Trying to save money on your Kauai vacation? Don’t miss these free things to do on Kauai with kids!
This post on free things to do on Kauai was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you looking for free things to do on Kauai? I have tons of ideas for you!
We have family in Kauai, so it’s the island my family visits the most. We’ve done it all, and I can tell you that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great time here.
I’ve put a list of my favorite 21 free things to do in Kauai with kids. Keep reading for all the details!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai on a budget.
Best Budget-Friendly Kauai Tours/Activities
- Smith Family Luau (you can skip dinner and just pay to watch the show)
- Fern Grotto Boat Ride (this is a fun river cruise with live music and hula)
- Shaka Driving App (it’s like going on an island tour at a fraction of the price)
Best Budget-Friendly Kauai Hotels
- Aston Islander on the Beach (awesome location with tons of amenities)
- Plantation Hale (it’s easy to walk to shops, restaurants, and grocery stores)
- Kauai Shores (this is a kitschy motel right next to Lava Lava Beach Club)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Kauai Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
Check out 10 amazing things to do on Kauai for under $10!
21 Free Things to Do on Kauai with Kids
What are you looking for when you book a vacation with your family? I tend to be the kind of mom who wants something fun in the morning, and then a nice relaxing afternoon and evening.
I try really hard not to overschedule my boys. We have learned first-hand that over-tired children are not relaxing to be around.
We travel a lot, either for my work or for my hubby’s job. And sometimes the boys get to come with us. On the rare occasion that we all get to go somewhere together just for fun, you will probably find us on Kauai.
That’s because my mom lives in Kapaa, about 20 minutes from the Lihue airport. From there, (with just the cost of a rental car) we have the whole Garden Island open to us!
Besides the cost of renting a car, there are so many things you can do on Kauai that don’t cost a dime. And boy do we know what to do in Kauai with kids!
1. Spouting Horn
This waterspout might not seem like much, but that’s only if you haven’t seen it in person!
Spouting Horn is formed from an old lava tube and the force of waves hitting the opening of the tube. The resulting spout can sometimes reach 50 feet high, and can create a gorgeous rainbow on sunny days.
Located on the southern side of the island, Spouting Horn is about a 30-minute drive from the Lihue Airport.
If you do go, please pay attention to signs. The rocks around the spout are slick and can move.
Take your camera (and maybe a raincoat) along to capture the beauty from a safe distance!
Even though it sounds simple, kids think it’s one of the most fun things to do in Kauai!
2. Kauai Coffee Company
Even if you aren’t a fan of the most-consumed drink in the world, you don’t want to miss the biggest coffee farm in the US.
Kauai Coffee is headquartered on the southern coast of Kauai. It has free walking tours every day at 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM, and 4 PM.
Upon arrival to the “estate”, you will be offered a free cup of Kauai Coffee.
Plan your visit and make sure you sign up for the scavenger hunt on Wednesday morning!
Every team that completes in the scavenger hunt gets a free bag of coffee, and it is a great way to get kids involved without actually giving them coffee!
(My boys have enough energy already, thank you very much!)
3. Hanapepe Town
A small town in the southern part of Kauai, Hanapepe Town, has a lot going for it. And if you’re looking for free things to do on Kauai with kids, Hanapepe has quite a few options.
I’ve written about the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge and Salt Pond Beach Park before. That’s because it’s always been one of my favorite places on the island!
I loved it when I visited in middle school, and I love it now with my boys.
There’s also the Hanapepe art walk and art night on Fridays from 5 PM to 9 PM. It’s such a fun experience that I look forward to it every time we visit.
This is also the town that inspired Disney’s Lilo & Stitch and you can find little nods to the movie all over town!
If you are looking for a fun adventure near Hanapepe, go hunting for treasure on “Glass Beach.” This beach is made up the remnants of junk glass tossed from the industrial factories nearby and tumbled smooth in the ocean.
After your searching, I’m sure you would be able to find a refreshing snack or beverage at one of Hanapepe’s many adorable shops!
4. Lydgate Beach Park
If you are looking for a beach with protected waters and a lifeguard, check out Lydgate Beach. It’s a free public beach park with lots of amenities.
Here you’ll find two lagoons with gentle waters that are perfect for little ones, even toddlers. The beach is lifeguard protected and has a paved path nearby to talk a walk on.
Walk a short way down the path and you’ll see Kamalani Playground. This wooden play structure has given my boys many hours of fun!
Between the lagoons, the playground, and the sand, I often have a hard time pulling my boys away from Lydgate Beach!
5. Kauai’s Hindu Monastery
If you’ve never experienced a Hindu Monastery, Kauai’s Hindu Monastery would be well worth a visit.
Located in Kapa’a, it’s open from 9 AM to noon for visitors to explore, meditate and learn.
The inner gate and temple are only open to those wishing to join in on the 9 PM service.
Be sure to consult the Plan Your Visit Guide to learn more about times, available areas, and recommended dress.
