Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, is one of my favorite tropical destinations. As soon as you get a glimpse of the island from the plane window, you’ll feel goosebumps because the scenery is incredibly vibrant and lush.
The state of Hawaii consists of eight inhabited islands which each have a different vibe. Many couples and honeymooners choose to vacation on Kauai as its smaller, less crowded, and less developed than the other three major islands: Oahu, Maui, and the big island of Hawaii.
Without a doubt it’s a wonderful, laid back family destination as well. I’ve visited Kauai three times with my family, most recently last summer on a week-long Mother-Daughter trip.
Here are 3 of my favorite activities on Kauai, Hawaii
CATAMARAN ALONG THE NAPALI COAST
Located on the northwest of Kauai, the Na Pali Coast offers dramatic views that take the hashtag #viewsfordays to the next level. This slice of heaven on Earth holds a special place in my heart since it was the first destination that ever took my breath away.
As a 14-year-old teenager, I had to blink twice to understand I wasn’t dreaming. Imagine fifteen miles of jagged mountains, cascading waterfalls, secluded beaches, and the illusion that the sky is kissing the Pacific Ocean.
I invite you to download the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Close your eyes and you’ll be transported to paradise.
TAKE A CATAMARAN IN KAUAI
For an unforgettable family outing with children aged 5 and older, take a catamaran tour with a reputable company.
Holo Holo Charters and Captain Andy’s, both based in Port Allen, are local favorites. My mother and I chose Holo Holo Charters on our last trip. They offer several tours such as a snorkel adventure, sunset cruise, and a full day option that takes you to the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau.
I’m glad we decided to go on the sunset dinner cruise which was approximately 4.5 hours. The amenities and dinner weren’t luxurious, but we didn’t mind. We met lovely people, enjoyed jaw-dropping views, and saw dolphins jumping alongside the catamaran. The entire experience exceeded our expectations.
BEACH DAY IN POIPU ON THE SOUTH SHORE OF KAUAI
Poipu Beach is one of the best beaches on the south shore of Kauai. Its calm, shallow waters are ideal for small children and novice snorkelers. Poipu also boasts a long sandy beach with a lifeguard on duty seven days a week and a lovely park.
There is a large grass area with a playground, picture perfect palm trees, public restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables, and plenty of space for kids to run around.
I love to visit for an early morning stroll and marvel at the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, known as honu in Hawaiian, that come to rest on the beach.
If you decide to visit around midday, be sure to stop and pick up freshly made poke bowls and maki rolls from Makai Sushi, a tiny sushi counter located inside the Kukuiula Market. Don’t judge a book by its cover because this spot serves delicious food and is treasured by locals and tourists alike.
On your way out it’s impossible to resist shave ice from Waikomo Shave Ice, the stand immediately next door. These establishments are just three minutes driving to the beach. Once you’re back on Poipu Beach, try to spot an endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
1.200 HAWAIAN MONK SEALS LEFT IN THE WILD
According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are fewer than 1,200 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild. It’s important to keep your distance and respect these mammals in their natural environment. As the day comes to an end, appreciate the sunset colors in the sky. Perhaps you will even see a double rainbow. Kauai is full of surprises.
HIKING THE MAHAULEPU HERITAGE COASTAL TRAIL
90% of Kauai is inaccessible by road but luckily the island has hundreds of hiking paths that are suitable for every level of enjoyment. The trails on Kauai are some of the most spectacular in the entire state of Hawaii.
My favorite hike for the entire family, based on general safety, ease, length, and views, is the Maha’ulepu Heritage Coastal Trail. Park your car at Shipwreck Beach, which is next to the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa. Be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water.
This easy, scenic hike will take you along the striking coastline and cliffs by the Poipu Bay Golf Course to Punahoa Point. It’s roughly two miles each way and not crowded. You can easily spend 3 to 5 hours on this hike.a
Take your time, relish the moment, and breath in the fresh ocean air. Remember, you’re on island time after all. Towards the end there aren’t clear signs to lead you to the Makauwahi Cave, which offers free guided tours weekdays from 10 AM until 2 PM, and until 4:00 PM on the weekends. Gillin’s Beach is the grand finale.