Hawaii is a fantastic destination no matter your age. On our first trip to Hawaii with a baby, HJ was 8 months old and we had a wonderful time. It was the first trip where we realized having kids could enhance the trip instead of just being something to work around.
We just returned from our second trip (with a 2 and 4-year-old) and had just as much fun! The tips specific to visiting with a toddler and preschooler are coming soon! You can also read about the things we did to prepare our kids to appreciate Hawaii.
#1 Embrace the jet lag
We were coming from the east coast of the US, so we had a 6 hour time difference to contend with. Every morning we would wake up before the sun, walk down to the beach, and play in the sand as the sun rose. By the time the hottest part of the day came along, we were all so tired we spent a few hours in the house napping and watching TV. We watched a good portion of Merlin on this trip.
If we had somewhere specific we wanted to visit on a given day, we would load up the car and be there right as they opened, always making sure we stopped by the beach to watch the sun come up! You can’t beat pictures like this one!
#2 Rent supplies
It’s hard to travel with a baby, and the less gear we can take the better. That being said, the more gear we have the better. So what do we do? We found the Paradise Baby Company on Oahu and were able to rent a high chair, a playpen, and a beach pop-up tent for relatively cheap. They delivered to our house and even brought a free rental of beach toys! In addition to the items we selected, they have baby carriers, car seats, strollers, and even little toddler bikes!
Whether you rent or buy, there are a couple things you will definitely want for the beach.
- A pop-up sun tent. You can see the one we had was on the small side and really only appropriate for HJ to nap, but one of us could lie down with her if our legs were hanging out. On our second trip, we bought a tent that was big enough for the whole family to lie down in. I love to sleep on the beach but we are the pastiest family you’ll ever meet and should not be sleeping in the sun. In addition to napping, the sun tent also provides a sand-free place to change diapers.
- A baby float. Depending on the beach, sometimes the waves were too rough to have her float, but we found a couple sheltered beaches and she just loved to bob along. Daddy would snorkel while HJ and I floated. At one point a sea turtle swam right by us! We bought ours off Amazon, but I would try to rent it next time.
#3 Cover up
Sunscreen is messy to apply and easy to miss a spot so we choose to protect soft baby skin with clothing instead.
- For swim suits, we like the full body style for babies or rash guards and swim tights for toddlers and kids.
- We used the iplay sun hats to cover baby neck and ears and after they outgrew those we switched to SunDay Afternoon that also offers neck and ear protection. SunDay Afternoon hats are better for swimming because they have a more rigid brim that stays out of the eyes.
- If you aren’t using a footed swimsuit, a nice pair of swim socks will keep the sun off the toes and also protect from the hot sand. My kids do like to take the swim socks off though!
- It’s always been difficult for me to keep sunglasses on my kids, but we have had some luck with goggle style polarized glasses for babies.
- After all that there will still be a few spots that require sunscreen. Use a mineral based physical barrier brand to protect any exposed skin, included the face which will get UV rays reflecting off the sand and water.
This applies to life in general, but there is no better time to wear a baby than on vacation. This allows you to get your cuddles in while taking long walks on the beach or hiking to a waterfall.
At the time of the trip we were using a Baby K’Tan but we’ve since fallen deep down the Tula hole and will definitely be using those on our next trip. Both Tula and K’Tan have a breathable version for warm weather, but I’ve never tried them out. A Tula Coast is on my list of must-haves for any future babies.
#5 Take advantage of nap times to travel
Oahu is a small island, and we checked out pretty much the entire island during our trip. Young babies sleep so frequently that we tried to always line up nap time with car time. For instance, if we wanted to go to a Luau on the other side of the island, we’d pop her in the car for a nap, she’d wake up for the event, and be ready for another nap on the way home! It really is a wonderful age when they are still taking 3+ naps per day! My experience has always been that the younger the baby, the easier they travel for this reason.
When we left the car during the day, we always tried to cover the car seat with a blanket. They make covers specifically to solve this issue and they look like they would work well for fairly cheap. The blanket worked well for us, but every time we forgot we had to run the air conditioning for 15 minutes before we could put her in her seat. I live in fear of car seat burns!
Also, if you have a rear facing baby it’s probably worth bringing your car backseat mirror. We forgot ours and it meant a lot of climbing into the back to take a peak.
Any other great tips? We just completed our second trip to Hawaii as parents, so another post specific to toddlers and preschoolers is coming soon!