Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for Hawaii are organized alphabetically by city or region within the State. Simply scroll down to read them all. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to Hawaii with a baby or toddler.
HILO: CASTLE HILO HAWAIIAN HOTEL
Bo & Family
Let’s face it: Hilo has no upscale hotels. My wife and I both agree that something as simple as a Hampton Inn would dominate all business in Hilo. However, since no such Hampton exists, then the Hilo Hawaiian is your best choice.
We spent one night there, and had an older, but clean room – with a small refrigerator, and a small bathroom. However, the lanai was nice, and the views incomparable. We had wished we could leave the door open all night, but we have a toddler, and that wouldn’t have been prudent.
The hallways smell a bit musty – but there are no overt signs of uncleanliness.
We were treated to views of not one, but TWO cruise ships coming into harbor through the morning mist.
The only thing we would have liked would be if they offered an airport shuttle: the airport is scarcely two miles away, but it is a $12 taxi ride EACH WAY … and there really is no other option.
We would return if we had occasion to be in Hilo again.
WAIKOLOA: HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE
Ellen & Family (baby 2.5 yrs)
It was our first time in Hawaii from Australia, and we had low expectations given some of the reviews we had read. We were mighty impressed by the resort – and our 2.5 year-old daughter is still singing the praises of the boats and trains. We loved it so much we’ve booked to go back in July 2007.
The Palace Tower worked great for us – centrally located, nicer ambience, and good rooms. We ate at the hotel restaurants every night and found that they were all quite good. Donatoni’s was not so welcoming of our daughter – but the food was fantastic. The Chinese was the best for our family – and they genuinely enjoyed having kids there. The price compared to Australian restaurants was quite good for the quality of food.
The pools were great – the slides for the little kids were fun for us all.
Car hire was problematic – we only had the choice of an open top or SUV from the company on-site as all the other cars were booked. We will pre-book a car for July to avoid the higher rate for the SUV (though it was great fun having the truck!).
The grocery stores on-site did not have toddler girl nappies – only boys – and did not know that there was a difference between the two, and the Kings shops also only had boys. I suggest taking adequate supplies until you go to a real supermarket.
We can’t wait to go back – it was great fun, catered for children brilliantly (in fact all of Hawaii was great for kids – we visited three islands), and was relaxing. We anticipate regular visits – we want to do the dolphin swim but have to wait until our daughter is 5 to do it despite the fact she can swim now.
Roll on July!!
WAIKOLOA: WAIKOLOA BEACH RESORT
Nicole & Family (baby 15mos)
After a fabulous first week in Oahu, we boarded a small charter plane (GO Airlines) for the short 30 minute flight to The Big Island and the Kona airport. We were struck immediately by the vast difference in vegetation, or lack thereof, and the remoteness of the Big Island. Much of the land surrounding the airport is volcanic rock and looks more like the surface of the moon rather than a tropical paradise. We stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Resort condos, a 30-minute drive from the Kona airport to this small resort town. These condos far surpassed our expectations. They were new, clean, modern, tastefully decorated and huge. Our condo had 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, with a large kitchen, large living room, a dining room and decent size balcony. The condo was equipped with new appliances, lots of kitchen gadgets (steamer, wine chiller, ice maker, etc.), flat screen TV, free WIFI and a washing machine and dryer. We were provided with a cooler and beach chairs for our daily outings. The complex included individual parking garages, a decent sized swimming pool, hot tub and common area with a huge BBQ, fridge, sink and patio table & chairs. Our condo was on the 2nd floor and had a very nice view of the King’s Trail and the petroglyph field. There was a small elevator in the building to assist with bringing luggage up and down, or in our case our daily horde of baby related objects.
Across the street was the Queen’s Shops, a collection of boutique stores, restaurants and a food court. The other side of the road had the King’s Shops which had a collection of high end stores, galleries, restaurants and a convenience store. Getting groceries proved to be more difficult to obtain and more expensive than on Oahu. There was a small convenience store close-by, but to purchase groceries we had to trek into Kona (about 35 minutes) or to Waikoloa Village (about 15 minutes, but not a lot of selection). There was a lot to do in the resort town, although we didn’t take full advantage of it. The Sheraton offers dolphin shows and swimming with the dolphins, but we didn’t have a chance to get over there. The Hilton has a good Luau offered on Sunday nights for about $85 per person and the shopping areas feature local talent every night on a small stage in the centre of the pedestrian walkway.
