Many of the kid activities came with expensive price tags too. The sugar plantation train ride and botanical gardens both charge thirty bucks or more per person. Who knows if our kids would even behave or enjoy that? Not worth it to me, but maybe if botanicals is really your thing. We were more willing to drop some cash on a boat excursion, but a lot of those had minimum age requirements that we didn't meet yet.
So we didn't get too adventurous or sign up for any big excursions, but we still had a ton of fun. Here are our favorites that were enjoyed by all. We stayed on the north shore so this list is in fairly close proximity to that area. If you are staying on the south shore, this will not be very helpful.
1. Hanalei Bay
2. Lydgate Beach Park
3. Moloaa Bay
We recommend a sun shade/tent, beach toys and blow up floaty ring for kids at the beach (buy in Lihue when you land). As great as the beaches are for playing in the sand, snorkeling and boogie boarding, we also spent a lot of time at the resort pool where we stayed. If you have little kids, I really suggest staying someplace with a fun pool! Its really convenient when its almost lunchtime and nap time, when someone needs to use the bathroom every five minutes and when you are just plain sick of cleaning sand off of everyone and everything. Our resort even had a separate shallow kid section that meant we could sit in a beach chair and watch (yes, dreams do come true!).
Assuming you are staying in a condo (and you should), plan to pick up groceries after you land. Even though you are exhausted from your flight, push on and pick up groceries at Costco in Lihue and Safeway in Kapaa on your way north. This time we survived Costco, but skipped Safeway and we were sorry. The Foodland in Princeville is great for picking up a couple things and has a great deli, but we suffered some crazy sticker shock when we stocked up on a bunch of food for the week. We made most of our meals at the condo, but here are our favorite restaurants.
1. Chicken in a Barrel
We happened upon their location in Kapaa and all loved it. My picky toddlers devoured the huge kid burrito.
2. Red Hot Mama's
This place is a literal hole in the wall north of Hanalei, but the burritos are awesome. We missed going there this trip because they were closed when we drove by. Best bet is to order burritos, buy drinks at the mini mart next door and eat at one of the beaches close by.
3. Shave Ice Paradise
Once you have good shave ice, you realize there is a huge difference between this and a snow cone or bad shave ice. Make sure you get the ice cream on bottom. The portions are huge so we always shared with the kids (no way do they need their own).
4. Banana Joe's
I was so sad they were closed for vacation this time, but we stopped there several times on our last trip. The banana frostie is the best!
5. Dolphin Fish Market
Great place to pick up fish, sashimi and anything seafood to cook your own dinner.
If you want to go to a luau, we went to the one at Smith's last year and enjoyed it. This time we weren't sure that our toddlers would want to sit through it all so we just visited the free hula show at the Coconut Marketplace. The show was about 25 minutes and just about the right attention span for little kids. We will definitely do the Smith's luau when the girls are a little older though.
The playgrounds at the entrance to Princeville and next to Banana Joe's (and the mini golf place) are both great for a change of pace.
We did a short hike up the first part of the Kalalau Trail and the girls loved it. Zara is a slow and distracted walker on roads and sidewalks, but that girl was super motivated to hike a fun trail. Go figure. This trail had lots of large rocks and slippery spots, but it was a fun adventure with a gorgeous viewpoint. You could definitely hike further with a hiking pack or Ergo, but I wasn't interested in carrying a 30 pound toddler on my back.
Another fun place to check out on the north shore is the Kilauea Lighthouse. The girls enjoyed seeing all the birds and its a nice little walk up and around the lighthouse from the parking lot.
That wraps up our favorites. If you've been to Kauai, please comment and tell us what else we need to check out on our next visit. If you are planning a visit, feel free to comment with additional questions - we are happy to help.