This tiny Hawaiian island is the home of just ~65,000 residents. The entire island can be driven in just a couple of hours, making it relatively easy to pick a spot to stay. We chose to stay in the less touristy area of Waimea, in the little "locals" town of Kekaha. We loved this quiet location that ended up being a perfect launching point for the Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon, Koke'e State Park and many other attractions. For an active family, Kauai is perfect. Hiking, boating, kayaking, ziplining and swimming are just some of the many outdoor activities available when visiting Kauai. We also loved the lush green landscape of this "Garden Island." It does come with intermittent rain but that's nothing a little planning cannot handle. For meals, be sure to try the Poke here. The fish is incredibly fresh and compared to mainland, the prices are affordable. Check out our 9-day Kauai itinerary page for planning tips too.
Hiking: Kauai has a well-marked, well-maintained trail system throughout the Island. With the high peaks, almost all trails lead to a rewarding view. Bring hiking sandals or other footwear that handles water well. This "Garden Island" is green because of the frequent rainfall, making the trails very muddy at times. We also packed rain ponchos in the event we got caught in a downpour. Visit our blog posts for more information on our favorite hikes.
Tour Na Pali Coast: There are many options for boat tours up the Na Pali Coast. For the more adventurous, try a high speed Zodiac tour with Blue Ocean Adventures. This was hands-down our favorite day while on Kauai. As luck would have it too, we were greeted by whales and dolphins while we toured this gorgeous coastline. The tour includes lunch, an island landing with history tour, snorkeling, cave exploration, and more. This experience is well-worth the expense.
Enjoy the Beaches: In Kekaha, where we stayed, there is a beach park that stretches along Highway 50. Vehicles are allowed on the sand so you can bring your chairs, umbrellas, and coolers up close to the water with ease. Another great beach is located in Lihue. Lydgate State Park has a protected lagoon which is perfect for families with small children. Polihale State Park was closed during our visit but we understand it is also a "must see" when visiting the area.
Kayaking: Wailua River is located on the East side of the island, near Ka'pa. Kayak rentals and tours are available from several different companies. The river is beautiful and calm. Our only reluctance in recommending this activity is the tour experience was not awesome. However, we definitely could see returning here with our own privately rented kayaks. The River is easy to navigate and we could easily have handled it on our own.
Tour Kauai Coffee Company: This coffee plantation has a free, self-guided tour. There are informative signs on the coffee growing process throughout the complex. Beautiful Hawaiian flowers are planted throughout as well. This 30 minute or so stop was a fun addition to our day in the Poipu area. We also picked up a coffee souvenirs here to take home.
Where We Stayed
Air BnB Listing: We stayed in the same local town of Kekaha, which is just East of the town of Waimea. Just a couple blocks from the water, this full home is located in a quiet neighborhood. The house is fully stocked with everything you need for your stay in Kauai, including beach chairs, boogie boards, washer/dryer, full kitchen etc. The 3 bedrooms was a plus for our family of 4 as well. We highly recommend this spot when staying in Kauai. Photo credit: AirBnB listing.
Where We Ate
Fish Express: This take-out only spot has amazing Poke. So many options and flavors to work with, and everything is super fresh. We are still thinking about this meal.
Aloha Sweet Delights: Located on State Highway 50 just a few minutes down the road from Waimea, Aloha Sweet Delights has a Hawaiian-style Malasadas with our favorite being the cream-filled type. Definitely worth a stop here.
Blog Posts - Kauai, Hawaii
Ziplining: For an adventurous break from the beaches, we spent some time with Outfitters Kauai. This ziplining company is located on Kipu Ranch, a 6,000 acre ranch owned by the Rice family just outside of Lihue. After a series of "warm-up" ziplines, we took the Flyline, a 3/4 mile, headfirst tandem zipline. It was exhilirating to say the least!