I’m a bit of a broken record when it comes to traveling to Kauai with a baby, with these phrases constantly on repeat:
- Just go! It’ll be fine.
- Kauai is the perfect first vacation with a baby.
Both of my girls’ first vacation was to Kauai. Not their first flight, but since my oldest had her first flight was to Seattle for house hunting and my youngest’s was to Minnesota for my mom’s retirement party, I don’t consider either of those a true vacation. But the blissful beaches of Kauai? Oh yes, that’s a vacation. And it will feel like a relaxing one even if you bring your baby along for the fun.
My older daughter was five months and a few years later her little sister was just shy of six months when we took each of them to Kauai. All of us, young and old(ish, haha) had so much fun and we made wonderful family memories. Here is why I think visiting Kauai with little kids is such a great vacation.
Why Kauai is Great for Babies
So I mentioned I took both my daughters to Kauai as babies. Which meant the second time around we went to Kauai with baby in tow…and a rambunctious toddler.
Turns out Kauai isn’t just great for babies, it’s also a terrific place to take toddlers on vacation, for many of the same reasons: laidback vibe, shallow bays, sandy beaches, plenty of vacation rentals. Here are my top five reasons why Kauai is so great for vacationing with babies and young children.
Kauai has several beaches perfect for little kids thanks to calm water and minimal waves. Poipu Beach in particular is great for little kids thanks to having a tranquil cove on one end that stays calm due to a wall of rocks separating it from the open ocean.
The Time Difference
Hawaii is three to six hours behind the rest of the United States. Bear with me here, I know usually most parents bemoan big time differences when traveling with small children and I will say coming from the west coast I have the easiest time difference compared to the rest of the United States at three hours, but (BUT) here’s the thing. If you roll with the time difference and don’t try to fight it, it’s actually better.
Each time we go to Kauai we put our kids down to bed earlier than usual – as early as we can handle it. The baby was going to bed at 6pm some nights on our recent trip to Kauai and our toddler not too long after. Then, since we were in a vacation rental, my husband and I retreated to the living room or balcony and enjoyed a glass of wine and conversation, or watched a movie we’d been meaning to watch for months, or some nights I’d cuddle up on one corner of the couch and read a novel – an actual novel! It was marvelous.
Were the kiddos up early? Oh yes. But nothing crazy. The baby was up at 5:30am and the toddler usually by 6am, which was earlier than at home, but here’s the thing…you are sleep deprived anyway as a parent so might as well get up early and go out and explore while all those other suckers are sleeping in. You get to enjoy the gorgeous scenery with fewer crowds, and then put the kids to bed early and enjoy couple time when you’re too tired to do anything in public anyway.
Early Bird Specials
Since you’re putting your baby and toddler to bed early, you’ll want to eat early. You have your vacation rental but don’t feel you need to eat in it every night just because you have kids. Kauai is great for this thanks to the many early bird specials.
Go eat dinner with your little kids at 4:30 or 5pm and enjoy early bird specials and actually being able to get a table right away because it’s not busy yet.
And you don’t need to worry about unruly children as much because guess who’s eating at that time with you? Other families and senior citizens. Most old people LOVE babies. 9 times out of 10 they will not care at all you are dining with a baby next to them and will instead just tell you to enjoy this time because it goes so fast. (Seriously, this happened multiple times on our last trip to Kauai!)
One thing that makes visiting Kauai with a baby or toddler (or both) so nice is the abundance of vacation rentals you can choose from. When traveling with little kids I much prefer a vacation rental over a hotel since it often means having a kitchen, separate bedroom for the kids, and for often cheaper than a resort! Most condo and townhome complexes in Kauai have pools and are in close proximity to dining options or convenience stores, making them ideal for families.
An important thing to keep in mind with vacation rentals is that the best ones book up early. It’s not like with a hotel where there are 200 identical rooms in the same complex. Even vacation rentals that are in the same condo or townhome division may have different decor or amenities and you’ll want to book early to pick the one that best suits your taste.
Vacation rentals that are in walking distance to the beach or have ocean views also book up quickly — especially the ones that are (by Hawaii standards) affordable.
As soon as you check into your vacation rental or hotel, start baby and toddler proofing. Move anything that looks breakable out of reach. Put pillows in front of sharp corners. Make sure outlets are covered (and bring some covers just in case). And address any anything else your sharp parenting eye sees as a hazard once you check in.
If you’re somewhere that Alaska Airlines flies out of, guess what? They fly to Kauai! Guess what else? They have companion airfare for just $99 if you have their credit card (which has other benefits like free checked bags, too) so if you are now having to pay for a toddler seat (ugh, but also, thank goodness cause flying with a 23-month-old lap baby is NOT fun) you can save on one of your flights with Alaska.
