Are you planning your first trip to Hawaii with a baby and don’t know where to start? Keep scrolling for all the top Hawaii travel tips from a mom who has done it many times!
This guide to Hawaii with a baby was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you planning a trip to Hawaii with your baby?
I’ve been there. And, I know it can be tough to plan a vacation when you have a baby! That’s why I want to share my tips and tricks for having the best time in Hawaii while traveling with kids.
You might not think that Hawaii is an ideal place for families but trust me – you CAN do this! It just takes some advanced planning and flexibility on your part. Here are my top tips for making sure that your Hawaiian adventure goes smoothly (and doesn’t leave any little ones behind!)
Hawaii with a baby is totally do-able. I’ve traveled to Hawaii several times when each of my kids was a baby (sometimes completely on my own.)
That’s not to say that a Hawaii vacation with kids can’t be stressful at times! However, I’ve figured out how to travel to Hawaii with a baby.
The biggest trick to planning a trip to Hawaii with a baby is to set realistic expectations (and DON’T over-schedule!)
In this post, I’m going to answer frequent questions about planning Hawaiian vacations with a baby and give my top tips for setting yourself up for success.
By the end, you should have a good idea of fun things for kids to do in Hawaii, the best Hawaiian island to visit with kids, and how to plan your ultimate Hawaii vacation with a baby.
Hawaii with a Baby FAQs
You’ll want to aim for Hawaii’s shoulder season, which runs mid-April to June in the Spring and September to mid-December in the Fall. That’s when you’ll find the best deals on airfare and hotel rooms. Basically, just avoid all school breaks.
You can’t go wrong with any of them! Seriously, your baby won’t complain. Instead, think about which island YOU want to see. If it’s your first trip to Hawaii, Oahu or Maui is always a good option. If you’re been to Hawaii before, try Kauai or the Big Island. All islands have kid-friendly beaches, dining, and activities.
If you are traveling from outside the U.S., you’ll need a passport for your baby. And if you plan on renting a car, you’ll need to bring a car seat or arrange to rent one in Hawaii.
If you are pregnant and want to take a tropical babymoon, Hawaii is a great option. First of all, it’s Zika-free. And it’s in the U.S., so you don’t need a passport. There are tons of amazing resorts offering prenatal spa services, too. I’ve got a full Hawaii babymoon packing list HERE.
Why You Should Visit Hawaii with a Baby
1. You Don’t Have to Stress About School Schedules
As your kids start to enter preschool and elementary school, you’ll realize how tricky it can be to pull them out to go on vacation.
Plus, there are school events, activities, and other things that might be on your schedule.
And traveling to Hawaii during school breaks can be quite pricey.
So, I suggest taking advantage of the flexibility to travel during the least crowded times (usually mid-April to June and September to mid-December.)
2. Lap Babies are FREE
If you’re flying to Hawaii with a baby, you can save a lot of money by having them sit on your lap during the flight. Take advantage!
I recommend bringing a baby carrier in your carry-on bag so your arms won’t ache from holding them for so long. See the top-rated baby carrier here.
3. Many Hawaii Activities are Free for Babies
There are tons of tours in Hawaii that don’t charge for babies. Sometimes you’ll need to hold them on your lap.
And most luaus are also free for both babies and toddlers. And that saves a lot of cash!
4. Hawaii is Baby-Friendly
We’ve traveled a lot with babies and toddlers and Hawaii is by far one of the most kid-friendly destinations.
You won’t feel bad about bringing your baby to most places in Hawaii (just avoid fancy restaurants with honeymooners.) And you’ll find lots of locals and Hawaii residents who will be super nice to your kids.
5. Babies are Super Portable
It’s surprisingly easy to travel around Hawaii with a baby. They can go in the car seat, stroller, or baby carrier pretty much everywhere go you.
And they can sleep in a crib or co-sleep with you and you don’t have to get an extra bed.
Plus, your baby will probably be able to nap on the go, so you really can get out and explore a lot.
Tips for Flying to Hawaii with a Baby
One of the top questions I see from parents who are traveling to Hawaii with a baby is about how to survive the flight.
