner Alaska Airlines to head to Hawaii.  That deal is now gone, but our trip is just about to begin.  I have been to Maui and Oahu, but this will be my first (but hopefully not last) time to Kauai.

C loved the lei brought home from my last Hawaii trip!

I’ve received a few good recommendations already, but I am absolutely open to more.  I know many of you have been to Kauai, so I’m again turning to you as the experts (we got a ton of great recommendations for Dublin and London thanks to a similar post a few months back).  Do you have some favorite things to do in Kauai?

We hope to take a helicopter tour together (at her request!) and I plan to take surf lessons.  Due to the nature of our trip, pretty much everything we do will have to be kid friendly, but feel free to leave adult oriented suggestions too so anyone can look here for recommendations on one of their future trips to the island.

Thanks in advance for all of your Hawaiian wisdom!

 

Comments

  1. If you’re there this upcoming weekend, I strongly suggest avoiding the Sheraton Kauai as my friend will be getting married there. All guests of the resort beware.

  2. I am renting a condo for 9 days at end of June, the owner sent me the following recommendation (which I just cut and paste here):

    A few of our favorites: Brick Oven Pizza (one in Kapaa and another in Kalaheo), Bubba’s Burgers (one in Kapaa and another in Koloa/Poipu area), Tropical Dreams Ice Cream (across the street between Super Cuts & Panda Express–kinda spendy, cash only, but SOOOO worth it!), Kauai Chocolate Company (in Port Allen–they don’t open til 10, I think), Hukilau Lanai (a nice restaurant in the Coconut Marketplace just south of the resort–delicious food, great with kids, and you can make reservations online: http://hukilaukauai.com/).

    If you guys are into golfing, but don’t want to pay the ridiculous greens fees for the fancy courses, there is a great locals course in Kalaheo, Kukuiolono Golf Course, that my mom and husband played last time we were there that only cost $10! It’s just a par 3 course, but has amazing views and you can’t beat the price. The address is 854 Puu Rd.

    For amazing fresh produce, check out the Kauai Sunshine Farmers Markets. They rotate locations on the island each day and each city’s market is different than the others’. Here is a link to their schedule: http://www.kauai.gov/default.aspx?tabid=214. A bit of advice, get there early and bring cash. Kapaa is on Wednesdays. There is a really great one on Saturdays at the local community college just south of Lihue. They have a license to sell items other than the standard produce & flowers. I recommend the liliko’i mousse 🙂 They also have live music.

    For luaus, we really like the one offered at the Kilohana Plantation. I would recommend getting a reservation ahead of time.

    Local hiking: Sleeping Giant–the concierge desk in the lobby can give you directions.

    Must-sees: Waimea Canyon (check the weather report, because it’s a long way to drive if it’s fogged in…), NaPali Coast

  3. There is a coffee plantation that has a pretty good self guided tour. All of the rental cars will be disgusting – it’s Kauai (as it was explained to me) Hopefully Hanalaei Bay weather will work out for you. Bring gum boots for the little one.

  4. Jealous!

    My top reco would be to take a sunset sail to see the Napali Coast from the water. We used Captain Andy’s on our honeymoon, and had a great trip!

    I’d also recommend driving up / along Waimea Canyon (aka “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”) – it’s quite amazing, and there are a lot of places to pull off to the side of the road to take in the view.

    Helicopter ride is a must! I don’t think there’s much of a difference between the different tour companies, but almost all of them leave from the Lihue airport area.

    Less kid-friendly, but also highly-recommended would be ziplining. We were staying in Princeville, so Princeville Ranch Adventures is quite convenient if you’re also up in that neck of the woods. I’m sure there are others on the southern part of the island (Poipu), but I don’t that part as well.

    As for food: if you’re not staying at the St. Regis, the brunch there at Makana Terrace is really good – and the view is spectacular. I would also recommend Hanalei Dolphin for some great, fresh fish in a comfortable setting.

    Enjoy!

