See More Of Oahu On An Aulani Excursion
While it may be tempting to stay in Aulani the entire time you’re on the island, Oahu is a beautiful place worthy of exploring, and guests of the resort should make a point to spend at least one day of their vacation exploring beyond the property.
Fortunately, Disney offers a number of excursions across Oahu that appeal to guests of all ages and interests, including several that have been specifically designed for Aulani guests by Adventures By Disney. These special adventures feature knowledgable and friendly guides who weave stories and magic into the experience like only Disney can do. Guests can choose some traditional destinations such as a visit to Pearl Harbor, Dole Plantation, or Diamond Head, and classic beach experiences offered by the resort include surfing, parasailing, or a luau.
Aulani also offers special excursions such as a catamaran voyage, including dolphin spotting and, in season, whale watching kayaking on Kailua Bay and a storytelling hike on a nearby island and bird sanctuary a sightseeing and storytelling adventure through the beautiful Kualoa Ranch, with its private beach and movie and television locations and a visit to the North Shore of Oahu and Waimea Falls.
Is The Disney Vacation Club Member Worth The Investment
The answer to this question depends on your personal needs and financial commitment. Weve been members for eight years and our initial investment and annuals dues have paid for itself twice over. I can honestly say that we would not have been able to afford such extravagant vacations in villas at these beautiful resorts had we not been members. Being a member of DVC has given us travel freedom and flexibility at a fraction of the cost.
Maybe Take The Dslr But Definitely Bring A Gopro
If youre a full-fledge photographer, then yes, you probably are ignoring this tip because you already have a plan to bring the DSLR. And rightfully sothere is so much to photograph in Hawaii.
However, if you own a DSLR and youre debating whether or not to bring it with you to Aulani, here are my thoughts.
There were only a few situations where I was prepared to carry and use my expensive DSLR. Most of the time at Aulani, I was in my swimsuit or shorts, jumping in and out of the lazy river, chilling on the beach, or just hanging by the pool.
These moments are perfect for my GoPro Hero7. Its small tiny actually and fits in my beach bag. It is waterproof and I can take it with me in my water adventures and capture those moments. It is convenient to put in the pocket and take to activities where the DSLR would be unwieldy. It does photos, video, and video time lapses. Super cool.Having the DSLR at the pool/beach just causes extra stress about it being stolen, getting sand in it, or getting doused with water.
Common moments you will want your DSLR at Aulani? Probably the luau, character buffet, and family photos at sunset.
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Rent A Car And Park At The Resort
If you can handle the expense and plan on leaving the resort and exploring other parts of Oahu, I suggest renting a car at least for a few days. Plan to rent a car at the airport and schedule your excursions on Oahu Island for the time that you have it.
Disney Aulani actually has an Alamo car rental on-site. This is a great option if you just need a car for the day and want the convenience of not going to the airport. However, prices tend to be higher here.
You cant beat the convenience of driving your family around yourself, but youll have to think about parking. Youll also have to figure out how youre going to get from Aulani to Honolulu Airport unless you rent a car for your entire stay.
We like to use Discount Hawaii Car Rental when renting a car in Hawaii.
Basically, they get screaming deals on rental cars from top companies like Alamo, Dollar Car Rental, Avis, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless. And then they pass the savings onto you.
Plus, they can often get free extra drivers or reduce the young driver rate. Its definitely the way to go. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Youll find both self-parking and valet parking at Aulani for $37 a day for overnight guests. If youre a Disney Vacation Club member, mention this when you book and theyll give you self-parking for free!
Reduced Entertainment & Activities
Disneys Aulani is known for its robust activity and entertainment options in normal times. While many of these offerings have slowly returned, some remain closed in 2021.
So what is open? Currently available offerings as of August 2021 include:
- All pools and hot tubs
- Waikolohe Stream lazy river
- Both water slides
- KA WAA Lau
- Fitness Center
We found enough to keep us busy for a full week without spending a day leaving the property, but pretty much did everything offered some multiple times! We were especially happy to be able to do the free ukulele lessons that just returned during our visit .
That said, there were a few activities we missed not having particularly the outdoor movie nights on the lawn on non-luau nights, which seems like they could surely be done in a safe and distanced way. Several of the activities traditionally offered via the Pau Hana room have been paused as well, such as hula lessons.
Guests should also be aware that the Luana Lounge an area where guests with flights later in the day after check out time could shower or freshen up is currently closed as well.
