Top kid-friendly things to do in Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and stunning natural beauty, making it a popular destination for travelers.

When you look at the map of Hawaii, the island of Kauai is the northernmost, which actually means that Kauai is the oldest island in the chain of the Hawaiian islands (making the Big Island the youngest of all). Its volcanic activity ended 3.8 million years ago!

Kauai’s remote location and age make it a special place with unique flora and fauna. There is a lot to see and explore on the island, and it’s perfect for a family vacation! Our eight and two year olds had a great time on the island. Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do on a trip to Kauai when visiting with kids!

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What to pack for Hawaii?

To help you prepare for your journey to St. Kitts and Nevis, we’ve put together a comprehensive family packing list that covers everything you’ll need to make the most of time on the islands.

1. Go to the beach

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re thinking about visiting Hawaii? Probably going to the beach for a swim. You are not wrong here. Hawaii certainly has some of the best beaches in the world, and Kauai is no exception. Here are some of the best kid-friendly beaches in Kauai that our family liked:

Hanalei Beach

Hanalei Beach is located on Kauai’s northern shore and is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque beaches on Kauai. It also offers calm waters in summer and a sandy shore, perfect for swimming with the little ones.

Poipu Beach

Poipu beach is a beautiful beach located on the southern shore of the United States. The clear, turquoise waters and coral reef provide shelter from the rough waves, making it a great place to swim and relax. Poipu beach is consistently ranked as one of America’s best beaches, offering a unique and beautiful experience for anyone who visits.

Kiahuna Beach

As mentioned above, the Hawaiian Islands were formed by ancient volcanic activity. So there is no surprise when you stumble upon huge lava rocks on the bottom of the ocean. It is interesting, however, how the tides and seasons wash away and bring the sand back to the beach, making swimming more or less enjoyable.

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This time of the year (late November), we found Kiahuna beach more suitable to swim with and less dangerous for rock cuts.

2. Go snorkeling

Kauai is a great place to go snorkeling and spot some fantastic underwater inhabitants. Our kids always get so excited to see wild sea life in such proximity.

If you’re looking for the best beaches to snorkel in Kauai, Poipu Beach and Anini Beach are the places to go. Both are known for their crystal clear waters and vibrant marine life, making them perfect for snorkeling. You do not even have to swim far from shore to spot some colorful fish.

We might not have the best junior snorkelers in the family, but Sophia sure does love diving with her goggles on and searching for fish.

3. Visit Waimea Canyon

When in Kauai, you must definitely see the Waimea Canyon. The Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” offers breathtaking views of the island’s rugged interior.

You could enjoy the views from the overlook or take one of the easy hikes in the park.

4. Take a train ride through the historic Kilohana Plantation

We had a great time at the historic Kilohana Plantation! The former sugar cane plantation is now home to various tropical plant groves, dining in a historic plantation House by Gaylord’s, and the Kōloa Rum Company.

💡 Good to Know

Kauai Plantation Railway operates daily and offers several signature train tours daily. The price of a tour is:

  • Adult: $20.00
  • Child (3-12): $14.50
  • Child Under 3: Free
1948 25-Ton, General Electric, Diesel Electric Locomotive

First, we took a 40-minute narrated train ride through banana and mango patches and the original island crops, such as cane sugar and taro.

On the way, we got to stop and feed some farm animals – pigs, cows, horse, and a donkey. While Zoe was a little scared of little piggy squeals, Sophia was happy to throw some tortilla pieces at them!

And afterward, we finished our experience with lunch at the Plantation house by Gaylords, with amazing plantation garden views and a taste of a house-made Koloa rum from Kōloa Rum Company.

Right after finishing their lunch, these two immediately went off to explore the area and sat by the little fountain and a pond with fish.

5. Visit a Chocolate Farm

Did you know that Hawaii is the only state to grow chocolate (cacao) trees? Kauai is home to numerous chocolate farms harvesting cacao tree beans. The best way to learn about growing cacao trees and making chocolate is to visit a chocolate farm and take a tour.

