Hawaii Part III

If you want a more comprehensive guide, this book was recommended to me: Oahu Revealed: The ultimate guide to Waikiki, Honolulu, and Beyond. It was pretty accurate and gave the ups and downs of various beaches. I think there is a little less honest opinion in there about what is best, but people’s preferences are different so they may have tried to keep to information and save the opinions. Well, here are my opinions of the various places we went. I’ve also included a packing list for carry ons and luggage. We had the luxury of having our bags free due to Andy being in the military, so we could’ve packed lighter, but didn’t.


Ko Olina


Ko Olina is a resort area so it is well maintained landscaping and clean bathrooms. The bay is manmade so the beach part was mostly concrete with a thin layer of sand on top. There are still fish to see if you snorkel there, but it is shallow and there isn’t much. Aside from the nice grass and clean bathrooms, the bay was calm and protected so I didn’t worry about the kids getting swept to sea. It was pretty shallow so there was no danger of drowning either. But because it was a resort area, the beach was pretty crowded and parking was a tiny bit of a challenge. I read online that it is best to go to the fourth lagoon because there is more parking. I didn’t see the other ones, but parking in the afternoon was still a challenge at the fourth lagoon so I can imagine it would’ve been worse at the others. However, maybe with the decrease in parking spaces at the other ones, you may have less crowds at the beach. Despite it being pretty crowded it wasn’t too bad to share the water and beach. As far as Oahu beaches go, I give it a 5/10 not horrible, but not the best either.

Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay was recommended to us by a couple of people I would say there are probably better options. Maybe back when they went there was more to see, but I think because it is a resort area and there are so many people who do not respect coral reefs, they have been damaged to the point that there isn’t a whole lot. There were still some trigger fish and puffer fish. Andy said he saw an eel. But apparently there used to be turtles that would stay in this little protected alcove. Someone told Andy there hadn’t been any in weeks, maybe longer. The other thing that was a little off putting was that though all beaches in Oahu are supposed to public, this resort did its best to make it as hard as possible to get to the beach if you weren’t their guest. They do have restrooms behind their restaurant to use/ change, but I wound up changing in the car because I couldn’t find it. This beach felt less family friendly for a couple of reasons. First of all, the crowd is definitely young adult and older and there were a lot of inappropriate swimsuits (I’m talking g strings, not bikinis). The water is calm which is a plus for a family, but it is a bit perilous for the feet if you don’t have water shoes due to the coral. I did feel like I got my fill of snorkeling with kids with this beach so that was a plus.

Nimitz Beach

We stayed on Nimitz beach. Admittedly, when we drove up I was like “this place looks like a dump” but the beach itself is really nice. It’s clean and uncrowded. When there were people, they appeared to be locals. There was an area for surfing, fishing, and swimming. Where our little patch of beach was there were a few turtles that would pop up their head and say hi! Then we saw a whale just off the coast on our very last day, so that was pretty amazing. It is kind of out of the way if you’re doing the traditional tourist spots, but since we were staying there, it was perfect and such a reprieve from the more crowded places we went to. There is coral, but also an expanse of area with just sand so we just stayed away from the coral areas because this beach did have normal waves with no barrier calming the waters. The kids enjoyed building sand castles on the soft sanded beach and riding the waves in on their boogie boards. Once you get past the initial waves, it is more calm and it was nice to just soak and float there. It felt like our little piece of heaven since we were pretty much the only people there. You could also get a great view of the sunrise and the sunset.

Marine Beach in Kaneohe

You can only get to this beach if you are or are with a military service member. Plus side, it is pretty quiet. We went to this beach when there was a bit of bad weather so we didn’t play in the water too much due to a strong undertow.

Down the road from this beach is one with more coral. I recommend this beach at night, with water shoes and flashlights. We got to explore the tide pools with all of their cool little critters. We did walk away with two skinned knees.

