Kauai Makes a Play for Families

Activities abound for all ages on the Garden Isle.

By: By Marty Wentzel

Web Exclusive

Click here to read about South Kauai’s newest gathering place.

The Details

Kauai Visitors Bureau
800-262-1400
www.kauaidiscovery.com

When families ask for vacation advice from Rhonda Shumway of TerraMar Travel in Hemet, Calif., the first word out of her mouth is often “Kauai.”

“My family clients return from Kauai wanting to go back as soon as possible,” said Shumway. “I recently sent a group there for their reunion, with children as young as 10 years old to adults, and the island had something for every one of them. They loved it.”

Before she suggests Kauai, however, Shumway makes sure her clients know that it’s a laid-back destination.

“You won’t find high-rise hotels and condominiums on the island, but what you will find are the great outdoors and a wonderful spirit of aloha,” she said. “If a family is looking for night life, Kauai is probably not the best choice. But if they like taking part in activities together, Kauai is a great getaway.”

Kauai Sea Tours offers sunset cruises. // (C) 2010 Kauai Sea Tours

Kauai Sea Tours offers sunset cruises. // (C) 2010 Kauai Sea Tours

Boats, Bikes, Trains and Zips
Based on her experience as a Kauai destination specialist, Shumway has come up with a variety of activities to recommend to her clients traveling as a family. High on the list are snorkel and sailing excursions along the rugged cliff-lined Na Pali Coast on the island’s northern rim. Among the operators that offer such cruises are Blue Dolphin Charters, Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures, Captain Na Pali Adventures, Catamaran Kahanu, Holo Holo Charters, Kauai Sea Rider, Kauai Sea Tours and Napali Makai.

Another Kauai pastime that Shumway often suggests to families is ziplining, a unique way for them to see the island’s ranch lands, forests, streams and waterfalls. Clans can bond during a high-flying outing with companies such as Princeville Ranch Adventures, Kauai Backcountry Adventures and Just Live.

Other popular family choices for outdoor fun include ocean or river kayaking with Kayak Kauai, Island Adventures and Outfitters Kauai; horseback riding at Princeville Ranch, Silver Falls Ranch and CJM Country Stables; a boat ride up the Wailua River to Fern Grotto, courtesy of Smith’s Tropical Paradise; and one of Shumway’s favorites, “beachcombing the beautiful sands of the island.”

If the gang prefers exploring on two wheels, agents can book them on Outfitter Kauai’s downhill bike ride, starting at the 3,600-foot-high rim of Waimea Canyon and ending at the
coast.

The Kauai Plantation Railway, one of Kauai’s newer attractions with appeal to all ages, is a throwback to the 19th century, when trains hauling sugar cane from the fields to the plantations crisscrossed the island. Based at a 105-acre attraction called Kilohana, the diesel-powered train chugs 2½ miles past fruit and vegetable groves.

For film-loving families, an excursion with Kauai Movie Tours is a safe bet, taking them to locations immortalized in such blockbusters as “Jurassic Park” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” When the adults want a little time on their own, Shumway has been known to line up Harley-Davidson rentals for exploring the island’s exceptional beauty. Better yet, some of the most enjoyable family-oriented experiences on Kauai are free, including taking hula lessons and watching the sunset.  

Based on her experience as a Kauai destination specialist, Shumway has come up with a variety of activities to recommend to her clients traveling as a family. High on the list are snorkel and sailing excursions along the rugged cliff-lined Na Pali Coast on the island’s northern rim. Among the operators that offer such cruises are Blue Dolphin Charters, Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures, Captain Na Pali Adventures, Catamaran Kahanu, Holo Holo Charters, Kauai Sea Rider, Kauai Sea Tours and Napali Makai.Another Kauai pastime that Shumway often suggests to families is ziplining, a unique way for them to see the island’s ranch lands, forests, streams and waterfalls. Clans can bond during a high-flying outing with companies such as Princeville Ranch Adventures, Kauai Backcountry Adventures and Just Live.Other popular family choices for outdoor fun include ocean or river kayaking with Kayak Kauai, Island Adventures and Outfitters Kauai; horseback riding at Princeville Ranch, Silver Falls Ranch and CJM Country Stables; a boat ride up the Wailua River to Fern Grotto, courtesy of Smith’s Tropical Paradise; and one of Shumway’s favorites, “beachcombing the beautiful sands of the island.” If the gang prefers exploring on two wheels, agents can book them on Outfitter Kauai’s downhill bike ride, starting at the 3,600-foot-high rim of Waimea Canyon and ending at the coast.The Kauai Plantation Railway, one of Kauai’s newer attractions with appeal to all ages, is a throwback to the 19th century, when trains hauling sugar cane from the fields to the plantations crisscrossed the island. Based at a 105-acre attraction called Kilohana, the diesel-powered train chugs 2½ miles past fruit and vegetable groves.For film-loving families, an excursion with Kauai Movie Tours is a safe bet, taking them to locations immortalized in such blockbusters as “Jurassic Park” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” When the adults want a little time on their own, Shumway has been known to line up Harley-Davidson rentals for exploring the island’s exceptional beauty. Better yet, some of the most enjoyable family-oriented experiences on Kauai are free, including taking hula lessons and watching the sunset.  

Helping Agents Make the Sale
Families — defined as visitors traveling with children under 18 — account for 20 percent of visitors to the Garden Isle, according to Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB) executive director Sue Kanoho. For that reason, the KVBs Official Travel Planner features a specific family travel section describing multigenerational activities and children’s programs.

“Throughout the year, our partners take advantage of the bureau’s e-mail blasts, blitzes and other marketing opportunities in order to communicate their own family-friendly messages,” said Kanoho.

Since summer is a popular time for family travel, much of the KVB’s current marketing initiatives are aimed at that market, Kanoho added.

“While we don’t advertise in specific family media right now, the travel decision-makers are exposed to many of our ads,” she said. “Our message continues to demonstrate the diversity of Kauai’s activities and attractions.”

Along with its range of activities, the island’s accommodations are well-suited to families. Clients can choose from hotels, condominiums or vacation rentals around the island, and room-and-car packages cater to travelers on a budget.

As travel agents look to boost their family business to Kauai, they should get to know the island and all the things it offers, said Kanoho. In March, the KVB is launching Webinars focusing on the different resort areas and activities available. Agents can take a course called Papa Kauai, an online training tool acquainting them with the island. And, several times per year, the KVB presents its on-island Kauai Destination Specialist program.

For Kanoho, one of the key reasons to court the family market is that it translates into repeat visitors.

“Over the years, as children visit Kauai with their families, they might carry their fond memories into the future,” she said. “Hopefully, they will return with families of their own in the future.”  

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations
>