I still can’t believe the dreamy time we had in Kaua‘i! In case you missed it, there’s a huge post from earlier in the week all about where to eat and shop in Kaua‘i. But today we’re talking about things to do in Kaua‘i with kids! Plus I put together a big packing list, because the island can be a tricky place to pack for. So let’s dive in!
Things to Do in Kaua‘i with Kids
This is definitely the island for you if you love nature, adventuring, and the great outdoors. It’s so beautiful, the locals are so warm, and there’s definitely not a shortage of things to do. We had our kids with us for every activity below except for the zip line, so there’s tons of stuff you can do with kiddos. If I had to pick a single favorite thing that we did, it would probably just be trying as many new beaches as we could fit into one week. Each beach is different and special and I’m sure you’ll find your favorite. A close second favorite was snorkeling with a sea turtle! Read on for specific recommendations.
Hanalei Beach We were walking distance to this beautiful spot and I just loved it. Medium-sized waves (big enough to surf if you want to paddle out) and the softest, most perfect sand for building sandcastles. The kids loved this one too. The beach is nice and wide, and you can walk all the way down to the pier to check out the view.
Anini Beach A good beach for kiddos because it’s super calm and very shallow. There’s a reef wayyyy out on the horizon, so the break is far away. Perfect snorkeling spot — we saw the biggest, most beautiful sea turtles I could imagine! Snorkeled with one for a good while and it was a highlight of the trip. Also great for paddleboarding because it’s so calm. Don’t miss the rope swing!
Moloa‘a Beach Maybe my favorite beach! This one is hidden away and you have to work to get there (a little walk down a residential road and you might have to wade through a little stream depending on how much rain runoff there is) but it’s so beautiful. We had the beach to ourselves except for a couple of locals. Soft sand and some rocks for exploring tide pools.
Snorkeling & Paddleboarding. Highly recommend either bringing or renting some water gear for a trip to Kaua‘i! The water is full of beautiful animal life and it would be a shame to miss it. Our group traveled two inflatable paddleboards and some snorkel gear, but you can rent them all over the island.
Princeville Resort Cabanas + Pool This was a huge hit for our crew! You can rent a cabana for the day and use the pools and hot tub to your heart’s content. The resort also has its own sweet little beach, with a good snorkeling area and some pretty tide pools. Bonus: they provide sand toys. Stay all day and order food to your cabana for a super easy pool day.
Zipline Tour. This would be awesome if your kiddos were a little older — the dudes in our group went and loved it. Be prepared to hike a little on any zipline tour, and be sure you check out our packing list for appropriate clothing.
Kilauea Lighthouse You can check out the view from afar, or you can pay a fee ($10 per person, kids under 3 are free) and see it up close. There’s an additional fee if you want to actually climb up inside the lighthouse; we passed on that. But it’s got the most incredible views, and we saw a whale playing out in the water! At the gift shop Henry chose a coloring book and the artist happened to be there, so he signed the book and drew Henry a little picture. Pretty sweet.
Garden Luau If you’ve ever been to a Hawaiian luau you know that they can be a little cheesy. But it’s a fun experience if you’ve got kids, especially ones who are into music or dance. This luau gives you a little tour around their botanical gardens first, then you get to see the pig ceremony. After that you eat (buffet style) with live music, and they invite the little kids onstage to learn a hula. Maggie literally still will not stop talking about it. And she actually remembers the dance. After that you relocate to an amphitheater for the dance portion. My kids were fascinated and ate up every second. It’s a little late for some kiddos; the show starts at 8 pm and they were pretty wiped out afterward.
Lydgate Park A great place to post up for an afternoon outside. There’s a great playground for kids adjacent to a really pretty beach with picnic tables. This was actually a good stop for us on the way to the airport to let the kids get some wiggles out before we got on the plane.
Some things that we were considering but we didn’t have time to do: Waimea Canyon, Botanical Gardens, Plantation Railway. We actually drove to the Botanical Gardens thinking we could just walk in but you need to have a ticket reserved for entry. So book that ahead of time if you’re interested. But! The luau I linked above is actually on a botanical garden campus so you can arrive early to that and get your garden fix there if you’re into plants.
Also, shopping and eating are always on the top of my list when I’m visiting a new place.
What to Pack for Kaua‘i
Kaua‘i can be super rainy, and I’m bummed to say that during the whole week we really only saw about 5 or 6 hours of sunshine, total. It was overcast most of the time, but the rain was pretty sporadic. It would downpour and then go away for a few hours, and then repeat. So the rain didn’t really stop us from doing anything, but a little more sun would have been awesome. Even the locals were surprised at the weather.
That being said, check the weather and be prepared! The summer months are much drier, but rain is always possible, especially on the north side of the island. Also, Kaua‘i isn’t the tropical island to take all of your fun, flowy dresses and big jewelry (unless you plan on staying on a resort without venturing out much). Bring comfy clothes that you can be active in.
Wet Weather/Active Gear
- Bug spray
- Hiking shoes
- Waterproof windbreaker
- Comfortable hiking clothes (I like yoga pants, sports bra, + a loose-fitting tank top)
- Waterproof backpack
- Baseball cap
- Sunscreen (be sure it’s reef safe to keep the ocean and its inhabitants healthy!)
- Beach towel (I love to bring a sarong like these, they’re light and easy to pack and have a zillion different uses, from blanket to towel to scarf)
- Sun hat
- Beach coverup
- Optional: snorkel gear, inflatable longboard (we travel our Ten Toes boards often)
- Lightweight, breathable layers (shorts, shirts, maybe one pair of pants)
- For kids: we love June & January‘s basics, and they’re perfect for wearing to the beach, over swimsuits, as jammies, or out on an adventure.
- One or two dresses for nicer dinners
- Flip flops
- Light jacket or sweater for evenings
- Camera and accessories
- GoPro and accessories
- Drone and accessories (be sure you know where you can fly it!)
- Extra baggies for wet clothes or protecting things from liquid
- Reusable water bottle
So! Are you heading to Kaua‘i soon? Have you been, and have a favorite spot to share? Leave a comment so we can keep this list going! xoxo