We didn’t go to any other beaches, but we drove past quite a few. We really wanted to explore Hanauma Bay but we didn’t know 1) you have to get there in the morning because it closes at 2 (well last entry at 2, or 1 because everything in Hawaii seems to close earlier than their business hours disclose). 2) You need to have a reservation. It is closed Monday and Tuesday to give the coral reef time to recover from tourists. But I’m super bummed we didn’t get to go because I’ve heard AMAZING things about this. If you do wind up going to Hanauma Bay, I highly recommend taking the east cost drive to or from there and stopping along the lookout points. The blow hole stop has access via a steep walk down rock to the beach/coast. There were people swimming there, but with the way the waves were on the day we were there, I wouldn’t recommend it. They were getting swept up against the rock. I imagine they walked away with several scrapes and bruises. There was a seal sleeping there. There are volunteers that come and make sure the tourists aren’t stupid with the wild animal. The volunteer said they come fairly often. It was pretty cool to be up close to the sleeping seal. Harvey desperately wanted to pet it.


There are also several hikes along this drive, so you could really make a day or afternoon out of it. It is also pretty close to Diamond Head. We didn’t make it to Diamond Head (the extinct volcano) because you have to reserve a spot for that too and it fills up way too fast. Maybe next time ;). There is also a little mile and a half hike down here to visit a lighthouse called Makapu’u. We didn’t go here either, but just incase you love hiking, I’ve heard it’s a good one, though make sure you don’t leave any valuables visible in your car, because it is a high theft area.

This is the Diamond Head lighthouse.

The only hike we ended up doing was Waimea Falls. It is the perfect hike for a family with young children. It’s more of a walk uphill as it is paved and there is a little treat at the end because you get to swim in the ice cold falls water. You have to pay to get in, but it isn’t super expensive, especially if you are military. They also have a concessions stand near the top where we stopped and shared a pineapple whip.

There are other more strenuous hikes. I recommend this guide.


Since we had our kids with us, we kept the excursions simple. We did Kualoa Ranch, Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple, the Buddhist temple, and a whale tour. I recommend all of these and even though we didn’t see a whale on the whale tour, it was fun to be out on the open water.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch offers several excursions and you could probably do 2-4 of them in one day if you had the money and energy. There is a movie tour on an old bus, a snorkeling tour to “Chinaman’s hat”, ATV rides through the ranch, a jungle tour that is focused on the vegetation and animal life of Hawaii, and then the tour we went on which was the Jurassic Tour. We stopped at five locations where parts of Jurassic World and Jurassic Park were filmed. They had dinosaur replicas and our guide brought along some dinosaur toys so we could take cool pictures with the dinosaur in the shot. I think everyone enjoyed this tour, even Harvey didn’t get bored, but Mav was a little underwhelmed. I think he expected there to be actual dinosaurs even though he knows they’re not real. Regardless, he had fun.

Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)

So many people told us we didn’t need much time here. I think they’re wrong. If you want to learn about all of the countries you probably need two days. The park doesn’t open until 12:30 and closes at 5:30. If you sign up for the buffet, they highly recommend you taking till 5:30 to enjoy the park before hitting the buffet. The buffet closes at 7 so you should have plenty of time to eat if you go at 5:30 and then you’re not left with a ton of time afterwards before the 7:30 show. I also read online that the buffet is better than the luau. As I didn’t try the luau I can only attest that the buffet was amazing. They had a three foot+ fresh ahi tuna that they were cutting from and delivering directly to your plate. That and the tropical fruit was my main source of food that night. They had lychee, dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, coconut, and more. I hated that I got full so fast because the food was soooo good. They had a delicious coconut chocolate cake that was light and refreshing at the end. Plus of course, the pineapple whip. My family ate well and we enjoyed the buffet tremendously. The park itself is so interesting and informative. There are fun and cool shows to watch (rhythm of Fiji, fire dancing in Samoa, taste testing, and more). We only made it to Fiji, Samoa, and Hawaii and didn’t even get to do all the things in those place. We did get a very temporary warrior tattoo from Fiji and got to try the green banana and coconut milk in Samoa along with watch them climb a coconut tree and dance with fire. The Samoan presenter said that men in Samoa do the cooking and I thought that was pretty cool. The PCC was made to fund education for Islanders and continues to do so today. 80% of the people that work at the PCC are currently enrolled at BYU Hawaii (probably why it doesn’t open till 12:30). Though I recommend two days at the park, it is very pricey, but if you can afford it, it is going to a good cause!