Once again we lucked out and the beach was only a 10 minute walk from the condo. This beach had fine black sand, was not very wide, but was very long. The beach was shared with the Hilton, but was so spread out that we were never crowded. There was a small reef at the parking lot end of the beach were we spotted many fish and several giant green sea turtles. The waves were small and gentle, perfect for our 15-month-old to splash in, but there was a line of rocks about 10 feet out from the water’s edge that kept swimmers from walking out too far.
The biggest downfall to staying in Waikoloa was the long distances needed to travel between destinations. I volunteered to stay back with the baby on the day the rest of the family chose to visit the volcano because of the 2.5 hour drive in each direction (much longer than my son likes to be strapped into the car seat). We never did make it to the East side of the island and Hilo, again due to the lengthy drives. That said, there were several beaches that were within a 15-minute drive and provided some bigger waves and whiter sand. Hapuna Beach, which was about 10 minutes north of Waikoloa, had some giant waves, a huge white sand beach, but not a lot of shade. This beach was great fun for the adults (we body surfed the entire day) and had lots of sand for the little ones to play in (the sand must have been tasty as well since my son ate about a pound of it). The small concession at the top of the hill rented out umbrellas (much needed) and boogie boards for reasonable prices.
On the Big Island we spent $1445 on the condo for the week (including taxes and the cleaning fee). We spent approximately $450 on groceries for 4 adults and 1 infant for the week. The baby equipment rental cost us $25 for the highchair and $30 for the playpen for the week, from a company called Aloha Baby Rental (www.alohababyrental.net). The equipment was new, clean and dropped off & picked-up right at the condo.
I’m not sure I would recommend staying in Waikoloa Beach Resort. I feel that we didn’t get to ‘see’ much of the Big Island due to the great traveling distance from this home base. That said, I would highly recommend the condos as a great place to stay for a reasonable price, especially if you’re looking to just kick back and hang out at the beach every day and not do a lot of exploring.
WAIKOLOA: WAIKOLOA COLONY VILLAS
Deborah & Family (baby 18mos)
We loved the condo at the Waikoloa Colony Villas. We arrived late due to our delayed flight, and there was an after hours code displayed right on the keypad. Security let us in and personally showed us to our condo, so we did not have any trouble finding our place.
The condo was spacious, well-kept, and clean. Housekeeping came everyday to replace our towels, fix the bed, and take out the trash. There were paper towels, a new sponge, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and lotions provided, so we did not have to purchase those. We just had to purchase food, which we did at Foodland in Waimea on the way back from our day trip to Hilo.
The pool was very nice to swim in, especially with our 18-month-old. There was a separated area for kids to swim in, which was just 1.5 feet deep, so our toddler was able to walk back and forth in the pool. The air conditioner worked wonderfully. The washer and dryer was a convenient plus (detergent was provided). Wireless internet was free, which allowed us to research our travel activities and stay in touch with things at home.
You definitely need to rent a car when staying in this area; otherwise, you’ll have to eat at the expensive restaurants at the nearby resorts and Kings Shops. We traveled with 4 adults and 1 toddler, and this condo was perfect for us. It had two bedrooms and two full baths – plenty of space for all of us. We really enjoyed this place and would stay here again.
KAPAA: OUTRIGGER WAIPOULI BEACH
Mellany & Family
This place is perfect for honeymooners, families, or groups of people traveling together. We stayed in c105 and although this unit did not have a view (we were right next to the parking lot which was a plus when you haul all kinds of stuff with you to the beach) this place exceeded our expectations. I believe it opened earlier this year and even at the end of august this place NEVER felt crowded.
We have a toddler and a 10 yr-old and the facilities were excellent. They especially enjoyed the keiki sand pool, lazy river, family jacuzzi, adult jacuzzi, water fall grottos, and 2 waterslides! What kind of condo complex has such a great pool like this? They had a snack bar and beachfront bar too.
Inside the condo it was professionally designed with granite, dark wood, sub-zero ref, wolf oven, and much more! We heard no noise despite being on the rim of the parking lot (we toured around a lot and hung out the pool too). It was really nice to be able to cook meals (we only ate out a few times, really). The owners were really thoughtful by providing guidebooks, coolers, Tupperware, all the stainless steel cookware you need, and even a rice cooker (thank you Stearn family). The one thing I did not like were the bedroom doors – since I have a curious toddler he locked himself in one day when we failed to prop our bedroom door open. Otherwise an excellent value.
