Finally, we took our first big vacation since pre-pandemic! While we’ve gone on a few long weekend road-trips, nothing compares to a full week of time off together as a family. 18 months was far too long and you can bet we won’t be waiting that long again. When it came time to decide where to go, the last place we visited two days before shutdown felt appropriate: Kauai! We went to Kauai for the first time in early March 2020 for our babymoon and we were so excited to return with that very baby again.
I’ll cut to the chase and give you all our recommendations for how to plan a fun, relaxing (well… as relaxing as it can be with a toddler) trip to Kauai.
First things first: pack the essentials.
Beach vacation essentials with a toddler
- Reusable swim diaper *runs small (pair with these swim trunks)
- Waterproof swim hat
- Swim vest
- Pool float
- Swimming baby shark (trust me, this is a GOOD toy)
- Sand toys
- Baby sunscreen
- Short sleeve PJs
- Disposable place mats
- Sound machine
- Travel crib
Okay now that you stocked up from Amazon, book the perfect spot for your family.
Where we like to stay
We stayed South Shore the first time we came to Kauai, but decided to stay East Shore since it was an easier drive to the north, had more things to do and was closer to many of the restaurants we wanted to try.
Criteria for where we were going to stay
- Full kitchen (underscoring the need for a relaxing vacation, eating at a restaurant with my toddler for every meal would be quite the opposite)
- Ocean views
- Walkable to the beach
- Separate space for Caden (extra bedroom, extra bathroom or extra large walk-in closet)
We selected Waipouli Beach Resort because it fit all this criteria plus some bonuses
- Large walk-in sand bottomed baby pool (didn’t realize how amazing this would be)
- Onsite bar/restaurant with great reviews
- Right across from Safeway
- 5 min walk to the Kapaa Bike Path
And now for the fun stuff…
Where we like to eat (and drink) from the East Shore
- Best Breakfast: Java Kai
- Best Acai: Kalalea Juice Hale (but if you go north you must try Nourish Hanalei or if you go south Anakē’s Juice Bar)
- Best Poke: Kilauea Fish Market (technically Northeast, but worth the drive – the owner’s boyfriend freshly catches the Ahi every day)
- Best Shave Ice: Wailua Shave Ice
- Best Coffee: Small Town Coffee Co
- Best Hidden Gem: Coconuts Fish Cafe (we actually canceled some dinner reservations and instead ordered take-out from here to eat with the views from our room)
- Best Unique Eats: Kenji Burger
- Best Drinks with a View: Oasis on the Beach (great happy hour 3p to 5p, Wednesday’s live music)
Where we like to explore from the East Shore
- Beaches for toddlers: Lydgate Beach Park, Anini Beach (North, not East, but worth the drive)
- Walking with a stroller: Kapaa Bike Path
Where we like to explore without the toddler
- Napali Coast: save this hike for a day where you have a babysitter… it’s not toddler friendly.
- Biking: we intended to bike the full Kapaa Bike Path with Caden, but none of the 3 bike rental companies along the path offered the bike trailer or mounted seats for toddlers, so we had to leave him behind.
This was definitely a trip we want to do annually and plan on staying in the exact same spot putting this all on repeat. Kauai with a toddler is definitely LESS relaxing than a pre-baby vacation, but plan it right and you’ll make the best memories. Do you have recommendations? Please drop them in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links including the Amazon Associates Program. When you make purchases through links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting New Modern Mom!