Find the Best Family Vacation in Kauai, Hawaii

We could argue endlessly about where to go for the best family vacation. Some might say Disneyland; others will name a national park like the Grand Canyon. You’re always right with a trip to Hawaii—and the “Garden Island” of Kauai. It combines some of the best offerings of different vacation options.

For Nature Lovers

Nature’s beauty is everywhere. The Kauai weather is tropical, so the forecast is always warm or warm and rainy—ideal growing conditions. We stayed on the south side of the island (recommended) at the end of January. Temperatures were in the low- to mid-80s, perfect for the best family vacation.  Only one day brought extended rain, and it felt gloriously refreshing to be in it.

Some of the most breathtaking views are found on this island in Hawaii. The Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. A few minutes from there is the Kalalau Lookout. My wife called it “the most beautiful spot in the world.” It’s a picturesque view of the Kalalau Canyon and the ocean. A slow drive to the north end of the island brings you to the Napali Coast. It’s another spectacular spot, well worth seeing. But we spent a total of 4 to 5 hours in our rented Jeep Wrangler. If you’re on the south side of Kauai, think twice about making the trip. And to maximize your best family vacation, go as early in the day as possible.

Panoramic view of Kukalau Lookout onto the ocean.
Kukalau Lookout (panoramic view)

For Aquaphiles

If you love the ocean, surround yourself with it in Hawaii. We stayed at a resort on the famed Poipu Beach. It’s perhaps the island’s most popular beach because it’s sandy, clean, generally calm enough for swimming/snorkeling, and it attracts plenty of sea life. We saw humpback whales in the distance, we spotted monk seals lying in the sand, and my 9-year-old accidentally found himself swimming with a sea turtle.

One of our favorite adventures was whale-watching via Blue Dolphin Kauai. We lucked out with perfect Hawaii weather conditions. We were even luckier on this best family vacation: Our captain found the humpback whales as we were leaving port, and he stayed with them for 2 hours. Around 10 or 12 males were chasing 2 females. The captain told us that the males breach more often during mating season. Sure enough, we saw around 20 breaches!

Man excitedly mountain tubing down a river.

For Thrill Seekers

If you’re an amusement park kind of person, there’s no shortage of activities. You can try helicopter rides, zip-line tours, fishing expeditions, ATV excursions, and more in Hawaii. My favorite activity on this very best family vacation was mountain tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. We floated down the irrigation system of an old plantation. We traveled in a beautiful rainforest and passed through several dark (and often long) tunnels on our way to a quaint picnic lunch.

For Foodies

There’s no shortage of delicious dishes in Kauai, especially if you love fresh seafood and even fresher fruit. Plus, with Hawaii’s relatively new focus on local farming, a lot of the meats—especially beef—now have that fresh, local flavor. The famous Puka Dog lived up to the hype on our best family vacation. It was so delicious that I ate there no less than four times. Brick Oven Pizza was another fantastic spot, as was Da Crack and their burritos. I enjoyed shave (not “shaved”) ice every chance I got. However, the award for best meal of my week went to the sampler platter at Chicken in a Barrel. The plate of BBQ food was under $20, and my wife and I shared it. Of course, for a combination of food, local culture, and lively entertainment, be sure to book dinner at a luau.

For Couch Potatoes

If your idea of the best family vacation is to “be lazy,” Kauai is a great place for that. You can relax on the sunny beach (perhaps even book a beachfront massage). You can find a comfy spot on the patio. Or you can remain indoors. With a cool ocean breeze always blowing in, just open the windows and enjoy—no air-conditioning needed. Go to CVS and buy the world’s best gummy bears: Island Cravings Baby Gummy Bears. Grab yourself a Mai Tai or some guava juice, and relax.

To find even more fun and adventure for your best family vacation in Kauai, check out AdventureKEEN’s popular guides like Hawaii Trails and Hawaii Wildlife Viewing Guide.

View of visitors on Poipu Beach enjoying the sun and sand.
Poipu Beach