Kauai's nickname is the Garden Isle. The fourth largest and geologically one of the oldest islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai is known for its lush landscapes, spectacular cliffs, wide canyons, golden beaches, and Mount Waialeale, which gets so much rainfall it's considered the wettest places on earth. You may have seen images of Kauai without even knowing it -- the opening waterfall in the popular TV series "Fantasy Island," "Lilo and Stitch," and "Jurassic Park" were all filmed on this island. With no skyscrapers and over 110 miles of coastline, Kauai has a pace well suited to young families: there's plenty to do but not too much, the island is small enough that driving distances are reasonable, and the beaches are among the best in the world.
The high tourist seasons on Kauai are summer vacation and December, especially around the Christmas holidays. During these times there are many special festivals and events, as well as children's programming at some resorts and hotels. In the fall and the spring, when airfare is less expensive and hotels offer enticing discounts to lure tourists, the island is noticably less crowded. In the off season, you'll find more affordable rates and fairly good weather.
Don't be surprised if many of the resorts, hotels, and restaurants in Kauai have big bay windows and sliding balcony doors instead of air conditioning: the trade winds blow cool air onto the island and the weather is mild enough that, most of the time, you will be comfortable. While the north side of the island is known to be the windy/rainy side, and the south coast is leeward and drier, the rainfall in Kauai is usually sporadic and often happens at night. Even in the summer months, you can expect it to rain on the north coast but if you wait a bit--after everyone else has cleared off the beach--the sun will almost always shine again, along with a misty rainbow. November - March are the rainiest months, but even during the winter rainfall is often sporadic. Since the island has so many microclimates, a ten or twenty minute drive can take you to different weather. The average temperature is pretty constant all year round: you can expect the weather to be between 78 and 85 degrees during the day and about 10 degrees cooler at night. Water temperatureaverages 80 degrees in the summer and 73 degrees in the winter.
Unless you own a private jet, there is only one airport in Kauai: Lihue Airport, which is located just 1.5 miles east of Lihue on the southeast side of the island. This small mostly open-air airport welcomes a little over 8,000 passengers a day and is serviced by several major airlines and four interisland air carriers. United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airline, U.S. Airways, have nonstop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, and Phoenix.
You will probably need to rent a car if you visit Kauai; you may want to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle if you plan to visit more remote areas. You can find most of the major car rental agencies right at the airport and prices, especially if you book in advance, are reasonable. Another option is the government-operated Kauai Bus, which offers inexpensive service from Hanalei to Kekaha every day except Sunday and also has some service to and from the airport, as well as limited service to Koloa and Poipu. If you are exploring the island by bicycle, the public buses have a bicycle rack on the front.
The Kauai Visitors Bureau hosts the official website for the island and is loaded with helpful visitor information, including listings about accommodations and activities. Their offices are located at 4334 Rice Street, #101, Lihue, HI 96766-1801. Tel.: (808) 245-3971
The Kauai Visitors Bureau offers some hotel and activity discounts through its website. Click on the special deals button at the very top of the page. If you are staying at a resort, your hotel concierge may have discount coupons available, and the free monthly magazines, like 101 Things To Do often include discount coupons both online and in print.
There are several places that you can tent camp on Kauai, and you may also camp on many of the island's beaches, as long as you have a camping permit. Check online for a list of government sponsored campsites and how to get a permit. If you are looking for something a little less rustic, your family may enjoy staying at the cabins at Kokee State Park (the lodge there also has dormitories and newer units with separate bedrooms), which can sleep up to six people. Please note: It is important to research the campground or beach where you want to camp and to exercise caution. Though many people camp on Kauai and sites fill up quickly in the summer months, like other places in Hawaii, travelers have reported concerns about theft and personal safety.