I have to start off by first saying I am not a mother. Yet. But I am at the age where most of my friends, family members and coworkers are welcoming bundles of joy, so the baby thing has been on my mind lately, so to speak. What I’ve realized is that many new parents aren’t open to indulging in a Hawaii vacation when the bun comes out of the oven, but not because of finances of other variables. It’s because they don’t find Hawaii very baby-friendly.
But a tropical place like Hawaii allows for outdoor activity with the family and new stimulation for the baby. Hawaii is in fact extremely baby-friendly, especially when it comes to the beaches. One thing most parents want for their children is for them to grow up being comfortable in the ocean and comfortable in the outdoors. What better way to introduce baby to this life lesson than with the safety, comforts and outdoor beauty of Hawaii. Here are my top picks for baby beaches in the islands.
The Garden Isle of Kauai has fewer beach crowds than any other main island, which might appeal to new parents. You can enjoy seclusion and quiet during your beach day here, and depending on which side you’re vacationing on, I have two recommendations- one for the south side and one for the north. Literally referred to as Baby Beach (but otherwise known as Ho‘ona), this small slice of sand is located on Kauai’s south shore in Poipu.
There are never waves at Baby Beach because the sand is protected by reef and rock. A perfect lagoon has formed with water that is never deeper than 2-3 feet, even at its deepest. There are private natural cove areas that you can explore, perfect for creating a calm oasis for the family. And since the water is so shallow and protected here, the temperature is usually warmer than other parts of the south side.
The next baby beach recommendation is on Kauai’s north shore, and is known as Anini Beach. This is the longest and widest fringing reef in all of Hawaii, which means it too is also very protected from any swells or rough waves, and boasts miles of sand to enjoy.
Anini is perfect for a full day adventure because it offers the full range of beach amenities- ample shade, grassy areas, public restrooms, fresh showers, picnic tables, BBQ’s and plenty of parking. It’s a great beach for a family picnic, and your little one will surely be lulled to sleep by the gentle lap of the water on sand. Peaceful, quiet and comfortable, Anini is a great place to introduce the keiki (children) to the ocean.
On Oahu there are two places that stand out most to me as baby-friendly. The first is in Haleiwa, Oahu’s North Shore, and is known as Shark’s Cove. Okay, don’t be scared away by the name, I know it sounds intimidating. But Shark’s Cove is the more popular name for the area, which is frequented by snorkelers, swimmers and divers; however, adjacent to Shark’s Cove is another area some refer to as Pupukea Tidepools. This is the beach with large sandy areas, shaded palm tree nooks, green grass and shallow, clear pools that are perfect for baby.
Since this spot is marked by lots of large rocks, private alcoves are created and families can post up between the privacy of the rocky formations. If you stay near the waterline, you can usually find a great mini cove that offers some shade, some water and total privacy. The keiki can splash in the ocean while older family members can snorkel the shallows and spot variety of tropical fish. This is a versatile area that is ideal for babies and parents.
Next on Oahu is Lanikai, the white-sand-turquoise-water-island-backdrop-in-your-dreams kind of place. It literally looks like a postcard on most days, and is perfect for babies because of the temperate waters and long stretch of sand. While it can fill up with many other beachgoers, you can always find a piece of paradise for just you and the family. This beach has width to it too, which means you can keep baby far away from the water on a blanket, or right up close to the water’s edge in your arms. Parents enjoy playing with kids and floatie toys here, because the water is so gorgeous and the sand gently slopes down, keeping the immediate swimming areas shallow year round.
On Maui, there are two places I have in mind and both are on the sunny western side. The first is called Baby Beach (popular name I know), which is known for its tranquil waters and soft sand. This beach stretches from the Mala Wharf to Lahaina and has shallow swimming waters year round. Perfect for lounging and playing, Baby Beach’s calm ocean is bordered by palm trees that also give off ample shade.
Wave-free, you can introduce baby to the warm Pacific Ocean here and then enjoy a stroll through Lahaina if time (and energy) permits. Aptly named, Baby Beach is the perfect place for little ones during your vacation to Maui.
The next Maui babe beach I recommend is Kapalua, which is along the northwest shore and less than ten miles from Lahaina. Sheltered by reef and rock, this beach remains calm and gorgeous year round, as the water is clear and the sand is soft and white. It is great for baby because of the gentle slope of sand in shallow waters, and also because there are reefy coves to discover and soak in on either end of the beach.
Crescent-shaped, Kapalua is notorious for snorkeling, but is also great for good old fashioned lounging, especially since there is plenty shade. The naturally formed lava rock pool is great for older children, and the small keiki will enjoy the warm waters and sand.
On the Big Island, in Kailua-Kona there is a small sheltered cove called Kahalu‘u Beach. Almost completely surrounded by partially submerged rock, this keeps big waves out yet allows gentle currents to flow in, making it ideal for parents swimming and playing in the waters with babies.
Covered in darker sand that is iconic to the Big Island, the grains are a mixture of black lava and white coral. Kahalu‘u also boasts a large banyan tree that many older kids love to climb and this beach is also in a convenient location with public facilities. Fresh showers, restrooms, picnic tables and grills make your beach day here more comfortable, and a lifeguard is on duty during the day to keep a careful watch over the keiki.
My last mention is Onekahakaha Beach Park, which is a small, shallow, sandy bottom ocean pool in Hilo on the Big Island. As one of the safest swimming beaches on the Big Island, this spot is great for baby and will give you peace of mind. Plus its perfect for the older kids to swim around and explore, as it is always very calm and safe.
There are also plenty of shallow tide pools to play in and an adjacent grassy picnic area, great for laying blankets out for the family. With all the normal beach amenities including a lifeguard on the weekend, Onekahakaha is a great place to let your little one experience Hawaii’s bountiful outdoors and become familiar with the beautiful Pacific Ocean.