Pearl Harbor

We stuck to the “free” tour to USS Arizona. You do need to schedule it in advance and there is a $1 service charge per ticket when you do this. If you don’t, you will have to wait in standby and there isn’t a guarantee that there will be a spot for you. They don’t open up all the slots available until the day before. It was a great educational experience for our kids and I think Andy and I both felt the privilege it was to show our deep respect for those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, both at Pearl Harbor and on. We didn’t want to enter the war, but we were forced into action. After learning about the horrendous atrocities that occurred during WWII we maybe should have intervened sooner. As the leading country of the world, the responsibility lies on us to protect the underdog. I am grateful that we ended up doing that and putting a stop to such genocide. I know there is a lot of political debate about world affairs, but when one country is putting another’s freedom at risk, in my opinion it is wrong to sit by and watch it happen until it will inevitably become our problem. A couple of more tips for Pearl Harbor: bring a clear bag or no bag. They have a wallet on the wall on the way in that shows the size you can bring in, but my little cross body clutch (which was the exact same size as their example) got rejected and we had to run it back to the car and hide it. They even tried to stop Andy from coming in with camera batteries in his own hand. I’ve heard that it really just depends on who is on duty, so apparently we had someone a little too eager to stretch his power.

LDS Temple

Not only was the temple so beautiful and peaceful, there is so much history in the visitor center tour and best of all, it’s free! You can learn all about LDS temples and what goes on inside, as well as how that temple came to be and the history of Laie. I could’ve spent longer here, but we only spent about an hour tops. This tour is suited for all ages and though it is a reverent area, they were very understanding of our somewhat rambunctious kids. “The Savior loves children, he wants them here, don’t apologize,” was a sister’s response when I apologized for them being a little crazy.

The Buddhist Temple, the Byodo-in

I recommend this one for sure. It was a very calming and relaxing trip on a Sunday afternoon. You can feed their coy, burn incense and even ring their Japanese-made gong. It was beautiful and calming. The kids enjoyed it too and I thought it was a great educational experience for them to see how other people worship God. There is a very small fee to get in. They are a cashless venue, though if you want a snack at their concession stand it only takes cash…

The Whale Tour

We went on a whale tour with “The Ocean Project.” I found a coupon on Tripadvisor and found the cheapest one. I started worrying picking the cheapest was the wrong idea, but honestly I don’t think it mattered. The boat was great. The kids had a blast. We didn’t get to see a whale, but they had a “whale sighting guaranteed” so we went back a second time. We saw a fin at the very end and from quite the distance, but it was still cool. The captain said, “That doesn’t count, if you want to come back out, you can.” I just didn’t want to spend a whole other day doing it with only a possibility of seeing a whale, so we opted not to go on another one. But we learned some cool whale facts and the kids loved getting splashed by the waves. If you’re military, the MWR has a lot of discounted offers, but none of them were as cheap as the one I found on TripAdvisor so shop around.

Other excursions I would’ve loved to go on, but didn’t:

Pineapple plantation: I did it as a kid and enjoyed it, but we really didn’t have the time.

Snorkeling excursion: There are quite a few islands off the coast of Oahu that have better snorkeling due to less tourists destroy the reefs. I’m sure the captains of the boats also give ignorant people the low down on what’s ok to do and what is not.

We tried out one farmers market, but I would’ve loved to hit the one in Kuhuku. We drove past it and I read reviews that it was one of the best on the island.

