Hawaii is counted as state #24 for Carson, and we loved it. The people, the weather, the water, the adventure and more.
How we got to Honolulu with kids:
The end of December 2020 I was notified of a $200 Round Trip flight deal on Secret Flying from DFW with a quick layover in Los Angeles on American Airlines.
COVID Protocols for Entry into Honolulu with Kids:
Our trip to Hawaii was the end of March to the beginning of April 2020, so we were there during the pandemic. There are several steps that must be accomplished before you are able to enter Hawaii.
Here are the steps that we took to enter Honolulu with Kids:
1.After booking your flight, you must register for the Hawaii Safe travels Program. The website will require your flight reservation as well as lodging information to be uploaded. Each adult MUST have their own Safe Travels account, minors can be added on the adults account.
2. A NEGATIVE Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) is required for ages 5 and up to enter Hawaii. You must take a test from one of Hawaii's Trusted Travel Partners. Partners include places like CVS, Walgreens, COSTCO, some airlines and airports can administer the test for you etc. A list of places can be found by clicking here. Your test must be administered 72 hours before the FINAL LEG of your departure, so make sure you check the time difference if you have a layover.
I personally went to Walgreens and took the RAPID ID NOW Test (which is a type of NAAT) and received my results 3 hours later. Testing at Walgreens and CVS is FREE.
3. 24 hours before you depart, you must fill out a Health Questionnaire on the Safe Travels website and upload your negative COVID Results.
4. Once you complete these steps, you will receive a QR code that is required to board the plane and enter Hawaii. You can either print this code, or make sure you have access to it on your mobile device when you are checking in. You will be asked to show this code several more times once arriving at the Honolulu airport.
Other things to note:
*I would also have a printed version of your COVID results just in case.
*Make sure you know your Safe Travels Login, you will have to enter it on a tablet in Hawaii so that they can convert your QR code saying that you passed all the steps and you don't need to Quarantine.
*Mask are required in Hawaii
If you miss a step or take the wrong COVID test, you will be REQUIRED to Quarantine in Hawaii for 10 days!
Where we stayed in Honolulu with Kids
One of my aunt works for Marriott and we are listed on her Family Discount so we decided to stay at the Sheraton Waikiki. The hotel partners with Fly Shuttle Tours so we paid $25 per a person Round Trip for airport pickup and drop off. (Carson was Free)
COVID Protocols at the Sheraton Waikiki:
The hotel is taking the COVID protocols very seriously. They have staff placed throughout the hotel lobby to remind people to wear their mask correctly. There are sanitizing stations at every entry as well as throughout the lobby. During check in, there is a clear screen to separate you from the staff and they clean the screen and booth after each person. You are required to show your QR code to check into the hotel as well. The elevators are labeled to remind you to social distance and they have a 4 person maximum.
Our room at the Sheraton included 2 beds, a lounge chair, coffee maker, fridge, dresser, closet etc. Each room has a balcony with a lounger, a chair and small table. The view of sun setting over the ocean, was absolutely to die for. The bathroom had a shower/tub combo and the toilet was a bidet with a dryer. This was my first bidet experience, and let me tell you, I miss it it because, I feel like a whole new woman after using a bidet everyday. The hotel also had a microwave on certain floors which was awesome so that we could enjoy our left overs.
Sheraton Waikiki Amenities:
There are several activities for your family to enjoy while at the Sheraton Waikiki.
The Sheraton Waikiki is located right on Waikiki Beach with amazing views of Diamond Head. There is a pathway that takes you right to the soft sand and clear blue water for your family to have a beach day. If you forgot sunscreen, beach toys, floaties etc, no worries the hotel has a store right in the lobby with everything that you may need.
The hotel has 2 pools. One of the pools is for the family, it has water slides for the kids, a kiddie area that's more shallow. The other pool is ADULTS ONLY!!! The pool is an Infiniti pool and the views are breathtaking. Relax in a Cabana while you enjoy sometime away from the kids.
The hotel has several restaurants on the property. They were a little pricey, but when you need a quick eat, they come in handy. There is even a Baskin Robbins right before you enter the pool area. You ABSOLUTELY have to try the Acai Bowl from the Honolulu Coffee shop down in the lobby, you won't be disappointed.
