Your ideal family getaway includes a dose of adventure, delicious eats, quality family time and a fair amount of relaxation. Get all of that and much more in Poipu, Kauai, the area fondly referred to as “The Sunny South Side” for its perfectly temperate weather year-round. With pristine beaches perfect for tots to explorations that’ll bring your clan through a tropical rainforest, this area packs a huge punch in the family fun department. Read on to find out where to stay, explore and eat, and how Poipu might just be the place that’ll make all of your vacations dreams come true.

STAY

There’s a thousand and one reasons to love Poipu, but one aspect of Kauai’s South Side that’ll hook you fast is the range of accommodations the area affords. Whether you’re looking for the all-in-one resort, a large condo that feels more like home or a luxurious club, Poipu has it. In other words, you can customize the vacation experience to your family. Below are three different options perfect for families of all sizes, ages and lifestyles.

Bonus: If you’re looking for even more options, click here for more great places to stay.

The All-in-One Beachfront Resort: The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Warning: if you stay at The Grand Hyatt, your kids may never want to leave. This 50-acre beachfront resort seriously has it all. For starters, your kids will flip for the swimming pools, hidden grottos and lazy river, saltwater lagoon, and 150-foot-long water slide, the premier water play area in all of Kauai. Lounge chairs, towels, bathrooms and shade are readily available poolside.

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If you can tear your kids away from the water, the resort features a ton of family-centric activities daily (see a full schedule here). Highlights include lei making, guided wildlife walks, hula lessons, torch lighting ceremony and parrot time adjacent to the main lobby. Fun fact: the property is home to a ton of wildlife like geckos, nenes, koi, black swans and more so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

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The Grand Hyatt is as much a playground for mom and dad as it is for kids. Parents will want to check out Anara Spa and fitness facilities, both places guaranteed to put you in a zen state of mind. And, if you want to really get your zen on for an extended period sans kids, enroll your littles in Camp Hyatt, a fun and engaging program for keikis (children) ages 3-12. The camp’s schedule and activities are tailored to fit that day’s group ages and interests, but your kids will surely enjoy an array of fun that integrate play with learning about the island’s culture. They may enjoy crafts like lei making or pond frond weaving, or head down to the pool for a splashing fun time.

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And, while you may not be spending a ton of time in your room because of the resort’s non-stop amenities, when you do return to your room you’ll breathe a sigh of relaxation. The property features 602 rooms each with its own private lanai or balcony/patio. Each comes equipped with Wifi, a bathtub and choices that range from a standard to a suite.

1517 Poipu Road, Koloa, Hawaii
808-742-1234
Online: kauai.grand.hyatt.com

Home Away From Home: The Villas at Poipu Kai
We think a stay at The Villas at Poipu Kai is ideal if you’re looking to spread out and stay in a home-like environment or if you’re traveling with more than just your immediate family. The new property boasts rentals for 3-4 bedroom poolside villas and 2-5 bedroom garden villas. All rentals are incredibly spacious. Think multiple bathrooms, gigantic kitchens and expansive lanais–basically, you’ll never feel cramped in these villas. Perks of this plantation-style property is that you won’t miss out on water play. The villas are situated around a swimming pool and it’s located just a 10-minute walk to Poipu Beach. Rates start at $269/night.

2373 Ho’Ohu Road, Koloa, Hawaii
866-407-0249
Online: villasatpoipukai.com/kauai-vacation-rentals

Go Luxe: Lodge at Kukui’ula
If you’re looking to splurge book it to the Lodge at Kukui’ula for a dash of luxury. This private club features vacation homes that include cottages, bungalows and villas, with one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom options. Each type of accommodation offers up something different–some are right on the fairway, others boast ocean views, while a select few come with your own plunge pool and private yard.

2-peter-vincent-pool-mauka8photo: Peter Vincent via Kukui’ula Club

Wherever you choose to put down roots for your vacation at Kukui’ula, you’ll get access to the Club, which is hospitality at its finest. Amenities include keiki (Hawaiian for “kids”) programming and outings, a world-class spa, game room that’s stocked with snacks and drinks, multiple pools (there’s even a slide!), and a sweet 13-acre communal farm and 20-acre lake. If you never left the property we certainly wouldn’t blame you. Rates start at $750/night.

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Good to know: This isn’t your parents’ country club. Sure, it’s private and downright luxurious, but everything about the Club and Lodge are kid-friendly and welcoming. Families are embraced here, even during their special club events.

2700 Ke Alaula Street, Koloa, HI
855-939-3131
Online: lodgeatkukuiula.com

PLAY

If you can tear your kids away from the swimming pool, below are a few great adventures and spots to play in the area. We’re just skimming the surface so for a full list of recommended outings from cultural to adventure, click here.

Kipu Zipline Safari with Outfitters Kauai
Outfitters Kauai offers a number of different tour packages from ziplining to biking to kayaking. We recently tried their Kipu Zipline Safari, which we loved because it’s a full day with a bit of everything, including kayaking, hiking and zipling. You’ll start your day on a two-mile kayak tour on the Hule’ia River (don’t worry–the entire trip is downstream!).

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Arrive at your stopping point to start your hike through a lush jungle floor with a stop at a swimming hole. Along the way your guide will “talk story” (Hawaiian for storytelling) about Kipu Ranch and the environment you’re walking through. End your day ziplining on soaring lines above the jungle. The experience is much more thrilling than scary. Be sure to look around you–the views are ridiculously fabulous.

