If you are looking for a peaceful, quiet paradise the whole family will enjoy, the island of Kauai is tough to beat. After visiting several other Hawaiian islands, Kauai offered the best family atmosphere. The island is far less developed than Oahu or Maui but there are still an abundance of activities to enjoy and plenty of sandy beaches to take in the sun and surf.
Many visitors stay in one of the hotels on the island, but our family prefers a condominium rental which has a full kitchen, two bedrooms, washer and dryer and a nice living room with a balcony. This gives us the flexibility to cook our own meals if we desire and allows us to pack lighter.
The prices are comparable to hotels and the added room and flexibility make good practical sense for a family vacation. There are many condo rentals on the island but we prefer the Nihi Kai Villas in Poipu Beach. Most of the units offer beautiful views of the South facing beaches and the sunsets are spectacular. The association has a great swimming pool for the kids and it’s a very short walk to the Poipu beach park which has plenty of grass to lie on, picnic benches, a playground and calm “kiki pool” where the little ones can enjoy the ocean safely.
Our first morning we enjoyed a cooked breakfast on our balcony as the gentle trade winds cooled the tropical air and the morning light glittered on blue pacific waters. After breakfast we wandered down toward Poipu Beach Park. We’re a very active bunch, so we decided to take our first surf lessons. The Nukumoi Surf Shop, located across the street from Brenneke’s beach offered lessons from a pro and all the gear at a good price. It was thrilling to get into the warm 78° water and attempt to ride the big ones! Well, maybe not so big, but very fun.
After a tough day surfing, we stopped for refueling at Keoki’s Paradise in the Poipu Beach Shopping Village. The restaurant is surrounded by lush tropical landscape including lava rocks, running waters, poi ponds and tiki torches. You can grab a table or, if there’s a long wait, sit in the outdoor bar and order lunch or appetizers. I recommend the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with the passion fruit iced tea or the fish taco plate with a refreshing cold beer. There is a great kids menu as well with old standbys like fish and chips and grilled cheese sandwiches.
After lunch we meandered through the shopping village and poked through the unique shops. My wife’s favorite is Sand People which carries island inspired jewelry, sarongs, fragrances, candles and whimsical pieces of art.
The kids enjoyed Sand Kids toy store which features an array of children’s play things not found elsewhere and picture books written and illustrated by local authors. My favorite shop is the Honolua Surf Shop where I found a pair of righteous board shorts.
That afternoon we made the trek to the Wailua river mouth on the East Side of the island for a guided kayak journey up the river. There are many guided kayak companies to choose from and they are all about the same price. We went with Wailua Kayak Adventures. The Kayaks sit two people but children, 6 and under can ride as a third without charge.
During the 4 hour tour, a guide leads the party up the beautiful brackish waters and offers interesting tidbits on the river’s history and facts about the local flora and fauna (not to fear, there are no predatory fish in the river and absolutely no snakes to be found anywhere on the island).
Make sure you bring good walking/hiking shoes on the trip because during the trip the kayaks are parked on the banks of a river tributary and you’ll hike through a tropical rain forest to discover a 125 foot waterfall that cascades into a large pool. After the long paddle and hike, a dip in the cool, fresh water and a shower beneath the pelting falls is so refreshing, you won’t want to leave.
By the tour’s end we were so worn out and relaxed that even the kids had lost a bit of their wiggle, so we stopped at Kalapaki Cove in Lihue and set up towels and chairs in front of the Marriott Beach Club where we could dig our feet into the sand and enjoy the wondrous view of the surrounding green cliffs. Kalapaki Cove is a great place for the kids because the surf is very mild and the ocean bottom is covered with plenty of sand. A waitress from the Marriott’s beachside restaurant came by and we ordered drinks and appetizers to refresh our weary muscles. Small waves wandered in to the cove and we watched surfers and stand-up paddle boarders gracefully glide past us.
Needless to say the kids feel asleep on the drive back to Poipu Beach and my wife and I had an opportunity to enjoy the luscious scenery and the last rays of fading sunlight before we arrived back at the condo. I felt as though we had experienced so much of Kauai and of the Aloha spirit, and it was only our first day on the island!
What & Where:
Nihi Kai Villas (1870 Ho’one Road,Poipu Beach; 800-367-8020; www.suite-paradise.com)
Nukumoi Surf Shop (Poipu Beach, Kauai; 808-742-8019; www.nukumoisurf.com)
Poipu Shopping Village and village shops (2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa; 808-742-2831; www.poipubeach.org)
Keoki’s Paradise (2360 Kiahuna Plantation Dr, Koloa; 808-742-7534; www.keokisparadise.com)
Wailua Kayak Adventures (808-822-5795 or 639-6332; kauaiwailuakayak.com)
Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club (3610 Rice St, Lihue; 808-245-5050; www.marriott.com)
Ready to book your trip? Check out some of these great Kauai Vacation Rentals:
3br – The House of Leaping Waterfalls – KAUAI,
4br – Luxurious Kauai Craftsman-Great for Groups!
2br – Luxury Oceanfront Condo with Bali Hai View
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Jay Cassity grew up and lives in sunny Orange County, CA. He is married and has a beautiful 6 year old daughter. Jay has a B.S. in cell biology and has been published in the science journal The Scientist. He also has several poems published, has completed his first children’s picture book which has been submitted for publication and is working on his first young readers’ novel.
Jay is currently teaching high school biology, enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and writing. He dreams of one day living aboard a yacht and traveling through the islands of the South Pacific.