6. Wailua River State Park
Mount Wai’ale’ale has one of the highest rainfall amounts of anywhere on earth.
Due to torrential downpours, there has been a lot of erosion on the mountainside. A lot of little rivers have found their way to cliffs.
This has created a naturally beautiful phenomenon that is the Wailua River State Park. There are tons of free things to do in Wailua River State Park with (and without) kids.
You can go hiking, picnicking, camping, kayaking, and more. The river and valley are amazing enough, but make sure you don’t miss Wailua and Opaeka’a falls!
7. Hanalei Town
You may have heard of the floods on Kauai in April of 2018. Well, there have been subsequent floods.
The northern and western parts of the island were the most affected, and are only just now starting to get back to normal.
Hanalei Town was one of the areas worst hit but is back up and running!
The view of the area’s beaches and taro fields is as beautiful as ever, even as farmers and owners work to get back to full production.
Attractions (besides the beaches and taro fields) include the Waioli Mission House, Hanalei Pier, and Hanalei’s one-lane bridge.
8. Waimea Canyon
Probably the most well-known of the attractions on Kauai is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” or Waimea Canyon.
Waimea Canyons i 14 miles long, over a mile wide and 3600 feet deep. This state park has some of the most beautiful views on the island, and maybe in the world!
The entry is free, but be prepared to pay $5 to park if you would like to go for a hike or get closer to the lookout points.
Waimea Canyon is definitely one of the top things to see in Kauai.
9. Kilauea Lighthouse
No matter where you are, kids always seem fascinated by lighthouses!
This one is more than 100 years old and it’s definitely somewhere you’ll want to stop. Even if it’s to just snap a few photos of your kids with the lighthouse in the background, it’s a trip you won’t regret!
And if you are into birding, it’s THE place to go to see the red and blue-footed Boobies. It’s worth it just for your kids to giggle over the name of the bird, trust me!
Now it’s free to check out the lighthouse, but if you are really into nature, you might want to splurge and pay $5 to visit the Wildlife Refuge. Kids under 16 are free!
10. Free Hula Shows
Luckily, there are ways you can see hula and Tahitian shows for free! Honestly, watching hula is one of the best things to do in Kauai with kids! Here are some of the best ones.
Every Wednesday at 5 PM and Saturday at 1 PM, visitors can see free hula shows by the students of Halau Hula O Leilani at the Coconut Marketplace.
National Tropical Botanical Garden
Every Thursday at 2 PM, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens has a free hula show with Halau Ka Le Mokihana O Leina’ala.
Poipu Shopping Village
Head to the Poipu Shopping Village every Monday and Thursday at 5 PM for free live entertainment. This one is a great way to see Tahitian dancing, fire knife dancers, and live musical performances.
11. Kauai Culinary Market
If you are foodies (like our family) you’ll want to set aside time to check out the Kauai Culinary Market at The Shops at Kukuiula.
Every Wednesday from 3:30 PM to 6 PM, guests can see live cooking demonstrations and take a look at locally grown food and treats.
12. E Kanikapila Kakou
Each year, the Garden Island Arts Council presents 10 weeks of amazing events called E Kanikapila Kakou. They host Hawaiian musicians, artists, storytellers, and hula dancers who share Hawaiian culture.
This is one of things free things to do on Kauai that will be so rewarding for those interested in the local culture. There are even free ukulele and hula dance lessons.
Check the events calendar to see if E Kanikapila Kakou is happening during your trip to Kauai.
13. Grove Farm Train Day
My boys LOVE train rides! We usually do the Kilohana Plantation Railway train ride, but we’ve been wanting to check out this free train ride!
On the 2nd Thursday of every month, Grove Farm offers free kiddie train rides! Your kiddo can hop aboard one of their 4 vintage steam locomotives for a 45-minute train ride.
These trains are special because they used to haul sugar cane at the sugar plantation that used to be where Grove Farm is today.
The Kauai sugar plantations have all closed, but they’re still a big part of Kauai’s history.
During the train ride, you’ll hear stories about Hawaii’s sugar plantations and why trains were so important. It’s a great way to sneak in a bit of education on a fun train adventure!
14. Check Out Some Caves
One of the things I remember doing when I was younger was stopping by the wet and dry caves on our way to the “end of the road.”
If you’re heading up to Ha’ena State Park or Ke’e Beach all the way up North, definitely take some time to stop off at these caves!
The Maniniholo Dry Cave is across from Ha’ena State Park.
If your kids are into mythical legends, there are 2 that explain how the cave ways created. The 1st legend says the cave used to be a tunnel the Menehune built to Waimea Canyon.
When the Polynesians tried to attack the Menehune, they used this secret tunnel to escape to the North Shore. Then, they collapsed the tunnel to trap the Polynesians inside, which formed the dry cave.
The 2nd legend talks about how an evil spirit stole fish and a fisherman ordered his crew to dig into the hillside to capture him. This apparently created the cave.
But if your kids are more into science, you can tell them that the ocean used to be higher! The cave was formed from thousands of years of wave action eroding the cliff at its base.