  5. I’m sure you’re staying at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, right? 😉 One definite I would recommend is Wings Over Kauai. It’s not a helicopter tour but instead an Airvan plane. Much more affordable, and they couldn’t be nicer people! Also I loved this “mall” with some cute stores and good dining options and only about 10 minutes from the Grand Hyatt. http://kukuiula.com/community/the-shops-at-kukuiula/ We ate in this area I think three different times! Once at Bubba Burgers, once at Josselin’s Tapas (best meal of our trip, but not sure how kid friendly it is) and once at Tortilla Republic. Enjoy, Kauai was my favorite of the three islands we visited in Feb!

  6. I think Travelzoo had a deal for the Grand Hyatt. I haven’t stayed there before, but the property is quite ice. Not sure if the fare is eligible for a Diamond Suite Upgrade but worth a shot.

  7. We also did Na Pali coast with Captain Andy’s and had a great time, but it can be a pretty rough ride and I’d be careful with a little one if she has any hint of motion sickness.

    Hanalei Bay is amazing for surf lessons – can’t remember the vendor we used but we just drove there and asked at the hut with all the surfboards outside. 🙂

  8. We live in Wainiha outside Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore. What part of the island have you chosen as your base? There is one perimeter highway along which all communities will be found, but even though the mileage isn’t much, getting from one side to the other is a day trip. If you have chosen the South side, this time of year the surf there may be too unpredictable for a beginning surfer. Seeing Na Pali by helicopter is a great way to go with a youngster. Your daughter (and you!) might enjoy learning hula. The Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden on the northeast side has a children’s area that gets high marks. If your daughter is interested in birds and animals, see the Kilauea Lighthouse and Preserve. The rookery overlook is home to all sorts of large sea birds. Probably too late to see whales, although I did see one from this location several weeks ago. Lihue has Kilohana Plantation with young child-friendly activities. Don’t miss Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park, too. Beautiful scenery and some interactive exhibits. The North Shore has zip lining and horseback riding in the Princeville area. Hanalei Bay Beach is fun and safe for kids of all ages. Hanalei town has ice cream and food stands, as well as more traditional dining and shopping. Enjoy and aloha!

  9. Looking forward to reading the trip report – I have my own trip in February 2014 that I’m looking forward to thanks to the BoA AS 1st class companion ticket (no longer valid).

    Surf lessons in Hanalei bay are great this time of year. Definitely check out the Queen’s baths (think that’s what they’re called – essentially tidal pools).

  10. Island Helicopters and land at the “Jurassic Park” falls. It’s incredible! If you’re staying at the Grand Hyatt (and you better be!) then your daughter will love the pool and slides. Great beaches up north (Ka’a and others). I’ve heard surfing lessons are better up there near Hanalei Bay. My wife and I did a lot of hiking along the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon, but you probably won’t with little C 🙂 Puka Dog is a must if you like hot dogs! It’s great, very unique, and the sauces are amazing.

  11. Try “End of the Road” beach on the North Shore. Excellent place to swim and snorkle (shallow and very kid friendly) not to mention very “old school” Hawaii like. Plenty of “jungle” Plus on your way there you’ll go down into Hanalei town. Nice little town to stop and walk around and shop. It’s a bit of a drive (but easy)if you are staying on the south side but worth it.

  12. I second Wings Over Kauai. We were there about 3 weeks ago and arrived expecting to fly in the 8 seat airvan. We ended up with a private tour by Bruce, the owner of the company, in his 3 seat Cessna (pilot, co-pilot and passenger). All for half the price of helicopter tour. I did my best not to touch anything related to steering.

    Also, we met some awesome regulars at the Pono Market in Kapaa.

  13. Thanks for the t-shirt! Hard to advise without #days, but counter-clockwise, don’t miss (less importante in parentheses):
    Waimea Canyon up to Kalalau lookouts
    (Hanapepe swinging bridge)
    Lydgate State Park – barriered beach, fish feeding
    Kilauea Lighthouse
    (Anini Beach – shallow/calm/easy-access)
    Ke’e Beach and as much of the Kalalau trail as you guys can hike.

