Hanalei Beach, three kids in front of Hawaii sign with surf board

Are you planning a fun kid-friendly Hawaiian vacation for your family and looking for the best things to do in Kauai with kids? Then, this is the perfect post for you.

Our family loves Kauai, as it is very different from the other Hawaiian islands. We usually go to Hawaii every year and have been over 15 times. Each time we visit Hawaii, we make sure to plan our itinerary to visit two islands. We always end with Maui (it’s our favorite) but we have also come to love Kauai too.

Families love Kauai, also called the Garden Isle, because it’s so lush with stunning scenery and views. Honestly, it looks like it’s right out of Jurassic Park, and in fact, you can actually tour some of the locations where Jurassic Park was filmed on Kauai. In fact, you can even do movie tours of Kuaui!

But, while it is a quieter island, this Hawaiian island is well worth a visit for its stunning beauty and nature. And you won’t get bored because there are many things to do in Kauai with kids and plenty of family-friendly places to eat.

Now, before we get too far, I will tell you that I believe Kauai is great for kids aged five and older. This is because many of the top family activities to do either have a minimum age limit or are better suited for those older ages. If you are looking for the best Hawaiian island for toddlers, Maui and Oahu are my recommendations for that age group.

But if you’re looking for your next Hawaiian vacation and plan to include Kauai on your itinerary, read on to learn fun things to do in Kauai with kids. Kauai is actually one of our favorite Hawaiian islands.

This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase using that link. See my disclosures. Cover photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

couple in front of Waimea Canyon on Kauai Hawaii
Visiting Waimea Canyon is one of the best things to do in Kauai. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

About Kauai

While we love all of the Hawaiian islands for different reasons, Kauai is great for kids ages five and up. You can certainly visit with young kids and toddlers, but a lot of the signature island activities are geared toward older kids and teens.

Kauai is the second oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, with the oldest being Niʻihau. It’s the 4th largest landmass in Hawaii and is known as Garden Island because of the amazing scenery and mountain views.

Fun fact: Kauai also has the most coastline with beaches, and it’s less crowded, so you can find secluded beaches if you don’t want to visit the more popular, crowded ones. My personal favorite beach is Hanalei.

Kauai is an incredible destination, and many feel it is just as much fun as the other islands. I would say it is much more nature-oriented and great for those who love lush forests, delicious food, outdoor activities, incredible marine life, and a more quiet vacation.

But you’ll find plenty of sunshine and water activities, as well as Hawaiian culture on this island. And, there are plenty of unique Kauai activities for kids.

Hanalei Beach, three kids in front of Hawaii sign with surf board
Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

What to Do in Kauai Hawaii with Kids

Are you ready? Let’s look at 25 Kauai, Hawaii activities for families.

Visit Waimea Canyon State Park

Now, this is one of the must-do things in Kauai, and yes, you can do it with kids. My kids really enjoyed it.

Waimea Canyon State Park is also one of the best things to do in Kauai for free if you have a Hawaii driver’s license or ID. But it’s $5 per person for non-residents, and children three and under get in free. So, I guess it’s kind of free (or close enough.)

If you don’t want to do self-guided, you can get a guided tour that shows you the rainbow cliffs, Waipo’o Falls, the best views of Na Pali Coast, and Waimea Canyon (also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific) from the Waimea Canyon lookout.

Why is it known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific? Well, you’ll know as soon as you see it, as it’s the only epic canyon of this type in the area.

Visitors love biking around Waimea Canyon State Park to see stunning natural views. And you can take the 5-hour Secret Kauai Tour that shows you the Spouting Horn Blog hole, a picnic lunch on the beach, and lets you look over Waimea Canyon.

If you want to self-drive Waimea Canyon drive as we did, the whole thing takes about two hours+ depending on stops.

Waimea Canyon Kauai
Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Go to Lydgate Beach Park or Salt Ponds Beach

Kauai has many great beaches, including Lydgate State Park and Salt Ponds Beach. Lydgate Park is part of the Coconut Coast, known for safe snorkeling, beautiful beaches, and swimming. It’s located on the east side of Kauai and is a great place to watch a sunrise, swim, snorkel, and relax. 

Salt Pond Beach Park is on the west side and is a great kid-friendly beach.

