We’ve always wanted to take the kids to Hawaii, but we were never brave enough to take the 8 hour flight from Texas. Enter Disney’s Aulani resort on Oahu. Suddenly, Hawaii seemed possible, even with our young kids! We spent a week enjoying the resort and there was still more to see.
Here’s my top 5:
1) Be an early riser and claim your seat at the beach or pool! Both are family friendly. At the pool, we explored the 2 water slides and the climbing structure at Menehune Bridge.
We also enjoyed the character pool parties at the main pool, which is zero entry level. At the beach, swim, snorkel, paddleboard or kayak! There are virutally no waves and the water is clear enough to see the fish.
My boys had a blast chasing after the fish. We brought our own swim googles. You can rent the snorkels, paddleboards and kayaks. The beach toys are free. My boys loved making sandcastles!
2) Rainbow Reef- My five year old grew very brave and decided to go into the Rainbow Reef, the island’s only saltwater lagoon reef, full of thousands of colorful fish.
It’s only about 8 feet deep and perfect for beginner snorklers. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Everyone wears an inflatable life jacket and there are lifeguards on duty. The best part- there was a observation deck and a viewing window so I could take pictures of my son’s first snorkeling experience. Awesome!
3) Aunty’s Beach house: This is Aulani’s kid’s club. The kids can go for open play or for the planned activities. Save yourself some headaches and sign up for the activities before you arrive. I saw some groggy parents lining up at 6:30 am to get their child a spot! Not my idea of a good time on vacation. During their time at Aunty’s house, my boys made space goo with Stitch. This was free, but there were some paid experiences too.
4) Get get the daily Iwa! This is your daily guide to what’s happening at the resort. There’s a phone number you can call at 8 am- which we called at exactly 8 am every morning- to find out where the characters will be. We found Minnie and Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Stitch and Chip and Dale.
These two chipmunks were the best; they always interacted and danced with my boys whenever they saw them. We also signed up for the breakfast with the characters. Honestly, this was unnecessary as we got photos and interactions with all the same characters just roaming the resort. With this resort, you get the Disney flair- a handful of character sightings and a character breakfast, without the rides.
5) The Starlight Hui- It is very late at night, usually from 8-9 pm, but if you take a nap in the afternoon and can make it, this show is a must see!
My boys loved it. We didn’t even plan to see it; we just saw a line and jumped on in. It’s crazy how Disney gets you to do that! We showed up at 6:30 pm and waited in line for an hour! Be prepared for a wait if you want to be in the front row. The family next to us played Heads Up on their IPhones which looked fun. They also brought a pizza from one of the resort cafes and a kit to build snowman cookies, also from the resort cafe. It was a great idea to keep their kids busy! The pre show is from 7:30-8. That’s when they teach the kids to hula which is fun to watch. Then at 8, the magic starts.
Hula dancers grace the stage while fire dancers perform a tame version of their dance. We had two amazing ukulele players who played all my favorite Christmas carols, plus the Stars Wars theme. It was probably my favorite part! The Disney characters showed up at the very end of the show and led a few dances.
Across the street from Aulani, there is a shopping plaza with a coffee shop, convenience store, restaurant and clothing store just to name a few. Hauling groceries back and forth with two preschoolers didn’t work for us so we rented a car. You can rent a car at the resort or the airport. While it’s not cheap to rent and park a car at Aulani, it was worth it for us. We drove to Starbucks, McDonald’s and Jamba Juice within two miles of the resort. One day, we even ventured into Honolulu- be prepared for traffic early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
We visited the Honolulu aquarium (we spent about an hour there and felt that was enough time) and splashed in the famous Waikiki beach (very crowded!). If you don’t feel like renting a car, you can take paid excursions from Aulani too. Check out Aulani’s website to plan your trip!