Your Kid-Friendly Kauai Itinerary for a Memorable Hawaiian Escape
In truth, I really didn’t spend much time researching Kauai before we arrived. It was scheduled to be the last island stop on our 16-day adventure to four Hawaiian islands. And, I was quite frankly worn out from researching and reading blogs on Pinterest in prep for our vacation.
Upon arrival, however, I was immediately put at ease regarding my lack of planning as we were surprised by the rawness and natural beauty the island of Kauai had to offer. It was by far the least commercialized and provided the most authentic Hawaiian vibes of all we’d seen. Best of all, nature is front and center here!
One of the things the island of Kauai is famous for is its very vibrant deep red dirt. It’s caused by the high iron content of the volcanic soils. Ultimately, it’s had plenty of time to iodize because Kauai is one of the oldest (and wettest) Hawaiian islands of the bunch.
So, as you can imagine, the red clay dirt, dense lush green landscape, and countless roaming chickens and roosters make for a truly unique island setting for our family. Oh, and I wasn’t kidding when I said Kauai gets quite a bit of landfall! In fact, Princeville, located on the north shore of Kauai, is known to be one of the wettest destinations on the planet, receiving an average of 78 inches of rain a year. And, that just so happens to be the very first island town we stayed in upon arriving!
First Stop: Princeville
Our very first stop in Princeville was Wailua Falls, located just north of the Lihue Airport. Therefore, this makes for an easy first stop once you land.
Wailua Falls is known for being one of the most kid-friendly waterfalls on Kauai because there is no hiking involved. Winning! And, there are incredible views just a short walk from the parking lot. Not to mention, these falls, which were literally bursting with water during our visit, were featured in the opening credits of the 80’s hit show Fantasy Island.
But, the craft cocktails and sausage pizza are the real show stoppers! We went both nights of our two-night stay because of the kid-friendly atmosphere and, well, pizza and craft cocktails are my weakness.
Second Stop: Hanalei Town
One of the most special places to visit in this area of the island is Hanalei Town.
So, while making your way into town, be sure to stop at Wishing Well Shave Ice, located on the right side of the highway. It’s a colorful truck with a wooden roof. They’ve gone from serving organic shaved ice to developing the full-blown Slow Yourself Down lifestyle brand. Additionally, they’ve expanded their offerings to include cold brew coffee and acai bowls. But, you might love the t-shirts and other take-home souvenirs even more than the treats.
And, as soon as you reach the town of Hanalei, you’ll see why Vogue Magazine called this soulful surfer town the hippest spot on the island of Kauai. Stop by for a visit into the I Heart Hanalei Boutique for affordable tees, a wide assortment of swimsuits, and boho chic sundresses. Our eight-year-old enjoyed stopping for acai bowls at Aloha Juice Bar and splashing in puddles with the roosters in town.
There’s also an impressive and eclectic assortment of farm-to-table food trucks that add lots of charm, and have helped make the town one of the hottest tourist destinations on the island.
Where to Stay in Between? Wyndham Bali Hai Villas
Wyndham Bali Hai Villas put you right in the center of all the beauty Princeville has to offer, and with everything you need to keep your family happy and entertained. The two-bedroom suite was very spacious and well-decorated with a big living room, fully-stocked kitchen, and much-needed washer and dryer. We loved watching the roosters from our own deck and swimming in the two outdoor pools at the resort. Other resort highlights included the very large modern fitness center, beautiful landscape, and friendly hospitality!
Tripbound Traveler Tip: One of the most popular tourist spots on Kauai is Queen’s Bath, a unique tide pool (a sinkhole surrounded by igneous rock), making it the perfect swim spot. And, it’s literally right up the road from the resort! Just make sure to wear sturdy hiking sandals down the trail that you don’t mind getting stained from the red clay dirt.
Third Stop: Kapaa
We landed in Princeville right on the tail of Hurricane Hector. So, it was downright rainy in this rainforest town. Hanalei Bay had been devastated earlier in the year after it rained 28 inches in just 24 hours. And, it was only partially recovered when we arrived. Thus, we were quickly forced to head south after spending just a couple of nights in this area of the island.
While on our one hour journey south, we stopped in the town of Kapaa for a bite and some shopping. Two perfect rainy day activities if you ask me!
There, we found Java Kai to be the perfect spot for a healthy, hip Hawaiian lunch!
The best part? While our daughter Mallory Grace was fully consumed with her homemade Belgian waffle topped with bananas, papaya, and macadamia nuts, I was able to sneak over to Shipwrecked.
It’s a quaint Kauai boutique with the coolest island-made gifts to take back home. I opted for the organic clay mermaid masks made by Leahlani Skincare, pretty stationery designed by local artists, and a pendant featuring Kauai’s island coordinates.
Another Place to Stay? Grand Hyatt Kauai
Once we arrived at Grand Hyatt Kauai, a short 30 minutes later, we didn’t want to leave the resort! This beachfront home-away-from-home was absolutely stunning. We couldn’t wait to put on our swimsuits and take a dip in the giant saltwater lagoon, check out the surfers on the resort’s popular break, and grab a poolside Mai Tai.
Standout experiences and sights during our Grand Hyatt stay included the very warm fresh lei greeting including a kids hula set, nightly entertainment with hula dancers and talented ukulele players, a once-in-a-lifetime dinner over a pond with thousands of koi fish, white swan breakfast companions, and hiking trails with breathtaking ocean views. I’d travel back to Hawaii just to stay at this resort again!
Best of all, the weather on the south end was clearer as predicted, and we were able to make the most of Hawaii’s beaches and Kauai for our last two nights in paradise.
As it turned out, the unfortunate rain in the north, which was brought on by Hurricane Hector, forced us to see another side of the island we hadn’t planned on. Koloa was quite different than Princeville, being a beach town vs. a rainforest. And, it was really great to experience both.
Tripbound Traveler Tip: The Shops at Kukui’ula are located just five minutes from the resort, and offer great shops and dining.
Try SoHa for souvenirs, Mahina for locally-made jewelry, and to die-for Lappert’s ice cream.
Looking for More Adventure? Take the Views in from a Helicopter!
The ultimate cherry on top of our 16-day adventure to four Hawaiian islands was the helicopter tour to the Jurassic Park waterfall by Island Helicopters. We literally did this at the airport before we departed to travel back to Virginia. One final adventure!
To be honest, it was the most terrifying, yet spectacular thing I’ve ever done. The tour lasts 80 minutes and takes you through the Waimea Canyon, along the Na Pali coastline and over the rainforests of Hanalei. It also sets down at the base of the 400-foot waterfall featured in Jurassic Park. We were able to get out and take the family selfie of a lifetime while getting soaked in what they call “tropical mist” coming from the falls.
Not to mention, we saw the most beautiful things you can imagine while listening to one perfectly-selected and timed playlist in our headsets. It was like a dream that we never wanted to end and the perfect ending to our Hawaiian island hopping adventure.
Tripbound Traveler Tip: Island Helicopters is the only tour operator in Kauai that has permission to land at the waterfall. And, they also have a stellar safety record. Make sure you research operators carefully and heed all of their pre-flight instructions, such as wearing dark clothes to avoid camera glare.
So, what do you say? Are you ready to make this Kauai getaway a reality for your family so you can set your sights on each hotspot shared within this itinerary? Your Tripbound Resort Specialists are here to make it happen! Give us a call today at 1-888-816-5214, and we’ll match you with the perfect family vacation.
Have a favorite on the island of Kauai that we missed sharing? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!