PSSSST! Giveaway in progress – Have you entered to win the new Quinny Yezz ultra-compact travel stroller yet ($279 value)?
With a world famous “swell” drawing surfers from around the globe in winter months, you might not think of Kauai’s north shore as any place you’d want your young children playing in the water. Spring through early fall, however, a few of the spectacular north shore beaches here are met by waters so calm that you’ll see toddlers and even babies playing in certain sheltered stretches along golden sand.
While you should always respect the daily surf and swim advisories at these and any other beaches, here are three best-bet beaches for pleasurable snorkeling, swimming, and splashing with toddlers and young kids on Kauai’s north shore.
1. Anini Beach
Often called “Kauai’s safest beach for swimming” and a favorite of many families, the sandy shore of Anini Beach actually stretches on for about 3 miles with plentiful trees for shade sprinkled along the way. Here you can wade into calm waters made still by the large Anini Reef just feet from shore. Making it all the more popular, Anini Beach is also the closest of the three beaches to many nearby resort properties, and the first of these three you’ll come to if making a day trip north from Lihue or Poipu. As you can see here, high tide leaves little beach for lounging, however, so in peak seasons and on weekends it may feel especially crowded on the beach nearest the picnicking area and showers. Just stroll on down the sand until you find a place that suits, or watch for various beach access points from the road as you drive in.
Tips: Go early or avoid weekends when it may be extra crowded by locals, watch out for prickly tree debris if you walk around in the shady areas.
Bring: Snorkels and/or goggles for kids, charcoal and something to throw on a barbecue for lunching in the picnic area, small cooler with your own refreshments so you can make the most of your trip to this beach.
2. Tunnels Beach (Ha’ena State Park)
When you first arrive at the parking area for Ha’ena State Park, you may be startled by the waves rolling in beyond the lifeguard tower here. Relax: This is not where you’re staying. Walk west along the beach two minutes and you’ll suddenly realize you’re at the start of a 2-mile stretch of sand and calm waters that parallel a thriving reef. There is not much shade to be found along the beach, and schlepping your kids and gear from the parking area across the hot sand can be a challenge–but one that will prove well worth it when your keiki spot their first humahumanukanukaapuaa within moments of sticking goggled faces in the water here.
Tips: Go early for the best parking, use the restrooms by the parking area before setting out on your hike; get there early to avoid having to park too far down the road when the parking lot fills; and get some fresh cold coconut, hot dogs, shave ice, or other snacks from the food truck on your way out; and don’t miss a quick visit to the giant cave across the street.
Bring: Snorkels and/or goggles for kids, plenty of water and snacks in a soft-sided cooler with a shoulder-carrying strap, pop-up sun tent or beach umbrella to make your own shade; good sandals for walking the distance on hot sand (for the kids especially).
3. Ke’e Beach
You’ll know you’ve reached Ke’e Beach when you run out of road – and parking. This popular beach is at its best in summer months when the north shore waters are at their calmest. As with Tunnels Beach, you’ll want to make your way down the beach toward your right for the calmest water and safest wading / swimming conditions along the sheltering reef. The left side of the main lagoon actually has a channel through the reef that can have dangerous currents. If you get there any time but early, you will likely have to park along the road before the small parking lot for Ke’e, so plan ahead and be prepared to carry all of your gear in one trip (you won’t want to double-back to the car for a forgotten item) and to carry any children you won’t want walking alongside the road. If that’s doable for your group, you’ll enjoy gazing up from this beach to the lush Na Pali mountains that jag upward from the lagoon while your tots splash at the water’s edge and you contemplate easy snorkeling just feet away while your partner takes his shift building castles with the keiki.
Tips: If you are hungry on your way in, or hot and thirsty on your way out, watch for a possible food truck in the parking area at Haena Beach Park (where you would park for Tunnels Beach, by the dry cave) or get fresh smoothies from the Juice Truck at Hanalei.
