Way back when Sophie was 11 months we took a family trip to Hawaii and had a ball! Flash forward to 2014 and we welcomed our second bub Millie to our family….and I got a bee in my bonnet about ‘recreating’ our fabulous Hawaiian vacation. Lucky for me my constant nagging of my husband paid off. The fact I found sale airfares was the sweetener!
We left in late January and celebrated Millie’s first birthday in Waikiki. And it was wonderful. Yes, there was crying on the plane, jetlag, tantrums, epic poonamis, and all those ‘fun’ things that accompany travel with little people. But we had some fabulous family time, great shopping and meals.
I know a lot of you followed our daily photo updates on instagram so for those who asked here are some of the places we visited and loved. PS if you are going with young kids I highly recommend an evening flight over to Honolulu. It worked a treat. Well, pretty well. They did sleep!
We’ve stayed in Waikiki a couple of times and each time we’ve stayed at different hotels. For me, I prefer to stay on the main road of Waikiki (Kalakaua Avenue) as its central to the beach, shops and restaurants.
This trip we knew we would need at least one bedroom in our hotel room so that Millie could go to bed usual time (around 7pm) without it also being lights out for us too! We also knew we’d be spending more time in our room having small kiddies so we tried to find a place that offered kitchen facilities.
Wyndham Waikiki Beach Walk – this ticked all the boxes for us. We stayed in a large one bedroom condo (with kitchen and laundry) in a great location on Lewers Street. It was a 5 minute walk to the beach, and in the heart of shops and restaurants. The pool wasn’t as glamorous as other resorts but when you have two young kids they don’t care what the pool looks like – a pool is a pool!
Hilton Hawaiian Village – we also stayed here for two nights during our recent stay (our first night and last night). That place is huge! We actually got lost trying to find our room when we first arrived. A bit further away from the main area of Waikiki it has everything you could possibly want, including pools with slides for the kids. Sophie loved it! Plus they do fireworks on the beach on a Friday night.
Things to do / things we did
Dipping your toes in Waikiki Beach – really it’s a given. We bought some cheap beach toys and inflatable rings from ABC Store for the kids and we had a great time.
Ala Moana Centre/Center– a huge outdoor shopping mall with every brand name you can think of. Heaven. Must do. And they are also extending it! Sophie spent about an hour in the Disney Store and the Lego Store alone. I might have done the same in Kate Spade, Anthropologie and J Crew.
Honolulu Zoo – we celebrated Millie’s birthday at this very cute (albeit small) zoo. It’s perfect for littlies and has cheap entry. Plus they have two flamingo enclosures.
North Shore – every time we go to Hawaii we make a point of hiring a car and taking a drive to the North Shore to visit Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay. There are a shrimp vans along the way and we invariably end up stopping at the Turtle Bay Resort for a beverage by the pool.
Disney Character Breakfast at Aulani Resort – this was about a 45 minute drive from Waikiki and worth the drive. It offers a great buffet breakfast and photo opportunities with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. Sophie did freak out initially at seeing the characters but warmed up over an hour and a half!
Pearl Harbour Memorial– we didn’t do this on our latest trip because it’s a little difficult with kids but well worth it if you can do it. Cam took Sophie to the Pacific Aviation Museum and they had a wonderful time. If you like planes or war history then it’s probably a day trip.
Hanauma Bay - we always love visiting this National Park as it’s a good little reef perfect for snorkelling. Sophie loved spotting fish and Millie bobbed in the water. You do have to sit through a video presentation beforehand on how to protect the reef, which is a little boring for the kiddies (read: mini meltdown for Millie).
Waikele Outlets– about half an hour drive from Waikiki are these outlets stores including Gap, Converse, Kate Spade, Coach, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren etc. Like all outlets it really depends on the day whether you find anything you like. I did – no surprises there.
Sea Life Park – on our last day in Hawaii (which also happened to be the only rainy day we had) we visited the Sea Life Park and had a wonderful dolphin encounter. The rain made it not as much fun but it was amazing getting to hop in the water with the dolphins. The Park itself isn’t huge but it certainly is worth a visit if you have kids.
We didn’t eat out as much as we usually do on holidays. Let’s be honest two kids out at dinner often equals chaos!
Here are some standouts from the trip:
Buho Cantina – a fabulous rooftop Mexican restaurant. Great views over Waikiki. The whole time we were there Cam and I kept saying ‘wow, imagine if we were here without kids!’ Ha!
Oceanarium Restaurant – this restaurant is totally kitsch.. It’s in the back of hotel with lairy carpet like an RSL and it’s a smorgasboard. The appeal for Cam is the ‘all you can eat’ and the appeal for kids is that it has a giant aquarium. Sophie had a giant meltdown as we left as she didn’t want to leave. So that says it all.
Bills Sydney in Waikiki – hands down the best meal we’ve ever eaten in Hawaii and the restaurant looks gorgeous too. I’d have happily eaten there every night.
The Cheesecake Factory – the menu is as long as a book so lots of choice for food options. It gets super busy so if you have kids get there early!
Tell me: have you been to Hawaii? What are your hints and tips? Just in case, you know, I can wing another trip past my husband!