For those that have been to the theme parks, sailed on Disney Cruise Line and are looking for a truly unique Disney destination for 2017, why not consider a visit to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. Nestled away along the sandy beaches of Ko Olina Hawai’i, this tropical island oasis holds 3600 guest rooms and whole lot more. To give you a taste of what this amazing Disney destination has to offer here are our 12 Aulani must-dos.
1) Aunty’s Beach House – At 5,200 sq feet this Children’s Activity Center is the perfect tropical hideaway for your little travelers. Hosted by Aunty, an expert when it comes to Hawaiian history and traditions, your little ones will be immersed in the lore and magic of the islands. There’s storytelling, an overflowing costume closet, an enchanted fireplace, magical portholes, games and arts and crafts. Little ones will also have an opportunity to cozy up to some of their favorite Disney characters. Best of all, apart from a handful of premium experiences which are booked for an additional fee, there is not cost for your children to join in the fun. It also provides some much needed down time for moms and dads to enjoy a romantic meal, spa treatment or one of Aulani’s breathtaking quiet pools.
2) Grab Your Dole Whips – That’s right! Who says you have to be at Walt Disney World or Disneyland to enjoy these delectable treats. Guests can indulge in this pineapple ice cream delight until your heart is content by making a pit-stop at the Lava Shack. Yum!
3) Enjoy an Optional Excursion or Two – There is certainly no shortage of things to do at Aulani Resort itself, but for those looking to get out and about, there is bound to be an optional excursion that is perfect for each and every guest. Whether its boarding a 65 ft catamaran and heading out to sea, hopping a bus for an afternoon of shopping, interacting with dolphins, horseback riding or hiking through Hawaii’s natural rainforests, deciding how to spend your Aulani days is nothing short of delightful. For those looking for a bit of history, guests can also pay a visit to Pearl Harbor or visit one of Dole’s amazing pineapple plantations.
4) Soak Up the Water and the Sun at Waikolohe Valley – More like a water park than a resort pool, once guests experience the slides, the lazy river and the sparkling pools of this massive water playground they’ll never want to leave. There’s even a zero depth entry pool, an extreme body slide as well as a tubing slide. The water is also heating year round to a delightful 82 degrees which is perfect for those relaxing Hawaiian afternoons.
5) Pick Up a Copy of the Daily ‘Iwa – There are more daily activities happening at Aulani each day then I could possibly mention in this article. That’s why its important for guests to pick up a copy of this daily run-down of what’s happening when. Make sure that you pick up one each morning so that you are in the know as many activities will only run during specific days of the week. For a quick taste of the kinds of activities on offer check out the online version here.
6) Sunrise Yoga/Stretch – Can you imagine a better way to start the day then by indulging in a relaxing yoga session on Aulani’s private beach? Aulani offers this complimentary yoga instruction each morning at 6am. It’s also worth noting that its available for those at all ability levels so you can even feel free to bring your little ones along. Guests also don’t have to worry about lugging their yoga equipment with them on vacation as everything is provided on the day.
7) Go Snorkeling in the Rainbow Reef – One of my favorite things about Aulani is the amazing manmade lagoon which is home to thousands of tropical fish and even a hidden Mickey and Menehune or two! This 3800 square feet saltwater pool sits in the middle of the Waikolohe Valley area and allows little visitors to get their first taste of snorkeling without the currents or unpredictable waves. There are even underwater observation windows where friends and family can capture pictures of snorkeling guests next to the amazing fish that call the Rainbow Reef home. There is an additional fee to enter Rainbow Reef with a daily pass running $20 for ages 10 and up and $15 per children or a length of stay pass running $39 per adult and $29 per child.
8) Make Online Dining Reservations – Because of its intimate location and the fact that it is very self-contained, many Aulani guests don’t venture too far afield when it comes to mealtimes. That’s why guests want to be sure to make dining reservations well in advance. Whether its enjoying contemporary island cuisine from the open-air restaurant ‘AMA’AMA, rubbing shoulders with some amazing characters and Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration or enjoying the delightful “Menehune Mischief” Dinner Show, it definitely pays to plan ahead. Reservations can be made online through your travel agent or by calling 808.674.6200.
9) Menehune Scavenger Hunt – Your little ones will never go on a scavenger hunt more awesome than this one. As legend has it the Menehune are the mischievous little people of Hawaii reported to have magical powers. They can be found throughout Aulani in the forms of hidden carvings that are designed to be discovered by pint-sized visitors. With the Menehune Adventure Trail, kids pick up a special cell phone to start an interactive and magical adventure, filled with movies and enchanted clues, they’ll solve riddles, look for statues and uncover magical markings throughout the resort.
10) Get PhotoPass – It may just seem like something you just get at the theme parks but trust me, you’ll want to get a PhotoPass package when visiting Aulani. Its absolutely amazing how many photos you’ll return with as PhotoPass photographers are available at dining experiences and a large majority of family activities, to take underwater photos and there’s even an opportunity for your family to arrange for a private photo session. So save a bit of money in your Aulani budget to preserve those magical memories. There’s a range of options available from $15.00 for a single print to $350.00 for full portrait sessions.
11) Take in the KA WA’A Luau – No visit to Aulani would be complete without spending at least one evening enjoying this amazing evening luau event. There’s singing, dancing, storytelling and a spectacular Hawaiian feast. Guests will learn about the vibrant culture and rich history of the Hawaiian islands while enjoying amazing island delicacies. Launched in November of 2016, its also on of the resort’s newest offerings. Prices to attend start at $119 for ages 10 and up and $79 for children.
12) Spend at Least 3 Days – For many guests considering a visit to Aulani, its tricky to figure out just how much time to devote to a visit at this tropical getaway. I usually advise clients to stay at least three days to enjoy all the resort has to offer. 5 nights tends to be the ideal and will allow you to really see, do and indulge. However, 7 days may be optimum for those looking for the ultimate luxurious getaway with lots of excursions thrown in.
Any way you cut it, whether its for a weekend stay or a week-long getaway, Aulani is a Disney destination worth experiencing and one that definitely will not disappoint.
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Melissa is a Disney-loving mom who can often be found at the parks with her six year old daughter. When not euphorically eating a Dole Whip at Walt Disney World, Melissa enjoys helping others plan their magical vacations with MickeyTravels
and sharing her Disney knowledge at Chip and Co. and Disney Addicts. Follow along on Facebook
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