About Kauai

Kauai is probably our favorite island in Hawaii, with Hawai’i (the Big Island) coming in a very close second. The lush greenery, beautiful beaches, ample “baby” beaches, and friendly people make this a haven for our family when we need to sneak away. We love the North Shore, but most will head down to Poipu thanks to ample lodging options.

Kauai Vacation Guide

Kauai Vacation Planning Guide


The temperatures are generally pleasant year round. Winter months tend to be a bit cool with higher winds on the north and east side at times. The water is still warm enough to enjoy for hours on end, and the sun tends to warm you up on the beach. Keep an eye on little swimmers as they may get cold faster than adults.

Ocean currents

Depending on the time of year that you are traveling the currents or rip tide will be different on each side of the island. The north shore can get rough in winter months, but calm as a lake in the summer, while the south side is calm in winter. Anini Beach and Lydgate Park on the east side are generally safe bets year round, but check the surf report before you head out each morning.

Kauai Packing Guide

  • Swimsuits, UV rash guards, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Snorkel gear (you can also rent on island): flippers, goggles and snorkel
  • Warm weather clothing (shorts, sundresses, tank tops, etc.)
  • Light long sleeve layers for early morning and evening activities (it gets chilly depending on the time of year you travel)

Time Change

Kauai is 3 hours behind Pacific Standard time, and 6 hours behind East Coast Standard Time.

How to get to Kauai

  • Main Airport on Kauai: Lihue (airport code: LIH)
  • Direct Flights to Lihue: There are direct flights from Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA) and connecting flights through Honolulu

Our Favorite Hotels on Kauai

Find More Kauai Hotels and Vacation Rentals

Best Restaurants on Kauai

Fish is the name of the game on this island, although Kalua pork is also a favorite. Don’t miss out on a taste of shaved ice either. Here are a few recommendations curated during our own trips down and a friend who lives on the island.

East shore

  • Huke Lai Lanai
  • Bubba’s Burgers
  • Kintaro’s (sushi)
  • Tiki Taco
  • Hamura Saimin
  • Tip Top Cafe
  • Scotty’s BBQ (get the ribs)

North Shore

  • Hanalei Coffee Roasters
  • The Hanalai Gourmet Café (Thursday night is fish taco night. Don’t miss it!)
  • Hanalei Pizza
  • Mediterranean Gourmet
  • Common Ground
  • Bubba’s Burgers

South Shore

  • Grand Hyatt Luau
  • Savage Shrimp
  • Bubba’s Burgers
  • Keoki’s Paradise
  • Dukes
  • Puka Dog & Da Crack for lunch/carry out

West Shore

  • Kalaheo Cafe & Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo (west side)
  • Ishihara Market in Waimea for poke.



Food Shopping

  • Walmart: located in Lihue. Limited groceries, but loads of beach items you may need to stock up on (umbrellas, towels, chairs, swimwear, sunscreen, etc.)
  • Costco: southside near Poipu
  • Grocery Stores: each town has its own grocery store. Safeway in Kapa’a is an easy stop if you are staying on the east or north side. Although Hanalei (north side) has its own grocery store, it is small and you would be better off filling up in Princeville for any major shopping to stock up your rental or resort kitchen.

Farmers Markets (confirm times and dates before you depart)

  • Monday: Koloa
  • Tuesday: Waipa and Kalaheo
  • Wednesday: Kapa’a and Poipu
  • Thursday: Kilauea
  • Friday: Lihue and Anahola
  • Saturday: Hanalei and Anahola
  • Sunday: Anahola


  • Rental Car: Costco and Discount Hawaii Car Rentals offer up great discounts on rentals from Lihue Airport
  • Driving distances: It will take you about 2-2.5 hours to drive from Haena on the far north shore down to Poipu. It is easy to base yourself in one spot on the island and see the rest of the island; just be prepared for some longer trips in the car.


  • Island Helicopter Kauai
  • Waimea Canyon
  • Spouting Horn
  • Snorkeling: Anini Beach, Lydgate Park, Tunnels
  • Lydgate Park Playground
  • Grand Hyatt Luau
  • Hike the Napoli trail
  • Boat ride along the Napoli coast (age restrictions apply)
  • Whale watching (age restrictions apply)
  • Stand Up Paddle boarding

Favorite Family Beaches

  • 5 ingredients for the perfect baby beach
  • Tunnels Beach
  • Ke’e Beach
  • Anini Beach
  • Lydgate Park
  • Poipu Beach



  • Buy a cheap inflatable baby pool. Use it as a playpen for your baby to hang out, sleep, and enjoy the beach along with the family. Warning: Once your baby goes mobile this will not work very well. They will be eating sand in no time.
kauai with kids
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