Climbing the Wooden Jungle Gyms at Kamalani Playground—Located in Lydgate Park, Wailua, this unique playground has a maze of jungle gyms for kids of all ages, including an actual labyrinth. Spend an afternoon whipping down slides, exploring caves, hanging from bars, and climbing all over.
Exploring a Magical World—Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens sits on some 240 acres, sprinkled with around 70 life-size (or larger-than-life-size) whimsical bronze statues, hidden off the beaten path of the North Shore. The tropical children’s garden features a gecko maze, a tropical jungle gym, a treehouse in a rubber tree, and a 16-foot-tall Jack-and-the-Beanstalk giant with a 33-foot wading pool below. Family tours take place Tuesday through Friday; book well in advance.
Riding an Open-Sided Train—The Kauai Plantation Railway at Kilohana Plantation is a trip back in time (albeit on new tracks and replica cars) to the sugarcane era, with younger kids exhilarated just by the ride. Parents can justify it as an informal botany class, since passengers learn about the orchards, gardens, and forests they pass along the 2 1/2-mile journey. Children of all ages will enjoy the stop to feed goats, chickens, and wild pigs (as long as they watch their fingers).
Surfing with an Expert -- If seven-time world champ Margo Oberg, a member of the Surfing Hall of Fame, can't get your kid -- or you -- up on a board riding a wave, nobody can. She promises same-day results even for klutzes.
Paddling up the Huleia River -- Indiana Jones ran for his life up this river to his seaplane in Raiders of the Lost Ark. You and the kids can venture down it yourself in a kayak. The picturesque Huleia winds through tropically lush Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, where endangered species like great blue herons and Hawaiian gallinules take wing. It's ideal for everyone.
Cooling Off with a Shave Ice -- On a hot, hot day, stop by Brennecke's Beach Broiler, across from Poipu Beach Park (808/742-7588), and order a traditional Hawaiian shave ice. This local treat consists of crushed ice stuffed into a paper cone and topped with a tropical-flavored syrup. If you can't decide on a flavor, go for the "rainbow" -- three different flavors in one cone.