Kauai Family Vacation and Hanalei Bay Resort Review

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Welcome back to part two of our time on the beautiful garden island of Hawaii, Kauai with kids!

You can read part one here.

We moved over to a different part of the island, up in Princeville! If you can believe it, it is even more green than the other area we stayed in. We also got some popup showers here and there that we loved! It cooled everything down a bit and those raindrops are responsible for just how lush it is on Kauai!

Our home away from home was at our travel partner, Hanalei Bay Resort, who hosted our stay.

Hanalei Bay Resort is absolutely gorgeous with sweeping views of the bay below.

Hanalei Bay Resort is known as one of the most scenic tennis destinations and has world-class teachers for lessons.

We stayed in a two-bedroom condo at Hanalei Bay Resort.

It was located right off the smaller pool so the location was perfect. We had patios off each bedroom and the family room and a full kitchen including a washer and a dryer. In addition to that, we also had a dining area and two full bathrooms. The master bedroom was farthest from the common area and the other bedroom closer to the entrance had two beds. It was the perfect size for us and had everything we could have asked for. One note- the resort has such great views because it is on a hillside. If you have any mobility issues, be sure to ask for accommodations that are closer to the top. They also have golf carts to pick you up and take you around the resort as needed too!

We took the golf cart up from the beach after we walked down. There is even a call box at the beach to request a golf cart driver.

I can’t imagine a better place to really relax off the beaten path. The views were fantastic!

But if you are like us and want a little more adventure to go with your relaxation, rent a car and just start driving!

Kauai is not that big at all, so you can drive the driveable part of the island easily in a half day. Also, be sure to look for any farmers markets or fairs. We happened upon two of them when we were there and had the most delicious frozen pineapple treat at one of them and fresh-cut fruit at the other. The pineapple treat was frozen white pineapple (less acid than yellow pineapple) ground down to the consistency of soft serve. It was so good and reminded us of our favorite treat on the Oahu, Banan. We also found some other great snacks!

Our next Kauai road trip spot was to the historic old town of Hanapepe!

We seem to always add a little Disney to every vacation intended or not, and look what we saw!

We also purchased our magnet from here. It’s the one thing we always bring home when we visit a new place and I can’t wait to be able to look back on all the magnets and memories they hold in the future!

Hanapepe has a lot of little shops, places to get food and coffee, and maybe most famously, it is the home of the historic Hanapepe swinging bridge!

Speaking of coffee, we also made a stop at Kauai Coffee Company.

I’m a huge coffee lover and love trying new roasts. They had dozens to try and you could pretty much sample every single one of them. They also had a concession stand and when Emmy saw ice cream, of course, she had to have some!

Around the back, they have a self-guided tour and you can see the coffee being grown and read more about the process of harvesting and roasting. They offer formal tours too!

We spent a good half-day driving around the island and that was just one direction.

The other direction was still closed after the flooding they had recently. I would estimate that if you wanted to drive all that you can on Kauai, that you would need to add a few more hours so you can comfortably make stops.

Here are a few more of our favorite things to eat on Kauai:

Pink’s Creamery.

Incredibly good ice cream and vegan ice cream. Emmy said it was some of the absolute best and the people working here were super awesome too!

The Spot.

With two locations on Kauai, we ate here a lot. Like once a day at least. They have so many vegan and vegetarian options that you could have something new every day for a long time, but we all got pretty much the same thing each time, an acai bowl. They put a chunky papaya jam of sorts on their acai bowls that was the best thing we’ve ever had on an acai bowl.

Piazza Princeville.

We ate here a couple of times and had a great time each of those visits. They not only have great Italian food for everyone one in the family, but they also have vegan options… including vegan cheese! We loved their vegan pizza!

Sushi Girl Kauai.

We didn’t discover this place until the end of our stay and I’m so bummed that we only had time to eat here once. They make their food to order with some seriously fresh ingredients and have vegan and vegetarian items on the menu. Ash had the sushi burrito and loved it!

The winner of the whole island as far as my favorite thing had to be this coffee.

It was from Small Town Coffee Company in Kapa’a where I ordered an iced latte with hazelnut milk. The coffee was so flavorful and the hazelnut milk so creamy. I judge every other cup of coffee I drink now against this and I’m pretty much coffee ruined as a result. I’ll survive, I guess. Ha!

We also packed in some adventures for the whole family when we were on Kauai:

We took the absolute best bike ride.

There were a few reasons why it was my favorite bike ride ever. First, there is a path that is mostly away from cars. With kids, especially a 9-year-old who doesn’t ride on the street often, this takes a lot of stress away. Second, the views. I can’t even put into words how perfect they were. We went by sacred Hawaiian areas with lush plant growth. We rode through stunning beaches and we rode alongside the banks overlooking white sand and blue waters. It was just the best! Lastly, the trail is very easy going. I can’t recommend taking this bike ride enough. There are a few bike rental places right along the path too!

We also took surfing lessons!

The girls (and Pete) have always wanted to do this and I can’t think of a better place than Hawaii to do it. With warm waters, a plethora of great teachers and year-round decent surfing, if this is on your bucket list… this is the place to do it!

We took a boat ride to the fern grotto!

The riverboat was a smooth ride with traditional Hawaiian singing and dancing and everyone enjoyed it.

From where the boat docks, the fern grotto is just about 5 or so minutes away and an easy stroll to get there. The whole experience is a bit “touristy” but not in a bad way. They just have it dialed in perfectly for efficiency.

We even got to see the resident wild hog! He was such a cutie and we were so happy to see at least one while we were on the island!

Last but certainly not least, we took a boat ride to see Kauai’s Na Pali Coast!

When we booked the tour, we had planned to go inside the sea caves and also stop and snorkel, but the captain was on island time (running a bit late) and the sea was pretty choppy. We rode through 3-4 foot swells and I was pretty anxious on the ride. I thought of turning back multiple times but we pushed through. Looking back, I should have insisted on a morning ride when the ocean is calmer, but I don’t regret going because we had some pretty amazing experiences!

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is also only accessible by boat or helicopter and I can’t imagine coming to the island and not seeing it. So much of this island reminded me of Pandora from Avatar and it was surreal to be amongst the trees and also this coastline.

Instead of snorkeling we rode a bit more off the island and found whales and a pod of dolphins.

Being big animal lovers, we were careful to stay far from the whales and admire them from a comfortable distance. Our preferred way to see animals is always in the wild so this was such a cool moment. They kept flapping their fins over and over again!

The dolphins (actually porpoise) were so funny and playful!

Emmy was “talking” to them and they would look right up at her and jump and swarm the boat. We never wanted to leave and were sad when we had to head back in!

This vacation with the whole family to Kauai is definitely one for the memory books!

We really enjoyed our stay at Hanalei Bay Resort and are so thankful they invited us to stay with them and offered us complimentary accommodations.

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Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.