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Trip Report Aulani Trip Report

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#1
cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ.jpeg After years of dreaming and a health scare with our youngest daughter, we finally decided to go to Aulani. We flew from Washington DC to Honolulu on a non-stop flight, so when we landed in Oahu, we were exhausted. We picked up our rental car & drove to the Aulani resort. Now, I don't know about your kids, but when my girls arrive at a destination, they need to explore every inch of it before they can go to the room. Needless to say, everyone got a second wind. When we arrived at Aulani, we were greeted with an "Aloha" and a flower lei. The girls & I went inside to look around the lobby while my husband parked the car. When he came in, we met a sweet woman who talked to us about the story behind the Aulani resort, walked us outside to talked to us about the pools & lagoon area (we couldn't see much since it was night), the restaurants on property and the other opportunities we would have for the week. She then helped us get our keys for the room, the girls looked around a little more and we went to the room.
We walked into our 1 Bedroom Villa- Standard View room and were in awe. The room had a similar feel as the Animal Kingdom or Wilderness Lodge Villas, but went a step further, obviously, by adding the Hawaiian details. One of my favorites was the Surfing Mickey on the lamp shade! We took the time to check out the master bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, tub, then finally hit the wall. We were so tired from the long travel day. Unfortunately, my husband & a couple of my girls started talking at about 4 am because they couldn't sleep. Our body clocks were so messed up! After laying there for about an hour, we all got up and got dressed. The sun was starting to come up, so we walked to the lobby & headed outside to see the pool & beach areas in the daylight.
We walked outside to the Waikolohe Valley pool area. There we looked at the Waikolohe Stream, where you can slide down 2 different tubes form the top of Pu-u Kilo, then float around the lazy river, at the Volcanic Vertical, the body slide into the pool, the Menehune Bridge and even the Rainbow Reef. Then, we walked down to the Aulani Beach at the Ko Olina Lagoon so we could watch the sun rise and just soak in the beauty of the island. We took some pictures, including one by the Stitch statue. I had read that if we were going to see Pearl Harbor, we should schedule it early on the first day since you would already be awake, so that's what I did and I'm so glad I followed that advise. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-6.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-7.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-5.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-1.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-2.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-3.jpeg
Our first breakfast on Oahu was at McDonald's because it was the first thing we found. I did like the sign. cwvDm9asA3Lw9YuG4bl5esmrDg-3.jpeg We headed over to Pearl Harbor to get the tour. It was a humbling and very moving experience. If you ever go to Oahu, it is definitely a must-see that you do need to schedule in advance. (it gets crowded as the day goes on) We grabbed something for lunch, stopped at Targe for some groceries, then we went back to Aulani to enjoy the pool & beach. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ.jpeg Now, at Aulani, you get "the daily 'IWA" every day which tells you everything that is going on at the resort for children, youth and families. I saw at Aunty's Beach House, the children's area, that they were making Stitch's Space goo. Since we were back in time, I took my youngest daughter over to make some goo. It is a beautiful area for children with a games area, arts & crafts area, video games area, outdoor play--the opportunities are endless! When we arrived, I checked her in & tried to sign her up for the goo making, but didn't realize that you needed reserve a spot for it and it was all full. I put her on the waiting list and left her just in case she could participate. I went back in a hour to get her. She didn't get to make any goo, but did make some other arts & crafts. Note to self: make sure you sing up early for these activities! The staff was very friendly & it was a great place to let your children hang out for awhile.
My 2 younger daughters had studied up on Aulani & couldn't wait to swim in Rainbow Reef. It is the only private snorkeling lagoon on Oahu & they wanted to swim with the fish! You could either pay per day or for the length of your stay, so we got each girl a "length of your stay" band. They picked up their life vest, snorkel & mask set that was provided, showered off & went right in. I watched them & took pictures from the overlook & the glass window underneath. They loved swimming with thousands of tropical fish & even found their first Menehune. cwvDm9asA3Lw9YuG4bl5esmrDg.jpeg
 
