Seeking Baby Friendly (Beach) Travel Destination

Updated on June 22, 2009
T.W. asks from Camas, WA
8 answers

We have a 9 month old and are in the thinking stages of planning a trip when she is around 16 months or so (maybe around January but are open minded). We would like to go to a beach location, Hawaii?, Mexico?, etc. We would like to travel when it is NOT the peak of tourist or heat season at the destination but we will be comfortable in shorts. Money is not unlimited so we can't go anywhere too pricey. But our main concern is our daughter. We would want a place that is family oriented, where I don't have to worry about her eating the food. Where we could play together in a playground (safe for little ones not older children). Where we could play in a shallow pool etc. I am not looking for a kids club because I have no intention of leaving her with strangers. I want a place where we can all play together. As well as somewhere that offers a pack-n-play/crib, high chair etc. Are we crazy for thinking of a trip when she is 16 months, should we wait? Does anyone have any location/ hotel suggestions? All input welcome, thanks so much!

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answers from Seattle on

We recently took our 23 month old to Hawaii. We were really excited to share that experience with her and have been to Hawaii 2 times before she was born. With that in mind, as pretty as it was, if we had to do it again, i don't know if we would go. When you go to a beautiful destination you want to relax, sit on the beach, have some nice dinners out (not expensive but just outside of the house) etc... Because we live in Wa. state the time difference is 3 hours. She was up every day at 4:30 and after 5 days, it was closer to 5:00am. She was EXHAUSTED by 6:00pm so we only went to dinner once. We had to hang out in the condo for a couple hours while she napped (not such a big deal but just plan for it in your day) Actually your daughter may be still going on 2 naps a day at 16 months which is more inside time. My daughter went to 1 nap a day around 18 months. Whenever you go anywhere your child is your main focus. I found it hard to just relax because I wanted to make sure she was playing, having fun with the sand, and safe. My husband was there too but we just didnt' get much down time on the beach. The weather was also not the greatest. Maybe my expectations were too high since we had been there before she was born. I would highly suggest you do a "trial" trip somewhere. We took our daughter to Cannon Beach when she was 16 month and we quickly realized we weren't on a vacation but a trip. We couldn't do much with her 2 naps a day and had to watch her in the sand so we didn't get much down time together (we should have brought someone but we wanted a family trip, it was our 1st family trip).

I don't mean to boohoo your idea, but it is a lot of work to get ready for a trip and money and when you are there, wherever you go, you might find it hard to relax because you are constantly thinking of her needs. So when you come back, you might not feel refreshed and think "wow, what a great time." It might be "wow, that was a lot of work."

If you do go here are some tips:
--get a condo. It was great to be able to make bfast and lunch there. We did take out for dinner most of the time.
--Find a place that you can rent baby gear from and have it delivered to your rental.
--If you can BUY her a seat! I know you want to save money, but if you go to Hawaii, for example, flying from the Northwest it is easy a 5 hour flight. (We actually didn't buy our daughter a seat but Hawaiian Airlines was WONDERFUL and gave us the extra seat they had that day. (We asked as soon as we got there for an extra seat if one was available). They also had us really close to the front. They were able to do the same thing on the way home! We love Hawaiian airlines! Oh and there are more open seats and it is cheaper to fly during the week. We left on a Tues and came home on a Wed). If she didn't have a seat, we would have gone bonkers! Oh and bring the car seat ON THE PLANE.
-- TAKE SOMEONE with you. A friend, grandma, aunt or uncle. You can really have a little bit of fun as a couple on this beautiful, expensive trip and probably relax a lot more. While your daughter is taking her 2 naps and grandma is there, you two can take a walk, get a drink, lay around the pool/beach for an hour or two.
--I bought an IPOD touch and downloaded her favorite music and movies for the plane, airport and car. I don't use it unless we are traveling so it doesn't lose it's appeal. I know your child is 16 mo. but it might not hurt. If she doesn't sleep for the flight, you will both be going a little batty!
--Bring a new toy or something new for her for the plane and lots of snacks. I brought some crayons and a little coloring book that worked. I also bought some new paperback Elmo books (she loves Elmo) that we looked at. We also did stickers and the Color Wonder markers might be a good idea for the plane, airport or hotel/condo. Bring bubbles too. Those were easy to pack and great to have at the Condo.
good luck!