  14. Helicopter rides are not all the same. Take the sunset Napali ride. I live in Hawaii and have taken this one twice! You get flown in to a stream for a light meal, swimming, relaxation, etc. Then they return to give you a tree top ride to the waterfalls. The absolute highlight is sunset on the Napali coast. A photographers dream…and I am a professional photographer. I went on Princeville helicopters but I’m sure they all offer similar rides. Just make sure you take the sunset ride! Aloha…have a great time.

  15. You’ll love the Grand Hyatt and so will Little C. The pools are amazing, water slides, etc! So fun for kids and adults. We took a helicopter ride with Jack Harter and found them to be very friendly, and the ride was great! I wouldn’t do Josselin’s with a kiddo; it’s crowded, loud and not kid friendly at all. I also found it expensive for what it was. I also agree you should hit the costco on your way down to Poipu for some snacks.

    The luau at the Hyatt looks like fun as well– we watched it from our room last year. Enjoy!

  16. Grand Hyatt is exceptional for adults and kids both. Took our girls there when they were younger. We ALL talk about still! Our kids are adults now and my spouse and I are planning a trip back next winter

  17. Keep a close eye on road conditions before your departure flight. With one road linking many parts of the island an accident can be a real problem. Half of our group missed their flight home in March and had to extend their stay another night.

  18. north shore or south shore? (I presume you’re staying at the grand hyatt on the south shore – which is one of the best hyatts I’ve ever stayed in).

    you should plan a day trip to the North Shore – Hanalei Bay is an awesome spot – very picturesque
    Try surfing lessons with North Shore Surfing Company (out of Hanalei – ask for Daniel or Keo)- they got my four daughters up (and hooked on surfing) the first day (youngest was 4 at the time)
    Ke’e Beach (end of the road on the North Shore) is great and the snorkling at Tunnels Beach (about 2 miles before Ke’e) is one of the best on the island.

    There’s a terrific hike on the west side (past waimea canyon) that you could do – even half of it. Total distance is 2 miles round trip, but it’s not terribly hard – even if you went halfway just for the pictures it’s worth it. It’s called the Pihea trail. my 4 y.o. did the whole thing with no problems.

    Helo rides are terrific – a must do if you can swing the cash – we’ve done a bunch and love the one with the doors off – but that might be much for your little one.

    be sure to hit Bubbas Burgers while you’re there. and there’s a terrific seafood spot in Hanalei – The Dolphin – behind the restaurant is a fish market -fresh fish, sushi rolls, etc….

    have fun.

  19. I’m actually in the middle of a TR about Kauai right now, but granted, I mostly went to do the Kalalau Trail hike… which probably isn’t too family friendly. That said, I thought the Westin Princeville was fantastic for families since every room has a kitchenette and washer/dryer. Definitely do a boat tour to the Na Pali Coast, it is simply breathtaking. And as others said, drive up to Waimea Canyon. Queen’s Bath is also very fun, but be careful with the waves.

    For food, I loved the little hole-in-the-wall places and food trucks. Definitely go to Duane’s Ono-Char Burger on the North Shore as well as Hanalei Taro & Juice Company Lunch Wagons. SO GOOD. Also check out Kalapaki Beach Hut near Lihue for delicious local food.

  20. Assuming you are staying at the Grand Hyatt, make sure to take advantage of the fun programming that they have for kids on site. We were there a couple of years ago and my daughter loved the “Bird Talk”, Koi fish feeding, and the Keiki Hula that they have a couple of nights a week. It’s a great property! We are visiting again at the end of July, so I hope to hear about your trip before our adventure.

    You’ve received some great ideas for outside the Hyatt, but I think the best thing to do in Kauai is to just take in the natural beauty. We would set of in the morning with a beach in mind and would just see where the day would take us. Have fun!

  21. The best beach for small children is probably the one at Lydgate Park, near the mouth of the Wailua River (east side of the island), because the swimming area is protected, and there is the great Kamalani Playground. Hanalei beach is good, too. The Farmer’s Markets are wonderful for fresh produce at reasonable prices, especially if you’re like me and you stay in vacation rentals with kitchens when you are on Kauai. I think the farmer’s markets are great for kids, too, with so many tropical foods to see and sample.
    I second the recommendation to experience Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens on the North Shore.

