Kauai has stolen my heart.
From the local cuisine to the awe-inspiring landscape and everything in between, we had an unforgettable time on our first trip as a family of five. And I wanted to share some of our favorite spots in case you are headed this way!
We stayed at the beautiful 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay located in Kaua'i, Princeville - with all the accommodations you need for a fun-filled trip without ever leaving the resort. From wellness spas to guided hikes to farm to table meals, it was any wellness enthusiast and outdoor lovers’ paradise. Moreover, the hotel has the perfect shallow beach and grass area to set up a kiddie pool for the babies.
You'll feel completely immersed in the wonders of Kauai, with a breathtaking view of Kauai's North Shore from the hotel room. Even with the early wake up calls with baby Julian, it's hard to complain when you're waking up in paradise.
Now, I know planning a family vacation can sometimes be an overwhelming experience, especially when traveling with little ones. Luckily, there's no shortage of family-friendly activities in Kauai's North Shore to keep both you and the kiddos occupied. Kauai's North Shore is a vast area filled with waterfalls, rainforests, river mouths, and greenery everywhere you look. It's home to the towns of Kilauea, Haena, Hanalei, Anini, and Princeville, all within a 17-mile stretch along the coast.
If you are anything like us, you'll want to explore as much of the North Shore as possible while you're here. During our stay, we made our way throughout Hanalei Bay, Princeville, and Kileau to discover some delicious eats and kid-approved activities to add to your itinerary for your future travels.
Here's what we got up to...
What to Do in Hanalei Bay
Hanalei is a local beach town filled with fresh cuisine and small businesses that are the quintessential of Kauai culture - honoring the land and community while considering their ecological impact in everything they do. The main street of Hanalei Bay is short and packed with great food, surfboard rentals, delicious coffee, shaved ice, and more. Here’s some of our favorite spots from the trip:
Breakfast & Coffee
- Wishing Well Coffee and CO: Serves organically grown coffee, nourishing smoothies, and acai bowls using locally sourced ingredients. They even offer a variety of homemade nut milks to enjoy in your latte with their custom made blend of coffee beans made by Outpost Coffee Kauai.
- Holey Grail Donuts: We got to experience Holey Grail Donut’s "Sunday Ritual" of serving hand-fried taro donuts from a tiny red burger trailer in Hanalei. For anyone with a dairy allergy, these dairy-free Taro doughnuts are fried in coconut oil and 100% vegan. The boys got to treat themselves to these delightful bites while me and the hubby sipped on their nitro cold brews with homemade nut milk.
Lunch & Dessert
- Hanalei Bread Company: You’ll have to stop by this locally owned, organic bakery and coffee house in the heart of Hanalei. Serving daily-made fresh bread, pastries, breakfast, lunch, and grab-and go-items such as fresh-made hummus, pesto, and a variety of salads such as quinoa, pasta and grain salads. Perfect for a picnic at the beach!
- Fresh Bite Farm to Beach: This local food truck has all the fixings to create a Fab 4 approved lunch! We loaded up on salads, wraps, and bowls with their fresh veggies and protein options.
- Wishing Well Shave Ice: You can’t go to Kauai without trying some traditional shaved ice. And better yet - Wishing Well has organic flavors made from fresh, local fruit and build your own options to customize it to your own liking.
- Chef Danny Kauai: Chef Danny is a personal home chef specializing in gluten-free and dairy-free options. He created a five-star spread of fresh fish and local steaks with all the veggies, spring rolls, and purple potato mash, made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients to bring us the flavors of Kauai.
- Bar Cuda Restaurant: Bar Acuda is a Hawaiian-inspired take on traditional tapas – made from fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients! It's a great spot to enjoy if you're traveling in a group like us and want to try a variety of items off the menu.
- AMA Ramen Shop: For authentic ramen and noodle dishes on Kauai’s legendary North Shore, AMA ramen has amazing food and an even better view!
- The Hanalei Dolphin: For the sushi lovers, Hanalei Dolphin serves fresh, locally caught fish in their legendary sushi bar, along with delicious steaks and other seafood options to enjoy.
- Postcards Restaurant: Postcards is inspired by travel and the local Kauai cuisine, with farm-fresh vegetarian, ocean-to-table entrees, fresh beef and lamb as well as revered desserts. We enjoyed our food outside on the picnic tables - it’s perfect for kids because they can run around on the grass.
- Hanalei Market: Traveling with little ones means you always need snacks on standby. Luckily, we found the cutest little health food store in town carrying fresh produce and a few of our favorite brands - including LMNT electrolytes, Chomps Beef Sticks, Bragg, Force of Nature Meats, and more. You already know I can’t go anywhere without my LMNT electrolyte packets, especially in the heat of summertime and while breastfeeding. They are a fan favorite among all our friends so we stocked up an extra pack to share.