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Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#2
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After they finished, since the water in the Reef was so cold, they wanted to find a hot tub. Lucky for them, there were 4 whirlpool spas located in the pool area. All of us enjoyed those spas quite a bit that week. They were so relaxing & you had a great view of the beach. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the pool, riding the slides & floating down the lazy river. We made some pizzas for dinner in the room & talked about our day.
In the daily 'IWA, we saw that were having "Ohana Disney Movie Night" on the lawn showing "The Lion King." We went down to the lawn, grabbed our straw mats that they handed out to lay on & got ready for the movie. It was pretty windy, so we had to spread out to make sure the mats didn't blow in our faces. We only made it through half the movie because we were so sleepy since we were still struggling with the time difference so off we went to bed.
The next day, we were up again before sunset, but stayed in the room until 7am. We got up & dressed & left for our next daily adventure. Our first stop was going to breakfast & enjoying some of Leonard Jr's Hot Malasadas. (I read about them before were came) We saw the food truck off of Kamehameha Hwy & pulled over. Malasadas are Portuguese doughnuts without a hole. They are fried, not healthy at all, but taste oh-so good! We picked various flavors--lemon, chocolate, cinnamon sugar, coconut and the original, plain sugar. Wow! It was so yummy. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-1.jpeg
Now that we had eaten, we were off to Waimea Falls. It is located in Waimea Valley on the North Shore. It was a 35 minute drive there, but with all of the tropical landscape, we didn't mind the view. We finally made it to Waimea Valley, bought our tickets and started our 3/4 mile walk to the Falls through their World Class Botanical Gardens. There are over 5,000 kinds of tropical & subtropical plants along the walk. It was a nice walk and gave us time to enjoy what we don't have back home. cwvDm9asA3Lw9YuG4bl5esmrDg-1.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9YuG4bl5esmrDg.jpeg We finally made it to the Falls.
The Waimea Falls drops 45 feet into a pool of water. Now, we were told that the water was cold, and I'm a baby when it comes to cold water, so I decided to be the photographer while the rest of my family got in. My hubby knows to get it quick to get it over with, so he did, then the girls slowly followed. There are life preservers for you to wear if you want, which my youngest daughter did, and ended up being a smart choice so she wasn't struggling with paddling to stay afloat like the rest of my family. They all swam over to where the Falls met with the water at the base of the mountain & I took their picture. They swam a little longer, then got out, dried off and then we walked back to the car. We were done with our adventure for the day, so it was time to head back to Aulani. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-3.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-5.jpeg After we ate some lunch in the room, we headed out to the beach. As we started to relax, the girls started talking about all of the people that were kayaking or paddle boarding in the bay. It didn't take long before they were asking to rent some equipment & even took the time to find out how much it would cost. Once we told them we would do it another day, they got bored with the beach & headed back to the pools & slides. We followed them over & before you know it, my younger 2 talked my oldest & myself into swimming in Rainbow Reef with them. I took a little bit of time getting in Rainbow Reef because it is SO COLD! Once I finally got going, I thought it was super cool getting to swim with all of the fish and was glad I did the experience. We enjoyed the rest of the day by the pool or the beach that day. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-6.jpeg
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#3
For dinner, we decided to go out. We walked across the street from Aulani & found a restaurant called the Monkey Pod. There we ordered the most delicious pear & gorgonzola pizza we had ever eaten! It was to die for!!! We had great service & great food. We would definitely recommend this place.
By Day 3, we were finally sleeping in later. When I woke up, I opened the curtains & the sliding glass door because I wanted to see the sunrise. I took a few pictures, then just laid in bed a little longer so I could listen to the birds and the waves from the beach. I did that every day for the rest of the week. It was so soothing & relaxing.
We finally got up, ate breakfast & set off to explore a little more of the island. We drove to Kuala Ranch, on the Northeastern coast of Oahu, about 35-45 minutes away. We got out of our car, went inside to pay for the tour, then got on an old school bus. The ranch began as a sugar plantation back in the 1800's, but is now used as a cattle ranch, for horseback riding and hiking and as a film location for movies & TV shows. Some of the movies & shows filmed there are Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Fifty First Dates, Hunger Games:Catching Fire, Lost and Hawaii Five-O. I'm a big movie buff, so I really got a kick out of seeing some of the sets still there. We did get to get out a few times to take some pictures. Of course, the landscape was absolutely beautiful. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-1.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-3.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-4.jpeg
When we finished the tour, it was time for lunch. My husband really wanted to see the North Shore and it was near by, so we drove over to it. We found a little deli for lunch, ate outside, then decided it was time to go back to Aulani. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-6.jpeg
Now, as soon as we got out to the pool, my daughters started saying how they really wanted to rent the kayak and paddle board. My husband & I decided that we are on vacation, so we went down to Makiki Joe's Beach Rental Shack, right on Aulani's lagoon. We rented one paddle board & one double kayak to use for one hour. It was plenty of time for my family! As they took turns going from kayak to paddle board, we did realize, not naming names, that if you were with one certain person on your team, you usually would fall in the water. It was pretty funny to watch. They were definitely something worth doing on our trip. cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw-1.jpeg cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw-4.jpeg cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw.jpeg
We got cleaned up & ate dinner in the room rather quickly because we knew from the "daily 'IWA" we had another fun activity that night--Aulani's Starlit Hui show. We went down for the pre-show at 7:30. They had several stations set up for the kids to make various crafts before the show. Then, at 8:00, the show began. They had men dancing some traditional Hawaiian dances & women did the hula, all to live music. Then, Mickey & Minnie came out and we had a little dance party. It wasn't a complete luau, but I felt like it gave our family a taste of one and we all had a good time. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-2.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-4.jpeg