It’s a 6-hour flight from the West Coast, and obviously longer from the Mid West and East Coast.
And if this is one of your first flights with a baby, it can be stressful.
Book a Direct Flight
I totally understand that if you are flying from the Mid West or East Coast, you’ll probably have a layover on the West Coast.
However, if you are flying from the West Coast, you should absolutely book a direct flight. Otherwise, you’ll have a layover in Honolulu and that inter-island flight might do you in.
I think the worst part about flying with a baby is the long wait while you are on the airplane and getting ready to take off. You never know if they are going to get fussy.
It’s much easier if you can minimize that.
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels in Hawaii.
Should You Fly with a Car Seat?
Another top question about Hawaii travel with a baby is whether or not to have your baby use a car seat on the airplane.
Honestly, I think it’s totally your call. If you are purchasing a ticket for your baby, it can be really nice to be able to set them in their car seat for a while.
The tricky thing about flying with a car seat is that while all U.S. airlines are supposed to allow you to fly with one, they can make it really difficult.
It’s always good to make sure your car seat is FAA approved and to know your rights.
How About Checking Your Car Seat?
If you aren’t using your car seat on the plane, you’ll want to check it. Good news! It’s free to check a car seat!
I recommend packing it in a car seat bag to protect it a bit. Sometimes we even through in extra diapers or clothing to help pad it more.
You can check it at the gate or at the ticket desk. We always check it at the ticket desk so we don’t need to lug it around the airport.
Do You Need a Stroller in Hawaii?
Sometimes we bring a stroller and sometimes we don’t. It really depends on what you’ll be doing to know if it’s worth it or not.
If you are staying in Waikiki or at a resort with nearby restaurants, paved walking paths, or shopping, a stroller can be super helpful.
The same goes if your baby tends to nap in the stroller. Or if you think they will go to sleep in a stroller at a luau or at a restaurant. That can be really helpful.
But, if you are mostly going to be hanging out at the beach or babywearing, you can skip the stroller.
Checking Your Stroller?
If you are flying with a stroller, you’ll need to check it as luggage (it’s free to do this.)
You can check it at the ticket counter or gate check it. If you gate-check it, be sure to get a tag at the gate to attach to your stroller.
We usually gate-check so we can keep our baby in the stroller while we walk around the airport grabbing food.
Make sure not to leave anything loose in your stroller, including cup attachments, as things will fall out.
What to Pack in Your Carry On Bag
I highly recommend using a backpack as your carry-on bag. That way your hands are free to hold your baby at the airport.
I always put my carry-on under the seat in front of me (instead of the overhead bin) for easy access throughout the flight.
Here’s what I pack inside when traveling with a baby:
- 2 Bottles: If your child is using formula, it’s nice to pack an extra one in case you aren’t able to wash the first bottle.
- Nursing Cover: This is less about modesty and more about blocking out lights and distractions so your baby and focus on nursing.
- Baby Snacks: Teething crackers or biscuits can be nice to keep your baby occupied awhile.
- Quiet Toys: Leave the noisy toys at home and opt for a few new toys that will hold your child’s interest.
- Indestructible Books: These books hardly take up any space (unlike board books) and they are super durable. There’s even one about a Beach Baby!
- Extra Clothing: You never know if your baby is going to spit up, have a blowout, or drool all over themselves. Be prepared.
- Extra Bibs or Burp Cloths: You don’t want to run out of these on a long flight.
- Wipes and Diapers: I like to keep these in a separate nylon bag so it’s easy to grab for diaper changes in the lavatory.
- Lovey/Pacifier: If your baby has a binky, lovey, or special stuffie, make sure to bring on the airplane.
Renting a Car in Hawaii with a Baby
Unless you are staying in Waikiki, you’ll want to rent a car in Hawaii. It’s the easiest way to get around Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island.
Hawaii does require that all babies be in a car seat. You can read all the Hawaii baby car seat laws HERE.
It’s really best to bring your own car seat for several reasons. First, your baby is already used to their car seat, so it’s familiar. Second, you know that it’s the right fit for your baby.
