-by Mhairri Woodhall
My daughter’s excited squeals snap me out of a sun-drenched daze. She’s been running around the Keiki Cove splash zone for 45-minutes. Her unbridled enthusiasm and bold moves (staring directly into the jets until water shoots her in the face) have now drawn a crowd of onlookers. When new kids dare to enter, my eighteen month-old pre-talking force of nature acts as ambassador, explaining with animated gestures how to properly use the splash zone.
My husband and I are in awe. Both of her enthusiasm, and at the fact we’ve been sprawled on lounge chairs for almost an hour doing nothing. An impossible feat when you’re a parent to an active toddler. Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Oahu, is now my happiest place on earth.
We chose Oahu for our family holiday because Hawaii truly is fabulous for toddlers. Kids between 18 months and four years of age have zero interest in being strapped to a stroller taking in local sights. They crave freedom, and need an outlet to exhaust their boundless energy. A day at the beach, powering through sand and splashing in the ocean pretty much guarantees an early bedtime and sound sleep – the ultimate goal for any parent with young children.
After a little research, I discovered a couple of services that make traveling to Oahu with kids even easier. Carving out time for a romantic dinner, or an adult-oriented activity such as paddle boarding ensures that all members of our family have a chance to unwind. Through Nannies Hawaii I found excellent care for our daughter in each area of the island we visited.
Readily available baby amenities also help alleviate some stress. Between diapers, books, toys, clothes and sun safety supplies I usually have enough room in the suitcase for a sundress and flip flops – never mind lugging a 20-pound car seat through the airport. Paradise Baby Co. offers on-island rentals on everything from strollers and car seats to baby carriers, bicycles and trailers. Diapers and formula can also be purchased and delivered to the hotel with your order.
We started in Waikiki, where a car isn’t necessary. The condo-style Trump International Waikiki Beach Walk, TripAdvisor’s number one family rated hotel in Waikiki, has full kitchens (great for making quick breakfasts) and a separate living room with balcony, which allows for romantic dinners after the kids are in bed. Childproofed guest rooms, swim diapers and stocked beach bags are complimentary extras that enhance the stay even further.
My favorite beach for tots is by the freshwater lagoon adjacent to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It’s much quieter than Waikiki beach and the calm lagoon waters are safe for younger children. Stop by any ABC Store and pick up a bag of plastic beach toys – an inexpensive purchase that provides hours of fun. If you make a day of it, rent an umbrella and lounge chairs from Waikiki Beach Activities.
Off-beach activities that work well for little ones include a visit to Honolulu Zoo, where the hippos and giraffes steal the show as far as my daughter is concerned, and finding Nemo at the Waikiki Aquarium. Both are within walking distance of most hotels, and are often crowd-free.
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