12 Family-Friendly Activities in Kauai
Planning a family trip to Hawaii? Don't forget about Kauai! The island sees less tourists than other spots in the island chain, but still has all the appeal. Known as the Garden Isle for it's lush rainforests and mountain ranges, Kauai has dozens of hikes to choose from. If you're not interested in hiking, the island is home to 43 miles of beaches. You and your kids will love the waterfalls, snorkeling, and cultural spots. Here are some of our top picks for family activities in Kauai!
1. Snorkel Along the Na Pali Coast
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono
Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park is a wonder to behold. Rugged coastal cliffs make this famous stretch of shore inaccessible by car, but it's well worth the trek to get out there. You’ll either have to take a two-mile hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach or go with a boat tour (but this can be pricey). The waters off the Na Pali Coast have an abundance of sea life. In addition to schools of fish, you might see dolphins and sea turtles -- known in Hawaiian as honu.
Don't feel like hiking, there are plenty of awesome, family-friendly snorkel spots on Kauai. Check out our Kauai Snorkel Guide here to learn more!
2. Discover Kauai’s Beaches
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Aeder
Hawaii's beaches are popular for many things -- snorkeling, surfing, and of course swimming. If you're looking to enjoy a beach day with the kiddos, Poipu Beach in the South and Lydgate Beach on the East Shore have calm water that's ideal for swimming. Both beaches have a play area for kids and at Poipu, there is a lifeguard on duty every day. Lydgate Beach has two enclosed ponds that create a barrier from waves, but still allow fish to come in making it a great spot for snorkeling too.
3. Take a Shaka Guide Tour
If you want to really explore this unruly island -- about 97% of its land is undeveloped mountain ranges and rainforests -- let Shaka Guide be your travel companion. We have four driving tours on Kauai that cover each corner of the island. We’ll take you to the Kauai's north shore beaches, the best hiking trails, and hidden waterfalls; all while learning history and fun facts along the way! You'll have the freedom to explore at your own pace, and the best part? All four tours cost $29.99 if you get the bundle!
4. Explore Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon aka the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is another great stop during your Kauai family vacation. There are many epic landscapes on the islands, but this one is truly unique. The Canyon is ten miles long, one mile wide, and 3,500 ft deep! Pack a lunch and explore the trails that range from beginner to advanced.
5. Take a Train Ride Through Kilohana Plantation
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman / @hbgoodie
Learn about Hawaii's history at the Kilohana Plantation. Take the plantation's train ride! Along the way you’ll visit a farmyard where you can feed goats, sheep, pigs, and horses. Kilohana Plantation is open every day with trains departing each hour between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. It lasts 40 minutes and costs $18 for adults, $14 for children and free for children under three.
Whether it’s the train ride with a pit stop to feed animals, exploring Kauai's outback filled with rainforests and waterfalls, relaxing or snorkeling on the beach, or even admiring vast canyon views, Kauai has a bunch of family activities that everyone will love!
6. Learn about the Kilauea Lighthouse
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
Once rusting and dilapidated, this impressive structure has now been completely restored to its original condition - aside from the light fixture, which requires mercury to function. The surrounding area is a wildlife preserve, and it protects many of Hawaii’s most unique species. Come for the history, and stay for the stunning views of the ocean!
7. Limahuli Gardens
Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0 US https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en , via Wikimedia Commons
Limahuli Gardens is a real treasure to visit. It houses traditional taro terraces, and educates visitors on Hawaiian native plants. The landscape is unique and fascinating - absolutely worth a stop. There are reservations required - it costs $25 for people over 18 ($10 for residents), and is free for those under 18.
8. Swim at Anini Beach
Due to a long protective reef, the waters at this picturesque beach are relatively calm. Good for young kids, this beach is also less crowded compared to Poipu or Hanalei. There is no lifeguard, but there are readily available restrooms. There are also shade trees, picnic tables, and even a camping area!
RR4610, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
9. Spend an afternoon at Lydgate Beach
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Just like the previous entry, this stop is perfect for young kids or beginner snorkelers. The two rock enclosed ponds protect from ocean waves, while still allowing a myriad of tropical fish inside. There is also a lifeguard, restrooms, and picnic tables! Ideal for a family afternoon at the beach.
10. Discover the Makauwahi Caves
Anthony Crider, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Makauwahi Cave is an archaeologist’s dream - and also a fun activity for kids! This 17-acre site, located within a sinkhole, is centered around a massive limestone cavern. It’s open 10 am to 4 pm, and there are volunteer tour guides available to give visitors free tours of the area!
11. Check out the Hee Fat General Store
This charming general store in Kapa’a sells some wicked good shave ice - and also a bunch of fun gift items and souvenirs! A great place to stop by if you’re in the area. Some of their shave ice syrups are even handmade from real fruits! Come for the souvenirs, and stay for the shave ice.
12. Get a Peek off the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Grand Canyon of the Pacific is a truly stunning sight - and this lookout is the perfect place to view it from. While not as large as the canyon in Arizona, it is not lacking in majesty. Stop by this lookout to see some unforgettable views and to check off the bucket list.
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RELATED KAUAI TOURS:
Headed to Kauai? Shaka Guide has four tours on the island. Download our Kauai Tours now!