Book 'Em, Daddy-O

KAUIA

    Photo: O'Mahoney, Hawai'i Visitors & Convention Bureau

Best Bet: HYATT REGENCY KAUAI
At the Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort and Spa, built in an open-air plantation style, the varnished-wood buildings are separated from the beach by a massive, three-tiered, watery never-never land. There are grottoes tucked behind waterfalls, saltwater lagoons with wading areas for toddlers, and a 150-foot water slide that looks like it's carved from black lava. When your kids get restless just slippin' and slidin', they can be Indiana Jones for a day, learning the fundamentals of archaeological excavation at two sites on the resort grounds. Camp Hyatt, for ages 3--12, has its own latter-day Marlin Perkins, a staff wildlife expert who introduces campers to native Hawaiian species, plus the Hyatt's own coterie of colorful parrots. Then there's tidepool exploring plus trekking along the dunes where they might spot rare monk seals and green sea turtles. After camp lets out, you can all hit the beach—the waves here on Poipu are perfect for boogie boarding and bodysurfing. Nuts and bolts: doubles from $355; Camp Hyatt costs $45 including lunch and T-shirt. Contact 800-742-2353, www.kauai-hyatt.com.

Runner-Up: KIAHUNA PLANTATION
In the low-key children's program at the Kiahuna Plantation, kids can go native, gathering hibiscus and lilies from the botanical gardens on the grounds to make traditional Hawaiian crafts. Then they'll learn to cast like a pro, using their own handmade bamboo fishing poles. Nuts and bolts: doubles from $199; full day at the kids' camp costs $35, including lunch; half-day, $20. Contact 800-688-7444; www.outrigger.com.

Must-See
Take advantage of Kauai's fluted Na Pali Coast—perhaps the most stunning 22 miles on earth. Walk along the high pali (cliffs), dipping into lush valleys on the Kalalau Trail. You start at Kee Beach with a strenuous climb up loose rock that can be slippery when wet. Hike at least the first half-mile for a spectacular view of fluorescent-green, crenulated bluffs. It's another mile and a half to hidden Hanakapiai Beach—great for picnicking, but unsafe for swimming. Cool off on your return to Kee Beach, where calm seas and a shallow reef make for superb snorkeling for little tykes.

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