Take the teens to Kauai

On a family trip, sun, swim, and zoom above the jungle

Kauai vacation

Zip drive: A daring rider zooms 150 feet above the jungle at Princeville Ranch.

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My idea of adventure in Hawaii is renting a convertible or lolling in a chaise longue. Taking short hikes along the beach is also acceptable. Helicopter tours? Kayaking? These are beyond my comfort zone. So how did I end up ziplining over a 150-foot-deep ravine on Kauai?

Ziplining is 2006's hottest activity for adrenaline-seeking travelers. It combines the thrill of soaring through the air with the aesthetic pleasures of a bird's-eye view. It does not involve, say, lounge chairs.

But my husband, Patrick, and I were facing the challenge of a vacation with teenagers. Parents are always looking for ways to bond with their children, but those can get hard to find as kids develop their own interests. We thought Kauai would cater to adventurous souls like our 13-year-old, Caitlin, and to leisure lovers like me and our other daughter, 15-year-old Sara.

Kauai visitors tend to be loyal either to the north, which includes the lush region around Hanalei and Princeville, or to the drier, sunnier south, around Po'ipu Beach Park. We chose Po'ipu because I had long fantasized about splurging on the Grand Hyatt Resort there.

With its palms and pools, the Grand Hyatt is a successful tropical fantasy, and the girls both gave it a thumbs-up. They loved the amusement park scale of the pools. The beach in front of the hotel is a little rough for swimming, but we enjoyed combing the lava rock for crabs and pieces of coral. For snorkeling and swimming, we could head to Po'ipu Beach Park, just down the road.

No trip with teenage daughters is complete without shopping expeditions. By day three, we were on the hunt. They found swimsuits at Poipu Shopping Village, and bargain souvenirs for friends at the Whalers General Store. Our favorite discovery was Spouting Horn, which sends up spectacular sprays of surf as vendors sell jewelry nearby (we found good prices on earrings).

Next: The zipline adventure


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