Bring: Plenty of food and water for your visit – you’ll have to drive out to find anything else and, with the lack of parking, that means your visit to this beach is over for the day. Also: Pop-up sun tent and other items you’ll want in a large tote-bag that requires only one hand to carry so you can keep a firm grip on your child’s hand if you must walk along the road, and/or the Ergo or other child carrier to make hands-free baby-toting a little easier on yourself.
What’s your favorite beach on Kauai? Have you visited any of these three? Here’s a map to help you get there, and don’t miss the related Kauai posts and pages listed below for more help planning your family’s vacation.
View Kauai’s best north shore beaches for kids in a larger map
Related posts and pages:
- Kauai’s best beach for babies and toddlers
- Kauai’s best playground – and off-airport waiting area for families
- Salt Pond Park – Kauai’s beach haven for little kids and little critters
- Review of Aqua Kauai Beach Resort
- Review of Castle Kaha Lani Kauai vacation condos
- Tips for visiting Kauai’s National Tropical Botanical Gardens
- Pack This! Pop-up sun tent for shade
- Follow my Kauai with Kids board on Pinterest
I’ve often wondered if there’s a term to describe the window of time a traveling family spends between its arrival at a destination and when it is allowed to check in to its accommodations. I haven’t figured it out yet, but when you arrive in Kauai with your three children early in the morning after a 5-hour flight and you can’t check in to your condo or resort until 4 p.m., you might be tempted to call it something rather unpleasant–if you’re not prepared. Here’s what I recommend:
Before leaving the airport in your rental car, make sure your water bottles are topped off, leftover airplane snacks are handy, and throw those swim suits, sunblock, hats, and shorts into the day pack(s). Just a short drive up the road from Lihue airport is not only Lydgate Park–one of Kauai’s most kid-friendly lagoons for swimming and learning the basics of snorkeling–but also the best playground on Kauai.
Kamalani Playground is located by the same parking area used for the Lydgate State Park swimming area, with restrooms, showers, and picnicking areas. As you stroll over toward the playground, you’ll find an area to the right just for the littlest keiki, which includes baby swings and seating for parents (including some shady areas good for breastfeeding or parking a snoozing baby-in-stroller).
The rest of the playground sprawls in wooden splendor, with hidden pint-size passageways, steps up and down, overhead bridges, slides, balance beams, and for the bravest kids… a two-story slide inside a “volcano.”
If you’re tired of plastic stamped-out playgrounds with interchangeable parts, you’ll especially enjoy the imagination shining through this playground’s design and the finishing touches of mosaics and carvings throughout.
Of course, in a swealter, you’ve also got the kid-friendly Lydgate State Park beach and swimming lagoon just a stroll away. All in all, there’s plenty to keep kids happy and cool until check-in time rolls around.
As you exit Lihue Airport, head north on Hwy 51, which will shortly become Hwy 56. In about 10 minutes, you’ll see the sign to turn right for Lydgate State Park. Click here to see on a Google map with directions.
Good to know:
There is also a second large wooden playground near the south end of the parking along Lydgate State Park, but it is better suited to older kids and feels a bit abandoned (code word: creepy). If you happen upon this playground first, just keep driving toward the swimming and picnicking parking lot and look for the sign for “Kamalani Playground.”
Related posts and pages:
- Review of Castle Kaha Lani condos (a short walk from this playground)
- Kauai fun with little kids – the Looky Board
- Kauai’s best beach for baby or toddler
- Shelly’s Pinterest Board – Kauai with Kids
One of my favorite activities during our visit to Kauai last year was one of the simplest and easiest things I did there: Drink coffee on the beach at sunrise while the kids played on the beach.
Easy, indeed, with this small beach just a brief stroll across the lawn behind our condo at Castle Kaha Lani, and such fantastic driftwood to keep the kids entertained building sculptures and forts, and writing names in the sand.
And easier, still, with mainland jetlag on our sides.
I hear a lot of concerns about jetlag from parents preparing to travel with a baby or young child (click here if that’s you), but let’s not forget that it can sometimes work to our advantage–as I hope it will in getting us up to the top of Haleakala before the sunrise on our upcoming trip to Maui! (Crossing fingers.)