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Testing And Vaccination Requirements For Hawaii Safe Travels
The most important change to Aulani vacations this year has nothing to do with Aulanis rules and operations at all. This requirement comes by way of the state of Hawaii. The bottom line? Visitors to Aulani either need to prove they are fully vaccinated or will need to take a COVID-19 test before they head to the state.
For many months in 2020, Hawaii required anyone who flew in to quarantine for 14 days. Last fall when the state reopened its borders to tourism, presenting a negative test was permitted as an alternative to quarantine. Tests had to be administered by a designated partner lab and taken within 72 hours of departure.
Finally on July 8, 2021, the state created a vaccination exception to quarantine an alternative to testing. The current testing or vaccination requirements apply only to visitors ages 5 and up.
My husband, 12 year old daughter, and I are fully vaccinated, but we have a 7 year old son too young to be. So our family had to navigate both the vaccine and testing exemptions on our trip.
The procedures for demonstrating you are entitled to an exception from quarantine are set forth on the states website. Roughly speaking, youll create an account and register with the Hawaii Safe Travels program. You then either upload a copy of your CDC vaccination card or get tested at an approved partner lab and upload the negative test results to the site.
Hula At Disney Aulani
Ive been a professional hula dancer for the past 20 years. Id say Im a bit critical when I see hula shows, especially at resorts. Seeing hula at Disney Aulani Resortwas a high priority for me.
So, we made a point to see the A Hula For You performance at the Waikolohe Pool. It was a short performance and they danced to a Kealii Reichel song written for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. When they brought out the bird puppets, I seriously gasped.
I loved that they elevated the hula to incorporate a touch of Disney magic!
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Snorkel With Turtles At Paradise Cove
Disclaimer: I don’t like to share tips that I haven’t personally experienced, but I have heard this one so frequently, it doesn’t make sense to leave it off a comprehensive list of Aulani tips, even though I haven’t tried this out personally. There…caveat emptor… or whatever.
There isn’t much to see when snorkeling in the Kohola Lagoon in front of Aulani.
If you want a chance to see and possibly swim with turtles without venturing too far from the resort, try Paradise Cove.
It’s approximately a 10-minute walk from Aulani . The natural reef makes a protective barrier for fish and Hawaiian sea turtles.
Keep in mind that turtles are protected by law in Hawaii. Don’t touch them and keep your distance.
Book The View That You Want And/or Can Afford But Dont Be Afraid To Ask For An Upgrade Upon Check
When I booked my familys reservation, I booked the cheapest rate available which was the Island/Garden View Studio. A few days later, though, I decided to book an Ocean View Studio instead. Except by then, rooms were no longer available. However, when we checked in at the Aulani, I asked if if we could upgrade to a room with an ocean view. A few minutes later, we were told that there was an ocean view room available! It was an additional $80/night, but it would have been more expensive if we had originally booked it on the website. Needless to say, there went our $250 resort credit But that view was oh so worth it!
It worked out in our favor this time, but next time, I probably wont chance it. But if you end up in the same situation at check-in, dont be afraid to ask. You never know when youll get some pixie dust.
The view from our ocean view room at the Aulani was spectacular.
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Things To Do Nearby To Disneys Aulani Resort
If you want to venture beyond the resort, you may wonder what else there is to do. Some favorite activities that are located nearby include:
- KA WAA:This is a Luau experience located in Oahu. It is located just one minute from the resort, making it possible to walk to enjoy this event.
- Rainbow Reef: Located just two minutes from the resort, this location allows you to see beautiful native fish in their natural habitat.
- Paradise Cove Beach: Approximately nine minutes away from your resort, at this beach, you can see more Hawaiian wildlife and experience all the islands have to offer.
- Wet n Wild Hawaii: Found only 2.3 miles from the resort, this is the biggest waterpark in the state. It offers access to over 25 attractions for the thrill-seekers in your family.
- Naval Air Museum at Barbers Point: Founded in 1999, this is a non-profit organization and provides you and your family with the opportunity to get up close and personal with all types of planes and helicopters used by the military through the years.
How Can Kids Learn More About Hawaiian Culture At Aulani Resort
All around Disney Aulani Resort and Spa, families will be immersed in the culture and way of life of the Hawaiian people. One of the best experiences our family has had was outside by the MoOlelo firepit. This special storytelling with Uncle and Moana teaches Guests the stories of Maui and his family and the traditions of Hawaiian culture.
The MÄkaâikaâi, the Nature and Wildlife of Aulani Resort tour is a complimentary walking tour that teaches families about the landscape, wildlife, and nature of the Hawaiian island.
