Hawaii with Kids: 3 Days in Kauai
When we finally sat down to plan our first trip to Hawaii with kids, we had to do some research on which islands to visit. Our first choice was Maui, but then we were on the fence for the second island we would visit. After some back and forth, it seemed fairly obvious that Kauai, Hawaii would be the second island we visited on our trip. We chose to visit in March because we read the Kauai weather was pretty perfect then, and also it was a more affordable time to visit. In order to get the most of this Hawaii vacation, we had to make sure we found the best things to do in Kauai with kids. We only had 3 days in Kauai and had our 4 and 8-year-old with us. So after some research, we had narrowed down our list to fill in our short time on Kauai with kids.
Day 1 of 3 in Kauai with Kids
We flew into Kauai directly from Maui, and after getting our rental car we headed straight to our hotel – The Grand Hyatt. On our first day in Kauai we spent our time checking out the hotel. The Grand Hyatt is by far one of the best hotels in Kauai And not only was this hotel amazing, but it was an incredibly kid-friendly in Kauai. The hotel also has one of the best restaurants in Kauai – Tide Pools. We did not have a chance to visit this restaurant on our trip because we had too many dinners and things to do in Kauai off hotel property.
The Grand Hyatt Pools
The first thing we did when we arrived was checked out the pools. This Hyatt property has the best pool we have ever experienced thus far. We instantly knew why this was one of the best resorts in Kauai once we saw the pool area. We lucked out with a room overlooking the pool that allowed us to walk right outside to the pool area. There was an adults-only pool with a bar, a water slide, and at least two hot tubs. In addition to the main pools, there is also a giant man-made saltwater lagoon. This was our kid’s favorite pool and they opted to spend most of their pool time in the lagoon. It was perfect for kids (and adults) because it had a beach feel with gradual entry, beachside chairs, and the view was unmatched!
MAHA’ulepu Heritage Trail
The trailhead to Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is right at the Grand Hyatt property right at one of the most beautiful beaches of Kauai. This trail is under 4 miles (out and back) is rated as easy and takes you along the shoreline in Poipu, Kauai. We did not take the trail the full 4 miles and turned back earlier. This is definitely known as one of the best hikes on Kauai and it is perfect for all ability levels. The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail hike in Kauai is ideal for one of those days in/days out on the island. You could also finish this hike by watching the surfers at one of the best beaches in Kauai. We did not go in the water here as the surf advisory was high and we didn’t feel safe swimming with the kids. But it would be a great place to play in the sand and relax in the sun.
Exploring Poipu, Kauai
For dinner our first night in Kauai we went to Keoki’s Paradise, which was only a short drive from The Grand Hyatt Kauai. We were able to secure a last minute reservation on Open Table, which was nice because after our hike and pool day we were in no condition to wait around for a table. Keoki’s was busy and loud, but also casual and perfect for a dinner in Kauai with kids. Keoki’s is located in the Poipu Shopping Village, where there are other stores to check out and ice cream as well!
Day 2 of 3 in Kauai with Kids
Waimea Canyon State Park
For our second day in Kauai with kids, we woke up early to head to Waimea Canyon State Park, which we had read was the home of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This park is one of the many iconic Kauai activities. The park was free to enter, and pretty much has one road (route 550) going through the park which ended at the Pu’u O Kila Lookout. Throughout the park, there are numerous hikes, most being rated as moderate or hard on All-Trails, but we did find one that was suitable for our young family.
The first stop we made in Waimea Canyon State Park was the Waimea Canyon Lookout. All-trails says there is a trail at this stop, but it is mostly just referring to the short walk to the official lookout of the canyon. This canyon is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon and the vastness is just out of this world. You can see forever, and we lucked out with a very clear day. Off in the distance in the canyon, you can also see a tall waterfall which was amazing! The lookout area was very safe and fences were secure making us feel good with the kids running free!
After this lookout, we drove to the last two lookouts in the park. We got out quickly for a view at the Kalalau Lookout. The views here were great, but keep going to the last lookout for the best views in Kauai. The last lookout in Waimea Canyon State Park is Pu’u O Kila Lookout. It is here where you will get to take in a breathtaking view of the Napali Coast and will have access to one of the best hikes on Kauai. Parking for both lookouts was somewhat limited but we were there early enough to grab spots easily. As you look down on the Napali Coast you will see helicopters flying over for a closer view, and you may even be able to find a waterfall on a clear day. This view is obviously best on a clear day, and if it isn’t clear you may not be able to see much at all.
It is at the Pu’u O Kila Lookout where you will find the start of the Pihea Trail. We did not complete this entire trail because it is over 7 miles long out and back, but we did go about a mile and then turned back. The trail is very muddy because this location is the wettest location in all of the United States with over 400 inches of rain per year! Our kids loved the Pihea Trail because it had lots of fun obstacles of jumping over and through the mud. A hiking stick or hiking poles would come in handy on this trail because the mud is a clay-like texture and very slippery on the descent.