If you’re planning–or even contemplating a trip to Kauai with your kids, check out my Kauai with Little Kids board on Pinterest, and see all Travels with Baby Hawaii family travel tips and recommendations in Destinations. This post is part of the Photo Friday fun at Deliciousbaby.com. More posts, tips and pins to come!
Related posts and pages:
With our friends just returning from a vacation in Kauai, I can’t help but feel the urge to “rinse and repeat” our utterly perfect trip there last spring. Wow! What a great time for everyone. I had to revisit our photos – and all the posts I’ve yet to post with tips from our visit – and this one, of course, caught my eye.
If you’re headed to the islands with a toddler or little kid (or both), consider renting a “looky board” (along with your snorkel gear) from Snorkel Bob. These modified boogie boards have a built-in window with raised viewing shield (on other side in this picture) to give kids a view of the fleeting fishies below. You can tow your toddler along with the rope, or let your little kid paddle and scoot as thy please.
Planning a Kauai vacation with your baby, toddler, or little kids? Check out the related features below and be sure to subscribe to this blog for more upcoming Kauai family travel tips, advice and reviews.
Related posts and pages:
- Big Island – Hiking Kiluaea Iki Crater, Volcanoes National Park – pregnant
- Kauai – Kauai’s best beach for babies and toddlers
- Kauai – Visiting the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Poipu
- Kauai – Juice truck at Hanalei
- Kauai – Dressed cute for a cause in Kauai
- Kauai – Salt Pond Park – beach haven for little kids and little critters
- Kauai – Finding a vacation babysitter or nanny in Kauai
- Oahu – Oahu’s 5 Best Beaches for Kids Under 5
More traveling parents need our help. I’ve shared some thoughts of my thoughts here, and please share your own tip or advice for them in comments below. Let’s go!
QUESTION 1 – Kate writes:
I love your website/blog! I’m especially excited about all your baby-friendly Kauai recommendations as we are headed there for about a week in November. I wondered if you had any luck with babysitters/nannies during any of your stays? We’re hoping to sneak away to dinner for an evening or two while we are there.
MY SUGGESTIONS: I did not have occasion to use a babysitter on our recent trip, but I might next time around! If you haven’t visited the Directory of Vacation Nanny and Babysitter Agencies yet, there are a few in Kauai you might check out: http://www.travelswithbaby.com/planning/vacation_babysitters.htm
Have a fantastic trip – I actually have more tips coming to the blog soon I haven’t had a chance to publish yet. (See the list of family-friendly Kauai posts in Travels with Baby Destinations.)
SHARE YOUR ADVICE – If any of you have used a babysitter or nanny service in Kauai you can recommend, please share with us in comments below! And if you need to line up a hotel sitter or vacation nanny elsewhere, remember the online Directory of Vacation Babysitter and Nanny Services here.
QUESTION 2 – Natalie asks (in response to “Single or double stroller for 2-week trip through southern Europe?“):
I am having a similar dilemma as I plan for a rapidly approaching one month stay in The Netherlands this coming November. My kids will be 22 months and 7 months old at that time. We purchased a Quinny Zapp (based on the reviews on your website) for our trip to Europe last year and really LOVE it. It is so lightweight and worked great while traveling by plane and even by train; it’s easy to steer and withstood serious beatings on the cobblestone roads and crooked sidewalks in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. My daughter also had no problem napping in it at all. We continue to use it as our lightweight stroller option at home.
For THIS trip, however, we have to accommodate two young kids. My first thought was to purchase another Quinny Zapp and travel with two single strollers and two Ergo carriers. Then when we’re out and about on the trip we can carry one of the kids in an Ergo carrier, while the other uses a stroller, and switch off as the day goes on. But, always have the option of taking both strollers along depending on what we’re doing that day.
