My family of five is heading to Hawaii for Spring Break in early March. We will be spending 6 nights on Kauai and 4 nights at Disney’s Aulani Resort on Oahu. We plan on doing all of our excursions on Kauai so that we can just relax and enjoy Aulani at the end of our trip.
Since we are traveling during peak season, we need to book some of our excursions in the next few weeks. One of the activities we want to do books up several months in advance! So, it’s time to get serious about reserving our spots and finalizing our Kauai itinerary.
Because our flights and hotel are mostly free due to miles and points, I decided we could splurge a little on excursions. I’ve had so much fun looking at all the adventurous things to do on Kauai! However, now that it’s time to book things, I’m realizing that my wish list may be bigger than our budget.
Kauai Itinerary Wish List and Costs
If money were no object, these are the excursions my family would do in Kauai (prices are for my entire family of five to participate):
Aerial tour over Kauai on Wings Over Kauai. Most of Kauai is inaccessible by roads, so to see some inland waterfalls you need to go by helicopter or small plane. The Na Pali Coast is also gorgeous from above. A helicopter tour is very expensive ($1000+ for five) and I’m afraid I will get motion sickness on one, but this small plane tour is slightly more reasonable at $600.
Sugar Cane Tubing. My husband has been excited about this excursion since we discovered it online last year! The tour takes you to the top of the mountain, and then you float down old sugar cane plantation canals. Where else in the world can you do this? Cost: $497.57 through HawaiiDiscount.com.
Kipu Ranch Waterfall ATV Picnic. On our last trip to Oahu, my husband had a blast riding an ATV at Kualoa Ranch. Unfortunately, we could not bring our kids on that ATV ride, so he is the only one that had that experience. I was excited to learn that Kipu Ranch has family-sized ATVs that fit up to six people. The tour I’m most excited about is a 4-hour tour that goes to a few waterfalls and includes a picnic lunch. Cost: $586.16 through HawaiiDiscount.com.
Wailua River Fern Grotto Boat Tour and Smith Family Gardens. Kauai has the only navigable river in Hawaii. This boat tour goes up the river to a fern grotto, which is a natural amphitheater. While we’re there, we would also look around the Smith Family botanical gardens. Cost: $124.
Steelgrass Chocolate Farm Tour. I love chocolate. How could I pass up the opportunity to visit a chocolate farm? Kids 12 and under are free, but my oldest is 13 so he is considered an adult. Cost: $247.88
Kauai Plantation Railway. Any time I see a train on an island, I can’t help but think of Thomas the Tank Engine. We enjoyed our train ride at the Dole Pineapple Plantation on Oahu, so I imagine we would like this one as well. The tour goes through many fruit trees and includes a stop to feed wild pigs and goats. There is a premier tour that includes the train ride, nature hike and picnic lunch. Cost: $380.07.
Holo Holo Na Pali Coast Sunset Cruise. This boat company was recommended by a reader, and it looks like a great way to get up close to the Na Pali coast. Cost: $586.55
The grand total for all this fun = $3022.23. Gulp. Wowsa!
Prioritizing and Making Compromises
Unless I win the lottery, we will not be spending that much money on activities for our Kauai itinerary. Even though our flights and hotel are covered with miles and points, we just don’t have that much money in the budget. Our excursion budget is $1000-$1500.
Since both the small plane and boat tour both provide views of the Na Pali coast, we should choose one and drop one. My preference is to keep the small plane tour. Cost: $600.
For the sugar cane tubing, we are thinking about just having my husband and sons go on it. I’m afraid my daughter will get too spooked in the tunnels, and honestly I’m a little claustrophobic myself. Dropping the two of us brings the cost down to $298.54 through HawaiiDiscount.com.
While the boys go on that sugar cane tubing excursion, my daughter and I could do the Steelgrass Chocolate Farm tour by ourselves. Since the guys will have our rental car, we can just take Uber (yes, Uber is now in Kauai!) since the farm is only four miles from our hotel. Revised Cost: $82.63
I really don’t want to drop the Waterfall ATV tour. However, there is a 2-hour version without the picnic lunch that would cost us $321.98. Maybe that is long enough for us to experience the thrill of an ATV ride.
We should eliminate the Kauai Plantation Railway. Even though we could skip the nature hike and picnic lunch, the train portion by itself is still $79.60. We could also drop the Fern Grotto river boat tour.
Based on these adjustments, our new excursion total is $1303.15. That’s still quite high, but much more manageable.
Free and Low-Cost Excursions on Kauai
And of course, we will have to drive to Waimea Canyon State Park, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We will have no shortage of free things to do on Kauai. (And I’m open to your suggestions on free/cheap things to add to our Kauai itinerary!)
When you book a trip using miles and points, do you splurge more on excursions? How do you stay on budget with your recreation costs?
Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.