Your first family holiday after having children is an entirely different experience to the footloose fancy free days before kids came along. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun; it’s just different. Choosing a destination that caters for all that you need can be a challenge. Regardless of what type of holiday you are looking for, travelling to Hawaii with a family will offer relaxation in spades, beautiful beaches and natural wonders, and a safe place for your family to get away together and unplug from everyday life.
Hawaii is made up of six main islands, so while Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu may be one of the more famous spots to visit in Hawaii, there are plenty of reasons to explore further. If you do decide to visit more than one island and fly with Hawaiian Airlines, you can check your bags from an interisland terminal all the way through to Australia – making international connections home a breeze.
If you have young children as well as a baby, Ko‘Olina on Oahu is hard to go past. Disney’s Aulani resort offers a mix of hotel rooms and villas, lazing pools, swimming pools and easy access to cabanas to feed or give your children a break from the sun. The resort offers specific activities for families with babies such as the spa’s baby massage class, which includes using massage to aid sleep.
The allocated children’s areas have a mini-fridge, bottle warmers and high chairs. They also have strollers and swings available for hire. Staff at Aunty’s Beach House will entertain toilet-trained kids over three, for free.
But if you’re not ready to go on the Disney holiday just yet, the Waikiki Beach area of Oahu abounds with limitless family friendly accommodation and activities. Regardless of size or style, most accommodation will offer amenities similar to four and five-star hotels or resorts. There is also plenty of condo (or apartment) style accommodation for families who want a bit more space with self-catering options. It’s worthwhile checking that your accommodation offers pool facilities, and can source a reputable babysitter for you if they don’t offer a ‘kid’s club’. Waikiki Beach’s calm, clear water and abundance of sand are great for younger kids – and for parents keeping a watchful eye out. There are also plenty of watersport options to keep older kids happy – from surf lessons to stand up paddle boards, kayaks and outrigger canoes.
If you want a break from the resort or hotel and feel like exploring, there are plenty of places you can enjoy as a family. The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (30 minutes east of Waikiki), and the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Centre are both worth a visit. Be sure to feed your children before you go as no food or drink is allowed inside the exhibits, and bring your baby carrier as prams are parked outside.
If you’re after some beach time, a particularly child-friendly beach, The Wall, has a retaining wall, which creates sandy coves and calmer waters. It’s perfect for babies and small children to have a paddle in, while you relax in the sunshine.
Kids of all ages will also love the Hawaiian cultural activities offered at many hotels – kids (and grownups) can learn to hula, how to make a lei, husk a coconut and learn more about Hawaiian culture and language from locals who, like all those from Polynesian cultures, just love keiki (Hawaiian for children).
If you have children of varying ages, from the very small to teens, there are activities available on Maui that will please everyone. While the really adventurous activities may not be on the agenda if you have baby in tow, there are boat trips, pool time, the Maui Ocean Centre, and amazing sunsets to take in.
Being a well-developed island there is no need to travel with extra nappies and baby food as Maui has everything you’ll need (including a Costco right near the airport!).
Maui is accessible for all budgets. Packages that include flights, transfers and accommodation are a great way to manage your budget, as there are so many alternatives from basic accommodation, right through to luxurious resort style accommodation – all offering family-friendly options. And at just 30-40 minutes by air from Honolulu airport, Maui is easy to get to and regular flights link easily with incoming international flights.
It’s recommended to hire a car on Maui as this is the best way to explore the island. Roads are well-signed and traffic is minimal and the scenery is amazing with plenty of spots to stop, take photos or just a break. You can hire baby seats or boosters (but make sure to do this when booking), or bring your own from home.
Choosing accommodation with kitchen facilities means you can control part of the expense by preparing meals at home. This is also very useful when you have a young baby as you will most likely still be sterilising bottles and dummies, or preparing new foods for your baby.
The different regions on Maui have very different atmospheres, so you can choose based on the type of holiday you are seeking. For example, West Maui has more of a resort feel, is highly developed with lots of large hotels and shopping districts, whereas the North Shore has a more village feel, with cute cafes and restaurants. Heading to Upcountry Maui is a different experience again, with farm to table experiences, rolling green hills and waterfalls and rainforest hideaways.
Kauai offers more of a ‘nature’ holiday, than a resort-style experience, and if you’re going to Hawaii to see amazing beaches, Kauai will most certainly deliver. Kauai in particular, has some fantastic beaches that are suitable for babies and toddlers. Kalapaki, Anini, Baby Beach, Ke’e and Lydgate are all great beaches to visit with little people in tow. However, Poipu Beach Park possibly offers the best kid-friendly beach on Kauai.
