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Of the 3 islands (Big, Maui, and Kauai), this has been my favorite. It feels more like Costa Rica in the US than a Hawaiian island to me. So lush. For diving alone, I've been told Maui and the big island might have some better dives, like the Manta Rays and Blackwater dives. But total package there's nothing quite like it if you like hikes and nature.
Monk Seals with Clay and Manny from Bubbles was an amazing experience! I also did the local sites and swam with lots of turtles and some great coral colonies.
We stayed in Kapa'a which is kind of the "middle" from everything.
We stayed in a very nice timeshare- the Kauai Coast at Beachboy. It's right on the water and the beach was nice with shaded areas. We stayed at "the Cliffs" up north near Princeville the time before, and preferred this location.
Port Allen and Bubbles Below is about 45 min drive south, and the Canyon was about 1 1/2-2 hours drive
We did some touristy stuff while there with the kids.
There was a place we went right there in the industrial area "glass beach" which was a bit of a bust. There was some sea glass, but really very little.
We did the Na Pali Coast Tour on the Na Pali Kai III which was awesome, for the size of the boat, it's amazing what the captain can do. We also had the best snorkeling while on this trip (this trip leaves from the port at Waimea).
We drove through the Waimea Canyon which I had been to before 22 years ago. The weather was not with us this time and it was very cloudy at elevation, but we did get some beautiful views on the lower lookouts.
We took the kids on the sugar plantation train ride which was nice; the grounds are very nice and the children loved feeding the horse and wild boar. There is a nice free rum tasting there. We really liked the coconut rum since it wasn't sweet and was 40% instead of the usual 20ish. Do the tasting, but the rum is a lot less expensive in Safeway for the same brand.
We did the Smith Family Luau which was INCREDIBLE. I have done two other Luaus on the big island in the past but wanted to take the children to see one while we were there. This was BY far the best one I've been to in every way.
The grounds were beautiful so get there early. The food, entertainment, open bar, and dancing were all amazing. It really is a family run luau and they were awesome. They also give a sizeable military discount if you or any member of your family served.
We rented bicycles one day and rode up the coast on a beautiful ocean sidewalk (rented from Hele on Kauai) for under $20 for 2 hours. It was a neat way to see some of the sites and the paved road made it great for the children and older members of our group.
We hiked the Eastern trail of the Sleeping Giant one day; this is a moderate to challenging hike with some vertical climbing, but our 7 and 9 year olds were great on it.
We tried some snorkeling at Poipu beach and found the conditions poor. If we were to do it again, we would do another place we saw that had a much better bay to snorkel. - Navigate to Lawai Beach resort and keep driving past about 1/2 mile- you will see a small bay with very calm waters and a small beach and grassy area (don't stop at the first small beach and grassy patch unless you plan to surf).
Also nearby is the somewhat disappointing "Spouting horn". It's neat to see, but you can't get very close.
There is only one road around the island, so traffic and road closures can wreck havoc on your day.
We only went North one day due to a road closure that only allows traffic each way a couple times a day (otherwise closed). The north shore is absolutely beautiful. You can even see waterfalls very close to the road up there. There are many cool beaches near Tunnels Beach up there as well as an interesting "dry cave".
We had good food pretty much any place we were on the island, but we had a full kitchen and there was a Costco close by; so we did many dinners in our unit.
Some members of our group also did a long kayak tour to the "Secret Falls". If you want to see the falls, but want to do a 30 min Kayak instead of 2 hours, leave from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village. This is also the place to do the Fern Grotto. We did not do the Grotto and I had read you can't go in anymore after a rock fell on someone.
We rented a car back in February before they re-opened. - We had it 12 days for $750.
Others in our group waited and ended up paying close to $2k. We used Payless.
I think that about sums it up!