As noted in my review of our hotel, we spent most of our trip in Hawaii at the pool. I, for one, read three books during the trip (The Hunger Games trilogy) thanks in part to all the time spent poolside. Although Aiden was at first a little unsure about the water, particularly the ocean, it took mere minutes for him to warm up to the idea.
Our first day, he went down the toddler waterside a dozen times or more at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Other days he practiced jumping into the water, each day jumping with much less hesitation. He loved wearing his water wings and after a few days was floating on his own and letting his legs float back. He was even able to make some forward momentum with his kicks – the start of swimming!
It was pretty exciting to watch Aiden learn so many new things in the water. He spent most of his time swimming with Oma (“Oma turn, Oma turn”), but we all had a chance to see him in action. Here are a few of the videos we took:
All that time spent swimming in Hawaii was a great way to get Aiden warmed up for swimming lessons, which he resumed the week after we returned. He still doesn’t love getting his head wet or floating on his back, but he enjoys his class.
We recently took our first family vacation to Oahu, staying at the beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The hotel was an easy 15 minute walk from the main shopping strip in Waikiki, which offers many other dining options and activities. There are many options for public transit (trolleys, buses, taxis) and many of the main tours on the island have a stop at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. As you’ll see from the review, I don’t think we could have picked a better resort – it had everything we need, was centrally located, and was great with Aiden.
The property boasts over 3,000 guest rooms in 7 towers. We stayed in the Tapa Tower with fantastic views from our rooms. Although we had a bit of a hiccup at check-in getting the right rooms for us both, all of that was sorted out in a couple of days. Aiden, Ianiv and I stayed in one of the suites, which was great with Aiden since we could put him in the crib (hotel provided) and close the door, giving us some personal time in the evening. The room boasted views in two directions off of two decks, a dining area, a kitchen area (coffee, sink, fridge) and a nice living room with a pull-out couch (great for tv watching!).
The beds were very comfortable and Ianiv had no complaint about the pillows (I travel with my own). The bathroom was spacious and the hotel-provided shampoos were to die for. My hair was so soft! Usually I travel with my own, since often they are not great at hotels, but I was glad I forgot in this case. We were very pleased with our hotel room experience. The only downside to our stay was the inconsistency (upgrades were in progress) and high cost of Internet access.
Beaches & Pools
I spent countless hours researching hotels in Oahu, trying to find a hotel that had a pool for kids (most hotels only have one pool and adults often complain of kids in reviews). I know it sounds silly, going to the beach and looking for a pool, but this falls under the know your child scenario, and my child dislikes waves and sand, in general. I am glad I was so specific in my search. The Hilton Hawaiian Village had one of the best properties in terms of family activities. Aside from Camp Penguin for older kids, the hotel boasted 5 pools, 2 of which catered to kids. The Paradise Pool, in particular, included water slides (even one for toddlers!) and lots of stairs for easy access in and out for little legs. The Super Pool is the largest pool in Oahu and was Aiden’s favourite for swimming, perhaps because it was not as busy.
We spent 9 days in Hawaii and stayed on property for most of that time. Our goal in this vacation was to relax, and relax we did! We spent a little time on the beach, which is voted as one of the nicest in America for 2011, and at the lagoon. The salt-water lagoon is open to the public, being rejuvenated in 2007 by Hilton to have a water circulation system. It’s a great calm area for the family to play. Though you need to pay to rent chairs or umbrellas at the beach, it’s easy enough to park yourself at the pool for the day, where chairs are easy to come by and free, and walk between both pool and beach.
On Property Activities
The resort is situated on 22 acres of Waikiki beach, so you can imagine there is plenty to do! There are 15 places to eat across the property, from more formal dining to 2 Starbucks locations. There are several bars and 90 boutiques and shopping carts available all within the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We were frequent shoppers at the on-property ABC Store, a great place to pick up breakfast foods, alcohol and snacks.
On every Friday night, people come from all around the island to witness the Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Review and Fireworks, which is put on near the Super Pool. The free show includes Polynesian music and dancing and even fire dancers – we were up in our room and, though we couldn’t see the show, were able to enjoy the music. Our room had a great view for the fireworks though! Aiden was petrified of them, but I got to see about half the show before I had to return to my Mom duties.
The Village features a Luau and Spa, Hawaiian activities, and many desks to help you plan Island adventures. On site of the hotel, there’s a lot to see aside from the pools and shops. The grounds feature plants indigenous to Hawaii as well as other exotic flora as well as an impressive assortment of wildlife. There are extensive numbers of koi as well as 70 birds of all kinds – Aiden was especially fond of the flamingos.
There is a penguin habitat on property where penguins from South Africa live alongside a number of turtles. The warm-water penguins live an average of 25-30 years and can be seen throughout the day basking in the sun or swimming in their pool. The best time of day to see them is during their morning feeding time. The youngest penguin on the colony, Mana, was actually hatched at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is pretty neat.
Stay tuned for reviews of specific restaurants on property!
Disclosure: The Hilton Hawaiian Village offered us a discounted media rate for our rooms during our stay. You can follow along with my posts on Hawaii here.
