Family Travel Guide: Kauai, Hawaii

Apr 13, 2018

Incase you were wondering where Paradise is, we’ve found it… it’s in Kaua’i, Hawaii. What we now refer to as our “happy place.”

JJ and I love to travel, and we find it important (although chaotic at times) to bring Vivienne along for the ride. We want to get her used to adventure, change, and a look into the world outside of our own. Normally when we travel for a long periods of time, we feel anxious and ready to get home by the last day. Kaua’i was the exception. We could have stayed forever if we could. It was a dream.

We were given the opportunity to travel to Kaua’i for 6 days through Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, who provided us with the best accommodations, dining experiences, and recommendations for activities with a toddler.  We were so pleased with everything, had the most amazing time, and now are excited to share all the details about our experience with you.

Here are my top 10 things to do in Kauai as a family: 

1. Visit the Beach

This is a given. We spent the first and second to last day at the beach, enjoying the sun, ocean, and watching Vivienne play in the sand. She was in absolute heaven.

Baby Beach in Poipu: Baby Beach is a small, secluded and generally protected beach that is great for families traveling with infants and toddlers. The waters are shallow, clear, with little to no current. Please know that there is no bathroom or lifeguard on duty.

Poipu Beach Park: This is one of the more popular beaches in Koloa, which can result in a much larger crowd than Baby Beach (by a lot) and we really enjoyed the change in atmosphere and the fact that JJ and I could venture out in the water too. This beach is a great option for families as they have a section for kids (shallow water and sand) with bathrooms, lifeguards on duty, and a perfect area for snorkeling. I couldn’t believe all the colorful fish I saw! I am kind of regretting the fact that we didn’t bring an underwater camera. We also were there when 3 sea lions came up to relax on the shore. It was really an exciting sight for Vivienne.

2. Enjoy some downtime at your resort 

Why go out all the time when you can enjoy the comfort and excitement of your own resort? JJ and I were accommodated at both Koloa Landing Resort and Whalers Cove Resort throughout the week. Both were completely different yet had exactly what we were looking for. Extra space for Vivienne to sleep and a full kitchen. The necessities when traveling with a toddler of course. Although it was a bummer to pack up half way through the trip and move places, I actually really enjoyed the change in scenery, as it gave me different perspectives of places to stay on a family trip.

Koloa Landing Resort

This resort is perfect for the whole family; it is a short walk to the ocean, with amazing sunset views, dining and spa options, a concierge, and multiple resort pools (with waterslides!) What I love the most about the outdoor space is its design for all ages. They have multiple water slides, waterfalls, a splash pad for young kids, and etc. You can spend hours in these pools! Our one bedroom studio was perfect for our stay. We had a kitchen, washer/dryer, large bathroom and tub, and a separate living room where Vivienne would sleep at night. We ended up requesting a crib so we wouldn’t have to travel with a pack and play. It worked out great for us.

Whalers Cove Resort

Whalers Cove is an oceanfront resort on Poipu Beach, made up of 39 large one, two, and three bedroom- luxury condos. With 180 degree views of the coastline, you get a beautiful view from every balcony. Although the resort does not have a restaurant, beach, gym, or even air conditioning; our room was extra large with the most amazing ocean views. It was equipped with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen, washer/dryer, and a large living space. We loved the fact that we had an extra bedroom where we put the pack and play for Vivienne to sleep at night. The last night in the condo, we went to the fish market and had a home cooked meal while enjoying the sunset. Having the condo really made us feel right at home!

3. Visit the Kauai Railway Plantation

This was such a fun experience with Vivienne! You have the option of choosing their signature train tour or a 4-hour excursion which includes a train ride, rainforest hike, picnic, and orchard tour. We all had a great time taking a ride on the train and feeding the goats and pigs. To be honest, if we had to choose again, we would just do the train ride as the 4-hour tour is just a little too long with a toddler. Nonetheless, I definitely recommend going on the train. So cute for kids!

4. Plan your trip around food

When JJ and I travel, we make an effort to research the best restaurants and ask for recommendations from our followers. With a few chosen from KVB, we took it upon ourselves to experience the rest. Here were some of our favorites.

Duke’s KauaiIs located in Lihue and a known landmark in Kauai. The popular restaurant has amazing ocean views of Kalapaki Beach, delicious calamari (maybe the best we’ve ever had) with a great family atmosphere.

Plantation Gardens RestaurantThis restaurant is situated in a lush garden in an old Plantation with Hawaiian influences and a seafood menu.  I highly recommend trying the coconut shrimp and crab Rangoons appetizers.

Beach House Restaurant – Our dinner spot for date night and to celebrate JJ’s birthday, we enjoyed the amazing oceanfront views, cocktails (JJ), and dishes with fresh fish. I highly recommend the Macadamia Nut Butter Sauteed Fresh Hawaiian Catch as well as the Wasabi Crusted Fresh Fish. So delicious!