There are units directly facing the pool and beach (not swimmable but there are soooooo many beaches to enjoy like TUNNELS). If you want to save 150 bucks or so forgo the view – the whole island is waiting for you!
If you come out make a stop at Hamuras saimin – delicious – we were very sad to leave…
WAIMEA: RESORTQUEST WAIMEA PLANTATION COTTAGES
Sara & Family
My husband and I along with my sister, her husband and toddler spent a week and half at the Plantation in Cottage C (2 bed/2 bath) for the first part of February. My parents and aunt/uncle stayed next door in Cottage B (2 bed/2 bath – I think). This was a lovely, wonderful experience. This is not a resort, you’re not surrounded by a lot of people. Yes, the roosters will inevitably find your open window at 5 am (or earlier). And the three cats at Cottage C are almost like pets (ears are notched) and they always enjoyed our leftover BBQ.
You need to reserve in advance and pay the extra money to get the ocean front cottages, otherwise you’ll likely be sandwiched away from the ocean, on the road. There is an aerial photo available through one of the popular guidebook’s website (Ultimate Kauai Guidebook). You’ll be able to see which cottages are near the ocean and have a little space in between them.
The cottage was very comfortable with a full kitchen. Visit the Costco/Walmart/Kmart in Lihue when you fly in – you’ll save a ton of money and Costco will have the best fruits/seafoods/meats, etc. The food in Waimea isn’t the best. I ended my first night of the vacation in the emergency room with food poisoning – I’m guessing after eating dinner at the Brewery the night before or breakfast that morning at Obsessions. So after that, I was too paranoid to eat out much. The ER staff was nice- two minutes away. The Brewery at the plantation was ok – but they were consistently out of menu items (no gardenburgers the whole time) and beers.
While in the ER a local police officer warned my husband to lock the doors at night. Apparently there have been some break-ins the last month or two. We made the mistake of leaving a lawn chair on the beach – a local drove off with it. Yes, vehicles are allowed on all the beaches if they can find access.
LAHAINA: RESORTQUEST KAANAPALI SHORES
Kyleigh & Family (baby 17mos)
I was nervous about this resort after reading some reviews and since I am admittedly a bit spoiled when it comes to hotels, my first impression of the place was not that great. It is extremely outdated and the hallways were threadbare in spots. But this place grew on me fast. The room was huge and although it was very outdated looking, it was clean. The kitchen was perfect and we had everything we needed. The beach is nice for sunning or playing on the beach, but not really for swimming. The pools are very old looking. The grounds of the place are immaculately maintained and are beautiful.
I cannot recommend the restaurant whatsoever, as the several times we tried it, it was consistently awful. Even the drinks were bad. I guess this probably does not sound like a great review of the place but I would recommend it if you are traveling with children. It is perfect for families. Also, it would be great for anyone who can get a good price and if you have a car and don’t mind going to other places to enjoy other activities.
There are two great take out places nearby. As you exit the resort, make a left and go about 2 blocks and in a strip mall, you will see 2 little places, one of which the name is Japanese (but the food is grilled fish, pasta, etc) and the other is the Maui Fish Market (I think that was the name.) We got a lot of our meals from there and took them back and ate them on the balcony since we have a toddler and dining out with her is rough. There is also a grocery store across the street from the resort, but be prepared for steep prices. I heard the prices were somewhat better at Safeway in Lahaina.
Overall, the place grew on me and I found it to be quiet and relaxing. I would not recommend it if you are the kind of person who wants to just stay at the resort the whole time. I would say it is like having your own apartment in Maui, but you still have to go out to eat, shop, do activities, etc.
LAHAINA: NAPILI KAI BEACH RESORT
Cal & Family (baby 20mos)
My husband, 20-month-old son and I spent 6 wonderful days at Napili Kai in Late April 2007. It was absolutely fantastic! The staff was always very welcoming and friendly, no matter what we needed. We really appreciated the friendly welcome call and little non-intrusive ways that they reminded us of the events happening during our stay. The Napili Kai thinks of so many little details of things to take care of you – it is really nice.