The Sheraton has several activities that you can participate in on the property. Hula Lessons, Aqua Aerobics, Lei Making, Feed the Ducks and Koi fish, Ukulele Lessons and more which are included in your stay. You must make reservations in advance.
The gym at the Sheraton Waikiki are open but you must reserve in advance because they only allow a few people in at a time and they are on a maximum of 1.5 hours each in the gym.
There is a kids club on the 4th floor, but it was closed.
We were in Hawaii during Easter, so the hotel had a Easter egg hunt for the kids to participate in.
The Sheraton Waikiki is also located right on the main strip in Hawaii. There are several malls, restaurants and stores a short walk away.
What we did in Honolulu with Kids
1. Germaines Luau: You can't come to Hawaii and not do a Luau at least once. Germaines Luau is located about 45-1 hour away from Waikiki. They have a shuttle bus for $25 round trip that picked us up a few blocks away from our resort.
They cost varies depending on what package you decide to book.
We did the Original Luau package which includes the following:
All you can eat Hawaiian buffet dinner
Unlimited Soft drinks and coffee
Adults get one alcoholic drink
A family picture with some of the performers
and the Polynesian show
Kids (ages 13-20): $97
Kids (4-12): $80
If you book 10 days in advance they have a 10-15% discount code per a ticket.
The show takes you on a magical journey through all the different Polynesian islands. From Tahiti, to New Zealand, to Fiji. There is a combination of dancing, signing, and crowd participation.
The food was okay. You get some fish, pig, chicken, rice, macaroni salad (which was pretty good), roll, dessert, and salad. I bought some food for Carson just in case. For the adults, you can choose between 3 different alcoholic drinks with your drink coupon. The options were beer, Mai Tai, and I forgot the other one.
Mask are required on the bus to the Luau and while entering.
Your mask can be removed for your picture with the performers and while eating/ during the show (the show is outdoors on the beach).
I give this experience a 8/10. The food was just okay to me and although I know you should do a luau when you come to Hawaii, I will probably opt out the next time I visit. It just wasn't my cup of tea.
2. Swim with WILD dolphins in the ocean: I found this tour through the tour company And You Creations and it was THE HIGHLIGHT of our trip. I have always wanted to swim with dolphins and what better way to do it then in the ocean.
Kids (ages 2-11): $124
(If you book 30 days in advance, they have a 20% off coupon)
Hotel Pickup & Drop Off
Snacks and drinks on the boat
A Water Slide
A hula performance
And swimming with the dolphins, turtles and fish!!!!
For an additional cost, you can also rent a wet suit for $10 as well as book a underwater photo package which is $79 for the entire family. (I recommend doing both)
We booked the 11 am tour. We were picked up at 9am a few steps away from our hotel. The ride to the pier was about 45 minutes.
Once arriving to the pier, we were checked in and allowed a bathroom break before boarding the boat.
Once on the boat, you are greeted by an amazing staff and allowed to sit and get ready for the adventure. Each person is given their disinfected snorkel, fins, a life jacket (required for everyone) as well as wet suit of you rented one.
The tour starts out with "E'Ho Mai" which is a Hawaiian prayer to the Gods of the sea and for plentiful dolphins.
The first stop to get off the boat is to swim with the dolphins.
Things to Note:
You have to be a pretty good swimmer, as well as quick on your toes for this part of the tour because it goes very fast because dolphins are always on the move. It was definitely a workout but Carson and I loved it. The dolphins didn't really come up to us, but you are able to see them in their normal habitat which is amazing.
The second stop of the tour is to snorkel, paddle board, kayak, and slide.
You can see fish, turtles, manta rays, etc. If you booked a photographer, they will be here to take pictures of you in the water as well.
The boat had refreshments such as water, juice, muffins, and chips to coat your stomach during the ride.
On the way back to the pier, we enjoyed a hula performance by the staff which was amazing to watch. You have time to use the bathroom, or change out of your wet clothes before boarding the bus back home.
I give this tour a 10/10. The staff was so attentive, friendly, and loved Carson! This tour was also super special because my cousin got engaged during the boat ride!