Places to Eat

  • Ted’s Bakery (North Shore near Waimea Falls $$). Everything we tried there was good. I wish I could’ve bought one of all of their Hawaiian flavored pies and tried one each night, but it was far from where we were staying. I got the crab and bacon sandwich and it was delicious.
  • Malasadas ($ Everywhere) These little food trucks are all over the place. YOU HAVE to try them though. They really are better than donuts and I’m not much of a donut fan.
  • Surf and Salsa (North Shore) Order for pickup thirty minutes before you plan to be there for this meal as it is very crowded. We got the shrimp, fish, and spicy pork tacos. They were all delicious. It is moderately expensive (like $$ for Hawaii’s standards probably $$$ for GA) unless you go on a Tuesday and get 3 street tacos for $11.
  • Seven Brothers (Laie)- Mostly a burger joint, though I got a $20+ Ahi tuna bowl that was so good. The burgers looked really good too. They’re about $10 for a kids meal and $12 for an adult burger (no fries or drink unless you pay an extra 5 or 6 bucks). Their fries are fresh cut potatoes. They were probably the best I tasted on the island.
  • L&L BBQ ($$ Everywhere)- the Hawaiian must-try. They have Loco Moco and Katsu chicken as well as many other items, but those are the two most Hawaiian meals. They also have Musubi which is spam on rice wrapped in seaweed. Andy and Maverick loved that. I didn’t mind it too much, but the Musubi we tried at Genki Sushi was much better (better ratio of spam to rice plus a sweet teriyaki glaze drizzled on top).
  • McDonalds ($). Exactly what you’d expect, including the prices.
  • Genki Sushi at Pearl Mall. The only place that we could find that still did conveyor belt sushi. The kids had a blast and it was pretty good! $3-6 a plate.
  • Best Side Pies (Food truck in Kapolei $$) opened from 5-8. They do brick fire pizzas. I really enjoyed their pizza, but surprisingly they didn’t have Hawaiian pizza. They did have some good mushroom and spicy pineapple pizzas, but no traditional Hawaiian.
  • Kapa Hale ($$$ Honolulu). Very unique tasting meals. Kind of an Hawaiian/ Chinese Fusion. The kids liked most, but not all of it, because it is very unique flavoring.
  • Loco Moco BBQ ($$ Kapolei) similar to L&L. The BBQ chicken was their best menu item we tried, but the Loco Moco was good too.
  • Buffet at PCC ($$$ Laie) I’ve heard from many people it is better than the Luau. It is also cheaper.

Grocery Stores

  • I never went to Costco but I’ve heard two things. First, it’s ALWAYS busy and crazy and secondly its the best place to go at the beginning of your trip if you want to get some easy meals and large quantities of delectable souvenirs.
  • Safeway had a wide selection of produce. I only bought produce there and the prices weren’t too terrible.
  • Walmart. It’s easy and has everything and it was more pricey than the mainland, but cheaper than the Navy Exchange for some things.
  • Commissary. I wish I had gone here. I hear it has great prices and a good selection. But alas, we did not. You can only got here if you have an active military ID (I don’t think you have to be active duty, I think vet cards work too).
  • Markets:
  • Kahuku market has rave reviews. I didn’t make it though because it was on the opposite end of the island up by Laie.
  • Waipahu Festival Marketplace There was great selection here in way of vegetables and fish. There was not a lot of selection for fruit, but they did have apple bananas, papaya, and mango.
  • Azama Fish Market I didn’t make it to this place, but it was two minutes from Waipahu Festival Marketplace. I heard they have good lunch options for cheap and a lot of seafood selection.

Traveling 10+ hours on a plane with kids

Day Time

What to bring: Loads of snacks and loads of activities. Fidget toys help them feel like it’s okay to be sitting as long as they are. On the flip side, try to keep your carry on bag as light as possible. One hack is to have a stroller if you have young kids, because they may not want to sit in it, but they’re going to get tired of carrying their backpacks around, so it works nice as a trolley. Try to get a seat near the bathroom. It kept it less awkward when they were getting up every hour to go pee and also gave them something to do and more easily move around. Aisle seats are your friends. Easier for the kids to get in and out and gives you more space to pickup all of the things they will drop. Here’s a list of what I had in my kids bag:

