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Eco-ish Vacation to Kauai with Kids

Travel can be a great education for your kids 👪

July 30, 2022

📸: Getty

My husband and I spent spent six days on Kaua’i with our two daughters having fun, giving back and treading lightly on this easy going Hawai’ian island. Here are a few tips on how to have a great time with your family while keeping that ecological footprint of yours in mind.

Learn about local food systems 🍍

Saltwater lagoon
📷: Grand Hyatt Kaua'i

Today, 97% of Hawai’i’s food is imported, but a growing number of businesses are looking to change that. Common Ground on the North Shore started by planting a tropical agroforest, where pineapples grow in the shade of ‘ulu (breadfruit) trees and chickens fertilize the surrounds in mobile enclosures. A much-anticipated farm-to-table restaurant is planned for late 2023; for now you can attend events and purchase goods from local farmers and food entrepreneurs at the retail store or online. Take home dried guava snacks, honey (complete with honeycomb) and breadfruit chips. Stay on the South Shore in Poipu, where the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort & Spa converted a tennis court into a hydroponic garden. The garden is large enough to provide as much as 700 pounds of lettuce, herbs, microgreens and edible flowers weekly for guest and staff meals. The garden’s resident horticulturist, Ashly Trask, has more than 25 years of experience, and hosts both formal tours and curious guests who wander by.

Clean a beach 🏖️

Koloa Beach
📷: Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism

More than 4,000 tons of marine debris washes up on Kaua’i’s shores every month, according to the Surfrider Foundation, which partners with hotels across the island to invite travelers to be part of their clean-up efforts. Pick up buckets, gloves and cleaning solution from your hotel before heading to Kahili Beach, where you’ll clear the area of plastics, netting and other trash. Kahili Beach, with its active surf and freshwater river that leads to the sea — complete with a rope swing in into the river part of the beach — is also a great place to catch some sun and sand in the afternoons. If a group activity is more your speed, Surfrider organizes weekly group cleanups.

Take a deep dive into ocean conservation ⛵

Nepali Coast
📷: Holo Holo Charters

Seeing the ocean up close is a great way to create budding marine conservationists, and Kaua’i’s Nāpali Coast is one of the most beautiful places for that education. Holo Holo Charters has a 65-foot power catamaran, the Holoholo, which was built on Kaua’i and offers guests a more untouristed experience of the ever-popular Nāpali Coast on a 90 nautical mile trip from Port Allen up the Nāpali Coast and over to the island of Niihau. The catamaran passes the 4,000-foot cliffs, dramatic waterfalls, emerald valleys and sea caves that make the coastline so iconic, and along the way it’s common to see humpback whales, spinner dolphins and sea turtles. The Holoholo is one of the only charters that can make it across the 17-mile Kaulakahi Channel to the crescent-shaped Lehua Crater off Niihau’s coast, which means you’ll likely have this state wildlife sanctuary to yourself. Snorkel to a sea cliff, which has a coral reef to one side and a blue abyss on the other, while fish of every color swim by in the turquoise waters.

If you go 🛫

Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines both offer daily nonstop flights from Seattle to Kaua’i.

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