A guide to exploring Kauai’s South Shore with children-in-tow.
with children requires research, stamina, and the ability to leave your
expectations and Type-A tendencies at the door. So when I began planning
for my family’s trip to the majestic island of Kauai, you can be sure I spent
many late nights googling, months before the trip.
my research paid off, because I discovered plenty of kid-friendly excursions,
breathtaking points of interest, and charming restaurants, as well as a
fabulous family friendly hotel to make our home base for the trip. While I
mapped out much of our trip, I also left room for downtime and spontaneity,
which is also essential for making the most out of a family vacay. Read on to
help plan your ultimate family friendly vacation on the breathtaking Garden
Where to Stay
Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
in style and comfort on Kauai’s sun-drenched South Shore at the Grand Hyatt
Kauai Resort & Spa, a stunning beachfront resort that the whole family
will enjoy. In fact, it might be difficult to explore the island while staying
at the Grand Hyatt, because the kids won’t want to leave the property’s
exciting 150-foot waterslide and massive saltwater swimming lagoon. There’s
also a lazy river for floating, and an adult pool area, along with tucked away
jacuzzi’s surrounded by waterfalls and lush foliage. And in those rare moments
when the kids aren’t enjoying the pools, there are plenty of fun activities and
events to keep them entertained and occupied.
that end, both children and adults might enjoy learning a traditional hula
dance at the resort’s daily hula lesson, or there’s the option to enjoy a
professional hula performance, which takes place nightly at the lounge. A
professional hula dancer performs various stories told through hula,
accompanied by live Hawaiian music. My 5-year-old daughter was thrilled at the
opportunity to get onstage and perform what she had learned at the
will find much to do at and around the property as well, from a soothing
treatment at the serene Anara Spa, to a game of tennis on the property’s tennis
courts. Grownup-time could also include a leisurely swim at the adults-only
pool, or perhaps a round of golf at the outstanding Poipu Bay golf course
(conveniently located adjacent to the Grand Hyatt.)
a bevy of fun activities, the Grand Hyatt Kauai offers a wide array of dining
options, ranging from ultra-romantic and upscale, to casual poolside fare. On
our first night at the hotel, we had no issues finding a cozy outdoor spot on
the Seaview Terrace, which has stunning views of the beach and ocean — the
perfect spot to enjoy a Mia Tai at sunset. The menu offers casual modern
American favorites with a Hawaiian twist, and I enjoyed the perfectly cooked
is also a sushi restaurant onsite, as well as an Italian-themed spot, along
with casual cafes and bars. For a romantic or more upscale meal, be sure to
reserve a table at Tidepools, which overlooks a Coi-filled lagoon and manmade
waterfall. Kieki’s are welcome, of course, and will be able to find a children’s
menu at Tidepools, as well as at every eating option in the resort.
I found numerous excursions available for adults and teens (whale-watching boat
tours, snorkeling, helicopter tours,) it took a little more digging to find
some excursions appropriate for young ones. The two I did find, however, were
unbelievably scenic and tons of fun.
through a 105-acre plantation estate, the Kilohana Plantation train tour
is a must-ride, especially if you have a train-obsessed child in tow. My girls
could not care less about trains, and they had a fantastic time, non-the-less.
The 40-minute ride takes through a guided tour of the working plantation and
its rich history as a sugar plantation. See fruit orchards, stop and feed wild
native boars, and learn about local history, flora and fauna.
great excursion option for a family with small children is the breathtaking Allerton
Botanical Garden tour, which takes place on the opulent 80-acre garden
founded and created by Robert and John Allerton. Choose either a self-guided
tour, or a special tour like the sunset tour, which includes dinner, and be
astounded by your surroundings of waterfalls, flowers, native trees, gorgeous
water features, sculptures and even movie sets (some scenes from Jurassic Park
were filmed in the gardens.)
Where to Eat
fun Hawaiian-themed restaurant has just the right amount of old-school-Hawaiian
kitsch, and I loved every moment at it. From the tropical oasis outdoor seating
to the live Hawaiian music and mile-high Hula Pie, Keoki’s is a family
friendly “must-eat” while on Kauai’s South Shore. It’s located in a great
little shopping area, too, so you can work off your meal with a little retail
but still kid-friendly, famed local chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849
is a beautiful, modern plantation-style restaurant with sweeping views
overlooking lush land and ocean. The restaurant is located upstairs in a
shopping area with nothing behind it but land and ocean, so the views are
incredible, especially at Sunset. The food is just as good as the scenery,
especially the Butterfish and Fried Chicken.
a 10-minute drive from the Grand Hyatt, Sprouting Horn is an impressive
blowhole set at the ocean’s edge. Kids will love the anticipation of the
blowhole’s hissing release of ocean water spraying high up into the air, forced
through an ancient lava tube. This is a quick, easy and free point of interest,
and a wonderful photo opportunity.
just an easy drive (and no walking or hiking required) to view the top of the
spectacular Wailua Falls, a 173-foot double waterfall located in Wailua
River State Park. Fans of the TV show Fantasy Island might recognize
this gorgeous waterfall from the opening credits. Although it is possible to
hike down to the bottom of the waterfall, it may not be worth the hassle (or
slippery danger) with young ones.
aptly named Baby Beach is the perfect spot to bring the keiki to
build sand castles and test out arm floaties. The swim area is protected from
waves by a wall of rocks, and there are trees to provide shade when the sun
becomes overwhelming. There are restrooms at the nearby park, and an eatery
across the street that sells shave ice for an afternoon treat.
Poipu Beach Park is a family friendly public beach
area for snorkeling, sunbathing, and splashing around, and there’s usually a
lifeguard on duty (score!) There’s also a children’s playground, grassy picnic
area and small protected swim lagoon for children and babies.
pack up your sunscreen and swimsuits, and book the family vacation you’ve been daydreaming
about! Kauai’s South Shore is breathtakingly beautiful, and the perfect area