  1. Homework- they didn’t do any of it, so I probably should’ve just packed it in the suitcase when I could help them a bit better.
  2. Each kid was given a quarter zip-lock baggie and told to put their favorite snacks in it. They didn’t eat many of them, but it is better to have them and not need them then have hangry kids.
    • Great snacks for the plane: oranges, bagged carrots, cheese sticks (if you eat them sooner rather than later), crackers, granola bars, gummies, nuts, and Pringles (bagged chips just get smashed up too easily).
  3. I had fresh fruit and veggies in my bag to hand out. This is such a nice refresh in the middle of a long flight. We had to gobble up the last few oranges before we landed as Hawaii bans any outside fruit.
  4. Water bottles filled with ice. TSA is ok with ice– it’s a solid! So I filled their bottles with ice. Just make sure non has melted before you go through, or if it has, drink it! Once through security, most airports have water bottle filling stations. If not, we swallow the cost of over-priced convenience store waters and fill up our ice bottles with those.
  5. Activities:
    • Melissa and Doug Puffy Stickers for Beverly and some for Harvey.
    • Usborne transfer stickers. This was recommended to me by Sara Rasband. I wasn’t sure how big of a hit they’d be, but they were great! I got this set for Maverick. Max was bummed I didn’t get him one, but I honestly didn’t think he’d enjoy them. I just had Mav share with Max. They seemed to have plenty to do.
    • Beverly picked out this doodle book to play with. I know she enjoyed it.
    • I got Max this game paper pad. He was excited about it when I gave it to him. I’ll have to see if he used it and update more on his review of it.
    • I also got Max this Hawaii journal and travel workbook. I need to do more digging to see if he actually used it. But it looks really cool!
    • Sara recommended new writing utensils to make it novel and give them more entertainment. She was right. My kids really enjoyed these.
    • I had a love/hate with these games. They are magnetic which is a plus for travel, but of course my kids dropped pieces so I was on my hands and knees on the cramped plane looking for them. Surprisingly we didn’t end up losing any pieces. Along those lines, but not magnetic was this travel sized Battleship game. A big hit with the kids, but not sure how long we’ll be able to keep track of the pieces.
    • I got this dry erase travel kit for Harvey and he barely used it. Maybe a four-year-old would do better with it. He was more interested in the Crazy Aaron’s Putty (maybe 5 bucks, under 3 oz. at Target near the board game section), the fidget squishy ball (a dollar at 5 Below), and of course his switch. He also enjoyed watching a show on the screen provided on the plane with these headphones. BUT he loved the show so much he kept kicking the seat in front of him because he was dancing… so if someone has a recommendation for a barrier or something, I’m all ears. That was the hardest part of our flight.
    • I got this Crazy Aaron Putty that is pretty neat! You can draw on it, then squish it to erase and try again. I think I may have enjoyed it more than Harvey, but Beverly really got into it.
    • I got this Ninja Turtle activity set for Harvey (he is ALL about TMNT). It was a little old for him, but he enjoyed the stickers and coloring a couple of the pictures.
    • I bought this pack of stretchy dinosaurs because they’re fun and light weight. It maybe entertained him for five minutes… so save the money and space and skip this recommendation. Maverick enjoyed them more than Harvey. I guess I should’ve given them to him.
    • Maverick earned this Mandalorian Search and Find book for good behavior at school (we’re working on self-control). He was so excited to finally get to read it on the plane.
    • Max is all about non-fiction books and since we were headed to Hawaii, I got him a book all about the sea life he might see there.
    • I got these rainbow scratch doodle monsters for the kids, but I don’t think any of them used them. But I still think they’re pretty fun and if your kid is into scratch art, they’d love it.

Truthfully, I think I just over did it on getting things for their entertainment. The budget was none too happy with me, but in my defense I did tell Andy to stop me. I was just super nervous about a 10.5 hour flight with kids and wanted to make sure there was plenty for them to do so they’d behave. Well I would say we had very well behaved kids (minus Harvey’s dancing feet), so maybe it was a success. I would just do less next time. If I had to pick, I’d bring their switches, one book to read (I already had limited each kid to one book), one fidget toy, and one activity (sticker/transfer book, travel board game, etc).

My bag:

Mama bear has to provide all the extras, right? Here’s what was in my bag aside from my own snacks, water bottle, and wallet (ID, credit cards, kids birth certificates and COVID immunization just in case).

  • Lysol Wet wipes (used almost a whole pack on the trip)
  • chapstick
  • travel sized intense lotion (it gets so dry in the air)
  • This book light. The ones on the plane are never good enough for me (probably my eyesight)
  • glasses if you’re a contact wearer– the airplane is always so dry.
  • a little medicine kit with ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin, and others that you use on a normal basis.
  • travel kleenex
  • change of clothes for the kids, especially those who may struggle to make it to the toilet on time.
  • extra chargers and cables
  • headphones
  • Carabiners. These are so helpful. I use them to hook bags on the little storage flap or my water bottle or a trash bag so I don’t have to bend over and grab those things in the tight quarters.

Night Time

For everyone’s sake, if you have a red eye bring stuff to make your child comfortable: blanket, pillow, comfortable clothes, maybe even their toothbrush and some melatonin/Benadryl. Honestly if you do this, your flight should be pretty painless… at least ours was! Unfortunately our flight was broken up in two and our red eye flight was only 3.5 hours. They still slept the whole flight and then on the two hour drive home. They also went to bed that night with no problem and woke up around 8 the next morning. So even though they didn’t get to sleep the whole flight, at least they got back on schedule pretty quick. My kids wanted to watch the inflight movies when they boarded the plane at midnight (which was already 3 AM where we were going). I told them no, but to try and sleep. They insisted they wouldn’t be able to sleep, but the second their eyes were closed, they were out. So stand strong!

