Three days?!? What? That’s like 10 minutes in paradise. But you never turn down paradise. I planned our first family vacation to Hawaii. And I mean whole family. All 15 of us. It was also the first trip with all the cousins together. A while back I posted a guide to Kauai with kids, but what did the rest of us adults do on the trip? Well, we had 3 whole days to find the perfect balance between adventure, the beach, and family time. Read this quick itinerary on what my family and I were able to squeeze into a 3 day Kauai vacation. I highly recommend spending more than 3 days in Kauai but if your short on time, see below for some ideas.
9:00 – Arrive at Lihue Airport. We had to rent three separate cars (we’re a huge family). We then went straight to Walmart, a very short drive from the airport, to stock up on groceries and beach toys.
11:00 – Lunch: Smiley’s. My sisters found this on Yelp and it did not disappoint. Seriously, so good! It has this aura of “this needs to be kept a local secret” but I suppose I’ll share it with my lovely readers 😉 (Hi all 3 of you!) It’s this little hole in the wall with its food bursting with flavor. I split a meal with my sister – as would be the norm for the rest of the trip. We ordered the Kalua Pork and the Loco Moco! No pictures because she’s strictly against being basic 🙁 . It tasted amazing. And the kids love Chicken Katsu, from anywhere actually. Seating is limited. Our family took up the entire spot! Only downside was the slow service but we were all on island time anyway (gotta get with the program).
2:00 – Got to our condos at Ka ‘Eo Kai, a Wyndham timeshare, and had to wait while they were cleaning both units. We split between two condos, one upstairs & one downstairs unit, complete with two bedrooms, 2 baths, laundry, kitchen, and wrap around lanai. The lanai was beautiful with an inspiring view of the mountains. The condos were newly renovated and there were a lot of activities/amenities available to guests. The best was probably the free Mai Tai’s at sunset. My only quip would have to be the locations. Princeville is fancy and has a reputation for being luxurious. It has a romantic vibe and is perfect for couples. However, we were on a trip with six kids and the family vibe was lacking a bit in the North Shore.
5:00 – We went to Anini Beach which was close by. Either a short 10 minute drive, or from the resort, there was supposedly a trail to the beach. We weren’t able to test it out because of the small children with us.
7:00 – Dinner: Tired from a day of traveling, driving and beaches, we grabbed a quick dinner and ice cream at Lappert’s. Near the resort is the Princeville Shopping Center. There was open seating, so taking up three tables, we ordered pizza (North Shore General Store), Mexican food (Frederico’s Fresh-Mex Cuisine) Thai food (Lotus Garden).
8:00 – Leave early to drive to Koloa. A downside to staying in the North Shore is the drive south, especially if most activities are that way. It’s a 1-hour drive from Princeville to, say, Koloa. And there’s only one main highway connecting the two. So if there’s an accident, well….you know how that goes. My sisters and brothers-in-law booked a zip-line tour for the morning. A chance to get away from the kids while my mom and dad watched them.
10:00 – by this time we had completed registration, a crash course in zip-lining, and a practice zip. With the many zip-lining options offered on Kauai, we chose to book with Koloa Zipline. Not only is it known for Kauai’s longest zip-line, but for a little extra you can fly down it superman style. A special harness allows you to go head first, or upside down. The two guides were great, super funny. And you will get all the workout you need just hiking up to one of the lines while carrying your harness equipment. Halfway through we got a break with drinks, a view, and the best granola bar I’ve eaten since ever. Anahola Granola ♥ .
1:00 – Lunch: Koloa Fish Market. We got the absolute best Poke this side of Kauai. My mouth is watering reminiscing how tasty this was. We brought it to a local park to enjoy before getting some ice cream for that long journey back to the condo.
3:00 – We spent the rest of the afternoon around the resort pool with Mai Tai’s in hand.
7:00 – Dinner: Another early dinner, because if you’re coming from the mainland, you’ll experience a time difference. Of course, with kids, they’re used to eating dinner at a certain time. Seven o’clock Hawaii time was ten o’clock our time which explains our early dinners. We first drove to Hanalei Bay to take in the view before dinner around Ching Young Village Shopping Center. I had a Pineapple Burger at Chicken In A Barrel. I have never in my life cared for pineapple mixed with savory foods! I dislike (well, disliked) pineapple pizza. Up until having this burger 🍍❤️. We sat outside since we’re such a big party.
8:00 – Got the day started early and took that one hour drive to make it to our helicopter tour on time. We booked with Island Helicopters and had an amazing time. You can read more about Kauai from the sky in this post. I was lucky my sisters agreed to watch the kids while I had this once in a lifetime experience!
11:00 – We didn’t want to drive back to Princeville, and again back to the South Shore so we stayed in the area. We drove through the popular Tunnel of Trees on the way to Poipu.
12:00 – Lunch: Savage Shrimp. It was so-so. Nothing memorable. We had ice cream and shave ice for dessert. This was my first time trying real shave ice. So good! Nothing on the mainland like it.
2:00 – Laying and splashing about around Poipu Beach was one of my favorite memories. The waters are tame enough for small kids, and the excitement from seeing sea turtles on the beach was priceless. I have more on these beach moments in my guide to Kauai with kids.
7:00 – Dinner: We booked a nice family dinner at Hukilau Lanai. The food was some of the yummiest we had on the trip. This was a great way to end our family vacation in Kauai. From the moment we entered, the service, the atmosphere, and the view were all on point.
Morning of departure
11:00 – Had a late start to our last morning in Kauai. We were able to squeeze in one last thing before almost missing our flight back home. On the way to the airport we stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse. Sadly, it was closed. According to the website, they’re closed every Sunday and Monday. It was still a nice drive around the neighborhood on the way there.
3:00 – We made one last attempt to get some shave ice before departure, but couldn’t find any places close enough to the airport 🙁 . Being the last ones to make it to the plane – we almost didn’t make it. This actually happened on another family vacation in Oahu over 10 years ago. Hawaii just has this thing about it where your body does not want to leave! Anyway, in 2005 we missed our flight home and had to stay with family an extra day. Sucks huh 😉 .
Three days is not enough for Kauai! Well, depending on your level of adventure. There are so many more things I wish I could have added to our short stay. But like I said, we had to find the perfect balance between family time and exciting activities. If you’re spending just a little more time on the island, or looking for some other things to add to your short stay, then you must go to Queen’s Bath, hike, or cruise by the Na Pali Coast! It’s unfortunate we couldn’t fit any popular hikes into our itinerary.
If you do choose to go to Queen’s Bath, read this informative post right here. Approach with caution of course!