We visited Lydgate Farms, located on Kauai’s East side. It’s a 46-acre chocolate farm twice recognized by the international Cocoa of Excellence Awards 🫢!

This is what cacao fruit looks like!

Suppose you don’t have time for a several-hour tour or have a toddler who is not allowed to take a tour (like us 😃). In that case, we highly recommend stopping at one of the chocolate farms for complimentary delicious chocolate tasting and learning some chocolate facts from a team member. Our kids sure had a blast eating a handful of chocolate at 10 in the morning 😅.

6. See the Sea Turtles

There is nothing more exciting than encountering wildlife in their natural surroundings. And there are some creatures definitely worth seeing; the majestic green sea turtle is one of them.

Every evening on Poipu Beach at dusk, dozens of green sea turtles come out of the water to spend the night on the beach!

We kept this visit a secret from our girls until the very last minute, and they were just astounded to see the turtles! This was indeed one of the most incredible things we have witnessed. We stayed there until it got dark and counted 25 of them when leaving. Fascinating!

💡 Good to Know

Green sea turtles are protected by law animals, so please don’t try to get too close or touch them.

7. Visit the Makauwahi Cave Reserve

We visited Makauwahi Cave Reserve, one of the oldest Hawaiian limestone caves! It’s a uniquely preserved archaeological site with fossils. When our oldest daughter hears the word “cave”, she gets anxious to visit it as soon as possible! Then she starts asking a few dozen questions on the way there, such as “is it big, deep, old, and is it beautiful” 🧐?

The Cave was a fascinating place to explore! With stalactites hanging from the cave ceiling, native plants, and apparently, some species that can’t be found anywhere in the world! Such as the ancient blind spider (who technically doesn’t even have eyes 🫢).

💡Good to know

The Makauwahi Cave Reserve is open daily, 10 am – 4 pm, and offers free guided tours.

Yep, in the picture below is the entrance to the cave, but don’t let it scare you. Once you crawl inside, you can stand up, walk and explore.

8. Try Hawaiian food

Hawaiian cuisine is known for its fresh, flavorful dishes, and fish is a big part of the local culinary scene. With its abundance of ocean life and easy access to fresh seafood, it’s no surprise that fish is such a staple in Hawaiian cooking.

Our children were big fans of the local cuisine, and they particularly enjoyed the many dishes that featured fish. Some of their favorites included poke and grilled mahimahi, and they would happily eat them again and again.


Poke is diced raw fish marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, and spices. This poke (in the picture above) is also served with one of the very popular foods in Hawaii – taro (taro chips, to be more precise).

Kalua pork

During our trip to Hawaii, our kids really enjoyed trying the local cuisine, and one of their favorite dishes was Kalua pork. This traditional Hawaiian dish is made by slow roasting a pork shoulder over kiawe wood, giving it a deliciously smoky flavor.

Shave ice

Our daughter Sophia was very excited to have shave ice again during our trip to Hawaii. She had tried it before and remembered how delicious it was. This local delicacy is made by shaving a block of ice into fine, snow-like flakes and then topping it with various colorful syrups and fruit flavors.

Sophia was eager to have another cup and choose her own toppings this time. When we found a shave ice stand and ordered her a cup, she watched eagerly as the vendor shaved the ice and poured on her chosen toppings.


Saimin is a delicious and satisfying soup dish that you must try while you’re in Hawaii. This traditional Hawaiian meal consists of noodles, broth, and meat or seafood, all flavored with a variety of seasonings and ingredients. Saimin is widely available throughout the islands, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to try it.

Bottom line

In short, Kauai is a wonderful destination for families with children. With its beautiful beaches, exciting outdoor adventures, and many kid-friendly attractions, Kauai offers something for everyone. So why not plan your next family vacation to this amazing island and experience all that Kauai has to offer? Your kids will love it, and you’ll have a great time too.

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