  22. Assuming you’re staying on the south side, you’re going to want to make the trek to the north shore for much calmer summers waters. Once you’re there you’re going to wish you stayed on the north shore as it’s way more beautiful than the south side. Anini Beach is great for kids as it’s like a vast, beatiful swimming pool full of sea turtles. Ke’e and Tunnels beaches are also amazing. And grab some food at the Kilauea Fish Market while you’re over there.

  23. You must eat at the Shrimp Station in Waimea on the the way to the canyon. They have the best shrimp EVER! There is also one in Kapa’a. I wouldn’t do the helicopter unless you can book same day. It rains a lot on Kauai and they will take you up no matter what…meaning you might not see much.I would also suggest a Na Pali coast cruise but the seas can be rough.

  24. Food can be overly expensive in Kauai. I recommend Harley’s BBQ in the small shop area of Coconut Marketplace, Sukhothai in Kapaa shopping center, pizza at Bobby V’s, and ahi tacos at Mermaids (but not the curry!).

  25. Do you like dogs? If so, the Kauai Humane Society has an awesome program to adopt a dog for the day. You can pick one up and take it to the beach (or wherever) and it wears an “adopt me” vest. The dog gets out of the shelter, people around town see it and you get some doggie kisses. Win-win! This was one of our favorite parts of the vacation.

  26. (Bit of cut and paste here, sorry for the length).
    Shave ice will solve all problems. Jojo’s in Waimea (the original, not the sketchy yellow one), Wishing Well in Hanalei (with Soup Nazi-esque service), and Hee Fat in Kapa’a.
    The most kid-friendly beach is definitely Lydgate Beach Park. There’s a massive wooden play structure, and the beach offers protection from a man-made rock wall. Fun for laying out and splashing, but don’t bother trying to snorkel. Definitely take a trip to Spouting Horn blowhole. In addition to the blowhole, you’ll almost always see lots of chickens with chicks in tow, turtles in the water, maybe a monk seal. Plus some craft vendors with the gorgeous Ni’ihau shell necklaces (plus the usual junk). The most picturesque beach is Ke’e Beach, where the road ends in the North. It’s great for kids when conditions are calm. Always check http://www.kauaiexplorer.com before going. Parking is an issue, so unless you leave Poipu before 7AM there will be a hell of a walk. Anini is also great with no access issues. Skip Tunnels alone with a toddler.
    The Kaua’i Kunana dairy does weekly tours of it’s goat dairy/organic farm. Pricey at $35/adult but well worth it for baby goat holding/feeding, ridiculous cookies and beverages, endless fruit sampling right off the trees. Run by the nicest family.
    If your little one is adventurous, there’s a hike that starts at the Hyatt, Maha’ulepu. which leads to s string of pristine beaches. It’s an in-and-out trail, and even the first five minutes are pretty. Ask the Hyatt concierge about it.
    The Kilauea Lighthouse is mandatory.

    For food on Kauai?
    Prepare to be underwhelmed. Eat poke (raw ahi salad) at every opportunity, best in the south is Koloa Fish Market. One of the best restaurants on the island, Hukilau Lanai, is fairly hidden in a (great) timeshare in Kapa’a. They have a tasting menu for their early seatings, $28 for five courses, $40 with wine pairings. Our other favorite is Hamura Saimin, a must-do if your kid likes noodle soups. Kalapaki Joe’s is a sports bar close to the Hyatt and offers good food at good prices. Friday-Sunday, there’s a roadside stand off the highway in Anahola with BBQ Wild Boar plates for $10. Epic. If you’re passing Lihue, look for the malasada (fresh portugeuse donut) lady right outside Kmart. Everything in Kukui’ula is nice, new, but way overpriced.

    Make sure to hit the farmer’s markets. Saturday morning in Hanalei, Wednesday afternoon in Kapaa, Thursday afternoon in Kilauea.

