Best Year-Round Family Activities in Kauai, Hawaii
Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai is a pearl of mother nature. Lush tropical landscapes clothe the dramatic mountains, cliffs and valleys in every imaginable hue of green. White sand beaches and turquoise seas add to the unfathomable beauty of this fabled island paradise. Even the great gardens of Versailles cannot compare to what nature has created on the lovely island of Kauai.
Less developed than other tourist destinations in the Hawaiian Archipelago, there are still plenty of things to do year round in Kauai. The following family-friendly activities are a mere sampling of all your family can do and see on this magnificent island.
Poʻipū Beach Park
Poʻipū Beach is the ideal family destination on the South Shore of Kauai. Snorkeling equipment, beach chairs and other beach-time equipment are available for rental nearby. The sand is soft and plentiful, and the cove is protected from big waves. There is a safe wading area for very young kids and a nice boogie boarding/surfing area for older kids. The snorkeling is fantastic. You can see hundreds of varieties of fish in knee to waist-deep water. This is a great place to teach snorkeling basics, but it’s also interesting for experienced snorkelers. As an added bonus, there are often turtles and monk seals on the beach. Amenities include restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and picnic tables.
McBryde & Allerton Gardens
A garden tour may sound like something more suited for your Great Aunt Mathilda, but these gardens on the south side of Kauai are notably spectacular. The McBryde Garden has the largest selection of native Hawaiian flora on the planet. Lovingly begun as part of Hawaiian Queen Emma’s tropical sanctuary, the adjacent Allerton Garden blossomed under the creative influence of Artist Robert Allerton and his adopted son, architect John Greg. The two men collected plants and trees from all over the world, including the now famous Moreton Bay fig trees featured in Jurassic Park. They also built entire rooms from living trees and plants, fountains that mimic the sound of an unstressed heartbeat, and more.
Makauwahi Cave Reserve
This gem of an experience is a bit off the beaten path. Located near Māhāʻulepū Beach on the island’s south side, Makauwahi Cave is the largest limestone cave in Hawaii. The roof of the cave’s central room collapsed some 7,000 years ago, allowing today’s visitor the rare opportunity to simultaneously enjoy Kauai’s famed sunshine and the inside of a historically significant cave. Thousands of fossils have been discovered in Makauwahi Cave, including several species of extinct birds. Docents from the Grove Farm Company are on hand to share the cave’s history on a regular, but limited, schedule. Check their website for times and cave closures, as well as some great guides. Just up the trail from the cave, an abandoned farm has been converted to a native plant nursery. Dubbed “Lida’s Field of Dreams” by the locals, the area is kept clean of weeds by giant tortoises.
Kayaking the Wailua River
The gently flowing Wailua River in Kauai winds through lush tropical forests revealing picturesque waterfalls and stunning rock outcrops. Though it is a major tourist destination, it still retains an uncommon serenity. Inexperienced kayakers will have no problem with this easy paddle. Several outfits offer guided tours, or you can rent a kayak right on the river at Kamokila Village. Be sure to check out Secret (Uluwehi) Falls, a 100-foot waterfall that you can actually swim under. The trail to Secret Falls is about one mile long and can be muddy, but few people regret the journey to this incomparable place of beauty.
Kilohana Plantation Estate
In addition to a fantastic brunch and well-reviewed luau, the Kilohana Plantation offers a kid-friendly train ride around the estate. The train cars are modeled after passenger cars that operated on the Big Island of Hawaii in the 1880s. There are both enclosed and open-air cars. The 40-minute journey through the plantation grounds makes a stop to allow passengers to feed the working farm’s goats and pigs. Adults can also enjoy rum tasting at Kōloa Rum Company. The locally sourced and produced rum is hard to find on the mainland and tastes amazing!
Kōloa Heritage Trail
Even if you’re not a history buff, you can’t help but enjoy this ten-mile loop trail. You can walk, bike, drive or do a combination of all three to enjoy the 14 stops on this self-guided tour. The tour is a great introduction to the history of the South Shore in Kauai. Educational insights into archeology, geology and history abound, offering a unique experience that no classroom could provide. With stops as varied as Spouting Horn Blow Hole to the Buddhist Kōloa Jodo Mission, there is something for everyone. Photo opportunities are plentiful and wide-ranging.
Waioli Beach Park
Located in the center of Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai, Waioli Beach is a great surfing and boogie boarding spot. Amenities include lifeguards, restrooms, picnic areas, showers, two volleyball courts and ample parking. The beach itself is quite large, stretching two miles along the bay. Surrounded by towering, green mountains, the beach feels quintessentially Hawaiian. The sandy-bottomed bay doesn’t offer many sights for snorkelers, but it’s ideal for swimming. There are also plenty of shady areas to sit and have a picnic. The beach is generally rated kid-friendly but waves can get large in the winter.
Steelgrass Farm Chocolate Tour
Located on the east side of the island near Kapaa, Steelgrass Farm is one of a growing number of cacao growers in the Hawaiian Islands. They offer a family-friendly, three-hour tour of their gardens and chocolate orchard, which culminates in an extensive chocolate tasting. Children under 12 enjoy free admission with a paying adult. The garden and orchard tour is hands (and lips) on as tourists get to sample in-season tropical fruits as the tour progresses. The guides are friendly and very knowledgeable about chocolate processing, sustainable agriculture and more. Your tour cannot be rained out as tours operate rain or shine.
Relax at Your Kauai Resort
As tempting as it is to pack your vacation schedule with as many activities as possible, don’t forget to schedule down days. Relaxing poolside with your family and loved ones often becomes the most memorable part of a tropical vacation.
To guarantee great memories of your vacation home base, book a stay at The Cliffs at Princeville with your Welk Platinum Points. Not an Owner? Find out how you can have access to the exclusive Collection* resorts and many more by calling 888.418.0125 or learn more here.
*Certain restrictions apply. Please call for details. While the inventory at some of these properties is not currently part of the Welk Resorts Platinum Program, all of the Experiences Collection properties are available now using your Platinum Points, subject to availability.