Where to eat with kids on Kauai North Shore

Eating out is one of the most expensive aspects of any family vacation, right after airfare and lodging. When your vacation is in the Hawaiian islands, the cost can be even higher.


Wondering where to eat with kids that won’t break the bank? We have plenty of picks for Kauai, particularly on the North Shore. If you’re staying in a vacation rental, all the better…you can make meals at home, and supplement with these fun eats:

Best lunch to-go or dinner pick-up:

North Shore Country Store: 

Grab a great plate lunch here, or pick up a pizza to go to eat at home after a fun beach day. This store is right by the gas station at the entrance of the Princeville resort community, near the Foodland store and other convenience stops.

Kilauea Fish Market:


This cute hole-in-the-wall near the Kilauea Lighthouse is located in a small shopping center (go around back). They have a limited menu with only what’s most fresh and available, and offer plate lunches with fresh fish, rice, and potato-mac salad. There’s also fish tacos, and people rave about the mahi mahi wraps…we tried the plate lunches only, and loved them. Order ahead and pick up to take back to your vacation rental or to the beach, or eat at outside picnic tables.

Puka Dog:

Located in Hanalei, Puka Dog has to-die-for hot dogs topped with relishes like pineapple relish, banana relish, or mango relish, plus mild to hot garlic sauce and Hawaiian spicy-sweet mustard. Veggie dogs are also available. Grab dogs to go for the beach, and be sure to try the homemade lemonade, too!

Sunshine Markets:

Look for these open-air farmer’s markets across the island, on designated days and times. We found the Hanalei one on Saturday morning, with acai smoothies, lots of fresh produce, juice bars, and handcrafted items. Pick up produce for dinner and treats for your morning.

Moloaa Sunrise Fruit Stand:


This small dining space along the highway between Princeville and Kapa’a is so much more than a fruit stand, but still looks just like one, which is part of its charm. When you pull up into the dirt parking lot, the first thing you see is fresh fruit lining the front counter in baskets, with a list of prices by the pound. At the counter, grab a menu and pick out a fresh fruit smoothie or freeze, or opt for a full meal. They serve amazing breakfasts and sandwiches here. Try the Ahi sandwich or the breakfast burrito. Eat at the open-air counter or take it to go.

Note: many readers also seem to love Bubba’s, in Hanalei, for their great burgers. We didn’t get a chance to try this counter-service establishment ourselves, however.

Best nice dinner out:

Dolphin Restaurant:

Located in downtown Hanalei, the Dolphin features an open-air dining room, outdoor ‘garden’ seating, and a fish market. Come at night to eat in the glow of tiki torches, and be sure to try the sushi. We had a nice meal out with the adults only during our trip, but we saw plenty of kids, too. Dolphin manages to be casual but also upscale, a rare but beautiful quality in a restaurant. They have a nice wine list and lots of fun cocktails. I loved the Skinny Chi Chi with coconut vodka. Plan to spend about $25-$35 per entree for adults…a bit overpriced, in my opinion, but off-set by the friendly service and nice ambiance.

Postcards Cafe:

We didn’t get a chance to eat here, but my sister and brother-in-law did, and reported that the food was as tasty as at Dolphin, in a more intimate, cozy setting. You’ll get excellent service at Postcards, and enjoy your meal in a quaint Hawaiian plantation house. The restaurant is located right across the street from Dolphin in Hanalei, and does require reservations on most evenings.

shave ice

Best Shave Ice:

Let’s get serious: the most important meal of the day is your daily shave ice on Kauai, right? We enjoyed several shave ice stands in Hanalei, but the lines get very long in this resort area. Instead, head up the road toward Princeville to the shopping center. Directly across from the North Shore General Store, you’ll see Kauai Shave Ice. This hole-in-the-wall stand uses natural syrups, without any corn syrup and non-GMO. Hang onto your cone though, because the cups used can topple over.

We found the shave ice with the best price in Kapa’a, at Ono Ono Shave Ice. It’s in a parking lot, so we took our shave ice here to go, but prices start at just $3.50 instead of the usual $4 for four flavors. Add a scoop of ice cream to the bottom for just a $1 or $1.50 more.

Note: for a healthier option, try an acai bowl. This smoothie-type treat comes with fresh cut fruit and granola on top.

Best Luau:

Smith’s Tropical Island Paradise:

An evening at Smith’s is a full schedule of food and entertainment. Get there right when it opens (at 5 pm in the spring and summer) to walk the grounds before the excitement begins. When you arrive, you’ll be handed shell leis and a map of the gardens; either take the tram on a loop tour, or explore on your own. We took the tram, then wandered back to our favorite spots. Be sure to buy bird feed for the kids to throw to the many peacocks, chickens, and ducks!


Dinner is served following a ceremonial uncovering of the roasted pig (which is optional to watch), and is served buffet-style. There was plenty to eat and drink, and the kids had fun trying Hawaiian dishes such as poi and shredded pork. There’s an open bar for the adults, with Mai Tais, wine, and beer, but we found out the bartenders will make you whatever you want. During dinner, you’ll be entertained by dancers and a band.

Check out the kids, or ‘keikis’ learning the hula:

After dinner, head to the amphitheater for the luau show. It lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes, and everyone in our group, from the four-year-old to the grandparents, enjoyed it. It was very professionally done, though the length was a tad long after a full day (we wouldn’t have minded a one hour show). The whole evening was well organized and relaxing, and we recommend it as a first luau for newcomers to the islands. Smith’s is affordable for families with kids (they’re only $19 each) but you’ll pay over $78 for each adult. Consider it a full scale evening out…dinner and a show.

Where do you like to eat on Kauai?

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.




  1. Funny, the North Shore that I know (North of Boston, MA) looks nothing like the one in your pictures! I actually had to look up where Kauai is! Thank you for sharing the tips. If we ever end up there, I’ll know where to eat!

  2. I’ve heard great things about Kauai. My kids would be all over the fruit stand and shave ice. A luau is on my list!

  3. I want to try a puka dog! Yum!

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