Traveling with an infant is an accomplishment. Even more so when the infant is three months old. Before Noel (rhymes with Joel!) joined us, we were big travelers. We first visited Maui together last year, and knew when we had a baby we would have to come back. Visiting Maui with a baby is the perfect first family vacation!
Last year some of our favorite Maui moments were The Road to Hana and staying in tentalows at Camp Olowalu.
We decided to return at the 3 month mark for a few reasons: the baby was just coming out of the newborn phase, it was a good time of year (end of Spring!) and my husband had some time away from work. Maui is the perfect island to visit with a baby- there are so many baby friendly activities! During our stay on the island we did short hikes, hung out on many beaches, and even fit a busy attraction in! Our time there was relaxing, but also a whole new type of vacation. Along the way we collected tips that are useful for any tropical adventure with a baby!
Sunsets are still sunsets no matter where you watch them!
The first time on an airplane with a baby is a scary adventure. Are there enough diapers? Will the baby cry? Will people around be nice, or will they be annoyed? What about take-off? Will the changing pressure hurt their ears? The list is endless. Luckily, our first experience on a plane with the baby was smooth sailing. We arrived on Maui after a relatively uneventful six and a half hour flight, ready to pick up our rental car and head over to our Airbnb.
The process took a lot longer than expected. The rental car companies have recently all moved into a central building, which required a walk in the hot sun (you can also take a tram, but navigating that with a stroller was not ideal!) The wait was long, and Noel was getting tired. We finally made it to our first accommodations: a condo located across from the beach. The plan was to set up and then watch the sunset on the beach. We never made it to the beach that evening.
After such a long day Noel had a complete meltdown. Babies his age nap every few hours, and he hadn’t napped since the plane. We were worried that he was overheating, due to the AC not circulating well in the condo. We were worried that he was not okay, and panicked at the thought of having to go to a hospital. Looking back he was just overwhelmed. I spent the next hour rocking him to calm him down, and held him for hours. I watched a beautiful sunset from a couch cushion with the AC blowing at my face. Not the ideal first sunset on Maui, as a family.
One of my favorite travel tips? Don’t plan anything for your first day! The first day is always hectic!!!
That evening I learned that a sunset is still a sunset, no matter where it is. Noel was okay, and that meant that everything else was okay. If you watch a sunset traveling down the highway as you rush to get the baby to bed or if you catch a glimpse of it through a curtain, it shouldn’t take away from the beauty. It’s a magical time of day no matter the location. We were rewarded the rest of the trip with amazing sunsets all over the island: Kapalua Beach, and Ho’okipa Beach were my favorites!
Pack more than you could possibly need- and check your bag twice!
When people travel to Maui they are most likely to stay in West Maui. It is home to fancy resorts, beautiful beaches and lots of shopping. We prefer low-key accommodations, so we usually stay quite far away. But the beaches really are amazing in that part of the island!
On our first trip there together we discovered Kapalua Beach. It was my favorite beach in the area, so we decided to return this time around. We packed the diaper bag and headed out on the hour long trip there. Once there we found the perfect spot in the shade. We set up our lawn chairs, and I headed out for a swim. I floated watching the picturesque scenery, and ignored the changing color of the clouds. As soon as I came back into shore, we set up the baby’s pop-up tent and started taking pictures. Then it started pouring.
With little cover around, we made a split second decision that I would run to the car with Noel. By the time we got back to the parking lot we were soaked. I dried him on a makeshift change table in the back seat. Then I went to get a change of clothes. There was a fleece sleeper and a pair of shorts, but no onesies in sight. We had used one from the bag earlier and forgot to repack one.
We changed him into just shorts and hoped he wouldn’t get cold. The sky cleared, but by then we were frazzled and ready to leave. We quickly stole a peek at the sunset and left. #Momguilt is real, and I felt terrible for the rest of the evening. Double, triple, quadruple check your bags if you’re going on an outing. And pack double the onesies, diapers and wipes that you think you’ll need, just in case. There’s nothing worse than forgetting a crucial item!
Beaches are best in the mornings!
Traveling with a baby all the way to Maui in a different time zone means early mornings. Our average morning on the island started around 5:30-6 AM. This meant early breakfast and getting to the beach before others. Mornings were my favorite part of the day: it was not yet hot and everything was quiet.
