Today we welcome Belinda Eather from Hawaii Tips for Aussie Families – a great resource for those planning a holiday to the gorgeous Hawaiian Islands (my favourite place in the world!!).
Belinda shares her inspiration for starting her page, and also throws a few great travel tips our way.
Why did you start Handy Hawaii Tips for Aussie Families?
I started the page because I’ve become the ‘go to’ person amongst family, friends and work colleagues for Hawaii recommendations – they call me their travel agent haha. And questions on Facebook are always being asked about Hawaii, so just thought it’s time to share those recommendations in one spot. It’s also not just about Hawaii, it will be about other destinations I am familiar with like Fiji, Canada, America as I have travelled quite a lot and spent many hours researching anywhere I go.
I have been numerous times to Hawaii over the past few years, 4 times with small children. Travelling with kids is a different ball game and I have found some great accommodations, beaches, activities that the whole family will love and on a budget. I also hate seeing people waste money on things that aren’t necessary when there are good deals around, you just need to find them.
In particular, the accommodation side of things in Oahu is overwhelming, there is so much choice and varying prices, it can be very confusing. We are all so time poor these days, especially as parents, so if I can help out in any way it makes me happy.
What is it you love about Hawaii and why do you recommend it to families?
I always say a trip to Hawaii is more for the parent than the kids, although kids do enjoy it. I love the weather, the gorgeous beaches, beautiful Hawaiian people, but the shopping and eating is a big drawcard too. It just has a great atmosphere and I love walking around at night in nice balmy weather soaking it all in.
If you want a really relaxing family holiday, where there is kids club and you can have some free adult time, go to Fiji instead. Hawaii is more get up and go, sightseeing, shopping, eating, drinking – yes you relax but there is so much to do there.
Which islands/locations do you recommend for beginners?
Definitely, start with Oahu. Maui is another good place if you want something a little quieter, but mix it up. Do some nights in Maui and then visit Waikiki. You also need to drive whilst in Maui, so you need to be confident driving on the other side of the road.
If you are interested in seeing the Volcano on the Big Island you can do a day trip from Honolulu, it’s a fantastic (but long) day.
What are your favourite Hawaiian beaches?
By far my favourite beaches are Waimanalo, Lanikai and Kailua beaches. They are all next to each other and are absolutely beautiful. Crystal blue water and white sand and no one around, just a few local turtles that will swim past. It’s about a 30 min drive up the Eastern side of Oahu.
With so many water sports/activities available on the Islands, which are the best ones for families?
One activity I have yet to try but dying to when my kids are older is going All Terrain Vehicle or Horse Riding through the area they filmed Jurassic Park. Kailua has some great tours where you can kayak out to an island, snorkel and see the turtles and seals.
Stand up paddle boarding and paddle boats can be hired at the Hilton Lagoon, which is really safe for kids. And of course there is surfing, snorkelling, swimming easily accessible from anywhere in Oahu. Big game fishing is also popular and if you stay at Maui definitely get up early and do the sunrise on top of the Haleakala volcano, it’s gorgeous. Just take a blanket and warm clothes – its freezing being 10,000 ft above sea level!
When going on an international beach holiday what essentials do you pack for the beach?
I pack pretty much the same as I do in Australia. Our sun is so much harsher than anywhere else in the world so I always have my sunscreen, zinc, hat and towel. I generally just buy a cheap sandcastle set for the kids when I am there to keep them entertained, and also bring from home a few small toys they can play in the sand. Forget about a good book when you have kids, reading by the pool just doesn’t happen.
Hawaii (for me) is all about the food! Which restaurants/food spots are a must visit?
Definitely ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ is a must. Good value, big portions and yummy food. There are over 250 items on the menu and a reason the line out the door is so long. Kids could easily share a children’s meal.
Some others that are family friendly and reasonably priced are ‘The Yard House’, ‘California Pizza Kitchen’ and ‘Cheeseburgers in Waikiki’.
If you just want something quick and easy for lunch the ABC stores have premade sandwiches, but also Coco Cove has fresh sushi and poke bowls and a Deli which you can get sandwiches and other hot food – saves money on tips all the time. Ala Moana shopping centre has a food court and some good restaurants upstairs. Marukame Udon Noodles on Kuhio Ave always has a line out the door, it’s very popular due to the price.
If you are heading to the North Shore stop off at one of the food trucks for lunch, it’s a very Hawaiian thing to do. Giovanni’s Prawn truck is always a hit.
Do you have any sure-fire tips or tricks when travelling with kids?
Stay in a Condo rather than a hotel room. It’s so much easier with a kitchen and having a large fridge, especially in Hawaii when meals are so huge, you can reheat leftovers for lunch. Condos are also larger rooms for less the price. Visit a supermarket or Walmart and stock up on some essential snacks and fruit at the start of your holiday as eating healthy can be much more expensive than junk food there.
If you have young kids, buy a little toy or book for the plane ride and bring it out just before take off. This will help keep them distracted whilst buckled up. If you have multiple Ipads and phones, take a powerboard with you, you will only need one USA adaptor but can charge everything at once.
If you are planning a Hawaiian getaway, make sure you follow Belinda’s page here
You can check out Beachside Collective’s best beach travel products here