Poipu Beach Park consists of a sandy nook, which is built into the side of a sandy cove. Lava boulders help to calm the waves as they roll over the reef, and parts of it are more like a salt-water wading pool, particularly at low tide. It has golden sands and more lively surf further down the beach, if you want to take turns with your partner to have a paddle in the surf.
Kauai also offers plenty of natural wonders such as dormant volcanoes, waterfalls and plenty of hiking trails.. These make a great day out and a break from the beach. Be sure to bring your baby carrier or sling so you can hike some of the easy trails without a pram.
Hawaii Island – the Big Island
Hawaii Island is also known as the Big Island to help stem confusion between the state of Hawaii and the island within it. Hawaii Island is true to its moniker, – at 4,028 square miles (around 10,500 square km) – it offers an incredibly diverse environment and experience.. If you are seeking a holiday that packs in variety, Hawaii Island will deliver. The Hawaii Volcanoes national Park is a highlight if you’re seeking natural wonders. It is home to Kilauea Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, whose lava is currently flowing into the ocean – definitely a “bucket list” experience. You can visit the lively historical village of Kailua (Kailua-Kona), which is steeped in Hawaiian history, and coffee connoisseurs should not go past the region of Holualoa – the home of Kona coffee.
If getting out in nature with your family is more your thing then Hilo is a must. You can visit the breath-taking Waianuenue, also known as Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, in Wailuku River State Park. Hilo has many beautiful parks, botanical gardens and orchid farms that are all worth a visit.
For a unique experience, a visit to Waimea will provide a glimpse of the Hawaiian cowboy lifestyle. A historic area of picturesque green pastures and home to the Kahua Ranch – where stop signs read ‘Whao’ instead of stop.
If you’re seeking a traditional beach holiday, Hawaii Island will also deliver – although as well as beautiful postcard style white sands, you’ll find jet black volcanic sands and green sands on the island. Hiring a car is recommended, and with two main airports on opposite sides of the island, one of the best options is to fly into either Kona or Hilo and spend a few days driving and exploring your way across the island to fly out of the other. This will save backtracking and give you more time to explore. Accommodation options from large five-star resorts through to cottage style and budget accommodation, make the island’s highlights easily accessible for all family budgets and travel styles.
Molokai and Lanai
If you really want to go ‘off the beaten track’ Molokai is the perfect place to do it. One of Hawaii’s best kept secrets, and known as the ‘Friendly Island’, Molokai is the place to go if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy some quality family time amongst the best of what Mother Nature has to offer. There is no glitz or glamour on Molokai, but it offers an authentic island experience in a time and place before technology and the tourist dollar took over.
On Molokai, you will not find any building taller than a palm tree (which means no typical resort style accommodation). If you want to stay in a hotel, there is just one on the island. But there are other accommodation choices such as private houses, beach huts and cottages, condominiums and a few bed and breakfast places.
Activities are low-key and include whale-watching, fishing, snorkeling, bike-riding, and mule rides down the breathtaking Kalaupapa sea cliff trail. However, if reclining in a beach hammock and napping is more like your idea of a holiday, Molokai delivers this in spades. It is an island steeped in native Hawaiian tradition, so is a great place to experience true Hawaiian culture. You can take an inter-island flight to Molokai from Honolulu or a day trip from Maui.
Molokai’s sister island Lanai is just a short ferry ride from Maui’s Lahaina town (or flight from Honolulu) and can be visited for the day, or you can stay overnight – but accommodation is limited to the Four Seasons Manele Bay or at the ranch-style Hotel Lanai, which offers activities such as horse-riding and ATV tours. And if one of you is an avid golfer, Lanai has some amazing golf courses.
The key to a great Hawaii family holiday is working out the type of holiday you want, and then booking the most appropriate location. There are a few things to remember when travelling to Hawaii with a baby: bring a baby carrier so you can access the natural wonders where you can’t take a pram, and leave your watch at home.
The Hawaiian Islands have long been close to the hearts, minds and dreams of travellers. Hawaii’s six main islands each have their own personality, underpinned by the famous Aloha Spirit. Aloha is much more than just the Hawaiian word for hello and goodbye, it’s a way of life, of genuine welcome and friendship – an essence that those who call Hawaii home practice in their daily lives and share with visitors.
Whether you’re an adventure lover, a nature lover, a foodie, a shopaholic, a lie-on-the-beach-with-a-good-book-and-a-cocktail holiday lover – or all of the above, you’ll find your ideal holiday in Hawaii. To plan and experience your aloha, visit www.experiencealoha.com.au