3. Beauty and the Feast Circle Island Tour:
This tour was booked using Fly Shuttle Tours This was the same company that picked us up from the airport. We really wanted to see more of the island as well as taste some traditional food, so this was perfect.
The Beauty and the Feast tour takes you on a foodie journey through the island as well as stopping at some popular tourist attractions.
Kids (4-12): $84
1. Your first stop is to grab some Malasadas from Leonards. Malasadas are pretty much yeast based fried dough balls coated with sugar. they are so soft and fluffy. Carson ate two of them. (Breakfast is included in your tour price)
2.Our next stop was at Halona Blowhole Lookout. This place is one of Oahu's Natural Wonders. The view is so beautiful and if you get lucky like we did, you may see some whales.
3. Our third stop was at Nu'uanu lookout. It started raining at this stop and was very windy, so we didn't get out here.
4. Our next stop was at The Tropical Macadamia Nut Farm . We were able to sample different flavors of Macadamia nut, (My favorite was the Cinnamon Sugar) as well as some Macadamia nut coffee. (Tasting is included in your tour) We also did some souvenir shopping while here.
5. We then made a stop to enjoy some lunch. The tour took us to Funmi which is seafood restaurant/food truck. You able to choose between different flavors of shrimp, fish, or chicken. You also get rice, fresh pineapple, and your choice of drink. (Lunch is included in your tour) I'm not a big seafood fan, so I chose chicken and Carson and I didn't like it, but my family members who ordered shrimp, loved theirs.
6. Immediately following lunch, we made a stop at Kahuku Fruit Stand. I bought Carson some fresh strawberries, had a fresh coconut drink and I tried sugar cane for the very first time.
7. Historic Haleiwa Town: We were planning on stopping here for some Hawaiian shaved ice, but the line was entirely too long, so we opted to skip this part.
8. The final stop was at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Here we were able to shop, learn about pineapples, try some dole whip (it was so yummy) and more.
The Dole Pineapple Plantation also has a train, maze, and tour for an additional price.
Once boarding the bus, we headed back to the hotel.
I give this tour a 8/10. I deducted 2 points because lunch to me wasn't that good, and we didn't get to stop to get shaved ice.
4. Kualoa Ranch:
Those of you who know Carson, know that this little boy is addicted to Dinosaurs. So when I seen we would be the same area that Jurrasic Park, Jurassic World, and more was filmed, I had to take him.
Kualoa Ranch is 45 minutes away from Waikiki. They do have a shuttle, but due to covid, services were cancelled. I booked an uber to the ranch. The first thing that catches your eye when pulling up is the beautiful huge green mountains.
You can explore the ranch utilizing several different tour options.
We decided to book the 1 hour ATV Raptor Tour.
For both Carson and myself, I paid $140.
The tour requires kids to be ages 5 and up to participate, so Carson was 5 for this tour lol.
Once arriving at the ranch, you are required to show your QR code from your Hawaii Safe Travels Account for entry. Then each person will receive a helmet and goggles if they choose for the UTV Ride.
After the safety demonstration, you are directed to your vehicle to get ready for the tour. The ride provides you with some of the most beautiful views of the island. You are able to drive past areas where movies such as Jumanji, Jurassic Park, Kong, Mighty Joe Young and more were filmed. The 1 hour tour normally only makes 1 stop, but because everyone arrived on time, and because Carson loves dinosaurs, the guide made an exception.
Our first stop was the location where Jumanji was filmed, our second was where Jurassic World was filmed. Carson enjoyed this stop the most because he got to see a raptor and be chased by a dinosaur.
Once arriving back at the base, they had a hand washing station for guest.
*Things to note: Bring an extra pair of clothes, there is a chance you will get dirty from mud or dirt.
I give this tour a 10/10. Carson thoroughly loved it. He kept telling me to go fast and hit every single bump.
Things I will do differently next time I come to visit:
Although our hotel was amazing and near so many things, I think I would stay in a less touristy area. The beach was overcrowded most days, and I feel like I wasn't really able to fully engulf myself in the Hawaiian Culture because we were near so many malls and normal food places.
All in all Hawaii was an amazing family vacation and I can't wait to go back and explore other islands.