My second thought was to get a twin stroller and from your reviews I was intrigued by the Joovy Caboose Ultralight It seems to be the best of both worlds with the exception of the caboose passenger not being able to snooze. My question to Shelly is: 1) Do you think the wheels are built to withstand Old Europe’s crooked cobblestone paths?? 2) Will it be a good choice for the rainy, cold climate we’re going to be dealing with?
MY SUGGESTIONS: There are so many different ways you might do this, but my knee-jerk reaction this time around is to suggest a travel-friendly twin stroller like the Maclaren Twin Triumph, which will give you the dual reclining seat option for jetlag compensation and possible napping through the Rijksmusum masterpieces, and you can fit it well with a rain / storm cover (usually included with this model). It should fit through most doorways with no problem and leave one of you free to open those doors for the other to pass through. It also folds compactly enough to take on public transportation, and although the Triumph’s wheels aren’t *quite* as excellent as they once were, they should still stand up to cobblestones (and better than the Joovy). Better still, with an upper weight limit of 55 lbs. each seat, you may be able to take it on many future trips.
SHARE YOUR ADVICE: What double stroller or single have you taken to Europe, or traveled with in winter weather? Are you facing a similar dilemma about a travel stroller? Please leave a comment below!
Got a travel dilemma of your own?
Travels with Baby Tips readers, these traveling parents need your help. Here are two questions recently posted to the Travels with Baby Facebook page. I’ve included some suggestions of my own, and hope those of you with related advice and experience will chime in, too, by adding comments below or joining the threads on the Facebook page.
Got a travel dilemma of your own? Email me your question (or quandary) or post to the facebook page. Here we go!
QUESTION 1 - Shelley asks:
My daughter is going to be almost three when we travel to Hawaii in January. She won’t be using a pack n play anymore because she is too long but probably will still be using her crib. Any suggestions for the hotel sleeping accommodations for you well travelled moms with toddlers who are too big for the hotel cribs/pack n plays? She may need to be corralled a little bit to keep her safe.
If you’ll have an extra bed at the hotel, check out the inflatable bed rail at http://travelswithbaby.com/gear/travel_beds.htm
I’m still using our Phil & Ted travellerat 3.5 -great because longer than pack n plays + lighter / smaller packing. 3rd idea is to rent a toddler travel bed from a local gear rental agency – find your island in the directory at http://www.travelswithbaby.com/planning/baby_gear_rentals.htm
If you aren’t totally settled on the airbed, you might also consider the Peapod Plus if that’s easier to come by (or rent) in Canada. I’ve also had good experiences with it and there are times it’s nice to know it will help keep bugs off of them while they sleep. More on this and other toddler travel beds at http://travelswithbaby.com/gear/travel_beds.htm
SHARE YOUR ADVICE – To see the full facebook conversation thread with additional comments and feedback, click here, or please leave a comment below.
QUESTION 2 – Ashley asks:
Looking for suggestions on what to do about a car seat (for taxis) while in NYC for a week. My little one is 13 months….
If you’ll be inManhattan most of the time, I’m guessing your concern is mostly the taxi ride to and from your airport. If so, check out this post on NYC airport taxi services providing car seats (click here). Depending on other aspects of your travels (would it also be helpful to have a car seat on the plane, a dining booster w/5-point harness when eating out, etc), you might also consider the Sit N Stroll combination car seat / stroller (I was just using mine again last weekend!). Read the detailed review of the Sit N Stroll here.
Otherwise, you might find it easiest to get around downtown with a lightweight travel stroller. Don’t miss Tips for taking the New York City subway with a stroller here. More NYC with baby / toddler travel tips in Travels with Baby Destinations.
SHARE YOUR ADVICE – Please leave a comment below with your recommendations or add to this thread on the facebook page.
Picture me in Kauai on the other end of this camera, pulling my hair out, during these first attempts at photographing the new Huggies Hawaiian diaper in paradise.
As most of you are aware by now, I’ve had the honor of being spokesperson for Huggies’ Every Little Bottom campaign these past few months, offering vacation travel tips, tips for diapering during travel, and spreading the word about this great program benefitting the National Diaper Bank Network and Foodbanks Canada.
