There is something about the spotting of a playground in the distance that elicits joy and excitement from my keiki. When you live in Kauai, not every day is a beach day. Some days you have to run errands and that can mean perceived long distances in the car and boredom for kids. While hitting up Costco, Kmart and Safeway in one day with three kids in tow sounds like complete bliss, it can be crazy. I always try to throw in an incentive for fun. I often use the enticement of a picnic lunch at a nearby park to keep my kids in line while we shop for the mundane items we need like produce and toothpaste. It's not bribery - I'm teaching them to negotiate. Sometimes they even convince me to let them get fruit snacks. Whatever. It's win-win.
Here are some of our favorite parks on Kauai we have discovered that have a great mix of play equipment, shade and places to picnic. It is always a bonus when there are other kids to play with. In my opinion, that is one of the best things about visiting the local playground - the sense of collective community that is shared.
LYDGATE PARK/KAMALANI PLAYGROUND
This 57.83 acre park has the largest play structure on Kauai, by far. It is located on the south end of Kapaa, and is a great overall beach park and playground for families. The wooden play structure is huge and has many obstacles to climb, balance on, slide down and monkey across. There are several sets of swings too. Even my 9 year daughter enjoys this park - it is not too babyish. There are shady areas, and a bathroom and covered picnic area nearby. It is also right across the street from a beach, so you can cool down if you need to. Lydgate Park has a rocked-in section of the beach that stays calm and flat and is perfect for little swimmers who aren't ready for the impact of waves yet. In the complex there are also soccer fields, a campground and another cool playbridge at the end of the campground. There are pathways connecting everything and you could literally spend hours here. In my opinion it is a great family camping spot.
PRINCE ALBERT PARK
4304 EMMALANI DRIVE, PRINCEVILLE, HI 96714
This was such a great park to discover. It is not far off the highway, right before you reach the Princeville shopping center, across the street from the library. It is lush and green with really nice playground equipment, including swings. There is also a covered picnic area, but there are several shade trees around the playground itself. Another great asset in this park is the exercise circuit that is on the perimeter. My kids sprinted from one station to the next, trying to figure out how to do pull-ups, etc. We could have stayed a very long time here.
4582 NOI ROAD, LIHUE, HI 96766
Located in Central Lihue, this park is convenient for visiting on a day of errands in Lihue. The playground area is fenced in, which makes it nice for keeping trck of little kiddos. It also has a covered area with picnic tables, bathrooms, football field and a lighted softball field. It is on 9.16 acres and right next to the neighborhood center.
MALUHIA ROAD, KOLOA, HI 96756
We often stop by this park with our basketball to use the outdoor court, but the playground equipment is a fun diversion as well. There is a covered pavillion, a tennis court and lighted baseball and softball fields. A Farmer's Market is held here on Mondays from 12-3pm, which is worth checking out.
4120 OMAO ROAD, OMAO, HAWAII 96756
This is a cute little 2 acre neighborhood park that has a decent playground and lots of open space to run around in and trees for shade. My nine year old thinks it is a bit boring, but my six and three year olds love it! It is located between Koloa and Kalaheo in Omao.
2541 PANIOLO DRIVE, KALAHEO, HI 96741
This is another one of our favorite parks to visit. It is tucked away off the main road and is a pretty large complex at 21.04 acres. My kids enjoy all the chickens and birds that roam free near the play structure and picning pavillion. There are also lighted baseball and softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, plus bathrooms. There is plenty of parking, grass to run around on and shade.
NANI STREET, LIHUE, HI 96766
The first time we visited this park, my kids made friends with other keiki who had water balloons, so they had a blast and refer to this as the water balloon park. It has covered picnic tables to enjoy lunch while still being able to watch the kids utilize the well-maintained play structure, complete with swings. We have noticed a lot of playgrounds on Kauai don't have swings, so this is always a bonus! This playground is very convenient to Safeway, so we usually grab some sandwiches before we go.
These are the favorite parks we visit, but here is a map showing all of the playgounds you can explore with keiki in Kauai, along with driving directions:
Now that school has started again, I am back in the office and get to run quick errands without my kids. While I enjoy the peace and quiet, I miss our fun adventures exploring our beautiful island and its playgrounds.