Tips For Traveling To Hawaii With Kids


I recently caught up with Jennifer Miner, also known as MudslideMama with the She’s a big fan of Hawaii and so I wanted to ask her about her tips for traveling with kids to Hawaii. Here’s a recap of our Q&A.

Sheila – Which islands has your family visited? Does your family have a favorite island?

Jennifer – I grew up on the East Coast, and spent several tropical vacations in the Caribbean with my parents. Now that I’m a parent myself, I live on the West Coast – where Hawaii is a much more convenient tropical vacation. More than just convenient, though, it’s truly one of our favorite places in the world. We’ve been to Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai. Oahu is high on our list for next time!

As a family, I’d say that our favorite island is Maui. It has the most child-friendly activities, such as the Maui Ocean Center aquarium and the whole Kaanapali/Lahaina area is just so much fun.  Personally, though, I’d have to admit to having a soft spot for Kauai. This is probably because I have a special affinity for the feeling of being in a relatively undiscovered place, and hiking along Waimea Canyon during iffy weather really gave me that “Robinson Crusoe” feeling. (See Jennifer’s post on Waimea Canyon hiking with her family.) Kauai is a less popular family vacation destination than is Maui and it is less developed and more wild-feeling than the other islands I’ve been lucky enough to visit.

Sheila – What sort of activities have your kids enjoyed the most?

Jennifer – When my children were younger, they most enjoyed the “Keiki Camps” at resort hotels in Hawaii. The Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui, for example, has counselors that showed them banana trees and coconut trees – and my tots then had only seen those in the produce section. As thy got older, though (they are now 7 and 9), the resort day camps lost their appeal. We take them with us everywhere, and they absolutely love snorkeling. They’ve been on both half and full day sail/snorkel trips, and really delight in seeing the tropical fish and coral reefs. Seeing green sea turtles and Hawaiian Monk Seal lazing around on hotel beaches is an unending delight for both them, and me. (See Jennifer’s post on their Big Island snorkel trip.)

Sheila – What special considerations and advice do you have for traveling to Hawaii with children?

Jennifer – A special consideration I’d give for families traveling to Hawaii with children is to remember to keep their activities age-appropriate. Just as my kids liked the hotel day camps when they were little, they wouldn’t have liked or appreciated a scenic hike back then. And it almost goes without saying that different kids are..well, different! One of my children was bored at a luau, whereas the other one was completely enthralled. Just as each island is unique in Hawaii, each child is unique too.  Understanding and respecting their preferences makes for easier family travel.

Mahalo to Jennifer for sharing her Hawaii family traveling insights! Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? Please comment.

  1. Get a condo. If you get a good one, it can be like a home away from home – but with daily maid service. A two bedroom condo is even better.

  2. I agree with Jennifer, Maui has so much tourist infrastructure and activities that it is easy with kids. A Ciao Bambino contributor used to lived in Hawaii just put together a list of her favorite kids activities/beaches in Maui

  3. Snorkeling is possible even with very young kids, with a few careful precautions. Of course they have to be comfortable enough to put their face in the water! In protected reef flat areas like Kahaluu Beach Park in Kona, where the water is almost always calm, I’ve taken my daughter starting at age 5. At that age it’s best to dispense with the snorkel and mask setup, all they need is a good set of goggles and a life vest or “floaties”, with of course an adult standing by. (Or swimming by, don’t stand on the coral!) Just putting her face down for a few seconds at a time she was able to see lots of fish and even a few turtles.

  4. Rent your baby gear from Paradise Baby Co. We have everything a traveling family would need for their stay on Oahu. We have top of the line Cribs for rent, strollers, high chairs, hiking backpacks, beach gear, bikes and lots more. Paradise Baby Co. offers FREE delivery and Pick up island wide.

  5. We would like to visit two islands in January 2020 (Oahu, Maui, Kauai). We have a Baby and a toddler and are wondering which two to pick. We are not big fans of waterparks, Aquariums, kid camps etc. We would like to explore while being able to go to the beach (where it is not too dangerous because of the waves), walk around etc. We do like to hike, but more than 1 hour won’t be possible because of the Kids. Which two islands do you suggest? Thank you!

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