May 21, 2013

Kauai Family Favorites

Being the planner that I am, I did a fair amount of research on kid-friendly activities for our Kauai vacation earlier this month. I had some good ideas from our first trip there without the kids, but really I thought of all the things that wouldn't be possible this time around with toddlers. Some of the beaches require hiking and navigating muddy, steep terrain or cliffs so those were out.

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
Huge, long beach with amazing scenery. Depending on the day, this beach can have bigger waves that are great for boogie-boarding, but will likely keep the kids out of the water. Our girls didn't like going in waves so they just played in the sand and very shallow water. On the calmer day, they swam out with us. Several bathrooms and showers located at various sections of the beach.

2. Lydgate Beach Park
This is the best beach for little kids. There is a large swimming area completely sheltered from waves that is perfect for toddlers. There is also a big wooden playground on the other side of the parking lot. Clean bathrooms and showers.

3. Moloaa Bay
Thanks to our good friends and veteran Kauai visitors (Emily and Mukunda) recommending this beach, we went off the beaten path and discovered this gem. Very quiet and private, but the drawback is that there are not any public bathrooms. We had a quick lesson about squatting in bushes on this day.

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!).

Food/ Restaurants:

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.

May 12, 2013

Kauai for Four

We just got back from Hawaii late Friday night. The bags are unpacked, but the laundry pile is flying high. We had a GREAT time. If I can find some time, I'll post about our successful airplane rides and favorite Kauai things to do with littles.

Marcus and I went to Kauai by ourselves last year so decided to go back with A&Z this year.

It was a relaxing vacation that pretty much consisted of going to the beach every morning, lunch and rest at the condo, pool time in the afternoon and sometimes dinner out. We had a few other sightseeing adventures and trips to the playground thrown in there, but it was a week of low-key family fun.

Zara and Lexi

Moloaa Bay


Daily siestas

Hanalei Bay


The girls loved the sand-bottom resort pool more than the beach



Lexi and the hula dancers



Mu and Zara hiking

Hiking w/Lexi - "moskittles" were attacking me at this point

We made it (part of the way)