Written By: Michael Smith
Photos are courtesy of Disney Aulani
7. Location, Location, Location
Located on the island of Oahu and off to the lower westside is Kapolei and the area of Ko’ Olina. The area is known for spectacular hotels, awesome retail and dining, and one of the top golf courses around. If you feel the need to venture outside the resort on foot, you can zip on your running shoes and take flight along the horseshoe paths all the way to the tip of Ko’Olina Beach Park by Malakole Harbor where helicopters and yachts are everyday transportation. To venture a little further outside Aulani, borrow a car for the day directly from the hotel’s own rental company located just outside the lobby. It’s a short drive to the North Shore, Dole Pineapple Farm, renowned hiking trails, Pearl Harbor, and the city of Waikiki for great shopping and a more urban setting.
Everyone you meet is your ohana the moment you arrive at Disney’s Aulani Resort. From the moment you get lei’d on arrival, to the inviting lobby and the surprise pop up of a Disney character, you know that you are part of the family.
Normally we would recommend steering clear of any thing resembling a screen on your vacation, but there is something magical about watching a classic Disney film under the stars in your pj’s at a resort surrounded by this culture. Welcome, Ohana Disney Movie Nights, on select nights. For a little more privacy, feel free to borrow DVDs from the movie shop at the ground level of the resort to take up to your room for the evening.
5. The Waterpark and Lazy River
The only hard part about checking into the hotel, is staring at the pool daydreaming of back flips and frothy drinks. The difficulty is quickly over and before we knew it, we were living that dream poolside.
If one of the countless pools has you craving more, take a snorkel at Rainbow Reef, the resort’s very own saltwater lagoon where guests can borrow equipment and explore within the safety of a private habitat. On the other end of the exploring spectrum, you can find your pass to chill; the park’s very own lazy river that will wind you around the resort’s mid section in style.
4. Fire Pit Sunsets and Stories
This next adventure was the one we least expected to make our list. In all honesty, we thought the idea of the sitting at the fire pit close to sunset sounded appealing enough. Little did we know that one of our most memorable parts of the trip, would happen when Uncle arrived with his ukulele and stories. He told us tales of Gods and Demi Gods, good versus evil, monsters and darkness with heroes and glory. Uncle was no stranger to introducing goosebumps to all who listened. After story time came to resolution, we sat and watched the sunset by the fire pit and wished this trip would never end.
3. It’s Disney…
It’s no wonder that if you think of one of the most successful companies in the world that brings adventure and joy to hundreds of millions of people, you think of Disney. The name Disney is synonymous with epic and magical adventures. This Disney Resort brings it all to life just as Disneyland and Disney World, but the best part, you’re in Hawaii. The Fab Five Disney Characters can be seen wandering the grounds of the resort. Yes, that’s Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Photo ops and Instagram shots are encouraged.
2. Dining for Days
What’s your favorite kind of food? Well, they serve it. No, really. Whatever cuisine your belly is begging for, the Aulani’s buffet will have you covered. After a thorough swim in the ocean bay, grab a pineapple soft serve from Little ‘Opihi’s to bring that body temperature back down to chill. The most romantic dinner, and our favorite meal of the trip, was at ‘Ama’Ama. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, spoil yourself with the oceanfront setting and local farm to table flare.
1. Laniwai. The Spa. Period.
The top of our list for no reason other than it’s the best. Do not miss Laniwai, the spa of your best imagination. All of the signature treatments are based on water with healing, calming and therapeutic techniques mastered by the many talented employees. They encourage you to arrive 60 minutes prior to your session to enjoy the many amenities Laniwai has to offer. Our personal favorite – the Hydrotherapy Garden. Literally an outdoor garden covered with lush privacy provided by the arbor, flowers and greenery. Jump into the sub arctic mini pool to shock the senses, then reawaken them with over six outdoor showers with various water pressures.
To enhance your already special day, test out your own creativity at the Pulu Bar’s spa mixology station where you can create your own luxurious scrub to your sense’s desires. And for those traveling with young adult’s who want to adult, meet Aulani’s answer to the common spa problem: Painted Sky.
After your treatments, stay a while longer and go relax in one of the five Vitality Baths in the Hydrotherapy Garden. You earned it.