There were multiple occasions on which we had an entire beach to ourselves early in the morning. My favorite experience was at a not-so-secret secret place called Makena Cove, on the South side of the island. We got there so early that we beat the multiple weddings that joined us later in the morning. We got to watch crashing waves and have uninterrupted views, which also gave us great photo opportunities with the baby.
Spending time on the opposite North Shore of the island meant quiet, cool mornings as well. Two of our favorite beaches on the island are located here: Baldwin Beach and Paia Bay Beach. Both have large areas of shade, and since the North Shore is not so touristy there are way fewer people.
The sun is hot in Maui, and peak hours (11-4) can be brutal even in the shade. We spent most of that time back at our Airbnb, away from the crowds and the hot sun. Having already had our time to swim and enjoy the water we didn’t feel like we missed out at all!
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Added Bonus: On the North Shore, almost every morning you can find turtles beached in the sand. Just remember: keep your distance. Under law all turtles are protected, and the recommendation is to stay 6-10 feet away. While most everyone follows these rules on the island, there are always a few rule breakers.
Sun (and wind!) protection are key to a good time!
Although the beach is the main reason for a tropical vacation, traveling to Maui with a young baby means extra attention to protecting them from the elements. We learned quickly after Noel’s meltdown on the first day that we had to be careful with how much direct exposure he got.
Finding beaches with shade was key. Also important? Covering skin with SPF clothing. We thought ahead and bought Noel swim shorts and tops, and even a wide-brimmed hat. At the beginning of the trip we went out with him wearing just onesies and his hat, and then realized his legs were not covered. Putting on his shorts did the trick for the most part, except when in direct sunlight for prolonged periods. It was also useful to have a baby tent from our first Airbnb, which gave him a view, a chance to explore around the tent, and much-needed shade.
Want to know more about World Oceans Day? Check out my tips for practicing marine conservation!
One thing we did not prepare for was the wind. We discovered a new beach on our visit to Maui with a baby: the perfectly named Baby Beach. It is a lagoon inside an old reef break, and filled with families. The one problem? It was SO windy! Sand was flying everywhere, and although there was shade it was still uncomfortable for Noel. Bringing a blanket or a baby pop up tent can solve the issue. On an evening watching the sunset on a different beach, we brought a blanket to shield him and wrapped him up like a baby burrito.
Keeping away from the hot sun and blowing wind is so important when you have a little one. That also means planning ahead. We visited the Maui Ocean Center in the middle of the day, hoping to catch a break from the heat. We never thought to check if it was all indoors. Spoiler: most of it is outdoors. We only spent a short time there. Find ways to enjoy all that Maui has to offer, while keeping baby safe from the elements! Everyone will be happier in the end!
Quieter areas will be your favorite!
Maui is a busy island, but finding areas of quiet is possible. Babies nap frequently, and having places to go where we could put Noel in the carrier or on our laps to let him sleep was important. Whether a park, a hike, or a less visited beach, we had a few favorite spots.
Last year we discovered what a gem Twin Falls was. The first stop on the well-known Road To Hana, in the mornings all the people start their journey here. Go in the evening and you will find a much emptier area. We visited this year just before dinner time, and got to have a quiet, shaded walk through the trees to visit many different viewpoints of the falls. You can fit the walk to your ability: the whole thing is 2.5 kilometers but you can do very little and still see the falls.
Here is a look back at Twin Falls on our first trip to Maui together!
Another favorite was visiting ‘Iao Needle. Although when we got there the parking lot was almost completely full, the crowd was dispersed throughout the park. It was a cloudy day and we were up high in the mountains, so it was cooler. The walk to the famous viewpoint is only half a mile, with accessible walking trails. In an island dotted with busy beachfronts, getting up into the mountains can be refreshing.
You can find quieter areas all over the island. A baby who was already doing way more in a day than he was used to meant seeking out those spots as much as possible. Whether it was a small hidden patio to eat acai bowls on, a locals beach at sunset or a cafe before anyone else was awake, the quiet moments were some of my favorite.
Flying somewhere with a baby and everyone enjoying themselves is possible. There are just a few adjustments that need to be made. We were sad to leave Maui, and cannot wait to return with Noel next year (as a toddler… I have a whole new set of worries!)
Traveling with a baby is so rewarding. Although he will not remember it, we will always remember his first dip into the ocean, and the fact that it was in Maui we heard his first laugh and caught it on video. Visiting Maui with a baby was the most amazing first family vacation together, filled with mistakes, firsts, amazing moments, and only a few tears!!
Until next time,
A Truthful Traveler