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#4
The next day, we got up, ate breakfast and then, we left for some more exploring of Oahu. My husband wanted to learn how to surf, so we headed back to the North Shore. We stopped in several local shopping areas along the way to to find some fun Hawaiian attire, but didn't buy anything. We also stopped in a couple of surf shops so my husband could take a surfing lesson, but at the last minute, he decided not to do it. Then, we went to find another Hawaiian staple--Matusomoto's Shaved Ice. We parked & got in line at the "M. Matsumoto Grocery Store" to wait for our mid-day treat. The line was pretty long, but we were finally able to order our shaved ice. You can order it with or without ice cream, with or without vanilla beans or sweet condensed milk, but other than that, it's shaved ice and syrup. It was so yummy! My husband & daughter had to go back in to get a t-shirt, then off we went to find lunch. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-8.jpeg
I'm not one to want to eat food that has been cooked in a truck on the side of the road, but we read that is "what you do" when you are in Oahu, so we went to find Giovanni's Shrimp Truck. It took us awhile since our Garmin and our directions didn't seem to want to match up, but we finally found the truck. It just looks like a regular food truck & there were a lot of people getting meal plates so I decided it was safe. Boy, was I glad I did! We ordered 3 plates of Lemon butter Shrimp Scampl with Rice plates, along with some water bottles, and split them between us. We ate every morsel. It was some of the best shrimp I've ever eaten. We were glad we found this delicious lunch spot. Them we drove back to the resort for some afternoon swim time. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-10.jpeg
While we were at the pool, my younger 2 daughters decided to the Menehune Adventure Trail. It's a scavenger hunt finding different Menehunes by figuring out clues. (it's similar to Agent P's World Showcase Adventure) They loved the little activity. We absolutely became obsessed with the Menehunes at Aulani. As you walk through the resort & the pool area, you notice these little statues called Menehunes, which means "mischievous people." Each statue is different and so cute! (I really wanted to buy one to bring home & put my garden, but they don't sell them--hint, hint, Disney. Might be a good product to have in the gift shop) We spent the rest of the week trying to find as many of these little people as possible. (i've heard there may be over 300, but no one will say for sure) We even rode in every elevator till we found the guy who was rumored to be in there! cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-4.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-1.jpeg
For dinner, we went back to the Monkey Pod for some more pear & gorgonzola pizza, then grabbed some ice cream next door for dinner. It was a lot of eating out today, but what else are you supposed to do on vacation???
The next day was our last day Aulani. We said we were going to spend the whole day at the resort. First, my husband, my oldest daughter & myself decided to try out the Total Body Circuit training offered on the Aulani Beach. Our other 2 daughters sat, watched & made fun of me a little bit. I will say it was a good workout that I could've benefitted from every day that week, but I am on vacation aren't I?
Afterwards, we went & took advantage of the short lines at the water slides, lounging in the lazy river, swimming in the pool, and of course, my youngest 2 daughters took the time to snorkel with the fish again. While they did that, they got an extra bonus--they were allowed to feed the fish. We went and had lunch by the pool from Off the Hook, Aulani's poolside lounge. We ordered several appetizers and split them among us.
cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw-3.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-5.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-4.jpeg (Notice the number on one of the bridges??? Everyone should know this significant year!)
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#5
When we finished eating lunch, we heard someone say that there were some sea turtles 2 coves over that were close to the shore so we walked over to see them. Sure enough, there were 4 large sea turtles swimming right there in the cove! It was amazing just standing there in the water while those sea turtles would come right up to you. My middle daughter was really excited about the experience since she wants to be a marine biologist when she gets older. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-1.jpeg
After standing in the water with the turtles for about 45 minutes, we walked back to Aulani. As soon as we arrived, we saw a line forming to take pictures with Mickey Mouse so we went to do that. You can't go to a Disney resort without having your picture taken with Mickey, can you??? cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vW7Zxw.jpeg
After our picture, we stopped at Papalua's Shave Ice for a midday snack, then spent the rest of the day swimming, tubing and sun tanning at the pool. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ.jpeg
We went back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner and for the girls' last treat.
My girls had been dying to go to Lanai, the Disney Spa. We looked at the options earlier in the week and decided on a tattoo for each. (don't judge--it was all in fun) They had always wanted to get a henna tattoo, so that's what they expected. I walked them over and left my oldest daughter in charge of bringing everyone back. Later, when they came back, only the younger two had tattoos. They said it was just like the little tattoos you put on with a washcloth at home & my oldest didn't want to spend my money on that. (what a good child!) The younger two were still proud of their tattoos and their trip to the spa.
We walked down to the beach and took some family pictures of our last evening there. I even got a few pictures of the sunset. My middle daughter left us to go to Painted Sky, the teen spa/hangout area. She wanted to go to the Teen Lei Making, so off she went while we walked to dinner. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-2.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-3.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-5.jpeg
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#6
It was our last day "in paradise," so we decided to enjoy one of Aulani's restaurants, 'Ama 'Ama. It is a beautiful restaurant right on the beach, with a relaxing atmosphere and amazing food. We ordered several fish options, along with dessert, and were stuffed. We had one more stroll on the beach, then off to our rooms to get packed and ready to leave tomorrow. cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-7.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9ZNWAbl5esXDcQ-8.jpeg cwvDm9asA3Lw9YuG4bl5esmrDg.jpeg We spent 5 glorious days at Aulani and on the island of Oahu. We saw some amazing sights, ate delicious food, most importantly, made some unforgettable memories as a family. I was so sad to go! I'm most definitely already planning my next trip to Aulani!!!
 

