Hawaii with toddlers: How we made our Hawaii family vacation a success
Traveling to Hawaii with toddlers is an amazing experience — although not quite as relaxing as the pre-kids days when you could lounge at the pool all day with a Mai Tai in hand.
Time zones, long flights, new experiences and sand in the eyes can quickly lead to toddler meltdowns.
We recently spent some time in Maui and had a pretty epic trip — although not without its toddler moments. Looking back, our family trip to Hawaii was a success because of a handful of things that we did.
Whether you chose the island of Hawaii, Maui, Ohau or Kaui for your Hawaii family vacation, here are some great tips on how to successfully travel to Hawaii with toddlers.
In this post, I’ll cover the following 8 Hawaii travel tips for families:
- Rent a car
- Book a nanny service
- Fly direct
- Switch up your accommodations
- Go at their pace
- Limit restaurant time
- Attend a luau
- Rent your baby gear
Let’s get started.
Hawaii with toddlers: How we made our Hawaii family vacation a success
1. Rent a car
When planning your trip to Hawaii with toddlers, rent a car. Even if you are staying at a large resort, renting a car can be a real life-saver when you have an infant or toddler. Kids this young can’t handle a full day at the beach or pool — the sun and level of excitement are too much.
We found the schedule that worked best for us was a beach or pool session in the morning, followed by a mid-day mini-trip. We could eat, jump in the car, and the toddler would sleep as we made our way to a new location to explore. Then we’d return for another late afternoon beach or pool session and watch the sunset.
Plus, on Maui, there are so many fantastic things to see that are easy to achieve in a half-day trip.
2. Book a nanny service
It may sound exotic, but the best thing we did was get a nanny for a few afternoons. This allowed my husband and I to have a little bit of adult relaxation time (hello, swim-up bar!). Getting adult chill time doesn’t happen when you vacation with toddlers — unless you plan to also bring grandparents along on your Hawaii family vacation.
Do yourself a favor and book some time with The Nanny Connection.
The Nanny Connection has been in business since 1991 and provides qualified and certified nannies on Maui, Ohau and Lanai — it’s a genius business idea.
It is super simple to book them and they come to you — whether you are at a condo or resort. Its also pretty affordable compared to what you are already spending on flights, hotels and Pina Coladas.
Our toddler loved it, especially playing with the big bag of toys that each nanny brings along.
3. Fly direct
Book direct flights if possible. Adding stops, delays, and longer travel times means you arrive in Hawaii exhausted and grumpy. Not how you want to start your Hawaii family vacation. If you need to justify the higher cost of direct tickets, just remember that flying direct is better for the environment. ✈️
4. Switch up your accommodations
Try spending half your trip at a resort and half at an Airbnb or condo. We found that each has its own benefits. The bigger resorts have great pools, easy meals and entertainment — a perfect recipe when in Hawaii with a toddler. But there are also crowds and they are more expensive. Plus, spending 7+ days at one hotel can get a bit stale.
An Airbnb or condo near the beach gave us a slower-paced day — everything we needed and nothing we didn’t. Plus, many condos come stocked with beach toys and chairs — providing all the gear you need. I’m super happy that we did both.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Hawaii with toddlers? Make the best of your trip with these 8 tips for your Hawaii family vacation. Click To Tweet” quote=”Hawaii with toddlers? Make the best of your trip with these 8 tips for your Hawaii family vacation. Click To Tweet”]
5. Go at your child’s pace
This might be the most important tip when planning your trip to Hawaii with toddlers.
You may be expecting long beach or pool days and epic drives up to the volcano or through the jungle. But keep in mind that travel, new experiences, new schedules, and the heat can all be overwhelming to a toddler.
Keep your plans minimal and flexible. Don’t hold too tightly to what you want to do — even if you are planning things for your kid!
Apply the same advice — go at their pace — if you are introducing your kid to the water.
Early in our trip, our toddler was not all that interested in the pool or ocean. I feared the trip was going to be a dud. But we didn’t push the issue.
Then one morning I spent time with my kid simply sitting on the sand, near the waterline. Soon enough, she warmed to it — by the end of the week, we were squealing in the waves and looking for turtles through a mask.
And we scored some quintessential Hawaii family vacation photos.
6. Limit restaurant time
If you toddler gets restless, you probably don’t want to spend every meal of every day in Hawaii with your toddler sitting down for a restaurant meal.
Staying at a condo or hotel that has a small kitchen means you can limit how often you need to eat out. Even if you don’t have your own kitchen, hit up an offsite market and stock up on snacks.
This allowed us to minimize the number of sit down restaurant meals we had — which meant we saved money and had fewer toddler meltdowns. Instead, we had light breakfasts, easy grab lunches and opted for a few special meals out.
7. Attend a luau
It may seem stereotypical and cheesy to attend a luau on your Hawaii family vacation. But it was a highlight for our toddler. We still talk about hula dancers and the “star queen” — a Hawaiian legend that was told through dance.
8. Rent your baby gear
Having young kids comes with lots of baggage — car seat, crib, stroller and more. If you are contemplating flying to Hawaii with your kid’s gear in-tow, consider renting it on the island instead.
There are a handful of companies that will rent you anything you could possibly need including car seats, strollers, cribs, beach gear, baby monitors, baby swings, and even toys.
If you bring your own gear, you will likely have to pay bag fees for the extra luggage. Opting to rent your baby or toddler gear on the island could save you money on Hawaii family vacation.
Simply search for the island you are traveling to and “baby rental” (e.g., Ohau baby rental) to find available options.
*Bonus tip — Have reef-safe sunscreen
Before you stock up on sunscreen for your Hawaii family trip, know that in early 2021 only reef-safe sunscreens will be allowed in Hawaii. Read more about reef-safe sunscreens or download my Reef-safe Sunscreen Cheatsheet to be prepared for your trip.
Looking for the perfect Reef-Safe sunscreen?
Grab the FREE cheatsheet!
Hawaii is a magical place and it’s easy to have a great family trip with kids. But we found that these 8 Hawaii travel tips allowed us to have a more relaxing and memorable trip.
How about you? Do you have any Hawaii travel tips for families? Comment below with what has worked well for your family when traveling with kids.