answers from Medford on

Try Anini beach in Kauai, if I remember correctly this one had a huge shallow beach

This beach is one of the safest and most protected along the North Shore of the island. A fringed reef runs the entire length of beach and is Hawaii's longest reef. Expensive homes of the "rich and famous" are located on the bluff above and front this scenic area. Honeymoon in Vegas was filmed at one of these homes. The water on one side of the beach is only four feet deep and slowly cascades to over a 100-foot depth on the other side. This beach is also well known for windsurfing and lessons and rentals are available from 'Anini Beach Windsurfing at ###-###-####.
Services and Amenities
Great swimming, snorkeling , scuba diving and windsurfing during the summer months
Longest reef in Hawaii offshore
Sand and shady Kamani Trees
No lifeguard



answers from Portland on

Hey T.,

You are far from crazy for planning a trip like this, we did a lot of traveling with our daughter when she was little. The main thing will be finding a destination that fits your comfort level.

We are big fans of Hawaii and of Kauai in particular. The island is small, very laid back and there are some very family friendly beaches there - especially Lydgate Park and Poipu Beach. We were most recently there in April with our kids - 7 and 2 - but our first trip there with kids was when Mila was 7 months old.

Lots of good food options as well as many easy excursions away from the beach - waterfalls, hiking trails, etc.

One thing you may want to consider is a condo rental. There are some attached to hotels if you want to also have access to hotel amenities. Beyond privacy and more room for the family, a condo rental will also give you the option of using the kitchen if you wanted.

Happy to provide some more specific ideas on Kauai in general, you can email us directly from the contact page on our store website:

Tony and J.
Milagros Boutique



answers from Portland on

I don't know the temperment or personality of your little girl so this is only our experience. My daughter is prety laid back when it comes to change, so a vacation at 15m would not have been a problem in that respect (sleeping, traveling, new places/people, etc.) BUT at 15m she was just really getting mobile (first walked at 12m) and learning to climb, run, etc. and taking her on a vacation like you are talking about would have been a constant stress for us. I would have been on edge all.the.time about her running off, trying to climb things, around the water, you name it. She wasn't able to listen and obey me at all then and I would not have been able to relax at all.

So, fast forward to now at 22m old and it is very different. She is much better at listening/obeying and communicating her needs, she has mellowed out a lot and is not climbing or running off like she used to (still some, but not nearly like before). She is also MUCH more aware of her surroundings and would enjoy a vacation, the beach, playing in the sand, new places, etc. whereas at 15/16m it would have all been a blur to her and she wouldn't have understood it. So, my opinion is that if you have one shot at a really good beach vacation while she is a toddler, I would wait until she is closer to 2yrs old and can enjoy it and so YOU can enjoy it (and seeing her experience it) more. Of course like I said, your daughters own personality might play into it at that just don't really know.

We are planning a trip to Hawaii next year when our daughter is 2.5yrs and she is going to stay with Grandma while we go. We will take her on a 3 day trip to the local Oregon beach and she will enjoy it just as much as she would Hawaii...but WE will enjoy Hawaii a lot more if we can really go explore in a way we can't with a toddler in tow. She LOVES staying with Grandma so it will be a fun time for all.



answers from Seattle on

Hawaii! Although January is during peak season so is more expensive. We love Napili Beach on Maui, low key, relaxed and great for kids. We've stayed at the Mauian and Napili Surf Beach resort (the latter has a pool) and loved both. Arrange with the Baby's Away Maui office to have your high chair, crib, bedding toys, beach toys, etc. delivered to your condo before you arrive. Or some of the resorts have cribs too, be sure to ask. We went when our daughter was 9 months and it was so fun. We can't wait to go next year when our daughters are almost three and one. Have fun!



answers from Seattle on

We took our daughter to Hawaii when she was 6 months and my neice was 10 months. They both had fun and it was relatively easy for us. We went to Oahu and since there is a lot to do on the island, it was fun, but still relaxing. We rented a house (it was a large group of us) and that made it easy because we knew what we were eating, the beach was a short walk away, and there was a pool in the backyard. No matter where you go, plan ahead a little to accommodate for naps especially if there is a time change. If you know you want to do any sort of touristy activities, make a plan for what day and when you think you'd like to go, but there's also usually tons of great info when you get where you're going. We've had a number of friends go on cruises with young toddlers and have all said it was great! I think the freestyle on Norwegian? is the favorite since they're very kid accommodating.