Visit Hanalei Bay for a Beach Day

As I mentioned above, this is one of my favorite spots on Kauai! Hanalei Bay is another great place to have a beach day in Kauai, and many visitors have said it’s one of the most beautiful places on the earth (see what I mean?)

Now, I have been to many beaches in Hawaii, and I have to say Hanalei Beach is one of the best I’ve ever been to. Plus, you can go surfing, paddle boarding, bodyboarding, body surfing, and more.

You can even stay at the Hanalei Bay Resort to be close to all the action on Hanalei Beach.

Near Hanalei Bay, you may find an area with food trucks which are very popular in Hawaii in general (did somebody say acai bowl?) This is a great stop for lunch or to set up a picnic on the beach. Food Truck food is delicious and is very common in Hawaii. And, I am always a up for an Acai Bowl, especially when enjoying water activities at a place like Hanalei Beach (it’s a favorite of surfers.)

Hanalei Beach Kauai
Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Snorkel at Poipu Beach Park

Our family loves to snorkel in Hawaii and in Kauai, and this is one of our favorite snorkeling spots. Not only is Poipu Beach one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii, but all of Poipu Beach Park is a fun kid-friendly place to spend the day. It’s located on the southern coast of Kauai and it’s perfect for a day full of snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and just relaxing on the beach.

Snorkeling is one of the best family activities in Kauai, and this is a great place for it. This beach is located on the South Shore of Kauai, and the Travel Channel named it America’s Best Beach. Plus, at Poipu Beach State Park, you make a full beach day for the family because it has bathrooms, showers, and pavilions with picnic tables.

Anini Beach is another great place to snorkel, and it has some of the most shallow and calm waters in Hawaii. Snorkeling here is one of the best things to do in Kauai North Shore, and this is one beautiful beach.

Search for Sea Glass at Glass Beach

If you want a really special Hawaiian souvenir, be sure to search for sea glass at Glass Beach. This beach is quite unique. Sea glass and beach glass are often confused, but beach glass is formed by freshwater, where as sea glass is formed in ocean water and is more pitted from erosion. It also has a lighter, frostier color.

It can take time to find sea glass, so you want to allow yourself at least two hours for this activity.


It can take a bit to find sea glass as you have to look for awhile (like hunting for seashells.) But, he best time to look for sea glass is after a storm or an hour before or after low tide.

Go Hiking with the Kids

Another one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids is hiking, and it’s a great way to see the beautiful Kauai scenery. Some of our favorite kid-friendly trails include:

  • Iliau Nature Loop Trail – A 0.4-mile loop known for wildflowers, and it’s just a short walk, so good for all experience levels.
  • Kuilau Ridge Trail – A 3.6-mile trail located near Kapaʻa, Kauai, that is moderately challenging and features a waterfall.
  • Mahaulepu Heritage Coastal Trail – This trail runs from the infamous Shipwreck Beach to Punahoa Point and is 3.7 miles long.
  • Ke’e Beach-Kalalau Overlook – This is a popular 0.9-mile trail located near Hanalei, Kauai, that also lets you bring your dog on a leash.
  • Kalalau Trail – This is an 11-mile hiking trail along the Na Pali Coastline, and it’s in the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Photo credit: © Boreccy | Megapixl.com

Napali Coast by Boat

Our family loved seeing Napali coast, and it is a wonderful place to snorkel. If I had one thing to tell you to do in Kauai, it would be this activivity. You won’t want to miss a boat tour of the Nāpali Coast coastline, as it’s one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids. You’ll see porpoises and dolphins, and the crews will share bits about the history and culture of Hawaii along the way.

While this is a signature activity, most companies don’t allow children under age five on the boats as you are typically in more of a rubber raft type craft. There are several boat tours that include snorkeling where often, you can see amazing marine life as you enjoy your time snorkeling on the Pacific Ocean. It is not uncommon to see sea turtles when snorkeling the coral reef in Hawaii (just note that you are required by state law to stay quite a distance from them and cannot harass or bother them in any way.)

Some tours include a picnic lunch as they run for several hours. There’s no better place to dine than on a boat looking at sea cliffs, caves, and sea life.