We’ve rented car seats in Hawaii with toddlers and one was really dirty and the other wasn’t the right size for our toddler. So, now we always bring our own.
The only time I suggest people rent a car seat in Hawaii is if they are traveling solo with a baby. There’s only so much a parent can carry on their own with a baby in tow.
Resort vs. Hotel vs. Vacation Rental
When you’re trying to figure out where to stay in Hawaii with a baby, it can feel a little overwhelming. There are SO many options and housing is a pretty big chunk of your Hawaii budget.
If you are planning on coming back to your Hawaii accommodations for nap time or your baby has an early bedtime, you might want to upgrade.
You’ll want somewhere with a nice lanai, a possible separate sleeping area for your baby, and maybe even somewhere that you can easily push a stroller.
Best Hawaii Resorts for a Baby
It’s really up to you whether or not it’s worth staying at a Hawaii resort with kids under 3 years old.
Most of the activities and amenities aren’t geared for babies.
One thing to consider is that many Hawaii kids club programs (like Disney’s Aulani Resort) are geared for kids ages 3 and older. Some are free and some are an additional fee.
The big perk of staying at a resort in Hawaii is that there’s usually great on-site dining, room service, awesome pools, and sometimes a luau, making it super convenient.
Best Hawaii Hotels for Babies
Another Hawaii family accommodations option is to stay at a hotel in Hawaii. These can range from budget to moderate to luxury.
The difference between a hotel and a resort is that hotels are usually just a hotel room and (usually) a pool area. While there might be a bar, there usually isn’t an actual restaurant or other amenities.
Airbnb or VRBO?
Personally, I think the best place to stay in Hawaii with kids is often a vacation rental home. This can be a condo or a rental house.
What’s nice about this option is that there’s usually a full kitchen, so you easily make your own baby food or store breast milk.
And there are usually separate bedrooms, so you can put your baby to bed early (and in a dark room) and then hang out in the living room or lanai for some quiet time.
Oh, and another bonus is that parking is almost always free.
We’ve used both Airbnb and VRBO in Hawaii and have had good experiences with both. But, we prefer VRBO.
Hawaii Baby Rentals for Gear
If you don’t want to lug a lot of things to Hawaii, there are places where you can rent all kinds of baby gear.
You can rent a stroller, crib, high chair, jumparoos, toys, etc.
Places to Rent Baby Gear in Hawaii
Oahu Baby Rentals
Maui Baby Rentals
- Maui Baby Rentals
- Akamai Mother’s Rentals
- Maui Vacation Equipment
- No Ka Oi Baby Rentals
- Nana Enterprises
- Maui on the Fly
Big Island Baby Rentals
What to do on Hawaii Vacations with Babies
If you’ve gotten this far in my post, you’ve got a good idea of what a Hawaii vacation with a baby looks like logistically.
So, let’s look at the island-specific activities and attractions to help you plan your ultimate Hawaii vacation. A lot of parents wonder what they can do when taking a baby to Hawaii.
Honestly, any island can be the best Hawaii island with a baby.
Oahu with a Baby
Oahu is one of my favorite islands to visit with babies. There are just so many activities and attractions. And they have the best shopping in Hawaii!
Oahu is a great island for families who want to be on the go and see a lot of famous places in Hawaii.
Things to do in Oahu with a Baby
- Play at Ko Olina Lagoons: This set of coves have really calm water and are perfect for babies to dip their toes in the ocean.
- Dole Plantation: They have a cute train ride, pineapple maze, and you can eat Dole Whip!
- Go Hiking: There are tons of easy Oahu hikes that you can do with the right baby hiking essentials, like a baby carrier.
- Kualoa Ranch: They have a baby-friendly jungle trek tour where you can drive around looking at Hawaii movie sites. It’s one of the few things you can do with a baby there. Find the best prices here.
- Waikiki Beach: Not only is this fun for people watching, but the water is super calm and perfect for little ones! It’s one of the top things to do with kids in Honolulu.