Tips for Visiting Kauai with Little Kids
Now for some tips to help ensure you have a smooth and memorable family vacation to Kauai when going with a baby or toddler.
Rent Baby Gear When You Get There
Kauai has a couple different companies that you can rent practically every type of baby and kid gear through. On my first trip, we rented a BOB stroller similar to the one we had at home since we didn’t want to lug it through the airport, but knew we’d like to have it since it goes on the sand easily.
Bring Multiple Carriers
Even if you’re renting a stroller (or bringing one), it’s smart to get your baby used to baby carriers before you go to Kauai. I like bringing a sturdier baby carrier like the Ergo for hikes, while my Maya wrap was so great for Kauai for quick jaunts out of the car for scenic viewpoints or for a more comfortable alternative to wear a sleeping baby while dining.
Get to the Beach Early
Plan on heading to the beach soon after breakfast. You’ll get a great spot, avoid the strong midday sun rays, and have enough time to adequately enjoy yourselves before heading back to your accommodations for an afternoon nap.
Bring a Sun Dome
One more tip for going to the beach in Kauai is to bring or rent a sun dome. Your baby can nap in it or play in it if you feel they need a break from the sun. I even crawled half way into ours on our last trip to discreetly nurse my baby and let her nap in there on me while I read my book. It was quite relaxing!
Don’t Bring a Lot of Toys
Bring just a few small toys that will entertain your baby at restaurants and on the airplane. The rest of the time she’ll be wowed by everything she sees. Besides, you’re likely your baby’s favorite form of entertainment so don’t stress about what to pack and risk overpacking when it comes to toys.
Toddlers need even less. We let her bring a few toys (and books – we bring some of her favorites for bedtime) but she barely played with them. She was too busy exploring. I do recommend buying some cheap sand toys once you’re there (like a pail and shovel) if your vacation rental doesn’t have them.
Tv Time is Just Fine
This one is for the toddler. Look, you’re on vacation and you want to enjoy it. You also probably don’t want to stress about all the ways your toddler can break things while running around your accommodations. So let that toddler watch as much TV as she will when you’re in your vacation rental (or hotel).
While you’re in Kauai, your toddler is likely getting way more outdoor time than usual because you’re spending your days at the beach or hiking through gorgeous scenery. So let them watch extra TV in the morning and evening.
Sunsuits and Sunscreen
One of the most important aspects when packing for a trip to Kauai with little kids is to make sure you are adequately prepared for the beach with little ones from an attire perspective. You’ll all enjoy your day much more if the kids are comfortable and covered so you’re not constantly worrying about them being exposed to too much sun.
We got an awesome sunsuit like this one for our girls to wear in Kauai and even had other moms ask me where I got it. It covers well and is loose fitting enough that you can easily get it on your baby and they can still wear a swim diaper underneath. Some other beachwear for babies to bring that we like include:
- These reusable swim diapers.
- This sunhat we have – you might want to bring a couple so you always have one handy.
Also, check with your pediatrician about what age they recommend using sunscreen when going somewhere tropical. The bottle will most likely say not to use it under six months (or to check with a pediatrician first), but our pediatrician told us that we could use it on our five month old where her sunsuit didn’t cover her since the sunscreen was better than risking a sunburn and wouldn’t harm her at 5 months old used sparingly.
- I like this brand of mineral sunscreen for kids (and myself!).
Once you have all your beach baby gear set up at the beach, don’t go through the hassle of having to move it and reset it up because you need lunch. Either pack your own, or find somewhere for take-out.
Poipu Beach is in walking distance to a couple different restaurants that do takeout. In Princeville, the beach by the St. Regis is great for babies and you can get takeout from the patio restaurant at the hotel. (Just know that it’s pretty expensive. But it is quite a delicious $18 cheeseburger!)
Bring the Carseat Base
If you’re planning on exploring Kauai beyond the area where your accommodation is, you’ll want to rent a vehicle. And in that vehicle you’ll need a carseat for your baby. I recommend bringing the one your baby is used to.
Also, you don’t actually need the base for an infant carseat as it’s possible to secure it with the seatbelt of the car over the top of it, but I recommend bringing it along as well even though it’s bulky to lug through the airport because then you don’t have to worry about your baby freaking out about the seatbelt being over his or her legs.
Kauai with a Baby…You Can Do This!
So…basically don’t overpack and do everything early 😉 and you’re set for an awesome vacation in Kauai with your baby!