    Other tips?
    Buy the Kauai Revealed app for your iPhone, $7.99 but worth every penny.
    Costco is your friend. Pick up a pack of Manapua (bbq pork in sweet bread) for snacking.
    Don’t do Queen’s Bath with a toddler.
    Don’t bring a stroller.
    Take it easy the first day in the heat.
    Be prepared for sudden downpours.
    Luaus can be a disaster with toddlers, or the best thing ever.
    No Na Pali cruises unless your stomachs are strong as steel.
    The Kauai Coffee Co “tour” is a great place for a kid to run off some energy when headed out west.

    Can you tell I’m excited for my trip in July?

  27. Not exactly kid friendly, however for the Adult or older kid crowd…I’d highly recommend Ziplining through Kauai Backcountry Adventures. We did it while in Hawaii last year on our Honeymoon and it was one of the top two things we did (massage on the beach was the other…hard to top that). I’d literally go back to Hawaii just to do their zip line course again, it was that much fun. The course is set up so you don’t have to use a glove like some of the sketchier zip line tours and the views are phenomenal. Not to mention that they filmed a boatload of films on the property (Pineapple Express, etc.) Pretty cool and well worth it!

    http://www.kauaibackcountry.com/

  28. Na Pali coast is a must. Use a company starting out on the North Shore as you get more time looking at Na Pali.

    Ke’e beach is a must. Kalalau Trail is great but not sure I would take a toddler.

    While on the North Shore, eat at the Dolphin, lei petite bakery (acai bowl!!), and Lappert’s (best coffee and ice cream).

    Save your money and skip the St. Regis. The view is AMAZING (best in all of Kauai), but the hotel is meh (compared to the Hyatt anyways). Get brunch at Makana Terrace or just drinks at the Bar during sunset.

    On the South/West side, Waimea canyons are awesome. Botanical Gardens are good, spouting horn, poipu beach. I really enjoyed Kalaheo cafe; Keoki’s paradise is fun but not authentic.

    Bone up on Iz and try some poi. Have fun, I am jealous.

  29. Perfect timing on this post: that’s our next trip in July! We plan on wearing the Mommy Points’ t-shirts there, too — they arrived today. Thank you!

  30. Can definitely see you and Little C at Lydegate. Perfect place to play and snorkel with her!! I will warn you, though, if you are staying at the Grand Hyatt, you may not want to leave. Period. LOL!! It is a magnificent property. LOVEEEEEEED it there. The beaches we love most are on the North Shore: Hanalei Bay, Tunnels and Ke’e. Our favorite place for MacNut Shakes and shave ice is Paradise Shave Ice in Hanalei. And, one of the best meals ever was at the taco stand, actually a taco trailer in Kapaa called Al Pastor. It’s next to a coffee trailer with the name dolphin in it. We had the best fish tacos at Al Pastor. We ate there three times at least. LOVED it! Have a wonderful time. You will fall deeply in love with Kauai!

  31. Thanks for the T’shirt.
    Kauai is beautiful. Was there for spring break at the Grand Hyatt. We also used Alaska’s first class product. It made for a pleasant start to the trip.
    Loads of activities at the Grand Hyatt – pools are really fab! but do venture out.
    Waimea Canyon is a must
    If Little C can handle it take a drive to Hanalei Bay – Stop at the St Regis for lunch – breathtaking views
    I second /third … Lydgate park. My daughter loved it.
    Shaved ice at Jojos
    Spent a day at Kapaa – nice little town
    Fish restaurant across the Walmart near the airport – best fried chicken I had had in a long time – great ahi
    Hyatt has great hors d’oeuvres in the evening – great for Diamonds or those with club access.
    Finally just go with the flow… Kauai is meanty to be savored 🙂

  32. Little C will love “Carter Falls” in the regular pool, along with bubble water and the slide. And the safe beach at the Hyatt is great for kids her age.

    BTW, feel free to change the name of “Carter Falls” to “Little C Falls” and send us all a picture.

