My husband just found out he’ll be traveling to Oahu, Hawaii for work, and I’d never forgive him if he left me and the girls behind. It’s a last minute trip and apparently this is peak season, so booking flight and lodging has been daunting. I have looked all over for a blog where someone has already planned the trip for me, but I didn’t have much luck. With a 1 year old and a 4 year old, our planning has to be somewhat catered to them.
Flying Out: We have our airfare taken care of. I suggest looking through Hawaiian, Alaskan, and Google Flights. The flight prices seemed to change often and randomly, so once you find a cheap flight that meets your needs, book it! We’ll be flying from Denver to Las Angeles through Southwest, then Las Angeles to Honolulu/Oahu through Hawaiian. We had to call Southwest Airlines and ask what happens to our bags in-between flights, because we really didn’t know. Turns out, they do not transfer bags to other airlines, so they suggest leaving 4 hours between flights. This was important information for us, as it was difficult to find flight times that worked for us. Plus, now we know we have to pick up our bags and go back through security. We spent hours searching and pricing flights. Our 1 year old will be a lap-infant, so for the 3 of us (husband, myself, and 4 year old) total roundtrip flights cost us $1,750.
Lodging: I personally wanted at least a partial kitchen and just couldn’t imagine staying in a tiny hotel room with our girls for 2 weeks, so I scoured the internet for condos and rentals. You can definitely find a condo for less than a Hotel room, especially during peak season. When I started looking, I was so disappointed because everything I wanted was completely booked. I had no idea how hard it would be to find a place. I used the website VRBO.com, which is wonderful, but their information isn’t always updated for all their listings. Everything I asked about was already booked. We finally found a condo through 444 Nahua and they were extremely nice and quick to respond. It’s in Waikiki, because that’s where my husband needs to be for work. They said they can provide a crib for our 1 year old, which helps out a lot.
Extended Lodging: We’re going to stay a few extra days together as a family, when my husband is done with work. We both have this dream idea in our heads about what Hawaii is like, as neither of us has been. You know, the beach house, where you walk out the back door and walk a few steps to the beach. You can see the beach from the back door, hear and smell the ocean…. That’s what we want for those few days. Again, I’m searching on VRBO.com. We’ve never rented from an individual before, so it’s a little confusing to work out the logistics, but we finally found a place we wanted and an owner we were comfortable working with. This is the part I’m most excited about. An entire house with the beach in the backyard, what’s not to love?
I asked my 4 year old what she wants to do in Hawaii, because I know she has her own idea of what Hawaii is. Her answer: “I don’t want to go in the water because jellyfish will sting me.” I explained that we would go places on the beach and look to make sure there are no jellyfish. So then what does she want to do: “I want to go exploring!” Okay, Done! I have several ideas to make things more interesting and entertaining for her.
Preschool Specific Activities:
Preschool Level Scavenger Hunt: I plan to create 2 print-outs for her, one for the zoo and one for the beach. The print-out will have pictures of the animals/objects and she can keep it with her and cross of the pictures as she sees them. She’ll love this! …and I’ll love it because it will help keep her occupied.
Sea Life: I plan to bring sea life related toys and books for both of my girls to play with. I know how hard it is to see all the sea life and not be able to really touch and interact with them. I have little hard ocean animals put away (so they don’t get bored with them before we get there). I’ll pack those and all the ocean books I can find around our house. This should also be great enrichment for my 1 year old, so she can relate the toys and pictures to things we’re seeing.
Map Quest: My 4 year old loves pirates, treasure, and maps. Can she read a map? No. Does she think she can read a map? Yes. So I plan to provide her with a map of the island, which I will print on 1 piece of paper. It needs to be her size (I could just see her struggling with a full-sized “real” map). I should probably print out several, since they will very likely get lost or ruined.
