Kauai is the fourth largest of the main Hawaiian Islands. Its land area encompasses roughly 552 square miles and only 3% of the island is developed for commercial and residential use. It also happens to be a very desirable place to visit for families, but some people are deterred because it’s potentially an expensive trip. There is no question that everything adds up – from plane fare to food to activities to transportation. No one wants to take a trip worrying about the finances, but if you plan ahead and you do it carefully, it’s possible to plan a memorable vacation.
Here are our tips on how to visit Kauai on a budget
Traveling during off-season is key. Don’t be like everyone else who wants to escape the cold in the winter. If you want to find a lower airfare, plan to visit between September to early December or mid-April to early June. Days of the week also matter – cheap tickets can be found mid-week. We also recommend setting up an airfare alert on several booking sites so you can flagged when specials pop up and keep an eye on Hawaiian Airlines, a discount airline.
Where to Stay
Kauai Beach Resort is proof that budget lodging can be found on the island of Kauai. Located very close to the Lihue Airport, the resort is set on an isolated beach and offers many of the perks, comfort frills of the other resorts – but with a huge difference in price. The resort provides complimentary shuttle service to the airport, an on-site restaurant with an affordable menu, three pools connected by an island with a waterslide, a spa, hula lessons with a complimentary mai tai drink, a garden and a warm staff.
What to Do
This family-friendly island offers so much to its visitors. There are budget adventures galore to be had, as the weather is ideal all year long. The outdoor opportunities are beautiful beyond description and can easily be done without breaking the bank – from hiking to biking to snorkeling and spending a day on the beach, you can easily have a great family-friendly vacation without breaking the bank.
A family can easily spend time hiking Waimea Canyon, the largest canyon in the Pacific and a dramatic sight to behold. Nearby is Kalalau Lookout where you get a view of cliffs gorges that drop to the sea 4,000 feet below. Or rent bikes and drive to the top, coming down at sunset.
You can also rent kayaks and go for a ride along the scenic Hanalei River and Bay Reef Lagoon, with views of Makana Peak and a chance to wade by a sandy beach. Bring a picnic with you, and spend the morning or afternoon there.
At Kamokila Village, you and your family can see the ruins and petroglyphs, and learn about the king of the only island not conquered by King Kamehameha.
The National Tropical Botanical Garden is a beautiful garden that covers 240 acres, sprinkled with 70 life-size (some larger-than-life-size) whimsical bronze statues. It has something for everyone: waterfalls, pools, arbors, topiaries, colonnades, gazebos, a poinciana maze, a lagoon with spouting fountains, a Japanese teahouse, and an enchanting path along a bubbling stream to the ocean.
The beaches in Kauai are breathtaking and offer opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Kauai has 43 beaches, which are free and accessible to the public. From the beaches of Hanalei Bay on the North Shore to the miles of empty sand on the west side at Kekaha, you could literally spend your entire vacation on a different beach every day. Bring your own pairs of snorkels or rent a pair for the day from your hotel.
If you want to educate your children about Hawaiian heritage, there is no better way than heading to a luau, like the one at Kilohana Plantation. The evening will be full of Hawaiian cuisine, a traditional show with music and dance and arts and crafts demonstrations. This may be a bit of a splurge but the experience is unique to Kauai.
The Bottom Line
Kauai can definitely be done on a budget for a family looking to visit. From the flight over to accommodations to daily activities, there are ways to make your trip affordable and less stressful. Not only will your kids remember this vacation forever more, but so you will you.
Disclosure: Holly was on a press trip hosted by the Kauai Visitors Bureau. As usual, all opinions are her own