  33. I went there in 2012 and it is my favorite Hawaiian island so far! I documented the entire trip with tips here on my blog if you have the time to read.

    http://elleandish.wordpress.com/my-vacations/ (at the very bottom… Kauai is broken up into 4 posts)

    But if you dont.. Try to find Groupons for excursions or food, rent out a vacation rental if you can, visit Secret Beach if possible (my favorite beach!!), since you have kids be sure to check out Kamalani Playground at Lydgate beach park, go to Princeville Ranch Adventures for ziplining, go to Banana Joe’s for fresh cold treats, Kipu Ranch Adventures for ATV’ing, Na Pali coast snorkel adventure using Cap’n Andys, Waimea Canyon, and Tunnel’s beach for snorkeling 😀

  34. The main thing I remember of Kauai is staying at the Coco Palms (where Blue Hawaii was filmed). But I guess that’s out.

  35. We took our 6 year old tubing on an old sugar plantation run by Kauai back country adventures. They were awesome – it was very mellow so good for families and kids – beautiful and quite unusual. They were so nice with our son, we highly recommend that.

  36. Download Kauai Revealed app on your iPhone. It will give you step by step directions to places only the locals know, and will save you a lot of time. It has everything, from attraction and restaurant reviews, hotels, tours, etc, all done by mystery shoppers. It has GPS technology so it works without a signal too. $5.99 last year when we went, but worth every penny. They have the hard copy book as well.

  37. We have gone to Hawaii every year since 2007 (via miles). My daughter is now 14 and we were in Kauai (north shore) for spring break this year. In looking at the above suggestions, I’d go with #35. The surf can be treacherous. Try Lydgate State Park or Hanalei Bay for less waves. The Kilauea Light House has binoculars that you can borrow. We stayed in Princeville (rented home) and really enjoyed watching the albatross that nested in our yard. The Light House will have all kinds of birds, exhibits and volunteers ready to help you see the whales (if they are still there). Shaved ice is a must. We also found it relatively cheap to pick up dinner at the local Foodland or Safeway and have a picnic on the beach or in our home, watching a video. The Farmers Markets are a great way to get to know folks and see all kinds of exotic things (for a little one). If you like sushi, there was excellent sushi at the Hanalei Dolphin restaurant. Oh yes, one last thing…there are tons of roosters and chickens in Kauai, even on the beach. Entertaining for the little ones! Enjoy the aloha spirit.

  38. We did the lava tube tubing tour through the old sugar plantation drainage ditches. They give you a miners helmet with a light when the tube goes through the caves. It’s really fun!

  39. I have a page on my blog (linked above) titled Kauai Activities with Kids. To comment on other suggestions – definitely go to the playground at Lydgate – it’s phenomenal. HOWEVER, the water in the walled off ponds at Lydgate can get really gross if it’s been raining hard – lots of debris washes in (among other things) and doesn’t get properly “flushed”.

    My favorite beach for kiddos is the keiki lagoon at Poipu beach – it’s super shallow, protected from the surf, and just steps from a playground if she gets bored of the water.

    On the North Shore I just love Anini beach – warm water, lots of fun stuff washing up on shore (coral, etc.).

    Best burgers on Kauai are at North Shore Grindz in the Princeville Chevron station – you’ll have to trust me.

    Go to Costco, but only to scout out the local foods (poke, manapua, poi) – there’s no way the two of you would finish off any quantity of food purchased there in just one week.

    We are also planning a visit to Na Aina Kai botanical gardens – they have a special kids’ section with fountains to splash in, etc. The last Saturday of the month is “Keiki Day” and it’s much cheaper.

    Keoki’s Paradise is a great “tiki” style restaurant in Poipu – my 2.5 yo was just fascinated when the guy came out to light the tiki torches. Two years later, he still talks about it.

    Come spend some time on the Kauai TripAdvisor forum – we’re super nice, I promise.

  40. We just got back from Kauai with our two little ones (3 and 1). Landed this evening. We will be downloading photos and getting over jet lag in the next couple of days. I will jot down some of our favorites and email them over! All kid friendly!

    Very excited for you! We had a great trip and it was SO tough to leave!

