At the end of August, my husband and I moved to Hawaii with our 4 month old baby. When we arrived, I searched online for resources about exploring and living in Hawaii with kids. I found very little to help us get started.

Since then, I have been discovering Hawaiian activities, both touristy and local. Some are fabulously kid friendly. Others have been more of a struggle. This blog will share the lessons I've learned about traveling and living in Hawaii with a baby. From restaurants to tourist destinations to living like a local, I'll include the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This is not a professional travel site, and I don't get paid or receive any perks from the companies/locations I write about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stocking Up in Paradise

If you've ever traveled with a baby, you know how much stuff they require.  My husband and I can pack for a week vacation in one suitcase.  We need 2 extras, plus a diaper bag, just for the baby.  With the cost of checking on bags these days, that's just not a good way to fly.

I recommend packing just enough of the essentials (diapers, wipes, baby food, etc.) to get you through the flight and one or two days, then stocking up locally.  Buying things in Oahu can be expensive - it's an island and it's touristy - so here are some suggestions for budget conscious shopping in Hawaii.

If you're going to be here for awhile, you can buy in bulk at Sam's Club or Costco.  If you're an East Coast-er with a BJ's membership, you're out of luck.  Both stores have multiple locations in Oahu.  The Sam's Club in Ala Moana (centrally located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu) is conveniently located directly above a Walmart.  Sam's Club and Costco are both warehouse clubs that require memberships, though.

If you're not a member, Walmart, K-Mart, and Target all have stores on Oahu.  Walmart is the most convenient for people staying in Waikiki or downtown Honolulu.  Unfortunately, I think it also has a somewhat disappointing baby selection.  Note that the Walmart in Ala Moana is very easy to miss.  Drive slowly and look for either the blue Walmart or Sam's Club signs - they share a parking garage.  Target is only a 15-20 minute drive out of town, which isn't far if you're a local.  If you're only here for a week, though, you may not want to devote the time required to make this trip.

For the parent looking for items beyond the basics, I'm sorry to report that there's no Babies R Us on Oahu (if you call their Customer Service number looking for a location, they'll send you to a Toys R Us - it's a long drive, and you'll be sad when you get there).  A good substitute is Baby Emporium.  While it's not the size of a Babies R Us, it has a good selection of items you may not find at the chain stores.  A good stop for a range of strollers, furniture, toys, and unique baby supplies.  You can find them at:  If you go to their store, don't be put off by the slightly run down look of the surrounding area. 

Finally, I discovered by accident that the Sears in the Ala Moana shopping center has a baby and kid section that often has good deals.  The selection isn't huge, but it's worth checking out for good prices on clothes, strollers, and toys.

Happy stocking!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Going to the Beach: Waikiki vs. Ala Moana Beach Park

One of the highlights of being in Hawaii is year-round trips to the beach.  It's mid-November, and my husband and sister are at the beach right now enjoying blue skies, sun, and warm water.  The beaches in Hawaii are all very different, however, and your objectives for your beach day should determine which one you visit.

The two beaches we visit most often are Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park.  Waikiki is by far the more famous of the two, and I recommend you make a trip there during your stay simply because it's a quintessential part of the Oahu experience.  It's also ideal if you're interested in surfing - we're not talking North Shore behemoth waves, but the surf here is good for first-timers and casual surfers.  This is also a nice place to go if your family is split over going into the water.  My husband enjoys the ocean much more than I do, so I'll typically stay on the beach with Babykins, who cries the second her toes touch the water, while my husband surfs.  The beach here offers up some great people watching, as well as a good deal of shade (Babykins is ridiculously pale, and we're doing our best to avoid her first sun burn).

If you're meeting people here, it's common to meet up at the statue of the Duke (the surfer, not John Wayne).  Nearby are public bathrooms, a concession stand (Hilton on the Beach, although for the price, I'd recommend packing your own snacks), and palm trees that offer good shade (they also occasionally turn into a hang out for Honolulu's homeless, so take a look around before you set up your blanket).

Tip: Parking in Waikiki is limited and can be very expensive. Try the metered parking along Kapiolani park. If there's none available, you can park in the Zoo's parking lot for a very reasonable $1.00/hour.
Ala Moana Beach Park tends to be more of a local's beach, and on any given weekend, you'll see large groups of friends and family set up for all day barbecues with music, games, and food.  This beach tends to be less crowded and has virtually no waves.  This is a huge benefit if your kids aren't strong swimmers or if, like mine, they're afraid of anything more wavy than a swimming pool.  The calm surface also makes the beach park a great destination for anyone looking to try paddle boarding (which I'd highly recommend).

The downside is that there is virtually no shade on this beach (you'll typically find us huddling in the little shade provided by the life guard stand).  There is a large grassy park behind the beach that has a number of shade trees, but unfortunately, these shady spots usually are inhabited by another set of Honolulu's homeless population.

Like Waikiki, the beach park has showers for rinsing off, public restrooms, and a concession stand.