At the KA WAâA â A LÅ«âau at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, Guests will enjoy an unforgettable experience and learn about Hawaiians deep cultural roots with traditional music, dance, and an incredible Hawaiian feast. Right before the show, families will experience hands-on Hawaiian actives such as flower arranging and paÊ»i ai taro pounding. Your children may even learn how to hula with Aunty, Mickey, and Minnie and learn more Hawaiian stories from special Guests like Moana.
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Download The Daily Iwa In Advance
Are you a planner ? I like to make a tentative plan for my vacation in order to maximize my days.
Thankfully, Aulani publishes their Daily Iwa in advance and you can access it online before you ever leave home.
I suggest you download the Iwa, highlight the activities that interest you, and make a loose plan for each day to maximize your trip.
Here’s a sample of what my advanced planning looks like:
Live Music Performances At Aulani
A visit to Hawaii isn’t complete without listening to some live guitar and ukulele performances, luckily Disney offers plenty of opportunities for live music. With renowned Hawaiian artists performing regularly throughout the resort, it’s easy enough to find an event to watch. For the true Hawaiian experience, Aulani even offers free ukulele lessons for guests, included in the room rates.
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Best Ways To Get From Honolulu Airport To Aulani
You have choices when it comes to transportation from Honolulu Airport to Aulani Resort. It really comes down to a few questions.
First, are you on a budget, or are you able and willing to splurge on comfort and convenience? Second, what are your familys needs? Third, do you plan on exploring other parts of Oahu rather than sticking to the resort?
Keep reading for the best ways to get from Honolulu airport to Aulani hotel. Theres something for every budget and family!
Take Advantage Of All The Disney Snacks
Is there Dole Whip at the Aulani? Heck yes! There are also mickey bars, mickey donuts, cupcakes, and shaved ice. The Disney snacks arent free, but they are convenient. And delicious
When in Hawaii, dole whips are a must!
I could talk all day about the Aulani! Please let me know if you have any questions if you are planning a trip there. And if you use any of my tips, please tag me on social media
Are you planning a trip to the Aulani, Disneys resort in Hawaii? From Hawaiis travel requirements to upgrades, saving money, access to a private airport lounge and much more, heres what you need to know before going to the Aulani!
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An Aulani Disney Resort Vacation Can Be Affordable
Take this with a grain of salt. Affordable is subjective. So it means different things to different people. And that doesnt necessarily mean that its cheap either. But, when I was talking about my trip to Hawaii with coworkers and friends, pretty much everyone guessed I paid way more than I did for our Aulani vacation. I am generally pretty thrifty in everyday life and travel is where I splurge. Even with that being said, if you have the means to budget and save for it, an Aulani vacation doesnt have to be a pipe dream! And can probably cost less than you think. A trip to Disney Aulani is pricey but it doesnt have to break the bank. Because creating a Disney Aulani Budget is part of Planning a Disney Aulani Resort Vacation.
When I went with my daughter, we were fortunate enough to have miles from my Venture Capital One Credit Card to pay for us to fly first class on Alaska Airlines. So that saved us a nice chunk of money, and truthfully I was very impressed with Alaska Airlines first class service to Hawaii and the price was actually pretty reasonable. Having a credit card that earns travel dollars isnt for everyone but if you can manage it, its a great way to save some money. You can find out all about Venture Capital One benefits here! You can also find ways of getting your room at a discount, like by using hotels.com or renting DVC points.
Icipate In Ohana Disney Movie Nights
Watch a movie under the stars on the big screen. Several nights a week, Aulani sets up its lawn for movie nights! The evening starts with a few pre-show activities including trivia and games, then a Disney movie on the big screen!
Planning tip: These events are popular so be sure to arrive early for the best seats. For jetlagged kiddos that wont be able to stay up until its dark outside, borrow a movie from Pau Hana Room and watch it in your room. They have a very large selection of movies to borrow and rooms include a player.
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Where Is Aulani Located
If you use a taxi to get from HNL to Aulani, a smart option is Charlies Taxis. Thats because this car service provides you with a flat rate of just $55 one way. Taking one of the other Taxi car options will likely cost much more than this.
In most cases, you dont have to worry about setting up transportation ahead of time, as there is a stand in front of the resort, but you can make reservations if you want to.
Hidden Mickeys Arent What You Expect
The Aulani resort is a Hawaiian resort with some light Disney touches.
One of those is a Hidden Mickey in the wallpaper that doesnt have the traditional Hidden Mickey look.
In Hawaiian design, circles arent used very much so the Disney Imagineers used more traditional Hawaiian shapes to create the Aulani version.
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