Insider tip: Bring flashlights along for kids to explore the caves!
Then, there are the Ha’ena Caves, which are wet caves with deep, cold water. It’s not sure easy to explore these caves, but they are still cool to look at from a distance.
15. Free Movie Screenings
While I haven’t gotten to do this yet, my mom has taken my oldest to one of the outdoor movies on Kauai and it sounds like a blast!
On the last Saturday of every month (weather permitting) there’s a free outdoor movie at the Coconut Marketplace.
They also offer them throughout the year at Poipu Beach Park and the All Saints Episcopal Church. These are cool free things to do in Kauai!
Note: While the movies are free, they usually sell food and drinks.
16. Poipu Beach Park
Speaking of Poipu Beach Park, it’s one of my favorite Kauai beaches for kids!
Poipu is known as the “sunny side” of the island, so it’s usually a safe bet that the weather will be nice enough to play at the beach.
They recently installed a new playground structure that’s a huge hit with the kids! And there are newly renovated restrooms nearby.
My kids really love swimming here. The water is shallow and super calm, which is great for babies and toddlers.
And I like that there are 2 lifeguard stands to help make the beach a bit safer for kids and adults.
We’ve seen several sea turtles and even a monk seal at Poipu Beach!
Just hanging at this beach is probably the best thing to do in Kauai on a budget.
Find out more fun Kauai things to do in Poipu
17. Free Toddler Time
If you are heading to Kauai with toddlers, you’ll want to head to Kukui Grove Mall.
Toddler Tuesdays happen at 11:30 AM with character meet and greets and shows for kids on the center stage.
They also have an island-themed toddler play area that’s super cute!
18. Anaina Hou Community Park
Out of all the playgrounds on Kauai, Anaina Hou Community Park is probably my favorite.
It’s located on the North Shore in Kilauea and features play structures, a skateboard ramp, miniature golf, and a hiking trail.
The new playground structure is partly built with reused milk jugs. How cool is that?
There are also restrooms, picnic tables, food options, and a gift shop.
We like to pick up lunch and eat it here so the kids can run around and play. The playground area is HUGE and there’s something for all ages.
It makes a nice stop when paired with a trip to Kilauea Lighthouse, too!
19. Free Samples at Kauai Kookie
I don’t know what it is (ok, it’s probably all the butter!) but Hawaiian cookies are just incredible!
One of my favorite brands is Kauai Kookie. They have their factory in Hanapepe/Eleele and they offer free samples of their cookies. It’s probably my favorite thing to do in Kauai!
The best part is that they often have samples of new flavors they don’t sell outside of their factory store!
Some of my favorites are Cornflake Crunch, Banzai (with seaweed), and their manju cookies.
20. See Farm Animals
Believe it or not, Kauai actually has a lot of farms.
While you can see roosters everywhere on the island (I’m serious), you can also see traditional farm animals at specific farms.
One of the easiest is off the side of the road in Kilauea. Just park on the Mauka Side (mountain side) of the highway. You’ll see pigs, Shetland ponies, and other 4-legged animals near Kilauea Farms between the 20- and 21-mile markers.
It’s definitely one of the cutest things to do with kids in Kauai.
21. Historic Menehune Ditch and Waimea Swinging Bridge
My final free thing to do on Kauai is somewhere my brother and I used to go a lot growing up. Head to Waimea Valley to check out the historic Menehune Ditch and the Waimea Swinging Bridge.
The Menehune Ditch has been on the list of the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.
Legend has it that the Menehune gathered stones from miles away to construct this irrigation ditch AND it only took them one night to build.
If your kids are interested in Menehune, it’s super cool to see something they built in person. It’s a great way to bring history alive!
Right across from the Menehune Ditch is the Waimea Swinging Bridge that crosses over the Waimea River.
It was rebuilt in 1996 after the original pedestrian bridge was destroyed during Hurricane Iniki. It’s not a scary bridge, but it is fun to walk across!
Kauai with Kids FAQ
Kauai has so many beautiful sights and attractions! Be sure to visit Waimea Canyon, see Hanalei Bay, enjoy some Kauai waterfalls, and go hiking!
Both are solid family vacation destinations. Kauai has a slower pace with more outdoor adventures and artisan food options. Maui has more kid-friendly resorts and amenities.
Many families choose to island hop in Hawaii and want to know how to allocate their time. I’d say 4 days is the minimum number to spend on Kauai if you plan on exploring the island.
Enjoy All the Free Things to Do on Kauai
Whenever we get time as a whole family, we like to make the most of it.
We like to find something fun to do in the morning and then something relaxing to do in the afternoon. After a nice calm (attempt at) dinner, we put the boys to bed and enjoy the sounds of the ocean from our balcony.
Whatever the ideal vacation looks like for you, I know you’ll find something to match it on Kauai. And no matter what you choose to do on Kauai, I hope it’s relaxing and enjoyable!
It might even be on my list of 21 Free Things to do on Kauai!