After most of the day spent at Waimea Canyon, we returned back to our hotel full of mud and decided this was the perfect time to get back into the Grand Hyatt of Kauai’s amazing pools. Next up on the agenda for this day was to attend our very first luau.
Smith Family Garden Luau
We chose the Smith Family Garden Luau as our one and only luau for our trip to Hawaii with kids. When looking up what to do in Kauai with kids, this was by far one of the most popular events. We arrived at the luau around 5 pm and had the chance to explore the garden grounds by foot and tram. During this time we also got to learn more about the luau and the style of cooking used.
Around 6:30 we ate the yummy luau feast which is served buffet style in a large pavilion. Even for the pickiest of eaters, there is a great variety at this dinner. There was some entertainment while we ate, but the main performance wasn’t until after dinner and on a separate stage. Overall the luau was great but if we went back I would have chosen to do it on a day with a less busy morning because the kids were exhausted and my youngest fell asleep during the performance.
Day 3 of 3 in Kauai with Kids
For our last day in Kauai, we had afternoon plans on the books, but the morning was left wide open. The kids mostly wanted to spend the morning at the pool, which worked for us since we were pretty vacationed out on this last day in Hawaii. There are countless activities in Kauai that we didn’t get to this trip, but we also promised ourselves this trip would involve maximum relaxation. So we spent most of the morning hanging at the pool and lagoon at the Grand Hyatt. We also decided to venture out for lunch and checked out The Beach House, which was super close to the Grand Hyatt. The food was pretty good, the mai tais were excellent, and the views were top notch!
Capt Andy’s Napali Coast Tour
For the afternoon we got to see the Napali Coast by water on a Capt Andy’s Napali Dinner cruise tour! The boat cruise took a good portion of the day and we had to be at the port by 2 pm. We arrived and there were many other people going on all the different cruises offered by Capt Andy’s. They quickly organized everyone and helped us board our boat! We knew the cruise was going to be fairly long for the kids so we made sure to pack lots of things to keep them busy.
We found a spot in the back of the boat. It was less crowded back there and gave us a chance to spread out and relax. Many people chose to ride in the front where the ride was a little more rough and wetter. The boat ride up the coast was great. We got to see tons of Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and whales in the background. We also learned a ton about Kauai and the coast. As we cruised along Kauai we were served appetizers and drinks, and the kids were super excited by getting to see all the sea life! As we neared the Napali Coast the waters got much rougher and the waves seemed to be higher than the boat. Now keep in mind we chose to visit Kauai in March, and this is considered the roughest the ocean can get. There are some days where Capt Andy’s will not go all the way to see the Napali Coast because of the conditions. I will admit, it got very wild out there, and I was honestly planning my strategy if we all went overboard. The kids loved it and as long as they were seated, they were perfectly safe. They were also wearing life jackets for the entire trip, which made me feel even safer. Not only was the ride getting fairly rugged, but we sure did get quite wet when in the rough waters. But I will say, rough waters and all, this was 100% worth it because of these views… I can’t even explain and the pictures from my phone do not do it any justice!
Once we got some great views of the Napali Coast and left the rough waters for our return trip, they began to bring out dinner. The food was okay, and it wouldn’t have even mattered about the quality of the food because we were just there for the boat tour itself! On the return trip, the captain took his time returning and stopped for any signs of whales in the distance and near the boat. The return ride was also slower and mostly calm. We even lucked out and got to see the sunset before we arrived back at port.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the boat cruise. Honestly, it was a bit long for our kids but the fact that they enjoyed the ride (and rough waters) and were thrilled to see dolphins and whales made it that much more fun for them. Also making sure we had some stuff to do for them for the boring parts was a lifesaver. When we did arrive back in the port it was dark out, and we were totally pleased with how we spent our final day in Kauai.
Capt Andy’s Napali Coast Tour Tips
- Bring sunscreen for the first part of the ride
- Pack layers (preferably raincoat) as the ride up the coast can get colder and can also be wet
- Bring stuff for kids to do (and snacks obviously) 😉
- Be prepared to leave your shoes on shore unless medically necessary to wear
- Pack a camera (with a neck strap – big waves!)
As I am writing this I am trying to figure out when we are going back to Kauai next. We had a great time, but 3 days on the island was not nearly enough. There are so many amazing things to do in Kauai with and without kids, you really could spend quite a while there exploring and having fun! We did notice that many things we were hoping to do did have higher age limits, and our kids were fairly young at the time of our trip. So we hope to return when our kids are old enough to do more in Kauai!
More Things to do in Kauai With Kids
- Zip-lining with Koloa ZipLine
- Tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures
- Kayaking with Kayak Kauai
- Beaches: Poipu, Hanalei, Kiahuna
- Snorkeling with Capt Andy’s
- Explore the north side of Kauai (Princeville)
- Helicopter Rides with Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours
- ATV Rides with Kauai ATV
Find out how much we spent on our trip to Hawaii: Hawaii Trip Cost Breakdown.