We loved having the kitchen space since our son never really adapted to sleeping to Hawaii time… it let us get up cook breakfast and enjoy the morning, long before the rest of the resort awoke. We were on the beach by 7:30 every morning!
Speaking of the beach – it is amazing! The snorkeling was WONDERFUL!! So many things to see, and they have the loaner equipment you can use! They also had coolers and other things to loan.
The housekeeping staff was wonderful and every time they cleaned out a room where beach toys had been left behind, they offered them to my son… he loved all the water noodles that ended up by our room!
We will definitely be back to the Napili Kai next year… but this time we will bring the grandparents with us (they are quite a bit older) since they would love the resort as well… we didn’t use it, but they offered golf cart service around the resort to those needing assistance… we thought that was a great touch!
Thank you Napili Kai for such a wonderful trip! We can’t wait until we are saying that we have been coming for “X” years
HONOLULU: AQUA BAMBOO & SPA
Karen & Family (baby 18mos)
We stayed for 5 nights at the end of Jan 2007. Check-in was easy. Parking for 1st night was at the Pacific Monarch next door and 4 nights at Aqua Bamboo. Highly recommend a *compact* car for ease of parking in narrow spaces!
1 bedroom suite was ready when we arrived on the 8th floor, facing Kuhio. Noisy traffic emanated in both rooms via A/C units in exterior walls. We stayed with an 18 month old, so an extra room for naps was essential. Room was stylish, but obviously heavily used. Looked like newer carpets, floor tile and recently upgraded bath/shower area w/simulated marble counters & sink. Didn’t go out on balcony since our toddler could slip between railing and fall.
Basically, we used the room for showering, changing and sleeping. Kitchen had electric stove-oven, fridge, sink, dishes, pots/pans, utensils, drinking glasses–no microwave. The cabinets were in poor condition. Hinges were coming off/loose, drawers didn’t glide nicely and felt like they were going to slip out onto your foot if pulled out too far. Overall, everything was functional/useable and relatively clean, but heavily used.
Good closet space in bedroom. Actual bed seemed too squishy for me(110lb adult) , but served as an adequate place to sleep. I used the queen sofabed which was in the same condition as the kitchen cabinets. Mattress was uneven, mattress support system was barely holding together. I found common area a little quieter than the bedroom since there is only one exterior wall. I used earplugs some nights when the bus & people noise was bad.
Location was great since it’s 2 blocks to the Wakiki beach and restaurants along there. We beached everyday, and saw friends in Kailua and ate out for lunch and dinners (Dukes Canoe Club, Keoni’s, Me BBQ, Wolfgang Pucks Express). We bought food & water at the Kitchen Pantry 2 blocks away. It was easier to eat in for breakfast than go out with a toddler. We liked that the housekeeper came to sweep up sand and clean up the room every day we requested. We had no problems with waiting for the elevators. Pool area was clean, but too shaded for getting some sun. We didn’t try the complimentary breakfast. Internet access was great for checking email,directions and attractions out for the day.
HONOLULU: AQUA PALMS & SPA
Ed & Family (baby 2yrs)
I stayed five nights here in June 2007 with my wife and daughter (2 yrs old). First day, we found ants on the desk, which the cleaning staff promptly took care of. But it left the room a bit smelly. I did find some food crumbs on the carpet, which might have been the cause, and led me to believe the room was not vacuumed. The next day, the cleaning staff did not clean our room when we came back around 2pm. But it was cleaned after coming back from the pool later that afternoon.
Our room was simple and had a very small balcony (other rooms had a full lanai with chairs and tables). There was a decent view of the ocean behind the massive Hilton property. It was nice that the TV had a DVD player so my daughter can watch her videos. We found the “Aqua Kit” useful for storing groceries and for heating up leftovers. Bathroom was clean with granite countertop and what appears to be travertine tile. But we could’ve used more lighting near the shower/tub area. Although we had no trouble sleeping, this side of the hotel can be a bit noisy with traffic from Ala Moana .
The pool was small (4 ft. deep) but perfect for taking our toddler in. The free breakfast had small pastries, fruit, coffee, and juice, which was fine to start the day. They have gated parking ($15/day) but the garage is a little tight. We took “The Bus” one day and it stops almost in front of the hotel. The hotel is across the street from the Hilton Hawaiian Village where there are shops, eateries, and beach access to a less crowded portion of Waikiki. We went through the Hilton almost every day and enjoyed some of the property amenities without paying twice as much to stay there.