mrdrift

Well-Known Member
#9
What an amazing adventure your family had on Oahu. Staying at Aulani is a very special place that caters to the younger kids. The pictures of the resort area are just really beautiful. Thanks for sharing your family vacation with all of us.
 

polynesiangirl

Well-Known Member
#11
We spent a little over a week at Aulani this past fall. OMG. One of my best Disney experiences ever, and I am no Disney novice. Glad you had fun.

I'm already plotting my Aulani return...just gotta get my youngest to Aunty's Beach house age...;)
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#13
To all of you who enjoyed this report and pictures of Aulani, I thought you might want to take advantage of the deal Disney is offering on rooms. You save 30% off stays of 5 nights or longer, 20% on 4 nights or 10% on 3 nights. You have to book by April 30, 2015 for stays on most nights April 6-June 15, 2015. What a great spring break or beginning of summer trip that would be! Let me know if you would like some help with your next adventure.
 
#15
Thanks for your review. I'm so excited of our own Aulani planning! You kept saying the water was cold. What month did you guys go there? Anybody knows what time of the eyar is the cheapest month to stay at Aulani (flight and resort-wise)? Thanks!
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#16
Thanks for your review. I'm so excited of our own Aulani planning! You kept saying the water was cold. What month did you guys go there? Anybody knows what time of the eyar is the cheapest month to stay at Aulani (flight and resort-wise)? Thanks!
I guess I should say that I'm a big baby & think the water is usually cold, no matter where I am. The water in the Rainbow Reef is truly cold for the fish. We went in April.
 

DisSplash

Well-Known Member
#17
Looks like you all had a fabulous Hawaiian vacation! So jealous over here. It looks they had a lot of fun activities at Aulani! We am hoping to take my kids to Hawaii next year (celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary), but we are planning to do Maui and the Big Island ~ we shall see how it all works out! I may just throw in the towel and plan another WDW or cruise instead! :)
 
#18
WOW!! Great report and sounds like you had a fantastic time as a family! We can't wait! Glad you liked Wimea Falls (sp). I know Aulani has tours out there and we aren't planning on renting a car so we're glad to know that excursion and PH is worth it! How did you get from the Airport to Aulani? If you aren't renting a car, do you know of other ideas?
Mahalo!
 

bebert

Well-Known Member
#19
Great report and pics! My family is lucky enough to go to Maui/Hawaii about every 18 months, nothing like it anywhere else in the world. I couldn't agree with you more, Pearl Harbor is an incredible and humbling experience.
 

Gaston's gal

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#20
WOW!! Great report and sounds like you had a fantastic time as a family! We can't wait! Glad you liked Wimea Falls (sp). I know Aulani has tours out there and we aren't planning on renting a car so we're glad to know that excursion and PH is worth it! How did you get from the Airport to Aulani? If you aren't renting a car, do you know of other ideas?
Mahalo!
We rented a car.
 
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