  41. There are so many great recomendations on here. I think the highlights have already been mentioned, but I want to add just a couple that are probably a little more under the radar or low key. First, ditto the comment about The Queens Bath. Do not take children there. It is dangerous and a moderately difficult hike, but it is a special and beautiful place. If you go, be very aware and be safe. People swim in it and I did too. But, afterwards I learned that rogue waves occassionally wash folks over the rocks and out to sea. I don’t think I would test it again.

    If you stay at the Grand Hyatt, my favorite day was spent renting a cabana overlooking the beach for a lazy day of watching the surfers, sipping lemonade, napping and just relaxing big time.

    If you are up for a good hike, there is a trail off the east side of the Hyatt that takes you up on the cliffs and parallels the coast. There are some fantastic views. The trail is not prominently marked and you may have to get someone to orient you on how to get started, but it’s pretty nice and a good workout. Again, I think this should be adults only. Not a good place for toddlers.

    There is a small burger joint called “The Ono Grill,” located beside the highway between Kapaa and Princeville (that is a pretty wide range but I can’t remember anything to narrow it down by.) I stumbled on it by accident when I was on a quest for a good burger and I was told that this is what many locals consider to be the best burgers on the island, and it does look like the local folks flock here. It is take out only, with a few spots to sit and eat outside, but the burgers are great. Tell your husband to get the Nui-Nui burger (two beef patties.) Honestly, I have to eat there a couple of times whenever we go.

    If you are in the mood for a really casual, relatively inexpensive lunch in the Kapaa vicinity, you might consider The Kauai Family Restaurant. The cuisine is Phillipine and the owner is an especially friendly lady who makes you feel genuinely welcome (she even remembers us whenever we go there from year to year) and really wants to make sure that you enjoy your meal. There is nothing fancy about the place and it is small. We have always enjoyed everything we have got there. Never seems to be very crowded which often is not a good sign. But, in this case I think it’s more because it is so small, and not in a very prominent location. It is in a small shopping strip before you reach Kapaa on your left as you are heading north.

    Echoing what the others have said, the Napali cost is magnificent. I’ve seen it by helicopter and by boat and both are great. But, I would say that if the water conditions are not to rough, I think it is more impressive by boat.

    Watching the sunset at the pier down in Hanalei bay seems to be a local ritual and seems to be consistently great. Folks come down and sit around by their cars, some build small campfires and seem to have a nice way of ending every day in paradise.

    Get someone to show you how the mountain range that circles Hanalei bay forms the majic dragon “Puff” of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.

    And know that I envy you and everyone in your group that are making this trip. Sadly, we will miss this year.

  42. For delicious pie, try The Right Slice.

    I second the luau at The Plantation, Poipu Beach, and the playground at Lydgate Park.

  43. Most of these mentioned above but for a 3-year-old I’d second:
    Wings Over Kauai (great, personalized service)
    Brick Oven Pizza
    Ke’e Beach (Tunnels is even better for adults but Ke’e may be a bit more kid-friendly / accessible. Get there early for close parking!)
    Poipu Beach Park (not as good as Ke’e or Tunnels but more convenient from the south side)
    Kauai Revealed app (the whole book for $6 in an app!)
    Hanalei (if you’re on the north side and want some shopping / a walk around town as a change of pace)
    Postcards Cafe (in Hanalei; very nice restaurant and also kid-friendly)
    Shave ice
    Pools at the Grand Hyatt are fantastic

  44. Drive the highway over the bridge to Princeville. The view of all the terraced farming down below is awesome.

    Head to the Hanalei Bay beach. The beach in front of the St. Regis Princeville is unusable but on the opposite side of the bay (pull in anywhere) its beautiful and the view, especially at sunset, is incredible.

    Speaking of sunset, eat at the St. Regis for dinner at sunset. Yes its expensive but do it once. Its awesome.

    Rent a Kayak at Hanalei River Watersports and paddle up the man-made river. Its completely calm and easy. You’ll love it.

    Waimea Canyon of course. Snorkling at any/every beach.

  45. We loved Kauai, although we didn’t have children at the time. There are some great snorkeling beaches past Princeville on the North shore at the end of Kuhio Highway (Ke’e Beach). If memory serves me correctly, it is not rough and would be kid friendly (although a bit of a drive, especially if you are staying on the south side of the island.