- For the cutest shop in town, check out Barn 808. It's filled with an eclectic collection of free-spirited, Kauai-inspired clothing, jewelry, and accessories located in the heart of Hanalei Bay.
- Hanalei Surf School: If you want to sharpen your surfing skills, check out Hanalei surf and ask for Brittany! They’ll rent you boards or take you out to learn.
- Na Pali Coast Adventure Tours: For a beautiful adventure along the coastline of Na Pali, Hanalei Surf school also offers boat charters just 15 minutes away from the Na Pali Coast. It will take you along the coastline for a surreal view of the towering sea cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, pure blue ocean waters, lava tube sea caves, and the occasional dolphin sighting.
- Stand-Up Paddle Boarding and Boogie Board Rentals: The 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay offers standup paddle board and boogie board rentals for the babies to splash and play on in the shallow beach water.
- Snorkeling: If you’re looking for an ideal snorkeling spot, you can go past Hanalei Bay to Tunnels Beach (Makua) for a serene stretch of beach, and hit up the beautiful beaches and river mouth on your way there. I'd make sure to stock up on food and beverages at the Hanalei Market or local restaurants before your trip as there's not many food options close to the beach.
I definitely recommend a day where Hanalei is home base - where you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner in town, set up camp at one of the beaches, then end the day with a sunset swim or surf sesh.
What to Do in Kilauea
If you're staying in Hanalei Bay, another beautiful beach town I'd suggest adding to your itinerary is Kilauea. Kilauea is just under a 20 minute drive from our hotel, with tons of fresh food and fun-filled activities. And the best part is, all these spots were walking distance if you want to fit them all in a day trip.
Here’s an awesome day in Kilauea:
Breakfast & Coffee
- Trilogy: A wellness inspired coffee shop with super and adaptogen mushroom lattes, raw desserts, homemade protein balls and bars, and homemade vegan cream cheese spread for your bagels.
- Java Kai: They have it all - lattes, bacon and eggs, beautiful breakfast toasts, salads, açaí bowls, and freshly baked pastries.
Lunch & Juice Spots
- The Kilauea Fish Market has fresh caught fish tacos, chicken rice bowls, and what’s supposed to be the best ahi wrap on the island.
- Kauai Juice Co. is in the same shopping center as Trilogy and Java Kai, so you can stop in one or all three while you're here. They serve up fresh squeezed juices, wellness shots, bars, bone broths, smoothie bowls, salads, and more. We picked up their fresh green juice and salad bowls for a quick bite before we hit the beach.
- You can head back to the same shopping center and snag something from a breakfast spot for lunch, too!
- Healthy Hut Kauai: This basically is like walking into a mini Erewhon and it carries all of our favorite brands. Plus, it was a great way to support local agriculture. Here’s what we picked up:
- Hume Supernatural deodorant
- Primal Kitchen Foods ketchup
- Siete Grain-Free tortillas
- Malk Organics almond milk
- Applegate bacon
- Local ground beef and organic eggs
- Fresh fruit
- Organic wine
- Hunter Gatherer: A thoughtfully curated store featuring sustainable brands and Hawaiian-made products. Don’t miss Hunter Gatherer for the cutest pottery and chic Hawaii souvenirs to bring back home!
- Mini Golf & Playground: We stopped by the Anaina Hou Community Park where we found a mini golf course inside a beautiful botanical garden. They also have an epic wood structure with a huge boat and volcano for the kids to climb on. It's located in the same parking lot as the Kauai Juice Co., Trilogy, and Java Kai, for a one stop shop on all the food and adventure you need.
- Kalihiwai Beach & River Mouth: On the way back from Kilauea towards Princeville, you'll pass Kalihiwai Beach. It's a seclueded stretch of beach bordered by the Kalihiwai River and surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of greenery. The River Mouth has a rope swing and slide for kids, and is just one big nature playground. The beach has a shore break but it’s fun to boogie board if it’s not big!
This trip was truly special. I am so grateful we were able to experience the beautiful landscape, crystal clear beaches, and endless amounts of fresh, locally sourced food that Kauai has to offer.
Please note, I am not encouraging travel at this time. With so much respect for the Hawaiian islands, I’d like to take this time to recognize the devastating wildfires impacting Maui and encourage you to join us in supporting those affected by this tragedy.
Here's who we are supporting:
- Lahaina Fire Disaster Relief -Harry & Toni Troupe
- Local Lahania Family Affected By Wildfires
- Lahaina Firefighter family
- Local Family Lost Everything In House Fire
- Patrick Rolfes - Lahaina Fires Relief
Find more families who could use your support here to help them start the rebuilding process.