Hawaii Journal: I’m going to give her a small notebook and we will write and draw pictures about what we did that day each night, then we’ll leave a space to add a photo. I’m going to give her a disposable camera to take her own pictures with. It will be something for her to share with her preschool class and treasure forever.
There are a lot of things that my husband and I would like to go do, but they just don’t seem feasible with 2 small children, like whale watching, diving, horseback riding, so on… So, I’m creating a flexible itinerary, which will hopefully only include activities that will be fun for all of us. I’ve read so many reviews that I feel like my head’s going to explode. I’ll try to check out all of the highly rated places for people with kids that I’m listing here, then come back and tell you all about how they lived up when we get back from paradise. Here’s what’s on my list so far:
The Zoo: I’d like to decide, our first day at the zoo, if I’m going to buy a membership (assuming they will put that day’s paid admission towards the membership). After reading the reviews, I think we might actually go here enough that a membership would be worth it. From what I’ve read, it sounds like the public parks in the area can be pretty slummy, and people prefer to go to the zoo and let their kids play. I also haven’t read anything about the zoo being crowded, which I hope I’m right about. It sounds like a quiet paradise, compared to busy Waikiki.
Waikiki Aquarium: I know it’s small. I know we will be surrounded by an Ocean full of fish, but I’d still like to check this place out. It sounds like this will only take about an hour to get through, so I was thinking maybe after nap one day, on our way to get dinner or something.
Hanauma Bay: This is on my own personal list of places to see. We may not stay long, and it may end up not being very appropriate for a 1 and 4 year old, but I’ve still like to just see it. We don’t snorkel… yet. If I try it, I will try it here.
Sharks Cove: This place is suppose to be great for kids, with shoes on. Most people suggest “reef” shoes or “diving” shoes. I don’t even know what those are. I’m bringing old tennis shoes for me and my 4 year old to wear in the water, and water shoe/sandal type things for my 1 year old. I will say, if my 4 year old hears that this place is called “sharks” cove, I’m sure she won’t go near the water.
Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park: I really want to take the girls to a luau. What I read about this Luau in particular made me think it might be better for smaller kids than some of the others. Some descriptive words used were: interactive, accommodating, and friendly. I think this will especially be right up our 1 year old’s alley. She love food and music.
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet: My girls will probably hate me for this one, but I will not miss this. At first I had no idea what people were even talking about. Finally I googled this place and discovered that it’s a FLEEMARKET! I’m a sucker for a good deal and this place is suppose to have the same type of stuff that they sell at souvenir shops for about half the price. Apparently there isn’t much food to be had there, so I plan to pack a morning snack/lunch for us.
Beaches: There are several beaches and bays we want to visit and my husband keeps adding more to our very long list, but here are some that I want to visit simply because they sound like greach beaches for kids:
- Kahana Bay Beach Park
- Paradise Cave Beach
- Kaneohe Bay
- Laniakea Beach
- Kailua Beach Park
- Lanikai Beach
Dole Plantation: This is a place I’ve had to research a lot before finally deciding on. I think it would be cool for my 4 year old to see where some of the food in the grocery store comes from, and this is a very familiar brand. What sold me was the “Pineapple Express” train and all the signage. That part may sound odd, but I like to know what things are so that I can tell our inquisitive preschooler, and I’m not familiar with tropical fruits. I thought that pineapples grew on trees until a friend (who was from Hawaii) corrected me in high school.
Our last thing to figure out:
Ground Transportation: We don’t plan on bringing car seats, which I know isn’t a popular idea with lots of moms. We will rent car seats with the rental car for our last few days on the island. At that point, we will be staying at the North Shore, which doesn’t seem to have a bus system and we won’t be within walking distance of much but the beach. For our first 2 weeks there, we will be in Waikiki and will most likely use The Bus, which actually has great reviews for public transportation. Apparently there is an app that you can download to your phone, called “Da Bus”, that should show the bus schedules and such.
I’ll be back to review all of these things and offer any tips I can for traveling with small children.