Maui with a Baby
We always have a blast visiting Maui with babies. It’s a fairly laid-back island and we do a good mix of day trips, beach days, and spend time hanging at the pool.
Maui is a great island for people who want to relax at a kid-friendly Maui resort or do some cool day trips.
Things to do in Maui Hawaii with a Baby
- Maui Ocean Center: This is a cool aquarium with indoor and outdoor exhibits, plus they offer cultural programming throughout the day. Find the best prices here.
- Road to Hana: If your baby naps in the car, this is a really fun Maui day trip. There’s lots of fun stops along the way.
- I’ao Needle: This is one of my favorite (and super easy) hikes on Maui. You can either hold your baby or put them in a carrier.
- Sunrise at Haleakala: If your baby wakes up early, take advantage and head to Haleakala Crater to watch their famous sunrise.
- Submarine Tour: Hop on the Atlantis Submarine for a fun, underwater adventure where everyone stays dry! Check out the latest prices and more details.
Kauai with a Baby
We’ve visited Kauai with babies a lot because that’s where my mom lives. It’s a super chill island and we usually spend our time at the beach or doing half-day adventures.
Kauai is a great island for families who love tasty food and gorgeous beaches.
Things to do on Kauai Hawaii with a Baby
- Kilohana Plantation Train Ride: This is ALWAYS a hit with my kids since they were babies. It goes through a farm where you can feed animals mid-way through.
- Kamalani Playground: This East Shore playground has baby swings that are fun. Plus, there’s a full playground (and a play bridge nearby) that’s great for older kids.
- Kauai Bike Path: There is a paved path that goes up the East Coast of Kauai that is perfect for pushing a stroller or renting bikes with a baby trailer.
- Poipu Beach Park: This is one of our favorite kid-friendly Kauai beaches. The water is calm and the weather is usually sunny.
- Kauai Food Tour: We love sampling new restaurants and the portions are large enough to share with older babies. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Big Island with a Baby
We haven’t actually explored the Big Island with a baby, but I’ve talked with a lot of friends who have and these are their suggestions.
The Big Island is great for families that want a laid-back Hawaiian vacation that feels a bit “off the grid.”
Things to do in Big Island Hawaii with a Baby
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: This is one of the top thing to do on the Big Island with kids. Ask the park ranger for advice on the best hikes to do with a baby.
- Coffee Tasting: This is more for tired parents than for your baby. Kona Coffee is world-famous, so might as well try a few blends! Find the best prices here.
- Kona Farmers Market: Farmers Markets are a great way to taste local Hawaiian fruit and pick up some tasty baked goods.
- Kamakahonu Beach: One of the best kid-friendly beaches in Kona is Kamakahonu Beach (aka Kam Beach) because of its calm waves
- Akaka Falls: This is one of the best waterfalls on the Big Island for kids. It’s easy to get to and totally worth a stop as you explore the Big Island with kids.
Is it Worth Going to a Luau with a Baby?
So, one of the biggest questions parents have asked me is whether or not they should go to a luau with a baby.
Luau tickets are pretty expensive (even if your baby is free) and it can be hard to know whether to splurge.
I think it really depends on your baby’s temperament. Both my kids love going to luaus when they were babies. They were really focused on dancing and music.
But, my kids typically fall asleep mid-way through the show. So, we either strap them into a carrier or put them in a stroller for the rest of the evening.
However, if you’re on the fence, you can always skip the luau and just attend a free hula show. They are usually offered at shopping malls in Hawaii.
Easy Things to do in Hawaii with a Baby
The best thing about traveling to Hawaii with a baby is that they don’t really require special activities.
Honestly, as long as places allow babies (like tours, boat rides, etc), you really can take them anywhere.
And since they are portable, you can also do some hiking or take turns snorkeling.
I really recommend that parents give each other some baby-free time. Even if it’s just to walk to grab a coffee or sit at the pool for a while.
Here are a few specific ideas for what to do in Hawaii with a baby:
- Hit the Beach: Find out the best kid-friendly beaches and plan on spending a morning there. Bring sand toys or inflatables for extra fun. Here’s my top beach essentials for babies.