Here are a list of travel pillows we liked

  • This Child-sized neck pillow worked GREAT for Harvey. You can fasten it at the front so it stays on him. He fell asleep on the plane wearing it and despite moving around a lot, it stayed with him and kept him comfortable. When I picked him up on the plane and carried him to his stroller, he stayed asleep, his pillow securely attached. He slept the whole car ride home with his pillow still comfortably supporting his head.
  • This one was so cute I decided to get it for Beverly. It has a removable casing which is a huge plus so I can wash all the gross plane germs off it when we get home. It is very squishy and she seemed to love it. It too has a button at the front to secure in place. I didn’t sit by Bevy, but she seems to love it!
  • I bought this one for Andy, but he ended up letting me have it since the one I bought for myself was a dud. This one was very supportive and comfortable. It also secures in front and comes with an eye mask and a bag that you can squish the pillow back into to make it compact for carrying around. I couldn’t get comfortable on the plane, but not because of the pillow. I wore it in the car and slept wonderfully.
  • Here is one I ended up sending back because it didn’t have much support.

I had a travel-sized blanket for everyone. Max chose to bring his baby blanket, but then complained that it was too small. Andy didn’t end up using his because he gets hot on planes. I used this one and LOVED it, but ended up giving it to Max so he could be more comfortable. Harvey brought his dinosaur blanket his grandma gave him last year and Beverly brought a stretchy pink blanket her other grandma bought her. Maverick brought his Mandalorian wearable blanket that his Aunt Jacque bought him. Those were easy to make small and fully covered the kids.

