Kauai with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

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Kauai with Teens: A Family Vacation

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Kauai, also known as the Garden Island, presents an ideal mix of pristine sandy beaches, beautiful tropical landscapes and historical local Hawaiian towns. Compared to some of the other Hawaiian islands, Kauai certainly does not have the commercialized feel found on Maui or Oahu. Nevertheless, Kauai does have a lot to offer any family looking to enjoy a fun-filled vacation. Here are some of my tips for enjoying a day in Kauai with your teens.


Morning


Where you eat breakfast may depend a lot on where you are staying on the island. For those on the north side, there is no better place to start your morning then Java Kai (5-5183C Kuhio Highway, 808-826-6717), located in the town of Hanalei. It's a cozy little coffee place with limited outdoor seating, perfect for enjoying those beautiful Kauai mornings. Just be prepared to enjoy the sounds of the nearby roosters strolling around the grassy area in front of the restaurant. These wild roosters actually roam all over the island and after a while, you'll just get used to them running around! The place is always hopping in the morning (especially during peak summer months), so it's best to get there between 8AM and 9AM to beat the rush.

Java Kai serves an excellent array of breakfast items including the Kauai Waffle, with bananas, papaya and whipped cream, topped with authentic Hawaiian macadamia nuts and their surfer's sandwich, with eggs, bacon and cheese served on a bagel or English muffin.

After breakfast, there are a wide variety of shops located right across the street, where your teens can spend some time to themselves checking out all the cool surf shops.


Afternoon


Depending on your interests, there are a few options for afternoon activities in Kauai with your teens. For those that enjoy some time outdoors, there is a great hiking trail on the north side of the island with spectacular views of the Na Pali coast. From Java Kai, continue going west on Route 560 all the way to the end of the road. This is where you will find the parking lot for Ke' e Beach. Parking is extremely limited at Ke' e Beach, so it's best to get there as early as possible to get a close spot. Otherwise, you may be walking quite a distance.

Once you've parked, walk toward the beach to the beginning of the Kalalau Trail. From here, you can do a two-mile hike to Hanakapi'ai Beach, nestled in between the rugged mountains of the Na Pali coast. The hike will provide you with some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Ke'e Beach and the coastline. The beach at the end of the trail offers a great place to enjoy a packed lunch and rehydrate prior to the hike back.

If your family enjoys more of the water activities, Ke' e Beach offers some great snorkeling both inside and outside the reef. Just make sure you check the weather prior to going, as depending on the time of year, the ocean conditions can be rather rough.

An alternative to a hike would be to book a helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (Harbor Mall, Suite 114, 3501 Rice Street, 800-745-2583), located in Lihue by the airport. I have flown with Blue Hawaiian twice (in both Kauai and in Maui) and they are definitely very professional and will no doubt give you a great tour of the island. Although it can be rather expensive for a family, these tours are definitely worth every penny. It really is the only way to see the island and it will certainly be a huge thrill for your teens! The cost for a ride is $200 dollars per person.

If you do choose to go on the helicopter tour, a great place to stop for lunch is Duke's at 3610 Rice Street (808-246-5166). It is almost right across the street from the Blue Hawaiian headquarters and offers amazing views of Nawiliwili Bay and great food to go with the view. Duke's nachos will really hit the spot and the mahi-mahi sandwich with homemade tartar sauce offers a great taste of some authentic Hawaiian seafood.


Evening


After returning to your hotel, shower and get ready for the evening's activities. A great place in Kauai to grab a quick bite with your teens is Bubba's Burgers (5-5161 Kuhio Highway, 808-826-7839) in Hanalei. The burgers here are really one of a kind and certainly deserve a try during your time on Kauai. Once you are done chowing down, there's no better way to complete your meal on a warm Hawaiian evening than by trying some shaved ice from Shave Ice Paradise (5-5183C Kuhio Highway, 808-826-6659) in Hanalei. This is far from your typical snow cone place. Shave Ice Paradise offers a variety of flavored ice that combine a number of different tastes. Some of my favorites include Hawaiian Sunset and Volcano. Each of these specialties offers a blend of Hawaiian fruit flavors such as pineapple, coconut and papaya. But the truly unique part of this local place is that they put two large scoops of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom of the bowl and then pile on the shaved ice. It is a taste you will be craving for years to come! By then, you may finishing up just in time to take a walk out to the picturesque Hanalei Bay and take in a gorgeous Hawaiian sunset on the beach.

Another option for your evening entertainment is to book a luau at the Smith Family Garden Luau at 174 Wailua Road, (808-821-6895) in Kapaa. The luau includes a great Hawaiian feast including Kalua pork, mahi-mahi and fresh salmon along with many other dishes. You will certainly not go away hungry! After dinner, the show offers some authentic Hawaiian performances that will certainly provide some wonderful entertainment for your entire family. The cost is $78 for adults and $30 for children up to 13.

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