Uncle’s Shave Ice– Our first time trying shaved ice and … where is this in my everyday life? Can we open one in Phoenix please? Be sure to try the one with shave snow (aka milk).

Little Fish CoffeeOur go-to stop for coffee and breakfast in the morning. We loved their lattes, acai bowls, and breakfast sandwiches.

Aneunue CafeLocated in Poipu Shopping Center, we stumbled upon this cafe when looking for breakfast one morning and it was so worth going to if in the area.

5. Visit a local market

Wednesday at 3:30pm-6pm, The Shops At Kukuiula, which was the closest one to our resort, puts on a market in support of local farmers and small businesses. This includes produce, jams, pies, and other food products. We loved listening to the live music and watching Vivienne dance while we sipped on fresh coconuts and explored the grounds/stands.

6. Visit the North Shore

On Thursday morning, we picked up drinks and breakfast from Little Fish Coffee and drove to the North Shore. We heard it had amazing views, a completely different look from the South Shore and that Princeville and Hanalei Bay were must-sees. We stopped in Hanalei Town and had a late breakfast at Hanalei Bread Company (try the avocado toast) and ended up walking in the sand on the beach. We probably should have planned the day better, perhaps experience the beach a little more (with swimsuits), but we didn’t quite know what to expect. So, we left the beach and had lunch at Northside Grill. Now, The North Shore is definitely a different feel than South. It has more of a rainforest look with beautiful mountain views and lash green fields, but I personally would prefer to stay South with my family. It appears there are more options for restaurants and has a little bit more family options/activities to do together. We drove back and stopped at the Historic Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse which is a wildlife sanctuary and a scenic spot during whale watching season. Of course JJ saw a whale, but I missed it!

7. Take a drive to Waimea Canyon. But first, check the weather.

JJ and I read some reviews about Waimea Canyon, and were advised to leave bright and early to get there before 8am if possible to beat the traffic and get a parking spot. We started our drive early, and ended up in a white cloud when we reached the top at 8am. Such a bummer!! We headed back down the mountain, and got a glimpse of the view about half way. It still was absolutely beautiful, but I could imagine if we picked a different day… or even time, that we would have had a sight to see. Waimea Canyon is located on the west side of the island, and known as the grand canyon of the pacific. It was a pretty fun drive, regardless of the outcome.

8. Go to the Luau Kalamaku

A luau is a must when traveling to Hawaii! What is better than lots of delicious and authentic food, dancing, and an excuse to get all dressed up in your favorite colors/florals? We arrived and were immediately leid, shown to our table, and the show soon began. Vivienne had such a great time people watching and was entertained the entire time. It was so fun to sit back and watch her expressions throughout the show. She was amazed at the dancers, music, and fire. Great entertainment for the whole family!

9. Have a date night

It’s so hard traveling with family/kids and getting time just for yourself. Trust me, we almost didn’t go through with it. Yet, when we cancelled one of our excursions, I decided to keep the planned sitter and go on a date with JJ instead. We weren’t going too far, and had a nanny recommendation from Sue of KVB, so I knew in the end that everything would be okay. We went to dinner at Beach House, one of the recommended restaurants I wrote about above. It was delicious and absolutely beautiful, a perfect date night stop and place to celebrate JJ”s 32nd birthday. I would highly recommend taking a night for yourselves and researching a nanny service before/during your trip.

10. Find Sea Turtles 

Vivienne is currently obsessed with turtles, so it was our mission to constantly look for them and show one in person to her. Whalers Cove is known to have turtles that often swim up and around the property. JJ and V got to see one swimming in the ocean, and on the last day, JJ and I were able to sit next to them as they swam up toward the shore. Such a cool experience.

Some other tips during your stay:

  • Pick up groceries for the week- Since you are staying in a place where you could freely cook your meals, I would recommend (if wanting to save some money) to get groceries for at least breakfast and lunch before venturing out.
  • Rent a car. If you are going to be out and about as much as we were, renting a car was a lifesaver. We didn’t have to worry about going from A to B in a cab, brought our own car seat, and just ventured around the island freely. We ended up renting a jeep from Budget car rentals, which seemed to be the best price option at the time.
  • We had not so good flight experiences during both trips. The first was just a long flight with a restless toddler, and the return trip home was a overnight redeye. Insert screaming baby during the entire redeye. Lucky us. I know you may want to wait till your baby is 2 to start purchasing their own seat (trust me, I’m with you)… but, it may be worth it!

I hope you enjoyed the travel guide and a little glimpse into our family vacation in Kauai, Hawaii. Thank you so much to Kauai Visitors Bureau for having us and hosting this trip.