There are specific highlights on the north shore of Kauai worth mentioning for family adventures, including the Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens and the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. Kalo, or taro, was such a staple food in Hawaii that the word for “family” comes from the name of the plant: ‘ohā (the new shoot) and –na (from) combine to create ‘ohana (made from offshoots). The Hawaiians believe that every person in their ‘ohana is an offshoot or child of their ancestors, just as new kalo plants are offshoots of the base of the plant. With family such a deeply rooted value in Hawaiian culture, it follows that Kauai would feature such lush opportunities for keiki (children) to play.
Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens
You can feel the love and respect that built Na ‘Āina Kai Botanical Gardens, Sculpture Park and Hardwood Plantation the moment you arrive on the grounds. During warm, sunny days, the water features at the gardens are enchanting, and one Saturday a month, children are invited to the “Under the Rainbow” Children’s Garden. Your keiki can splash around in Jack’s fountain (where a statue commemorates his cutting down that pesky beanstalk), play in a jungle tree house, climb through a desert-themed oasis, and even learn to walk along the perimeter of a giant gecko maze. Bring towels, snacks, and friends, and make a day of it.
The Fehring Family Farm
Located just down the road from the Botanical Gardens, heading away from Kuhio Highway, is a local organic farm known as the Fehring Family Farm. They’ve recently put up an adorable little stand outside their property so that you can stop by to get delicious tropical fruits and veggies from their gardens, and refreshing ice cold beverages and popsicles. You won’t miss it—it’s painted bright red and yellow!
Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge
The Kilauea Lighthouse offers an incredible vantage point of the north shore’s steep cliffs, with numerous telescopes scattered throughout the property for close-up views of endangered ‘Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua (Hawaiian monk seal), honu (green sea turtles), naia (dolphins, particularly spinner dolphins that often leap out of the water) and, during the winter season, koholā (humpback whales). The Kaua’i National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of three refuges that provide an extremely valuable habitat for native wildlife. Because this also serves as a natural preserve, you can see many Hawaiian seabirds in their natural habitat, including the island’s endangered nēnē geese.
Keep heading up the north shore and you’ll find one of Kauai’s most iconic locations—Hanalei Town. There are countless shops, restaurants, and ways for the family to play. If you’d like to try stand-up paddleboarding together, the Hanalei River is an ideal location. It’s flat and easy to paddle. You’ll notice a sign on your right beside the Dolphin Restaurant that says, “Dock Dynasty,” where Kayak Kauai is located. Rent an SUP board or a kayak for your family and meander beneath the rays amongst lush elephant grass and innumerable hues of jungle green.
St. Regis Princeville Resort
The St. Regis Princeville Resort caters toward keiki, with specific activities created just for them that brings in the Hawaiian spirit. The pools are within a few steps of the coral-colored sand that wraps around Hanalei Bay. Surfboards are available to rent directly from the hotel, so you can paddle “The Bowl” surf break. Consider hiring a sitter from the hotel so that you and your partner can have a date night at one of the St. Regis’s restaurants, including Kauai Grill, with a menu inspired by award-winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
From the Botanical Gardens to the Kilauea Lighthouse, all the way to Hanalei, your entire family will love playing on the north shore of Kauai. Best of all, these suggestions are only the beginning. The more you explore Kauai, the more you’ll discover you’ve only just begun!