Kauai is one of the most amazing places you can travel without leaving the United States. Without needing a passport, you can be on a stunning tropical island living the good life! It’s nicknamed “the Garden Isle” for a reason!
E komo mai (welcome) to the Garden Isle – Kauai, Hawaii! Traveling solo or with kids, to this island paradise may seem a little daunting, but Kauai offers a wealth of activities for both travelers looking for seclusion and on-the-go socialites. Aquatic fun, land exploration, and a true Hawaiian cultural experience await you on this magnificent tropical gem; your visit will be the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure.
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Things to do in Kauai
Noah enjoyed snorkeling for the first time at Poipu beach. He saw many fish and even a sea turtle. This is an awesome area and if we went back, this is where we would stay. The snorkeling was fantastic and it was incredibly warm for January, 80 degrees! We never went to the beach without our Beach Sun Shade and thank goodness we didn’t because he took lots of naps in it.
Another fantastic little spot for snorkeling with kids is Lydgate Beach park. It has a protected little area for children. There’s a huge playground nearby.
Kekaha Beach Park
Kekaha Beach Park is on the west side of Kauai just south and the Navel base. That’s right, I said Navel base! There is a base, Barking Sands Navel base, on the west side of Kauai.
If you’ve gone all the way out to the naval base, then you are not far from Waimea Canyon, which is an absolute must-see!
Once you are done checking out the canyon keep driving north. Eventually, you will end up in a section where you can view the Napali Coast. The views are breathtaking.
Hiking in Kauai
There are so many wonderful places to go hiking in Kauai. Some are more kid-friendly than others. I would say that most are not going to be kid-friendly.
Ho’Oipi Falls is a little too difficult to do with small children, but older kids and teens will have no issue accomplishing this hike. There are two water falls to see along the way and lots of places to jump in and swim. I found myself climbing over logs, climbing straight up rocks, and almost have to crawl through branches.
Sleeping Giant is a majestc hike with sweeping views of Kauai. This hike will be challenging with small children. Older kids and teens will be able to hike Sleeping Giant. It’s extremely steep and gets quite narrow at times, but super fun.
Best Shaved Ice in Kauai
Jojo’s shaved ice creations are massive at the bottom there’s macadamia nut ice cream! Jojo’s is down south and a good place to stop when you are headed to Waimea Canyon.
Waimea Shaved Ice is also quite wonderful. Pictured here is the Almond Joy, it’s amazing! Waimea shaved ice is served out of a van parked in Kappa.
Where to stay in Kauai
Hilton Garden Inn Kauai
I loved staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kauai. It’s a great property with lots of amenities. There are two pools, easy beach access at Lydgate beach, a restaurant on-site and complimentary Mai Tai’s when you check-in. The rooms are spacious and families will have plenty of room. They offer a military discount. Check rates.
Marriott Kaua’i Beach Club
Another lovely place to stay is Marriott’s Kaua’i Beach Club. It is half a hotel and have a timeshare, allowing for lots of room options. The room I had was only suitable for two people. It had one Murphy bed, a kitchenette and a balcony overlooking the water. Check rates.
We didn’t spend much time in our room (at Bali Hai a timeshare place), but here it is. I believe it is a Wyndham property now. It was quite nice with a zero-entry into the pool and hot tub. Our room was a two-bedroom, two-bath. The master bedroom had a jacuzzi tub. Check rates.
Kauai Military Cabins
Barking Sands has two-bedroom cabins that military people can stay in for about $70 a night. You could throw a rock and hit the ocean it was so close to it. It is very warm on this side of the island and was Noah’s first chance to boogie board. It’s now one of his new favorite things to do! Jonah also enjoyed playing on the boards!
4 Day Kauai Itinerary
Here is a sample itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Kauai.
Visit the majestic Na Pali Mountains on the northern shore of the island. Within the Na Pali State Park, take a hike on the Kalalau Trail. (This trail is currently closed.) After a day of watching cascading waterfalls and seeing several species of tropical wildlife, satisfy your appetite and enjoy local Hawaiian entertainment at The Living Room in Princeville.
Explore the Coconut Marketplace in Kapaa – with more than seventy stores to choose from in this Eastside shopping mecca, you’re sure to find something exceptional to bring home. Try the local fare and tropical drinks at Tradewinds while enjoying island music in their open-air atmosphere.
Historic Koloa Town on the South Shore was home to Hawaii’s first successful sugar plantation. A few miles away, you’ll find the Spouting Horn Blowhole – one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the island. After the sun sets, treat yourself to fire-roasted Ahi or wasabi-crusted Snapper at the Beach House, where you can take in spectacular ocean views while enjoying exquisitely prepared food.
Watch the sunrise on Polihale Beach; this West Shore delight is known for breathtaking views. After the day has begun, take an official Na Pali Snorkeling Adventure or explore hidden sea caves with an expert guide from Captain Andy’s Raft Expeditions.
Leave a little time to do your own exploration, as well. There is so much to do and see on the Garden Isle that you can’t fit it into four days – and speaking with locals is the best way to find your way around the island. If there’s something you’re interested in doing, ask a local how to make it happen; the aloha spirit ensures that you’ll receive a friendly, helpful answer.
Kauai’s shores are filled with adventure and soothing scenery; the hardest thing you’ll do is pack your bags to leave. Take solace in the fact that you’ll be back to the Garden Isle again and again!
For more on Kauai check out our post Kauai with baby or toddlers.