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Good to know: Closed-toe water shoes were key and kept our feet safe and protected. If you don’t have a pair, we suggest buying some at Wal-mart or Whalers stores. Do not wear flip flops (they will fall off) and sneakers will just get wet! Sunscreen is also a must, along with bug spray. Your guide will offer a dry bag during the kayaking portion of your day so a backpack with all the essentials will suffice. Lunch and water/juices are provided so no need to pack your own unless you have special dietary restrictions or love to snack. Book your tour at least seven days in advance. Rate for this specific tour is $188/adult and $148/kids 14-years-old and under.

Online: outfitterskauai.com/kipu-zipline-safari.php

Kauai ATV Waterfall Tour
Channel your inner daredevil for this heart-pumping ATV Waterfall tour. You’ll be strapped in either a two- or four-person vehicle (depending on your group size) and travel through lush terrain featured on Jurassic Park. The ride is bumpy, thrilling and muddy. You’ll literally scream with delight (uh, well at least we did) as your vehicle traverses through 23 miles of muddy backroads. Cool down and wash off at a pristine waterfall.

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Good to know: Wear clothes you don’t care about. Seriously. Even though your guides will give out shorts and tees to wear over your clothes and swimsuits, you will get soaked and dirty so leave any nice jewelry and duds at home. Clothes-toed shoes are also a must. We also packed our phone in a ziplock bag, which was necessary for when it started raining since there aren’t any closed containers or trunks to put any belongings on the ATV.

Online: kauaiatv.com

Beaches
A run-down of the area’s beaches deserve a story of its own so while we’re “researching” that piece, we’ll give you a couple of our favorites. They include:

Baby Beach
Just west of Poipu Beach (arguably the area’s most popular beach), this stretch of surf and sand wins our hearts due to its size, protective cove and a short hop over to Poipu Beach’s bathrooms. More info. Here.

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Beach at Kukuiula Bay
This beach is small and flanked by the Boat Harbor on one side, but we thought it was a gem on our recent visit. There’s a cove/bay so it’s incredibly protected and a large grassy area to lay out blankets. Bring umbrellas and sun protection as there’s little shade. Parking is ample and dogs welcome. Map it here.

EAT

Like Poipu’s range of activities and accommodations, your dining choices are diverse. Below are some of our favorite spots from take-out to full-service. For a full run-down of the area’s eating options click here. We found that every place we ate kids are welcome, but be sure to make a reservation, especially during high season.

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Kauai Culinary Market
Every Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. the Shops at Kukui’ula turn into a vibrant Farmer’s Market, replete with locally grown produce, live music and an array of culinary delights. Pickup a pineapple to take home, grab a slice of pie and roam the market to introduce your kids to new foods and flavors.

The Shops at Kukui’ula
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Koloa, HI
Online: poipubeach.org/business/farmers-market-kukuiula

Merriman’s Fish House
Dining on the island means getting your fill of island fare. A good place to start is Merriman’s Fish House. Their speciality is you guessed it–seafood. Choices range from Ono to Ahi to Mahi Mahi and more, all locally caught. The restaurant’s upstairs offers a more formal dining experience, while downstairs is a bit more casual and great if you have tots in-tow.

Good to know: Right behind Merriman’s is a small play structure where your kids can work off the wiggles while you wait for your food to arrive.

The Shops at Kukui’ula
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Koloa, HI
Online: merrimanshawaii.com

Tortilla Republic
This Cantina has locations on the mainland so its name may ring a bell. Grab yourself some Mexican cuisine here and be sure to order guacamole–your kids will love that the guacamole cart literally comes to your table and is made in front of their eyes. Like Merriman’s, the restaurant’s upstairs location offers a more tradtional dining experience, while downstairs is more casual and approachable (and offers great people-watching!). We think both are ideal for families–it just depends what type of mood you’re in!

The Shops at Kukui’ula
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Koloa, HI
Online: tortillarepublic.com/hawaii

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Uncle’s Shave Ice & Smoothies
A trip to Hawaii wouldn’t be complete without shave ice. Start at Uncle’s, which won the award for best shave ice on all of Kauai. They make all of their flavors in-house, and even have a twist on the classic on their menu called Shaved Snow, which is like shave ice but mixed with condensed milk. Words don’t do Uncle’s justice so trust us that this place is a must-visit.

The Shops at Kukui’ula
2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Koloa, HI
Online: uncleskauai.com

Keoki’s Paradise
Step into Keoki’s Paradise for a delicious meal with tropical flare. The island-style food is complemented by the restaurant’s island-style aesthetic. Sit back and enjoy your meal and the nightly live contemporary Hawaiian music.

Poipu Shopping Village
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive, Koloa, HI
Online: keokisparadise.com

Koloa Fish Market
We take our poke seriously and the one place everyone told us to go in Poipu was Koloa Fish Market. It did not disappoint. This small shop serves up a handful of different types of poke, all plated over a bed of rice. Be sure to bring cash otherwise your poke dream will be dashed.

5482 Koloa Rd, Koloa, HI
Online: poipubeach.org/business/koloa-fish-market

Where are you eyeing for your next family vacation? Have you traveled to Poipu yet? If so, leave us your comments and suggestions below!

— Erin Lem (all photos courtesy of the writer unless otherwise noted)