Traveling with toddlers can be anxiety ridden, but when Hayes was sick, we promised ourselves that we would never miss an opportunity to make memories. Spending time with one another is all that matters because those are the things we carry with us long after we are apart. So, regardless of the time change, and regardless of napless days, we headed to the Big Island of Hawaii as the Tate Party of 8.
I am going to recap all the must do’s of Hawaii. Starting with the flight, remember to pack all the necessities for your toddlers. Our flights were incredibly easy and problem free. Remember to look back on that post I did on the airplane necessities. And here we go, the must do’s for a family vacation on the Big Island.
Place We Stayed:
I will say that for us, staying on a resort is kind of a necessity with the big island. There are only a few naturally sandy beaches and one of those is on Mauna Kea Resort. We stayed at a VRBO that gave us access to the resort and so we got the best of both worlds….3 bedroom quiet condo and hotel pool access. I highly recommend the VRBO we found!
Places To Eat:
Gramma’s Kitchen in Honokaa, Hawaii. It is a small cafe in a charming beach town. Delicious cafe, diner food.
Hawaiian Style Cafe in Waimea. It is delicious Hawaiian and Cafe style foods. Their breakfast kills it! Super affordable and so delicious!
Original Big Island Shaved Ice in Mauna Lani. You want to know what heaven tastes like? This is it! So many flavors and I still am dreaming about the Pineapple Cream Shaved Ice on top of coconut ice cream. Oh my goodness, delicious!
Tropics Ale House in Waikoloa was another great place for cheaper but delicious food. Especially during Happy Hour. Their sliders were a huge hit with all of us and at only $2 a slider, we all ate well!
Places to See:
Waipio Valley Lookout will take your breath away. So beautiful! Overlooks tropical cliffs and an ancient valley.
Akaka Falls is a short 1 milish hike. Reese and Heath were able to hike the paved hiking path easily. Plus, the views were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen!
Kiholo Bay is a long walk along the black sand beaches to a bay. Very relaxing and easy for kids. Best part is seeing the sea turtles sleeping along the beach.
Beach outside of the Lava Lava club is another place that is great to see Sea Turtles, although it is much less secluded. But it is a much easier “hike” and we saw 3 turtles all within 20 feet of each other. It was magic.
Hilton Waikoloa is a hotel we didn’t actually stay at, but we visited and I can’t say enough about how family friendly this resort is. My kids were dying to get to play in their mini water park. Plus, they have a dolphin training facility right on the grounds. We sat and watched dolphins swimming for close to an hour. Reese was fascinated.
Polynesian hula show – you almost can’t go to Hawaii without seeing a show, but when you see the price tag you kind of talk yourself out of that. But on the Big Island at the Shops at Mauna Lani, they have a free Polynesian hula and fire show every Monday and Thursday evening. It is awesome! My kids always look forward to it! Super entertaining and filled with culture. Plus, about an hour before the show begins, they have free lei making and Hawaiian culture classes. It is always such a hit that we try to hit both free nights.
Night Swimming with Manta Rays at the Mauna Kea resort is another huge success. You don’t have to pay to do this. If you have snorkeling gear, you swim down to the north end of the bay where the giant spotlight is shining and you will have manta rays rolling all around you in the water. We had our older three (12 years, 10 years and 6) go and they loved it.
Mauna Kea is an autograph collection hotel resort. But, because the beaches are public access, they are free to anyone. You can’t use the cabanas or chairs, but if you bring your own, you feel like you are a part of the resort. The sand is perfection and the grounds are breathtaking!
Hapuna Beach is also a hotel resort beach but once again, public access is required. This beach is known for great waves and is perfect for body surfing. We had so much fun changing up the relaxing environment of Mauna Kea with this beach.