Captain Andy’s Boat Tour of Kauai

Captain Andy has been taking tourists on boat tours of the Nāpali Coast since 1980. You can take a yacht dinner cruise or even a snorkel BBQ sail.

My family loves these boat tours because viewing Hawaii from the water gives you a unique perspective of just how beautiful the state is.

Visit Wailua Falls

Your family trip to Kauai would not be complete without a visit to the Wailua Falls, and my kids loved this experience. It’s most recognized for its appearance in the opening credits of the TV show Fantasy Island. 

The trail to the falls is easily accessible, and you don’t even need hiking boots, but it is a 3-mile hike. You may even be lucky enough to see a rainbow as the morning light meets the fall’s mist.

Wailua Falls Kauai
Wailua Falls, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Fern Grotto and Kayaking

If your family is full of outdoor enthusiasts, then one of the most fun things to do in Kauai with kids is kayaking to Fern Grotto. This fun adventure is about 4 miles long in and out. I would recommend it only for older kids and teens, though, as kayaking requires some work.

You’ll want to keep your camera ready for the amazing views of the scenery around it. The grotto is easy to see from the observation platform, and many people have rented it for weddings.

Kayak in the Wailua River

Another great adventure is kayaking the Wailua River. This river is Polynesia’s only navigable stream, and you’ll meander 2-miles upstream past an old Hawaiian village.

You’ll also get out and trek on foot through the rainforest and canyons for the ultimate Hawaii adventure. I definitely recommend putting the Wailua River on your list of things to do with kids in Kauai.

two people surfing in hawaii
Surf lessons are one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids/courtesy of Ka’anapaali Surf Club

Take a Surf Lesson

My kids loved taking a surf lesson and the guides are so good at their jobs, they can typically pop up at some point during the lesson. There’s no better place to take a surf class than Hawaii, and Kauai has two main places to do it – Hanalei Bay and Poipu Beach. Many offer private, semi-private, and group surf lessons.

Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuse is one of the best places to see wildlife like spinner dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, birds, native Hawaiian coastal plants, and more. Our family loved this view and it is well worth a visit on your day of exploration around the island.

Kilauea Lighthouse Kauai
Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Don’t forget to check out the 100-year-old Kilauea Lighthouse you can climb up twice a week. It was recently restored to its original condition from 1913.

This park is open Thursday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Go Mountain Tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures

Another one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids is the Kauai Backcountry Adventures mountain tubing adventure. It’s the only one of its kind as it’s kind of like a lazy river in the mountains and lasts about 3 hours.  Now THIS is a signature activity to don on Kauai but kids do have to be older as you wear helmets and water shoes, and you are riding down a rapid.

Kauai Backcountry Adventures offers this unique and fun mountain tubing adventure that takes you miles through the lands of the former Lihue Plantation lands, an old sugar cane plantation. Kids must be five years old and older because it is quite an adventure!

You’ll first jump on a four-wheeler to cross the lands of the former Lihue Plantation lands and then ride to the interior for your tubing adventure. Your water tube ride takes you down former sugar cane canals and flumes that were hand-dug around 1870.

You’ll also learn more about the island on this guided tour that ends with a picnic lunch near a swimming hole.

Visit the Town of Hanapepe

Visiting Hanapepe Town may be one of the top things to do in Kauai when it rains. It’s known as the art capital of Kauai and looks much the same as it did 60 years ago. 

This was a quick stop for us on our exploration day, but it is worth adding it into your itinerary and my kids loved this. Visit the shops and galleries, and you don’t want to miss the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, which is one of the town’s most popular attractions. The Hanapepe Swinging Bridge rocks and swings as you walk, so kids often love it.

Try The Food Trucks

If you have read any of my other posts on Hawaii, you’ll know I LOVE Hawaiian food trucks. They are so popular in Hawaii and you can get some delicious food (an acai bowl is my favorite!)

Kauai has some great food trucks that are great places to eat on your Kauai family vacation. Trucking Delicious and Aloha Juice Bar are favorite spots for tourists and locals to eat on the North Shore.

You’ll also want to check out Al Pastor Tacos on the East Side and Kikuchi’s located in central Kauai. And if you’re looking for some gourmet food, check out Kickshaws on the West Side. Don’t forget to get yourself shaved ice for dessert!