Tip: If the parking next to the park is full, you can park for free across the street in the Ala Moana Shopping Center parking deck.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting to Hawaii: Flying with a Baby

If you're coming to Hawaii, you will, at some point, need to board an airplane.  Prior to having a baby, I was a consultant, flying 50 weeks a year.  In fact, for the 15 months before the baby came, I flew from North Carolina to California every Sunday and home again every Thursday - 18 hours round trip.  My husband does the same work and travels just as much.  We can be through security and at our gate before most people get their shoes untied.  We are very experienced travelers.

The thought of flying to Hawaii with a 4 month old terrified us.  The two big debates were: 1) do we go direct or with layovers, and 2) do we get Babykins her own seat or carry her on our laps?

Although friends with kids suggested we go direct to avoid the unpleasantness of trying to get a baby's ears to pop on multiple ascents and descents, we decided to take the flight that had 2 layovers.  On the pro-side, the flight was much cheaper and we figured the layovers would give us all a chance to get up and stretch.  On the list of cons, we were worried we would have a crying baby with every take off and landing, and we were facing 20 straight hours of travel.

Building in the layovers worked well for us.  Babykins didn't have any trouble with her ears, and we were all happy to get off the plane every few hours.  If you're going to go this route, though, a couple tips:
  1. Make sure you have adequate time between your flights.  The minimum layover time most airlines will let you book is 1/2 hour.  I've managed to make it between flights in that amount of time, but it's tricky for one grown up, and absolutely impossible with a baby.  I would recommend a minimum of an hour.  1 1/2 hours is better - it will give you time to have a bit of a play.
  2. If you have access to your airline's lounges, check if they have special rooms for children.  The two American Airline lounges we visited had children's rooms with TV, computers, and toys.  Our 4 month old wasn't interested in any of those things, but it was a nice place for us to lay her out and not worry if she made a lot of noise.
As to the second debate, we decided to get Babykins her own seat.  At the time, she couldn't sit independently, so it was great to have a place to let her play with her toys.  It was also her preferred location for naps, and she ended up sleeping in there for a good portion of the flights.  On the downside, of course, you have to pay for the extra seat.

If you do decide to buy your infant a seat, remember that they get all of the same privileges as any other passenger, including 2 carry on bags and a meal if one is provided (I realize the baby won't eat it, but you might enjoy the extra food).

Next week, we're going to fly to Australia with our now 7 month old baby.  We're going direct and are holding her on our laps for the entire 10 hours.  I'll let you know how that compares.

A few other tips for flying:
  1. On American Airlines, you can take on one diaper bag per baby and it does NOT count as one of your carry ons.  Check if your airline has the same allowance.
  2. Some airlines have bassinets you can request.  For example, on Hawaiian Air, if you are traveling with an infant, you can call 24 hours before your flight and reserve a bassinet, which will be set up and bolted to the floor of the plane for your baby to sleep in.  They only have them on certain flights, though, and there's only one, so call early.  Check with your airline to see if they have something similar.
  3. Pack some small plastic bags (like the kind you get from the grocery story) in your diaper bag.  They come in handy for all sorts of things, from holding dirty diapers until you can find a trash can to storing clothes that the baby spits up on.
  4. If you need to change a diaper on the plane, it's much easier to just do it at your seat than to try to change the baby in the tiny bathroom.  Just lay down a changing mat and go fast.
  5. Leave yourself plenty of extra time to get through security.  It takes muuuuuch longer with a baby.
  6. Our jogging stroller didn't fit through the security scanner.  If you have a large stroller, you will likely need to have it patted down by hand.
  7. If you have frequent flier status on your airline and want to upgrade your seats, keep in mind that you will likely only be able to upgrade yourself and one other person.  If you got your baby a seat, this means you'll have to use miles to upgrade anyone else in your party.
  8. And remember - try to relax.  Most people have traveled with children and are sympathetic to the challenges you face.  And at the end of the trip, you'll be in Hawaii!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aloha and welcome to Hawaii!

Aloha!  If you're already in Hawaii, Welcome!  If you're planning - or just dreaming about - a vacation here, you're in for a fabulous trip.  As a recent (and originally reluctant) transplant to Hawaii, let me say that the island of Oahu is guaranteed to win your heart. 

Although many of the tourists in Hawaii are couples or groups without children, there are plenty of activities for people with kids.  Check back often for new reviews of activities, restaurants, and popular destinations, as well as tips and tricks for navigating the island and suggestions for off-the-beaten-path excursions.  So far, we've only explored Oahu, but as we begin to take trips to the other Hawaiian islands, I'll include reviews of those on this blog, as well.

Before I post my first review, though, let me tell you a bit about my test subject.  I have a 7 month old daughter known as "Babykins" (only in the land of blogs - I swear she has a better name in real life).  Babykins was 4 months old when we moved to Hawaii, and she has been very happy in her new home.  Babykins is a happy baby who tends to go with the flow, as long as the flow is heading in the direction she chooses.  She's an independent sitter, on the verge of crawling, and a big fan of cantaloupe and Cheerios.  Together with my husband and family visitors, we've explored many areas of the island and are excited to discover the secrets Hawaii still has in store for us.

If you have questions, comments, or topics you'd like to see addressed on this blog, feel free to post a comment and I'll do my best to find and review a relevant place in Oahu.  Mahalo for visiting my blog!