Ditch the electronic devices and head to Kauai, Hawaii’s oldest Hawaiian island.
By Ria Lawrence
Kauai is often called “the Garden Isle’ owing to the expansive tropical rainforest covering much of the island. Families who holiday here can expect turquoise waters, steel blue skies and plenty of wildlife.
Nicole Edgar is a Travel with Kids specialist and has more than 27 years’ experience in crafting personal holidays. She recently went to Kauai with her family and says it’s the perfect holiday for parents who want to ditch technology and experience life.
“There’s so much to do and so many fascinating sights outside, the kids will forget their phones and iPads,” she says.
To get there families will need to fly from Honolulu to Lihue.
“It’s a short flight, about 33 minutes,” Nicole says.
Hire a car. You will need it to experience the breathtaking scenery around this island. Many of the resorts sit in the mid-section of the island’s one single lane road. You can take one day to explore south-west and one to explore northeast.
“The northeast drive is grassy, fertile and enclosed, whereas the south-west coast is more red dirt on the side of the road and desert-like,” Nicole says. Both are so beautiful the only reason to use your phone will be to take photos.
Nicole highly recommends a trip to Poipu Beach which is famous for a rather unusual phenomenon.
“Poipu beach is unique because the waves run at a 90-degree angle to each other, Nicole says.
“They crash together at the corner point of the beach called the ‘Point’, which makes for great photo opportunities.” It’s also great fun for kids who love to jump waves. At Poipu, families can snorkel with turtles, see seals and swim in a natural ocean pool.
One of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets has to be Waimea Canyon, popularly nicknamed “Grand Canyon of the South Pacific.”
Nicole says it is an absolute must-see. Wake the kids up to ensure you get there in the morning.
Waimea Canyon viewpoint
“Its best seen in the morning when the sun is lighting up the canyon cliffs,” Nicole says. “This canyon is red dirt with green vegetation and waterfalls. In my opinion, it’s better than the Grand Canyon because of all the incredible colours.”
If you are considering Kauai, you should plan a trip along the famous Na Pali coast.
The only way to access Na Pali is through a helicopter or a boat. Here sheer cliffs drop straight down to crystal blue water, untouched beaches and incredible sea caves.
For families, Nicole recommends the boat tours, a more affordable option.
“The coloured coral reefs and variety of birds and sea life are a huge draw for kids,” Nicole says.
“As you start hitting the mountainous coastlines, all these dolphins come up near your boat. People can be seen kayaking around with dolphins; it’s absolutely beautiful.
“We docked on a beach that was like Gilligan’s island, it was so remote,” Nicole says.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai
The beach was surrounded by a coral reef. Families can only access if they have a boat permit, or the tour operator does.
“It’s called Nu’aolo Kai, and it’s an ancient Hawaiian fishing village, full of history.
“The high tides would have fish swim into the reef, then when the tides went out (low tide), the Hawaiian villagers had a natural fish trap, where the fish couldn’t escape back into the ocean. That was their catch of the day. This area has some spectacular cliff faces too.”
Smaller boats can fit inside and explore the natural sea caves of the Na Pali.
“It’s amazing to see how the water pressure creates waterspouts, naturally erodes and opens up the top of the cave so you can see the sky,” Nicole says.
Kauai’s main airport is Lihue Airport (LIH) in southeastern Lihue. There is also the option of flying into Honolulu from Sydney or Melbourne first and then heading to Kauai on a short, 33-minute flight from Lihue.
Nicole’s Top tips
See Kauai from the air. Na Pali from a helicopter offers the best views.
A trip down to Wailua river is a fun two-day adventure for the family.
Kayaking is a great activity to do with older kids.
The Kalalau Trail. The trail is a popular round-trip trek that starts from Ke’s beach in the North Shore and runs along the Na Pali Coast.
Kauai has many hidden beaches if you’re after some peace and quiet. Popular ones include Secret beach, Hideaway beach and Tunnels beach.
The Kilauea Lighthouse and Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge offer picturesque views and the chance to spot dolphins monk seals and the nene. Admission is $10 for adults (16+), kids under 16 are free.
For more information or to start planning your family holiday to Kaui, contact Nicole Edgar one of our Travel with Kidz specialists.