Kauai sunset
Kauai Sunset, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

See a Kauai Sunset

Kauai Beaches are some of the best places to view one of the stunning sunsets in Hawaii. You’ll see these beautiful views from Polihale State Park, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Poipu Beach, Kalalau Lookout, Hanalei Bay, and Lydgate State Park. 

Lydgate Beach Park also has two pools watched by lifeguards and interactive play structures for kids.

You may even want to consider taking the family on a sunset cruise for the best views of a Hawaiian sunset. 

Take a Helicopter Tour of Kauai

No Hawaii vacation would be complete without a helicopter tour. It’s the best way to see some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world that’s been shaped by the powers of nature for more than 6 million years. Because a lot of Kauai can’t be seen on foot, seeing it from above is a wonderful way to enjoy all of the breathtaking features Kauai has to offer.

Take a Kauai helicopter tour over some beautiful locations like Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls, the Na Pali Coast, and more.

Blue Hawaiian offers some of the best island helicopter tours that let you see the island from a completely different view.

'Opaeka'a Falls in Kauai in Wailea River State Park
‘Opaeka’a Falls, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Visit the Kilohana Plantation

While you’re in Kauai, make sure you visit the Kilohana Taro and Sugar Cane Plantation. You can ride the train for a 2.5-mile tour that leads you through crops of sugar cane and taro as well as fruit groves.

The kids will love the stop that allows them to visit the pigs, sheep, goats, and Stiney, the friendly donkey at this sugar cane plantation. I highly recommend the historic Kilohana Plantation.

Horseback Tour at Princeville Ranch

Don’t miss a family adventure horseback riding along the North Shore of Kauai. The Princeville Ranch offers horseback and trail riding through one of the oldest cattle ranches in Hawaii. Seeing the beautiful scenes of Kauai with horseback tours is a great thing to do with kids!

Hawaiian luau with people on stage
A Hawaiian Luau is a must-do with kids. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Smith Family Garden Luau

One of the best things to do in Kauai with kids is the Smith Family Garden Luau. The gardens open at 5:00 PM, and the Imu Ceremony starts at 6:00 PM. Luaus are one of the most famous island traditions, so buy your tickets ahead of time.  A Hawaiian luau is a great way to learn a bit about Hawaiian history, culture, and traditions, and the Smith Family Luau is one of the best in Kauai.

shave ice in a bowl on table in oahu
Try shave ice in Kauai. Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids, LLC

Get Wailua Shave Ice

Stop by Wailua Shave Ice to indulge the family with this favorite Hawaiian treat. Try the Acai bowl or rainbow shave ice, which is a favorite for many.

Kauai Waimea Canyon
Kauai Waimea Canyon, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With kids

Koloa Ziplines

One fun way to tour the island is on a zipline. Kauai looks totally different when you fly through the scenery on Koloa’s zip lines. Check out the website to see what you should wear and learn more about taking this breathtaking tour.

Visit the Sprouting Horn

Visiting the Sprouting Horn is a fun family activity because the kids will love seeing this scenic blowhole made famous by the great Hawaiian legend.

People love taking pictures here as the water channels through a natural lava tube and spouts into the air up to 50 feet high.

Explore the North Shore

The North Shore has many things to do on the North Shore of Kauai. You can spend a full day here when you visit the Kilauea Lighthouse and Nature Refuge. I recommend a full day for exploring, stopping, and seeing all of the activities.

Always bring a swimsuit and a towel too on your day trips. You may also want to check out Kee Beach, Limahuli Garden & Preserve, or the Makua Tunnels Beach.

Kilauai Lighthouse Kauai
Kilauai Lighthouse Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Garden

Be sure to stop by the Na ‘Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park near the Hardwood Plantation.

Na ‘Aina Kai means land by the sea, and you’ll love seeing the way this non-profit organization preserves the natural resources and land in the area.

Kauai Food Tour

If you have a family of foodies who love tasting new foods, then you’ll love taking a Kauai food tour. These food tours offer a taste of the different seasons, and you’ll learn more about the Hawaiian food culture.