Overall, the Aqua Palms was a comfortable place to stay in a convenient enough location at an affordable price. We love visiting Hawaii and would consider staying here again.
HONOLULU: EMBASSY SUITES WAIKIKI BEACH WALK
Kyleigh & Family (baby 17mos)
My husband and I stayed with our 17-month-old daughter for a week. It was great for us since we could put our daughter in a separate room for her naps and her 8 pm bedtime. The location was great, right in the middle of the new Beachwalk area, and across the street from the beach. It is a fairly new hotel. We stayed in two different rooms and they were both great. The view was great, although once Trump’s building is done, the view will be almost entirely blocked.
The pool was great, especially for kids. The breakfast was convenient and good, the happy hour was fun and free. The happy hour offered basic drinks, including tropical ones, a few snacks like cut veggies, chips, salsa, etc, and they had live music and sometimes even hula dancers. Free internet in the rooms and around the hotel was great for my hubby since he was working also. Great convenience store near the elevators and of course the prerequisite ABC store right across the street make it easy to get whatever you need.
I felt it was a good value for the money and we were very pleased with the hotel. I would stay there again.
HONOLULU: EMBASSY SUITES WAIKIKI BEACH WALK
Bo & Family
It is my opinion that a 5 star (diamond, circle, checkmark, pineapple – WHATEVER) rating requires absolute perfection. This property is nice, well appointed, and well presented. There is nothing that would keep me from returning. However, there are some issues that will cause some consternation among the more discerning travelers.
Valet: they said their radio was “stolen”, thus, they had to yell across the cavernous lobby (unsuccessfully, I might add) for the bellman to come to our car and retrieve the luggage. Ultimately, I fetched the bellman myself, rather than endure more of the above.
Bell staff: Friendly, polite, but evidently overworked. After the bellman was located, and had loaded our luggage on the cart, he parked it in the lobby and walked away. (I already had our key and room assignment by this time). This came as a shock to me, and I started to pull the cart myself to the elevator (I did not wish to have our belongings unattended in a busy lobby). The bellman realized this and bolted out from behind the bell desk. From there, it worked as advertised.
Check-in: I asked a smiling clerk if there was an HHonors check-in window. She said yes, I asked where it was and she said “yes” again. It was only after a three-peat of this that I realized that she had not understood a word I had said. It is exceptional that this hotel has made accommodations for its foreign visitors, and hired Japanese speakers. However, this being the United States, I was dismayed to find that the agent did not ALSO speak English. What are the chances that I could go to Japan (or ANY other country in the world) and find a clerk that was only English speaking, and did not speak the native tongue of the country in question?
Pool: Very pleasant. Nice rubber bottom keeps slippage to a minimum, and is comfortable on the feet. The kiddy pool is very nice and clean feeling. It would be helpful if there was some staff to keep the (much) older children out of the toddler (1 1/2 ft) pool.
Rooms: Outstanding. I only rue that the view will be decimated by the Trump Hotel now under construction.
Elevators: Slow, but not unacceptably so for a 21 story edifice. The card readers are somewhat temperamental, and often take multiple swipes to be able to access the guest room floors.
Breakfast and happy hour: Typical Embassy Suites fare, presented in a nice outdoor patio seating area. (No ES Atrium here).
There are some noteworthy positive points as well: Complimentary internet access, a local paper delivered to your room alongside the USA Today, ample seating in the living area. The CD is also a very nice touch. If this property keeps up the unique amenities once it has established itself among Waikiki’s time honored properties, it will continue to shine.
HONOLULU: WAIKIKI BEACH MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA
Cal & Family (baby 20mos)
We stayed for 2 nights after our week in Maui. There were 3 of us total – my husband, myself, and our 20-month-old. We arrived at the hotel at about 11 am and were still able to check in to a room, which turned out to be an upgraded executive suite. I have to say how wonderful the beds were! We were on the 24th floor, so didn’t use the balcony at all since they weren’t toddler friendly and I was a little freaked out about it…. Spent a lot of time at the beach or hanging out at the pool. Pretty friendly hotel for an active toddler to run around and look at the water fountains… The breakfast buffet at the Kuhio Grill was VERY kid friendly – the staff was great – especially Florence! It is a bit expensive, but we thought it was worth it.