answers from Seattle on

We LOVE the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The ocean water is warm, there is NO spring break party atmosphere, just a beautiful, warm, natural setting full of families enjoying the beach. We have a family reuinion there every year and I can't recommend it enough. We usually rent a beach house, but you could also stay at one of the nice hotels that have family swimming pools and are just a walk to the beach. We swear that this is a truly "hidden vacation gem" in the US! Here's their vacation/tourism website: It's hot in the summer months, but you spend your time under a nice beach umbrella in your swimsuit, so it's quite nice. :) Think sand castles, lazy days in the sun, babies napping under beach umbrellas... (OOPS! Just saw that you're looking for a trip in January. It's cold there in January, but lovely in the late spring like May-June if you're willing to wait until then)



answers from Seattle on

Yay! I'm a beach bum at heart, so I feel you :) And sooooo NOT CRAZY.

You know...the first place that came to mind was "Beaches, All Inclusive Family Resorts"...the family version of Sandals, both in the Caribbean on various different islands. For a week in January for 3 people, they run about 3k (sorry, had to go look it up and drool, we can't afford that right now...even with included airfare). They're "easy" because they're child focused and because these resorts could be on Mars in their own little bubble, if you're not the culturally adventurous type.

For the more culturally adventurous:

The next thing that came to mind, is that my mum started traveling with me (and our Irish Setter), all over south east asia (japan, singapore, hong kong, south korea, philippines, thailand, etc.) when I was four months old. My dad was out to sea, and the dollar was strong, so she figured she'd see that corner of the world while she could. She got the above-the-shoulder hard framed baby backpack carrier and took off. She says she thinks I was potty trained nearly 2 years before my brother and sister because we spent those years traveling & she had to change my diaper in so many public restrooms on trains, planes, restaurants, etc. that I just "got" that that was what bathrooms were for. Who know? Maybe.

Those countries are collectivist cultures (as opposed to individualistic, like ours), so she found she had a much easier time traveling in Asia with small children then she did traveling in the US. <grinning> Also that we opened a lot of "doors" for her...because in child centered countries, who can resist a young mom and her babies who's just THRILLED to be in their country? And was feeding her children local food (aka "proper" food. Everyone thinks their own food is "proper food";) She has no talent for languages, my mum, but she's GREAT at charades and loves learning and exploring.

Which brought me to thought 3: Child friendly countries. (Ours, isn't, btw). Some that I can vouch for are: Bali, Italy, Spain, (actually most of Western Europe more along the Med and up in Scandinavia, can't speak for the east...I haven't been there yet :), & most of south east Asia. Traveling myself with a young one, and talking with others who travel a lot, it's an absolute joy to travel with children in these countries. Actually, it gets kind of hard to come home, when you know that all of a sudden taking your child anywhere aside from a park and you're viewed as an annoyance, liability, or distraction. Humbug. Give me Rome where children are running around the fountains at 10pm right after dinner and cafe owners are bringing out drinks to them, while the parents are all chatting drinking espresso, and the passersby smile and wave. (Children are EXPECTED to come out to dinner with their parents in Italy, you see, not kept at home with a pizza and babysitter). I've know Egypt USED to be very child centric, but I don't know if that's still the case, & it'll probably be a few years before I can go find out!

Oops...slightly off topic.

Staying in the US of course, you've got San Diego, Hawaii, the Carolinas, Florida for sunny weather and beaches.

Baja & parts of Mexico are nice, as well...just make sure to check ahead of time about swimming in the ocean. Mexico pumps their sewage into the ocean in several areas...and boy oh boy...soooooo gross. When the currents shift, it'll bring the brown swell into Souther California. Ugh.

I've left south america and australia off the list...purely because jumpng the equator tends to get pricey & because the flights start getting reeeeeally long. Both have amazing destinations if you can find a deal on air fare.

Sorry...this probably doesn't help you narrow things down much, does it? (a local agency) has a fantastic website that you can poke around all over the globe and look at hotels, weather, etc.

Good Luck, & have a great time!!!
Have fun!!!

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