Aiden is now 2 years old and I can hardly believe it! The last month went too quickly, particularly with our trip to Hawaii. And my subsequent need for recovery – still in progress! I have dozens of posts that need to be written, and hopefully soon will get to them. I’ve recently caved and put my computer back downstairs, hoping it will give me more opportunities to write here and there.
Barely a day goes by when I don’t marvel at something cute that Aiden does. Like the little half shoulder shrug he does when he wants to be cute or how he has learned to pose for pictures and smile nicely.
Weighs 28.5lbs (50th percentile) fully clothed
Is 33″ or roughly 84cm in height (25th percentile)
Favourite foods include french fries, broccoli, pizza, hot dogs, granola bars, apples, and chicken
Loves to say what he’s drawing, though he has little patience for the act. Likes to play with stickers or glitter glue instead.
Is obsessed with modes of transportation – taxi cab cars, vans, buses, trolleys, airplanes and all variants of machines. Loves to talk about them and read about them, though oddly not play with them (Thomas trains excepted)
Loves to read Curious George and also enjoyed watching the movie several times throughout our stay in Hawaii
Loves to play with his ‘cooking’ toys, though his favourite activity is to cook his 3 wooden eggs
Has begun sleeping in (thanks Autumn!), and still solidly takes his nap after just 3 hours of being awake.
Thanks to Hawaii, learned to jump into the water and float unassisted – with water wings – and even kick forward a bit. Swimming!
Will go through stages of saying gibberish, as if he’s practicing saying longer sentences
Can take off his jacket and put on his Crocs or rain boots unassisted
Loves to find things that match
Aiden loves to say: night time, Mommy pick up, double bus, little one, quickly, faster, cooking, sunny, tow truck, fire engine, Oma’s office, spider
I love it when Aiden says: Mommy cuddles, water wings, punkin (pumpkin), iraffe (giraffe), Aiden tired, oh sorry, oh-pee-see for Oopsie, found it
Two short years ago, you came into our lives. It seems like the past year has just flown by. Though the days may seem long, time is definitely moving too fast. I remember your dragon cake coming out like it was yesterday, and now we’ve just passed another birthday!
This year, you’ve gone from being a baby to being a little person, so much more independent and with such a lust for life. Now that you can talk, you can show us the world as you see it, and it has made us appreciate all the little things around us. I hope you always retain that curiosity, whether it be the falling rain, the moon or the sirens of a fire truck.
I am lucky to spend my days with you, even if I do sometimes get overwhelmed or tired. There’s nothing better than to have you walk over to me asking for “Mommy cuddles”, or to simply watch you play with your trains or your cooking toys. You find new ways to explore your imagination every day.
You are a wonderful and caring little person. You are gentle and loving and eager to play with your friends. I can’t believe how much you have changed this past year, but I know that you are growing into a wonderful little person and I am so proud of you.
I know there won’t be many years left when I can walk through life holding your little hand, but I will always be at your side to help and support you. I love you beyond measure.
We arrived back from Hawaii on Sunday morning and are still getting our bearings. The trip was amazing and I have many many posts to share of our wonderful adventures. The only mar on the vacation was the airplane, and only because it involved sleep.
THE GOOD MOMENTS…
THE BAD MOMENTS… Visualize me, tears streaming down my face from incredible pain, putting up with a child squirming and whining every 2 minutes. For 4 hours.
The only direct flights available to us were at night. On the way there, it was earlier in the night and Aiden was able to play, be with other people, and sit in his car seat. It then took more than an hour of struggle, but he slept. Some in his car seat, more in my arms. But it wasn’t the whole trip, thankfully. On the return, not so much. Flying red eye, he fell asleep at the airport (go me!) and slept in my arms until I tried to buckle him in to his car seat. He slept about 30 minutes in his car seat, total, the rest of it wriggling to get comfortable in my arms. He was very unhappy.
Here is what I’ve learned from this whole experience…
Never ever fly Red-eye with a child. NEVER do it. If your child can sleep anywhere, no matter the position, you’re lucky. Mine is fussy about lying a particular way and that’s without the disruption of lights, announcements, other kids…
They cluster families together, probably to keep them contained from other passengers. Result – the kids keep each other up. If it’s a daytime flight, they play and that’s fine.
Naps are easier to miss in the long run than night sleep. That takes days to catch up on.
Even if you have 3 other adults to help, your child will only want Mommy when it’s time to sleep. So much for help!
Toddlers are actually pretty easy to amuse when awake. Don’t stress over that. There are beverages, snacks, tv’s, iPhones, books and other people to smile at.
The safest place for a child on an airplane is a car seat… but, does your child actually like the car seat? If the answer is no, don’t take it.
If safety is still a concern for your family, there is the CARES system. We should have done this instead.
An extra seat is still a good option, even for those under 2. Most don’t do it, but I think if our car seat hadn’t been in the seat, Aiden would have had a more comfortable place to sleep, draped across my lap and on the seat.
I don’t do well on airplanes with all my injuries to begin with, but having to hold Aiden made my pain so much worse. I could barely lift my arm for 24 hours after the return flight and am still very high on my pain threshold after the chiropractor and a massage. UGH