Only 2 less than thrilling things, neither of them major issues…1) lots of timeshare stuff everywhere… they were really pushing the Ko’Ona stuff everywhere in the hotel… I was never approached by a sales person, but they had a huge desk outside of our elevators and I quickly learned that they were not the concierge staff! and 2) Our room wasn’t serviced – we were out on the middle day from 9 am – 2 pm and came back to let my son have his nap… no one came to clean the room until 3:30, and we thought nap time was more important… I was able to call to get fresh towels brought up and they came very quickly. Nothing too major… I think it was just a bit of a change for us after having been in Maui for a week!
Other recommendations – Don’t get a car!! We were planning on staying in Waikiki the whole time and didn’t use a car at all.. Plus parking was $25 a day… If you are planning on going around the island, there is GREAT public transit everywhere…
For those of you with vehicle obsessed toddlers – save your trolley and bus riding until the end of your trip. My son would throw a tantrum every time he saw others getting on to a bus, which is ALL the time in Waikiki! That being said if you can find a restaurant facing the road – it’s great entertainment for them! There are free trolleys to Hilo Hattie and the Ala Moana Shopping Center…
HONOLULU: WAIKIKI BEACH MARRIOTT RESORT & SPA
Anne & Family (baby 2yrs)
OK so this was not my first trip to Hawaii but my first to Oahu and Waikiki. We had a love/hate relationship with Waikiki so I am afraid I will not be able to advise the many of you out there trying to decide where to stay!
Here are my thoughts: Stay at least 2-3 nights in Waikiki if you can. There is a great vibe and energy and access to many things – which is great. On the flip side there is a lot of people and noise and hotels, etc. It’s very touristy. I understand the “Vegas of Hawaii” comments now. But if you like Vegas at times, then you will like Waikiki more. I did not mind staying there a couple of nights but I prefer things a little more low key when I am on this type of vacation.
If you are single, a young couple or family with older kids, you can find all you need here. If you are looking for peace, quiet and no traffic – then this is NOT the place for you. There are crazy amounts of traffic in and out of Honolulu. Coming from LA, even we were surprised.
We reserved a corner deluxe room for two nights. We loved the hotel and specifically the beach in front. We were traveling with a 2 year old so being across from Kuhio beach (behind sea wall) was excellent for our needs. We got a great rate with AAA which ended getting us the most view for the least money compared to other hotels in Waikiki.
Kuhio was one of the best beaches for our needs. Waikiki is great fun too, but more crowded and bigger waves if you have little ones. There’s lots of people watching and lots to do.
The corner room only had one balcony but I understand some of them have 2. We were facing east. Ideally, I think a deluxe ocean view would be better because then you face west for the sunset (and the view of Waikiki beach).
We ate at the pool grill restaurant but I would not recommend it. Right next door at the Resortquest is Tikis which was a far better menu and less expensive. We loved the easy access to the ABC stores – although too much so because I think much of our spending money was spent at these stores! They are everywhere if you need anything. Good prices on t-shirts.
I would recommend brunch/buffet at the Oceanarium Restaurant next door in the Pacific Beach Hotel. Sunday Brunch was $60 for 2 of us and our toddler was free. It is surrounded by a huge aquarium in the dining area and the have divers feeding the fish at various times. It was great entertainment and really good food and large selection!
We had drinks at Tikis one night, which was great with the live music. We liked it there a lot and would go back.
Some of the other hotels we saw in the area, Sheraton Moana – GORGEOUS. Would stay there for sure. I saw a suite there that blew my mind. Sheraton – I would pass on this one. The Pink Palace – very nice historic property with a great bar on the beach (Mai Tai – great for people watching). But no balconies and seemed a little outdated.
HONOLULU: WYNDHAM WAIKIKI BEACH WALK
Pam & Family (baby 16mos)
We just came back from a week’s stay at the Fairfield/Wyndham Waikiki. We booked this directly from an owner and had a 2-bedroom on the 8th floor. The room was spacious, clean and well-maintained. The kitchen was fully equipped and it was nice not having to go out for every meal. The beds were comfortable and the master bath was huge with a jacuzzi tub.