- Shave Ice: Each island has lots of shave ice options and older babies will love this sugary treat. These are our favorites on Maui, Kauai, and Oahu.
- Pool time: If your hotel or resort has a pool area, take advantage!
- Go for a Walk: There are lots of paved walking paths in Hawaii that are perfect for stroller walks.
- Go Shopping: There are so many adorable baby boutiques in Hawaii where you can find Hawaiian clothing, stuffed animals, toys, and Hawaiian children’s books.
Hawaii Baby Stores
If you end up forgetting some baby items (or you lose your last pacifier), there are plenty of places to get Hawaii baby essentials, clothing, diapers, etc.
Whether you’re looking for baby stores in Honolulu, Lahaina, Kona, or Poipu, we have you covered!
- Oahu Baby Stores: Baby Emporium, Hopscotch, Mila’s Closet, Carter’s, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Ross Dress for Less, Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Target, and Walmart.
- Maui Baby Stores: Droplets, Sea La Vie, Nuage Bleu, Maui Toy Works, Carter’s, TJ Maxx, Ross Dress for Less, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart.
- Kauai Baby Stores: Kokonut Kids, Ivy & Co., Walmart, Ross Dress for Less, Macy’s, SoHa Living, and Target (coming soon.)
- Big Island Baby Stores: Crib, Macy’s, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, Target, and Walmart.
How to Plan Your Hawaii Itinerary with a Baby
I know how easy it is to over-schedule your Hawaii trip because there are SO many fun things to do and see.
However, this will definitely lead to tears (you and your baby) when everyone is tired, cranky and things don’t go according to plan.
So, here are my tried and true ways to plan a totally do-able Hawaii itinerary. Be sure to make a list ahead of time of your top picks for things to do in Hawaii with baby so you can prioritize.
- Enjoy Breakfast: If your baby isn’t eating solid foods, breakfast is the perfect time to go to a restaurant. There will be other families and you won’t stress out if your baby starts crying or making noise. Plus, you can get good coffee and tasty Hawaiian breakfast items.
- Schedule Your Morning: Babies are usually happiest in the morning hours. So, that’s the perfect time to head out on a little adventure or take a half-day tour. Plus, that’s when you will probably have the most energy yourself.
- Plan One Activity Per Day: If you are doing a scheduled paid activity, don’t book more than one thing per day. And plan those early in your trip (in case it gets canceled due to weather.)
- Lunchtime: You can pack a picnic lunch to eat at the beach or enjoy eating at a restaurant. There’s lots of outdoor seating, which is always nice with little kids. Plus, food tends to be cheaper at lunchtime versus dinnertime.
- Plan for Nap Time: Figure out whether you want to go back to the room for nap time or do a car nap on a long drive. When my kids were really little, we’d do the morning nap on a drive but the afternoon nap in the hotel.
- Leave Afternoon Unscheduled: Life with babies is unpredictable. It’s nice to have a lot of flexibility in case you all need to head to the hotel for some quiet time. Heading to the pool is another option for chill out time.
- Dinnertime: I love eating out at restaurants for dinner IF my baby isn’t tired. However, if it feels like they might melt down, I’d much rather get takeout and eat it on our lanai. It can feel like AGES to get your bill when you’re dealing with a cranky baby.
- Bed Time: If we are staying in a vacation rental, we usually put the baby to bed early and then we can hang out on the lanai to enjoy dessert or cocktails kid-free. If we’re in a hotel, we tend to co-sleep and all go to bed around the same time.
What About the Time Difference in Hawaii?
Another popular question I see is that new parents want to know how their baby will adjust to the time change.
Hawaii is 2-3 hours behind the West Coast, 3-4 hours behind Mountain Time, 4-5 hours behind the Mid West, and 5-6 hours behind the East Coast.
Believe it or not, but your baby will probably adjust to the time quicker than you will.
Be prepared for your baby to wake up pretty early, though. This is especially true if they sleep a lot on the plane ride to Hawaii. They might not sleep as well that first night.
We tend to try to stay up as late as we can the first few nights to adjust a bit, but mostly, we just expect to be early risers. That’s why we like eating out at breakfast instead of dinner.
