The Garden Isle has the highest rainfall out of all the Hawaiian islands, resulting in spectacular flora, waterfalls and Facebook-worthy rainbows. Depending on the time of year, generally the south is sunnier and drier while the north has more rainfall.
Paddle down a gentle river on a two- or three-seat guided kayak tour at Kayak Wailua (www.kayakwailua.com). After a two-mile paddle through eye-popping scenery, a 25-minute walk through a tropical rainforest leads to a secret waterfall, where families have lunch and can swim before heading back to reality. For a faster pace, try mountain tubing through tunnels, open canals and flumes through gently flowing waters on a historic irrigation system for the former Lihue Plantation with Kauai Backcountry Adventures (www.kauaibackcountry.com/tubing.html).
When you think of Hawaii, most people don’t think of rocky canyons. However, scenic Wiamea Canyon offers stunning views of rock formations and incredible yet simple hikes. Lydgate Bike Path offers easy access for the stroller crowd. However, if you have older kids looking for a challenge, the popular eight-mile round trip along the Na Pali Coast leads you from a scenic valley to a remote beach and cascading waterfall. Before your journey, pick up a burger and enjoy some Hawaiian shaved ice at the charming town of Hanalei, the jumping-off point for many of the popular hikes.
Kauai’s stunning, rugged coast is akin to Northern California’s. Though the water temperature may be much warmer than the Bay Area, the undertow is just as strong. Po’ipu Beach Park and Anini Beach generally have gentler surf than most Kauai beaches, allowing younger children to go in the water. Also a good choice for tots is Salt Pond Beach Park, which is encircled by rocks that form a shallow spot for splashing.
Tip: Bring a collapsible cooler. In addition to keeping your drinks and food cool, it will help store and tote around ultra-fresh food, such as mangos, papayas and taro root chips, from local farmers markets and groceries, rather than paying at overpriced stands and restaurants near beaches and tourist spots. Also, bring your Safeway and Foodland club cards for additional savings at the grocery store.

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