We had a view directly overlooking the popular beachwalk. Each room had its own sliding door and lanai and my 16 month-old toddler loved people watching.
The hotel staff was friendly and helpful; we didn’t book any tours so I can’t comment on the “Activities Desk.” Wireless internet connection was available in the lobby but not in the rooms. There was a pool table and foosball in the game room and a good-sized fitness room. The pool was disappointing as it was small and too deep for my daughter to play in. Yes, the parking was expensive at $25/day with tips (we took the car out everyday so this added up) but the valet service was excellent. My husband’s complaint was that the property didn’t have a large on-site restaurant like the Sheraton across the street (I think there is a diner-like restaurant on the lower level next to the garage) and that it wasn’t directly on the beach – in my opinion this wasn’t an issue since the beach was only a block away, but since we have so many things to carry it’s not as convenient. We didn’t notice any construction noise and had no problems with the elevators – note that we did run into an elevator technician who said one of the elevators went down and someone was stuck inside for about 30 min.
The best part of the hotel was the location – lots of restaurants to choose from including chain restaurants like Planet Hollywood, Ruth Chris, Yard House, Roy’s, fast food places and ramen noodle houses. Try “Mondo Gelato” across the street for great gelato, dark chocolate and green tea were our favorite flavors. Lots of high-end shopping and the Int’l market just 8 minutes away.
Overall we had a great time and would recommend this hotel.
KAILUA: KAILUA HOUSE RENTAL
Nicole & Family (baby 15mos)
We decided to try renting a house or condo in Hawaii, instead of staying in a hotel, to save on some of the costs and to have more control over the food we were eating. We found our rental house in Kailua through greatrentals.com which has property rental listings for all over the world. It was fast, convenient and provided us with photos and full details about the rental property. We decided to stay in Kailua after reading that it had the best beaches in Hawaii and was less busy than Waikiki.
The house we rented was no frills but suited our needs. It had a nice kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a large yard with BBQ. It was a 7-minute walk to the beach. We really enjoyed our stay here! We spent little time at the house, but it was close enough to walk back to for nap-time or meals. The Kailua beach was fabulous! Soft white sand, gentle waves and rarely crowded. We never encountered a problem finding a shady spot to park ourselves, unlike the one day we ventured into Waikiki. Staying in a rental house allowed our active 15-month-old tones of space to run in the yard, have regular meal & nap times just like at home. We never had to worry about not having access to our rooms and there was lots of extra space for the crib and toys.
We paid $1670 for a one week rental on the house (that included the taxes and cleaning fee). Groceries were much more expensive on the island than in Canada. We spent approximately $350 on groceries for 4 adults and 1 infant for the week. We ended up only eating out twice. We needed to rent a car to get to Kailua as it’s 20 minutes outside of Honolulu and we kept it for the entire week (but, we used points to rent, so only cost us the taxes). We took the advice from this website and rented some of our baby equipment on the island. We rented a highchair and a playpen, but brought our own car seat and stroller. The baby equipment rental cost us $42 for the highchair and $36 for the playpen for the week (+ taxes), from a company called Baby’s Away Oahu (babysaway.com). The equipment was new, clean and dropped off & picked-up right at the rental house. It was money well spent so that we didn’t have to lug it all with us, or pay overage fees with the airline(s). I would highly recommend staying in Kailua as a family destination. The city is much less busy than in Honolulu and far less touristy. That said, there is still lots of great shopping and restaurants (there were many recommendations for Kailua in our Fodor’s guide) and it was easy to get around. The Kailua and Lanikai beaches are magnificent with their soft white sand, lots of shade and gentle waves. If you’re looking for a spot to hang out on the beach and take it easy, this is your destination.
PROS of staying in a rental house and outside of Waikiki:
- The house had LOTS of room
- The yard had LOTS of room
- We had control over our groceries and meals
- The beach was beautiful, quiet, un-crowded, and within walking distance
- Ample free parking at the rental house and near the beach
- Rental house had a FULL kitchen, washer & dryer, snorkels, beach chairs, cooler, beach towels, free WIFI
CONS of staying in rental house and outside of Waikiki:
- We had no Air Conditioning, only ceiling fans
- We heard street noise every night until after 10pm
- We had to rent a car to get to Kailua and around town
- No maid service
- No babysitting services or children’s programs