As the limited-edition Huggies Hawaiian Diapers and Wipes program comes to a close, with Huggies donating a day’s worth of diapers to families in need for each pack sold, I had to look back on some of the lighter moments… like this.
My little guy was so jazzed to finally be wearing “The Hawaiian Diaper” he’d heard us talking about for months - in this very exciting place also called Hawaii! – he would not hold still for a picture. Not a chance. On a wide open lawn framed by tropical flora, he raced and laughed, chased his sisters, raced and laughed some more. The clouds moved in, the sun lowered, the photos blurred. He would not hold still.
Days later, I got the great photo *I LOVE,* which you may have seen here. Though you’ll see he’s still on the move in that photo, too!
There’s still a little time left to get your hands on Huggies Hawaiian Diapers and Wipes in stores and online – and remember it’s about more than a cute diaper. For every pack sold during this campaign, Huggies Every Little Bottom is donating a day’s worth of diapers to families in need — up to 22.5 million diapers!
- How to diaper a squirmy toddler on an airplane
- Tips for changing diapers during road trips with baby
- Simplify diaper changes on airplanes with a handy “diaper purse”
Need tips for planning your family’s travels to Hawaii? Don’t miss these:
- Big Island – Hiking at Vocanoes National Park while pregnant or with little ones
- Kauai – Kauai’s best beach for babies and toddlers
- Kauai – Visiting the National Tropical Botanical Garden at Poipu
- Oahu – Oahu’s 5 Best Beaches with Kids Under 5
- See more Hawaii family travel tips and advice in destinations
If you’ve ever stumbled onto something so great while traveling that you can’t wait to tell all your friends, but then you pause to think, well maybe just my best friends, you’ll have a good idea of how much we enjoyed our visit to Kauai’s Salt Pond Park. Well, friends, here’s what we found. (You’re welcome.)
While Kauai’s best known beaches lie on its north, east, and southeast shores, Salt Pond Park is located in the southwest of the island off Highway 50, just past Hanapepe Bay. The park is named for the still-active “salt farm” near it, which you can see from the entrance to the parking area.
If you plan to drive to Waimea Canyon during your stay in Kauai, Salt Pond Park makes a great stop along the way with easy swimming in fairly calm waters–particularly during low tide. Just be sure to bring your snacks and essentials as it’s off the track and away from any restaurants, shops, or resorts (part of the magic).
With jetlag on our side, we were able to time our first visit to Salt Pond to coincide with an early morning low tide. This was absolutely the best timing we could have had, as there was only one person, a camper, at the beach when we arrived.
We discovered that the large rocky formation that broke the small waves coming in was like its own small planet teeming with marine life. We immediately spotted banded coral shrimp, crabs, pipe fish, anemones. We discovered three types of sea cucumbers within a couple of feet of each other. And as I tried to stay ahead of the kids taking pictures all the while, I suddenly froze in my tracks.
I realized this harbor seal was snoozing peacefully behind me in the sand! We hurried away to leave him alone.
As the tide slowly turned, it brought in more and more little fish and a perfect waveless wading area began to deepen between the rocky ledge and the sandy beach. To the kids’ delight, a small waterfall began trickling of the rocks into their private swimming lagoon.
As the morning passed and the tide crept in, more people arrived on the scene, mostly local families coming to enjoy a beautiful Sunday at the beach. It had become one of those lovely places you can sit in calm water beside your splashing toddler and little kids afloat on their “looky boards” (highly recommended – available at Snorkel Bob’s) watching for fleeting fish.
You should note that when we returned later that day, during high tide, the scene was quite different. Nearly every parking space was taken. The cove beside this lagoon was dominated by water sports enthusiasts, and the lagoon itself was awash with small waves and bobbing swimmers, while bigger waves splashed over the rocky ledge. Still, it was a beautiful place, and calm enough for mediocre swimmers. If possible, I strongly recommend visiting Salt Pond Park on a low-tide morning. Bring your kids, bring your snacks, bring your beach goodies, and definitely… bring your camera.
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