Best Credit Cards

My “If Money Were No Object” Kauai Itinerary

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.

My "If Money Were No Object" Kauai Itinerary

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

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.

My "If Money Were No Object" Kauai Itinerary

Na Pali coast. Photo by Brian Heimann on Unsplash

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

Of course, Kauai still has many sites that are either free or very inexpensive. We plan to visit Lydgate Beach Park, Poipu Beach and at least one more beach.

My "If Money Were No Object" Kauai Itinerary

Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Photo by Lennart Heim on Unsplash

We would also like to hike on Kauai. Our hotel is near the Sleeping Giant trails, and we can hike the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail when we visit Poipu Beach.

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?

Author: Nancy

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.

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

20 thoughts on “My “If Money Were No Object” Kauai Itinerary

  1. We did the small plane tour you’ve mentioned and I recommend it. I wanted too save money, plus, helicopters kind of scare me. It was a lot of fun, though the plane obviously can’t get you as close to all the sights. Still, for five people I definitely think it’s a better option due to more affordable cost. Your post makes me want to go back to Kauai!

    • @Leana I can’t wait for this plane tour! I’ve been on a small single engine plane before so I’m fairly confident I won’t get motion sickness (but I wasn’t sure about not getting sick on a helicopter!)

  2. Really enjoyed this article it will keep all this information on hand as I hope to take our family of 5 to Kauai in a few years (on points of course)

    • @Erik I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this upcoming trip because it’s all I can think about right now! 🙂

  3. We went on the 3 hour Holo Holo Afternoon Napali Coast Tour (this was our big splurge) as I wanted all of us to be able to go into the sea caves (which you can’t do by air or by being on the large catamarans). Runs about $179/pp, but they offer $100 gift cards @ Costco for $80 (if you’re interested, call them up and have them add everything up with taxes, and they’ll tell you how many gift cards you should buy). It was definitely expensive, but we cut out the ATV tour, and instead snorkeled at Lydgate Beach (great snorkeling for kids as the water is calm and there’s a great variety of fish).

    You have to go to Waimea Canyon for the day (take snacks and drinks or pack a lunch). We were all starving on the way back down to the main road, and I found The Saddle Room (bbq, burgers, and great drinks – best Mai Tai I had on any of the islands). They’re only open 4 days of the week and have some strange hours, but we got there right when they opened, and it filled up quickly.

    Your family will have so much fun. We love Hawaii!!!

    • @Stephanie Those sea caves look awesome! What a cool experience! Thanks for the tip about bringing food to Waimea Canyon. My kids are always starving, LOL!

  4. Don’t forget that certain excursions can be booked via the Ultimate Rewards portal. Sometimes, the cost in points is cheaper than the cash price. The 1.5 cpp benefit applies to excursions also if you have a CSR.

    • @Aaron Great point about using the Ultimate Rewards portal! We just used all of our points to book our condo in Kauai so we don’t have any left for excursions. I bet most of our excursions are in the portal, though.

  5. That looks amazing – I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time doing whatever you decide on! I love to make little lists like these but most of the time they’re for vacations far far into the future 😉

    A- simplylovely90.com

  6. Oh fun! I haven’t been to Hawaii in like 5 years and we stayed in Honolulu but we did a swimming with dolphins excursion as well as parasailing. But we honestly enjoyed everything we did! You guys will have a blast!

Leave a Reply