One of my favorite places to vacation with my family is on Kauai. It's the perfect place to get away from the clouds in the city and soak up a little sunshine while relaxing on the beach. I love the laid back vibe on the island, the family-friendly atmosphere, the island hospitality and of course, the fact that most of the island shuts down by 9pm. It's a great place to escape, unwind and reconnect with what's important.
When to Go
Last year we visited Kauai in late January and again in early July and the weather was amazing both times. Plenty of sunshine and minimal rain. In fact, it only rained once on each trip and the rain showers passed quickly. The average temperature in the winter on Kauai is in the mid to upper 70's. Although Kauai is beautiful in the summer months, I prefer to visit outside of peak season when the beaches are less crowded. January, February and September are among my favorite months to escape for a tropical vacation.
Where to Stay
With close proximity to the airport, we like to stay at the Kauai Beach Resort. It's perfect for families with kids because in addition to a regular Hawaiian style swimming pool there's a second pool with a water slide and shallow wading area (complete with sand) for kids. This is an especially important feature if you are visiting during the winter months with little ones who are not yet strong swimmers. The rip current in the ocean can be dangerous and sometimes swimming at the hotel pool might be a better bet. If (like me) you can't imagine vacationing in paradise without swimming in the ocean, Lydgate State Park is less than 5 minutes away from the hotel and has a rock barrier that is perfect for little swimmers and great for snorkeling too!
What to Do
The plan is, there is no plan. And that's how we like to organize our itinerary while on vacation. With that being said, you'll definitely want to make time for a few of these amazing things.
If you're looking for a great beach on the island with gorgeous views and great swimming don't miss Ke'e beach. Located at the end of the road on Kuhio Highway, this beach is a destination but it's one worth seeing while your on the island. The Na Pali cliffs create a beautiful backdrop and make for an unforgettable experience. If you're staying in Kapaa the drive to Ke'e can take up to an hour, so plan accordingly. Travel tip: Head to the beach early because parking can be limited, then hit the restaurants in Hanalei Town for lunch.
Koloa Rum Company
You'll never look at a rum and coke the same after visiting the Koloa Rum Company. They handcraft rum in small batches directly on the island using pure sugarcane and mountain rainwater. The result is an amazingly smooth rum that will make you a true believer. Stop in for a free tasting and sample all the Koloa Rum flavors including gold, dark, white, spice and of course, coconut. www.koloarum.com
Make time to visit Old Koloa town even if it's just to drive through the tree tunnel to get there on highway 520. A canopy of beautiful Eucalyptus trees lines the road providing a serene and gorgeous drive to Poipu Beach and Old Koloa Town.
What would a trip to Kauai be without a trip to Hanalei Bay? This beautiful beach is about 45 minutes from Lihue and there's a reason why people say this is one of the "must-see" beaches on the island. You can literally spend an entire day here just soaking up the sun, watching the boats come and go, and enjoying the scenery. Pack a cooler, bring a beach blanket and enjoy the views.
Beauty Bar Kauai
If you're a make-up junkie or just to want indulge in a few new beauty products while on vacation, don't miss Beauty Bar Kauai located in Princeville. This adorable little boutique stocks TokyoMilk, Smashbox Cosmetics, NuFace, Juice Beauty, Butter London, Jane Iredale and more. The Beauty Bar also does blow outs, hair styling make-up application and spray tans.
If you're traveling with kids, Poipu Beach is another great place to check out while on Kauai. There's a swimming area for kids enclosed by a rock barrier which provides calm water for little ones to swim, snorkel and explore. Monk seals regularly lounge here so be on the look out when you hit the beach. Travel tip: Poipu Shopping Village is a 2 minute drive from the beach. For a quick lunch try a Puka Dog- they are so good!
# 1- Pedicure
You'll be wearing sandals everyday while on Kauai and if you've been living in boots all winter, chances are your feet could use a little TLC. Plan in advance for a spa pedicure so that you can put your best foot forward. An 80-minute Lux Pedicure at The Spa at The Four Seasons is $115 and includes a soak, seasonal scrub, supple serum and massage.
# 2- Spray Tan
Don't compromise your good health habits by being careless about your sun exposure while on vacation. Skin cancer is real and it doesn't discriminate. Feel more confident in your swimsuit and get a pre-vacation glow with a spray tan before your trip. Seattle-based Divine Sunless Tanning will come to your home (or office) and customize a golden glow just for you.
# 3- Swimsuit
Pack at least two swimsuits for your Hawaiian vacation so that your morning swim doesn't affect your afternoon adventures. Nordstrom has always been my go-to for great swimwear, but if you're shopping on a budget it's always a good idea to check Target too. Travel tip: To keep your swimsuit in good condition rinse after wear with cool water and lay it flat to dry in the shade on your balcony. (Laying out your suit to dry in direct sunlight can cause it to fade over time).
# 4- Island Wear
From a style perspective, the Hawaiian islands are very casual and you can usually get by with packing just one or two dressy outfits for date nights or special occasions and keeping the rest of your wardrobe very casual. When I'm on Kauai I live in sun dresses, sunglasses and sandals. If I'm going to do something active, like riding bikes or hiking, I'll wear a tank top and a pair of linen shorts. Pack things that are lightweight and easy to wear. Style tip: Don't forget to pack a tote bag for the beach. Look for something made out of nylon instead of cotton so that your valuables will stay dry.
Don't wait until you're on the island to purchase sunscreen. I've made this mistake before and have been really disappointed with the inflated prices and limited selection. If you're in the market for a high-quality sunscreen that's oil-free and won't cause breakouts, try SkinMedica Daily Physical Defense SPF 30+, available locally at SkinSpirit (formerly Calidora).
before you go.....
Renting a car on the island is essential, especially if you plan to explore. We've always had good luck renting from Alamo Rent a Car while on Kauai, but if you're a AAA member traveling with kids you may want to rent with Hertz as they offer members a 20% discount plus free child seat rentals.
Romantic and kid-free date nights on Kauai are made possible with the help of Nana's Babysitting Services. Sharon Hackleman has over 30+ years of experience working with children and is certified in both CPR and First Aid. Sharon shows up at your hotel room with a suitcase full of toys and instantly makes children feel at ease. We highly recommend her services and will definitely use her again.
Alaska Airlines runs daily, non-stop flights from Seattle to Kauai. The flight time is about 6.5 hours and less travel time means more time to spend on the beach.
Leave us a comment below and share your favorite Kauai tips and places to visit.
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Craving more? Check out our Kauai board on Pinterest!
Craving more? Check out our Kauai board on Pinterest!