We LITERALLY woke up to rainbows.
That’s what it was like during our first visit to Aulani back in 2013 and every trip since then has pretty much been the same – awe-inspiring. We fell in love with the resort so much, we decided to become part owners through Disney Vacation Club and it’s been one of the wisest investments we’ve made. When we first went, my youngest, Emma, had been asking for a couple of years if we could go to Hawaii, so when they opened the Aulani Resort in Oahu it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Hawaii by itself offers a lot of wonderful opportunities to spend great time together – from the pineapple plantation, to shave ice at Matsumoto’s, to trips to the beach there is already a lot to do. But staying at Aulani was an adventure all by itself! There were so many things to do at the resort and they had activities for all ages. It was like being on a Disney Cruise on land! If you didn’t want to explore on your own, they had planned excursions, places dedicated for kids both young and old, activities at the resort, and tons of stuff to do.
My oldest daughter, Eve, hung out in the teen spa called Painted Sky where other kids her age hung out, did crafts, and ate some great frozen yogurt. It was a lot like Vibe on the Disney Cruise, but today, Painted Sky has been transformed into a Style Studio for kids 3 to 12 where they can get a fashion makeover, Hawaii-style. There isn’t a dedicated “teen space” at Aulani any more, but they do have plenty of activities for teens to enjoy. Meanwhile, Emma got to play to her heart’s content at Auntie’s Beach House. For me it was a relief to let her go and play knowing she was safe and secure. Not only do they have cast members watching the children at all times, but they have special safety wristbands so only you can check your children in and out. And the kids have a ton of fun with crafts, games, and other fun things to do. Most of the activities are free although there are a few “premium” experiences for the young ones, too. But it was great knowing the kids had things to do while mom and dad got the chance to relax at Laniwai Spa for the best massage treatment ever! We still make a point of getting at least one treatment together every time we go back because it is just such a wonderful experience. They treat you so well at Laniwai Spa. Make sure to go early to take advantage of the other amenities they have available prior to your treatment time.
Aulani is made for family time, too. We got to do a lot of things together. We were able to help feed the stingrays, watch a fish feeding up close (and by up close I mean IN the water surrounded by them), go on a scavenger hunt all throughout the resort, and swim in the lazy river for hours on end. The stingrays are gone, but everything else is still around and they continue to add more stuff for the family to enjoy. They have some of the best pools at a resort we’d ever gone to – so much so that we spent more time at the pool than the beach (which was just yards away). And of course we had our daily prescription of shave ice at Papalua Shave Ice stand.
Meals at the resort were fun (but pricey), especially Auntie’s Breakfast Celebration at the Makahiki. Emma and Eve got to say “hi” to Mickey, Minnie and all their friends dressed in styling Hawaiian garb and Emma got to dance with Auntie as she taught the kids more about life on the islands. One family experience that everyone should try is the Ka Wa’a Luau. It is also pricey but worth doing together at least one time. The food is authentic and all you can eat while the show is rooted in Hawaiian tradition and it’s a great photo op for the family.
We had so many incredible adventures together but I think the one I remember the most is going snorkeling with my youngest Emma. I had wanted to go because Aulani offers a really sensational opportunity to swim with the fishes and you get to swim amongst them. I wasn’t sure if Emma would want to do it, but she was excited from the very beginning and caught on really fast. Together we swam for hours all around Rainbow Reef, looking at the fish and watching as they were fed right in front of us. It was spectacular to see dozens of fish swimming all around you and getting to see them up close. The best part was getting to share that with Emma. It’s experiences like these that I know I’ll treasure always and I believe that she will too.