See Humpback Whales

The winter is whale season in Hawaii, and it’s not uncommon to see them breaching from shore, depending on the time of year. If you want to do a really fun thing with kids in Kauai, you can take a whale-watching tour in the winter if you visit Kauai with kids.

Hanalei Beach, Kauai
Hanalei Beach, Kauai, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids

Where to Stay in Kauai with Kids

If you’re looking for a great place to stay while you’re diving into all the fun things to do in Kauai with kids, I’ve got some great suggestions. In addition to this list, many people like to book a VRBO when visiting Kauai with kids, and that’s always an option!


Marriott Beach Club

We stayed at this resort and it was perfect for our family. We are big Marriott fans and often use our points and miles to stay for free, but it is a great property. This beach resort is located within steps of Kalapaki Beach. There’s a huge outdoor pool, premium villas, and guest rooms with signature amenities.

Mariott Kauai Lagoons

This Mariott resort offers stunning ocean views from their Mariott Kauai Lagoons Resort. It offers large villa vacation rentals, a two-level pool, and oceanfront fire pits.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa

The Grand Hyatt Kauai resort is located on the South Shore of Kauai and is a luxury oasis with verdant gardens, pools, and ocean-view dining.

You’ll find rooms with private lanais and the Anara Spa, which make the Grand Hyatt Kauai a favorite resort on the island.

Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu

The Koloa Landing Resort is named the Best Resort in Kauai and takes up 25 acres in the center of Poipu. It includes 3 lagoon pools that helped this resort land the Best Pool in America award 2 years in a row.

'Opaeka'a Falls in Kauai in Wailea River State Park
Up close ‘Opaeka’a Falls in Kauai in Wailea River State Park, Photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids


Is Kauai fun for families?

Yes, Kauai is very fun for families and a safe place for children. You’ll find plenty of kid-friendly activities, such as:

  • Surf lessons
  • Snorkeling
  • Beaches with lifeguards
  • Easy hiking trails for kids
  • Many parks and playgrounds
  • Horseback riding

And much more. Plus, there are many family-friendly restaurants.

Is Kauai a good family vacation?

Of all the places you can visit for a Hawaiian vacation, Kauai is known as one of the best locations for a family-friendly trip. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is lush and gorgeous.

Plus, it’s often less crowded than the other islands like Oahu and Maui. 

And since Kauai has plenty of activities for the whole family, you won’t get bored for sure!

What to do in Kauai, Hawaii with toddlers?

Kauai, Hawaii, is a great destination for family vacations, and you’ll find plenty of things to do in Kauai with kids, including toddlers, such as:

  • Visiting Luau Kalamaku and riding the train
  • The Wailua River Cruise
  • Kayaking and swimming at the Kauai waterfall
  • The Smith Family Garden Luau
  • The Kauai movie tour
  • Boat tours of Kauai
  • The Kauai Museum 

And many more fun things.

Is Kauai good for toddlers?

Yes, Kauai is one of the best Hawaiian Islands to visit with toddlers; however, you will do more calm and simple activities like beach visits.

There are plenty of beaches to visit and kid-friendly tours, as well as places where kids can look at native sea creatures and collect shells and glass.

However, some of the more active adventurous activities for which Kauai is known have a minimum age requirement of five years or older. So while I do think Kauai is good for toddlers to truly experience Kauai and all it offers, I would return again when your kids are older than age five.

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Kauai with Kids

As you can tell, there are plenty of things to do in Kauai with kids. Whether it’s horseback riding on a working ranch, a relaxing day at the beach, or a fun zipline adventure, there’s something for everyone in Kauai.

We love to visit Hawaii and do it as often as we can. I know you’ll love these islands as much as we do.

If you’re looking for other places to visit with kid-friendly activities, you may be interested in these articles:

The Ultimate Family Packing List For Hawaii: Must Have Essentials + Free Printable!

25+ Amazing Things to Do in Maui with Kids: The Ultimate Guide

The Very Best Restaurants in Maui for Families

13 Best Places to Stay in Maui for Families

Ultimate Guide: 101+ Awesome Things to Do in Oahu with Kids in 2024

Top 12 Best Resorts in Oahu for Families

Best Hawaiian Island With Kids

25+ Best Things to Do in Kauai with Kids

Best Volcano National Park Hikes for Kids

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