Packing list

  1. Clothes
    • 2-3 shorts (unless you don’t have access to a washer, then you may need to pack more). Andy bought these hiking shorts and they looked great and were comfortable. He ended up swimming in them one day because we didn’t have a place to change and they worked out just fine for that too.
    • Water shoes. Here’s one set I got for Maverick. They seemed to work great. Everyone wore their water shoes almost daily. With so many beaches with sharp rocks, and swimming at Waimea Falls, it was a definite must have. Here are the pair I got for Harvey. I had to include it because he loved them so much he opted for these over his crocks or tennis shoes.
    • 2 PJs (so you can wash one and wear the other)
    • 5 pairs of under clothing. (you don’t want to run out of these)
    • 5 shirts (maybe 2 athletic, 2 casual, and one nicer one if you go to a nicer restaurant or something)
    • 1 nice outfit. For me it was a knit dress that I could wear to church or to Pearl Harbor. It was comfortable and cute.
    • Hat
    • Sunglasses
    • Swimsuits. In Hawaii you want at least three, not joking. You don’t want to put on a wet pair if you’re going to be driving to one of your excursions.
    • good hiking shoes
    • good beach shoes
    • maybe a nice pair of sandals if you are a church goer like us. I had the boys wear their nice hey dudes.
    • a sweater. We came from cold weather so we were wearing sweaters on the plane, but I wore mine to bed because the room got chilly with their AC unit.
  2. Toiletries
    • I recommend this if you like to use a bar of soap.
    • To save on space, I bought this to distribute my daily hair and body products.
    • I got this for our toothbrushes, because I didn’t want them making everything else gross and also needed something compact to transport them on our carry on for our red-eye flight. They’re also supposed to keep your brushes sterilized. I don’t know to the effectiveness of that, but they were great to keep them from contaminating other things in the luggage.
  3. Airbnb supplies
    • Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that IF there are knives available at AirBnB’s they are never sharp. We bought this light-weight set. I really only needed one the whole time we were there, but it was way sharper than the ones provided so I was glad I brought it. Just make sure you pack it in your suitcase and not your carry on. 😉
    • Trash bags. If your place provides trash bags, they never seem to be good ones and fall apart or there are never enough. Our place did NOT provide trash bags, but I had already learned to bring them on previous airbnb excursions so we were set. I would definitely pack these because they’re not heavy and if you don’t and have to buy them then you have to buy way more than you need.
    • ziplock baggies. I brought a bunch of sandwich sized and about six gallon. I used all of the gallon ziplocks and probably about 24 or so sandwich sized for our family of 6.
    • If your family is like mine, bring chip clips. It’s cheaper to buy big bags than the single serving ones and the chip clips help keep the chips fresh. I bring two and that works just fine for our family.
  4. Grocery List
    • Drinks. We bought all the flavors of Hawaiian juices they offered. We got through a lot, but not all. Our neighbors enjoyed our leftovers, but I did sneak two in my suitcase and they made it home with not problem. I would say water is helpful, but only for toting along extras for when you’re going to be gone all day. The water in the faucet is fine. Hawaii’s water comes from springs and rain and is filtered through lava rock. It is pretty good tasting.
    • We’re TP snobs, so we always buy Charmin when we go to airbnbs plus they never give you enough TP for the week.
    • Paper towels. Messes, napkins, they’re just useful. A single pack is always sufficient.
    • Clorox Wipes
    • Paper plates are debatable. It really depends on if you plan to eat at the airbnb much and don’t want to do a ton of dishes or if you’re planning on eating out as much as we did I would probably have skipped the paper plates. Though, Hawaii has some compostable plates that are pretty cheap.
    • Just enough snacks. Don’t be like us and buy too much because then your neighbors who you’ll never see again will be your best friends. That and the bum down the street.
    • Easy meals. You don’t want to be spending valuable vacation time cooking. A lot of people recommended going to Costco and getting their premade meals. We ate out about once a day and made homemade sandwiches for the extra meal. We also tried Hawaii’s fun pancake flavors for breakfast.
  5. Extras
    • Must have extras
      • Sunscreen. You can buy this when you get there. We brought ours so I’m not sure of the price difference. You also want it right away, so if you don’t have time to go to the store before being in the sun, bring some along.
      • Waterproof bandaids. I brought them as a just in case, but we probably used at least one a day. Between having clumsy kids and the sharp coral, it was a must have.
      • A bag to tote beach stuff. I would probably bring three reusable grocery bags. You can use this to tote beach stuff, but you also have to use them at stores as most places don’t have plastic bags and if they do have paper bags or fabric ones, you have to pay extra for them.
    • Optional Extras
      • Water backpack. You don’t have to bring this, but it did come in handy!
      • Beach towels. You can buy them there, but they are around $15 for cheap quality towels. We brought cheap ones that we would’ve have mind leaving there if we had to.
      • Waterproof/ water resistant flashlight. These were a great addition for the tide pools at night. I had planned on spending one night on our own beach to show the kids how plankton was attracted to light, but they were always asleep by the time we got home.
      • Binoculars. This was fun to have. It helped see the sea life from a distance.
      • There are a lot of packing lists out there that will recommend things like floatable wrist bands that can attach to your phone. Max used it. It was soft and not irritating to the skin, but it was too bulky for my taste so Max was the only one who ended up using it. Instead, Andy and I used the waterproof cases you can throw over your neck. The only down side to that was I ended up with a funky tan line after the second day. One thing a travel blogger recommended was a beach blanket. This one worked great for us. The sand and water just rolled right off of it and it was easy to pack away.
      • Beach towels.
    • Very Optional extras
      • Bug spray. We didn’t bring this. Honestly the bugs weren’t that bad, but we’re from the south. The worst encounter we had with bugs was the ants and cockroaches in our cottage. But apparently in Hawaii these are unavoidable.
      • I’m on the fence for beach toys. We borrowed our nephew’s who lives there and they were fun to have, but you could probably by some for fairly cheap at Walmart when you get there and then donate them.
      • Snorkel gear. You CAN rent them. Not sure where, because we brought ours. Our kids didn’t like to use them, they just went with their goggles (losing a pair in the process). Andy and my snorkel set were 12 years old and had been stored in the attic so they did not keep their seal. They worked well enough to KIND of snorkel, but we had to come up for air and clear it out manually rather than blowing it out from our mouths. If you’re going with young kids, I’d probably just bring goggles. It’s hard to snorkel with kids anyway.
      • A GoPro. This is a BIG extra, BUT we captured our trip SO much better with it. We let the kids take charge of it at certain points and it was so fun to see the world through their eyes, and believe it our not, they got good pictures!
      • Backpack cooler. I almost brought ours, then decided against it to save on space, but it would’ve come in handy every day we were there for storing leftovers, waters, groceries, etc.

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