    Also, don’t miss Jo Jo’s Shave Ice. I wish we had found it earlier in our trip. It was great.

    dctravel

  46. @Glenn #59 – what do you mean the beach at St. Regis is unusable? All beaches in Hawaii are public, regardless of what fancy-pants hotel is situated above the high tide line.

    Granted, the beach there (Pu’u Poa) is not the greatest on the island, but anyone can go to the St. Regis beach/pool bar there and pay $10 for a Longboard lager… my 2.5 yo loved the smoothies.

    #56 James is referring to Duane’s Ono Char burgers, a local burger joint right on the highway just south of Anahola. Their service is VERY slow which makes it hard to recommend to families with “hangry” kids.

  47. Last few not mentioned yet – (am thinking you should just put a book together…)

    Hyatt Kids’ club – bargain at $80/day. In addition, if you’re late coming back from adult time, call the hotel – they may stick around for an extra hour (I think it was an extra $12).

    Spa Shower – mentioned in the FT hotel review.

    Take long pants to Lydgate park for C – massive wooden climbing structure has some steep steps.

    If a hot dog is OK for C – check hours of poolside hot dog cart for most convenient cheaper eats that won’t interrupt pooltime (seem to remember it was pretty big diameter – cut meat lengthwise if you need to for C).

  48. Waimea Canyon

    The Smith Family’s Wailua River Valley boat cruise and Garden Luau

    Chasing chickens (a favorite activity of my kiddo at you kiddo’s age).

  49. Susan – My experience with the beach at the Princeville hotel (I don’t think it was a St. Regis when I stayed there) was that there is coral RIGHT OFF THE BEACH. Meaning a few feet off the beach. Going left to right the whole length of the beach. Meaning you really can’t even swim. And trying to float over it with a snorkel didn’t work either. So the “beach” is fine. The water off the beach not so much.

    The bay itself is so beautiful though. And the beach along the opposite side of the bay with the little freshwater river running into the ocean? And the awesome snorkling? And the amazing sunsets? That I can recommend.

  50. Been to Kauai twice, last trip was in April. Food in Kauai is expensive, even more so than Maui or Oahu. Costco is a great option for basics, as is Kmart. I would go to Kmart over Walmart. The Walmart is insanely busy and the Kmart has better prices!

    Lydgate Park is great for kids. Both the playground and snorkeling. Nice beach.

    Traffic is truly a bear, depending upon where you are going. One morning it took us 2 hours to go just over 10 miles. We learned to plan early mornings to avoid that.

    Hanalei is a fun little town, but super busy on the weekends.

    Kileau lighthouse is neat to see the birds. It is under restoration right now, but still interesting.

  51. Be sure to take a boat tour and helicopter ride. Both totally awesome. The Napali coastline is spectacular and a view of Kauai from the air is breathtaking. My sister, a very close friend and 2 of my granddaughters visited a cousin in Kauai in August last summer and had the time of our lives. Kauai is definitely a piece of paradise… can’t wait to go again – if at all possible. Truly an awesome place. So many places just took my breath away and left me speechless … the beaches, flowers, the stars at night – just the whole atmosphere of the island was ethereal.

  52. we just got back from an eight day award trip there. after a lot of research into different flying companies, we chose safari helicopters (perfect safety record) and it was excellent. we did a lot of hiking but none of what we did would be possible with a young one. there are a couple oceanside paths that are flat and would work:
    http://www.kauaiexplorer.com/hiking_kauai/mahaulepu_trail.php
    http://www.kauaiexplorer.com/hiking_kauai/lydgate_bike_path.php

    both are nice. that site also has a nice map of beaches with lots of info. polihale beach was by far our favourite..amazing sunsets. there are a couple of places you can drive with nice viewpoints. one is the area around wailua falls, there’s a loop you can do to see the river and some other falls too. do not miss driving up highway 550 to koke’e state park. that’s where the tough hiking is, but there are tons of amazing viewpoints off the road of the waimea canyon. chose a clear day and take your time on an incredibly beautiful drive.

    enjoy! 🙂

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