Plus, you can head to the beach before it gets crowded.
Hawaii Vacation Photography
One of my favorite Hawaiian souvenirs is professional photos of our trip. That way, I’m not stressed about taking “good” vacation photos during our vacation.
It’s an easy way to get a stellar family Christmas card photo, plus I like to print them and hang them on our walls at home to remind me of our trip. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Hawaii baby photography is such a great investment. Babies change so much from month to month and you won’t regret having these photos.
There are tons of Hawaii vacation photographers to choose from. We like to use Flytographer because it’s easy to find an affordable Hawaii vacation photographer who is available during our trip.
Baby Hawaii Packing List
As you start to get ready to actually take your trip to Hawaii, it’s time to work on your Hawaii vacation packing list.
I recommend starting to gather items a few weeks before your trip. That way, you have time to order items online or go shopping for anything you are missing.
And make sure to try clothing and footwear on babies to be sure they still fit. It’s crazy how quickly they grow and you don’t want to pack things they have outgrown.
This list of items is specific to babies and is not a complete Hawaii packing list.
Here’s my Hawaii packing list for taking a baby to the beach!
What to Pack to Hawaii with Baby
If you are staying in a hotel or resort during your Hawaii vacation with baby, you’ll want to pack enough clothes for every day of your trip plus extra clothing, in case of accidents.
If you are staying in a vacation rental with a washer/dryer, you can pack enough for half your trip and do laundry mid-way through your vacation.
- Diapers and Wipes: Make sure you have plenty, especially if you are particular about the brand. It can be hard to find some brands in Hawaii.
- Baby Food Pouches: If your baby eats pouches, it’s so much cheaper to buy them at home than in Hawaii.
- Specific Ointments/Medications: It’s always smart to travel with baby Tylenol, diaper rash ointment, and other items that you might need in the middle of the night.
- Swim Diapers: This is essential if you want to use a hotel pool. You can use disposable or cloth swim diapers. Find the best prices here.
- SPF Rash Guards and Swimsuits: You’ll want a few of these if you plan on swimming every day so they have time to dry.
- Sun Hat: The sun is really strong in Hawaii and it’s a good idea to protect your baby’s face.
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen: You can totally get this in Hawaii, but if you are particular about a brand, make sure you bring it with you. It’s only recommended that babies older than 6 months wear sunscreen.
- Shorts, Shirts, Dresses: Lightweight clothing is best and it’s nice if colors coordinate so you can mix/match if there are spills.
- Lots of Onesies: My kids basically lived in short sleeve onesies in Hawaii.
Things to Buy in Hawaii
- Sand Toys: There’s no reason to lug these in your suitcase since they are pretty inexpensive and easy to find in Hawaii. You might even see if you can just borrow over there.
- Pool Floaties: You can find all sorts of baby inflatables at most stores in Hawaii.
- Hawaiian Clothing: If you are going to a luau, it’s seriously cute to have your toddler wear an Aloha shirt or Hawaiian dress. This is also great for Hawaii photo shoots.
- Board Books: We love getting Hawaiian board books to read before naps or bedtime.
Things That Are Nice, But Not Essential
- Sun Tent: If you know you’ll be spending a lot of time outside and are worried about shade, a sun tent can be a great idea. Find the best prices here.
- Sand-Free Beach Mat: These beach mats are easy to shake the sand off so you don’t get it all over your rental car. Check out the latest prices and more details.
- Travel Towels: It can be really handy to bring these compact microfiber towels with you in a backpack if you are hiking to a waterfall or are heading to the beach. Find the best prices here.
- Portable High Chair: If you have a baby that likes to sit and eat for a long time, it can be helpful to clip a portable high chair to a counter in your condo or at a restaurant. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Ok, so we’ve covered just about everything I can think of that would be helpful to know when traveling to Hawaii with a baby.
In summary, I think going to Hawaii with a baby can be an awesome experience. There are tons of fun things to do as a family. But, it’s important to set realistic expectations of what you’ll be able to do each day.