When my husband found out he needed to attend a conference in Kauai, HI we were ecstatic. I attended the same conference with him two years previous and we left the kids at home. Needless to say we had a wonderful time exploring the Big Island. This time around, shortly after he committed to attending, we found out we were expecting our third child. The baby would be 4 months old at the time of our trip. Too young to leave behind, unless I wanted to spend the whole vacation pumping which did not sound fun at all. So we recruited my mom to come with us(did not take much convincing) and took the family to Kauai for a week. When planning for the trip I searched and searched for "Kauai with Kids" posts and could not find what I was looking for. Here are some things that worked for us, and that didn't.
In our party: 8 yr old girl H, 5 yr old boy A, 4 month old girl L
Myself, Husband, and Bubbe
The Flights: Flying from the east coast we opted to fly through LA on the way there. The flights were fairly uneventful and everyone did well. I was glad I packed the Ergo in my carry on to soothe the fussy baby during our layover. The built in TVs on the Delta flight were a big hit and the kids were entertained the entire flight. The return flight was a bit more challenging. There is no way to get back to the east coast without a red eye. We left LIH at 2PM and arrived in SEA at 10:00 PM Seattle time. Then took a red eye back east. The first leg was on Alaska Airlines which was amazing. The flight attendants were very accommodating and actually seemed to enjoy having children on the plane- a first! It was definitely better having the red eye as our second flight. Everyone slept a bit (and watched the Delta Tvs). This aspect could have been a lot worse.
The Time Changes: It took about 2 days but everyone adapted to the 6 hrs earlier. After the first two days, the kids were going to bed around 9 and waking up at 6 AM. Not too bad. The return it took about a week and it was painful. Lots of nighttime wake ups with our otherwise pretty good sleepers. Let's just say it will be awhile before I consider taking all of them back to Hawaii! The baby had the easiest adjustment with the 8 yr old having the most difficult time.
Gear: I brought diapers and wipes with me (stashed them in the bag with our car seats) but used Kauai Baby Rentals to rent a baby play mat, bouncer seat and beach toys. I was so glad I had the baby gear as it was nice to have a place for her to hang out in the hotel room. The stuff was in excellent condition and was waiting for us when we arrived. The company picked it up right for the hotel upon our departure. So easy. Had I done it again I probably would not have rented the beach toys. For the price I paid for the toys for the week I could have picked some up for much cheaper at the drug store near the hotel and left them there.
Our Chicco Bravo travel system held up well and L took many naps in the stroller reclined without the car seat. Also our Ergo came in handy for beach walks, and airport fussiness. We also brought 2 booster seats for the big kids and checked them with our luggage. Since the airlines don't charge for car seats we took two separate car seat bags. This is also a great place to stash extra stuff you don't have room for in your main luggage.
Location: The Grad Hyatt is on the southern part of the island. You can get to most spots on the island within a few hours drive. We made the decision we would not spend more than an hour in the car driving to different locations because well, its painful with all the kids. We did one longer drive to see Waimea Canyon but otherwise kept our excursions closer to the hotel. Had we been staying longer we may have driven up to the North Shore and stayed a night or two, but our time was somewhat limited. We were not able to see all the sights on the Island, but had a good balance between relaxing time, our sanity, and getting a taste of the Island culture.
Beaches: The beach at the Hyatt is not suitable for kids to swim in. The waves are HUGE and not safe. Husband went in and got thrashed around pretty good. We drove 5 minutes down the road to Poipu Beach Park. We brought towels from the hotel, our sand toys and found a shady spot at one of the many shady picnic tables. No need to bring/rent your own chairs if you don't have them. L snoozed in the shade while my mom took in scenery and we explored the beach. One side of the shore is protected by a rock wall making it ideal for calm swimming for the kiddos. Be sure to go across the street to Brennecke's Beach Broiler for shave ice. They also have a full restaurant and deli with sandwiches but we didn't eat there. The shave ice was a hit though!
Food and Shops:
Here are the places we ate with a brief review of each. This is the result of lots of Yelping and I have to say, we didn't have a bad meal.
There were two main shopping centers near the hotel that we frequented- Poipu Shopping Village and Kukui'ula Village shopping center. The Kukui'ula Village shops has a Long's drug store (CVS) which was very convenient for any forgotten items.
There is also a farmer's market there on Wednesdays which was fun to walk around.
Seaview Terrace- This bar at the Hyatt has a nice menu and kids food for a relaxed vibe overlooking the ocean. Kids enjoyed their food, adults enjoyed their wine. A win-win.
Merriman's- We went on a date here and left the kids with Bubbee. We ate at Merriman's when we were on the big Island and this location did not compare. It was good, but expensive and not the best meal we had there. I would not necessarily eat here again on a return visit. Not a kid friendly spot. We ate lunch one day at the more casual Merriman's pizza and burgers underneath the upscale restuarunt. It was just ok and pricey. Would go instead to Bubba's in the same shopping center for cheaper and quicker service.
Keokhe's Paradise- This is close to the hotel in the Poipu Village Shops. We had a great dinner here with the kids. Very fun atmosphere and great food. We had a lunch here that was not as great. Would recommend for dinner.
Island Taco- We ate at the location in the Poipu Village shops and this was delicious. Quick, fresh and delicious. Wish we would have time to go back agian!
Gina's- We ate here on the way to Waimea Canyon and had a great meal. See below.
Eating House- this place was awesome. Food was delicious for dinner and they had an amazing kids menu. Highly recommend. This is in the Kukui'ula Village Shopping Center.
Tidepools- We ended our week with a dinner at Tidepools at the hotel. The food and atmosphere was amazing and the kids enjoyed watching the Koi in the pond below us. A nice ending to an incredible week in Kauai!
We tried to balance having relaxation time in the hotel vs. exploring the Island. Many of the things we might have done without the kids (helicopter rides, boat rides, etc) were off limits given the ages of our kids. We did venture off the resort to explore nearby beaches and parts of the island.
Waimea Canyon: One afternoon we all piled in the rented mini van and drove out to Waimea Canyon. It is about an hour's drive to the base of the canyon. We stopped in Waimea to eat lunch at Gina's which is a great place to grab a loco moco or plate lunch. Also in Waimea is the highly rated Jojo's shave ice which we were planning on stopping at on the return back to the hotel, but some behavior issues prevented us from doing that. Overall a fun outing and worth the drive to see the amazing topography of the island.
Kilohana Plantation- This plantation was not far from the hotel. We had lunch there and bought tickets for the train ride. This was fun and the kids loved the stops to feed the animals. Bonus was a shave ice shop accross the street. Very successful outing and would do again given the kids ages!
Overall it was a great trip and I am so glad our kids got to experience it. All opinions are my own and nothing was sponsored (haha I wish!). I hope is helpful to those considering Kauai with kids!