As a mom of two, many of my clients that are here on vacation ask me what to do on island with their children. Here are my go-to families activities.
The Westside: Kekaha and Waimea and Ele’ele
Salt pond is a great beach for kids. Little to no shore break, calm waters and if you dig deep enough into the sand, you’ll reach clay. Nature’s natural exfoliant.
Waimea Caynon and Kokee. A MUST SEE. It is a 30-40 minute drive up from the base of the canyon so please bring water and snacks for your kids if they tend to get bored in the car.
Over 4,345 acres on a plateau about 4,000 feet above sea level, Kokee State Park is covered in forest, wild flowers and hiking trails. It is one of the only spots to see native plants and Hawaiian birds like the apapane, iwi and moa. The have great hiking trails that range from beginner to advanced. 45 miles of hiking trails in total. Alakai swamp is a great one but it can be very difficult if it is raining. Kawaikoa Stream trail and Pu’u Hinahina Lookout Cliff Trail are great for kids under 6. Cabins are available to the public to rent or you can always camp in the park with a permit. Temperatures drop to about 40 degrees when the sun goes down so come prepared.
The South Side: Kalaheo, Koloa and Poipu
Kukuiolono Golf Course is fun for all ages. They have a mini golf course set up for $5 per person. Also, lots of chickens hang out here.
Spouting horn is located in Poipu, right passed the harbor. It’s a cool tourist attraction. Legend of Spouting Horn: Hawaiian legend says that a very large lizard or “mo’o” guarded this coast and ate fishermen and anybody else that got too close. Once when a brave man named Liko entered the water he was attacked by the mo’o. To get away, he swam under the lava shelf and escaped through the tunnel. Pretty interesting stuff.
Poipu Beach is also a great choice for little kids that can’t quite handle the big waves yet. It is great for snorkeling and shell picking. They also have a big playground and shave ice and Puka Dogs right across the street.
The East Side: Lihue, Wailua, Kapaa and Anahola
Kauai Back Country in Lihue offers tubing in the ice cold streams that run down from Mount Waialeale. The wettest spot on earth. You can see my picture below to get the idea. Great for all ages 7 and up!
Lydgate is a great place for kids under 10. It is a massive playground that you can explore easily for a few hours. It’s located right across Lydgate beach so make sure to pack your swim gear and sunscreen.
Kapaa Bike Path in Kapaa is great for an all day excursion. Anyone can enjoy the magnificent scenery, gentle offshore breezes, and array of photo ops. Get ready to coast your way along almost eight miles of the east side of Kauai. There are multiple bike rentals in town along with great food trucks and some local shopping!
The Wailua River can be explored by kayak, SUP or outrigger canoe, and a boat tour is also available. The 20-mile long river flows from the 5,148-foot Mount Waialeale in the center of the island. It’s a very special spot where locals and tourist explore. Lots of mosquitoes so bring bug spray and sunscreen for your kids!
The North Shore: Kilauea, Princeville, Hanalei and Haena
Kilauea is home to the super fun Anaina Hou Park. They have a great mini golf course, a local farmers market, a fire show and a giant playground.
The Kilauea Light House is another great spot. Parking does get a little crazy so be sure to go early. Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is marked by its towering lighthouse. The ocean cliffs and tall grassy slopes of a dormant volcano provide a protective breeding ground for many Hawaiian seabirds.
Hanalei bay is a must, obviously. It is the largest bay on the north shore of Kauaʻi. Nearly two miles of beach, surrounded by mountains. It is sure to take your breath away! In the summer, the bay offers excellent mooring for sailboats, stand up paddle boarding and swimming. The waves are usually big during the winter months so beware.
Haena is where the road comes to an end. It’s the furthest you can go on the North shore by road. Maniniholo Dry Cave is a cool and unique place to stop on your way to Kee beach. This geological cave offers a sandy floor, low ceilings and can be consider very spooky.
Kee beach is now open. It was closed during 2020 while they were reconfiguring the parking area and walk ways. The waters here resemble Tahiti in my opinion if the sun in out and winds are calm. It’s right before the Napali Coast line which you can get a glimpse of if you swim out or walk safely around the shore line. Minimal waves which make it a great place for kids and even babies to swim. They have a lifeguard toward here as well as bathrooms and showers.