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Old 06-18-2012, 06:23 PM   #1
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Completed Trip Report - Aulani June 9th-16th

The Aulani Trip 2012 - Photos at end of report.

Day 1: We arrived at Honolulu International Airport about 1:30pm, got the luggage and rental van for the week at Dollar ($388/week). I thought that was a good price. Gas on the Island at Costco was $3.99/gallon. The short drive of about 15mins to the Ko’Olina area was easy considering you only have 3 major highways on the entire island it’s tough to get lost. We arrived and were greeted with Tuba Rose Lei’s (Smelled really good!) and KoKui Nut necklaces for the guys. In addition, we were offered a refreshing drink (Lemon, Lime and Oranges mixed w/Cold Water) Tasty!
After a brief tour of the lobby and a quick walk around the gift shop, our room was ready via a phone call to our cell. Very nice! The hotel is split into two wings (One-Male Side/One-Female Side) The room was in perfect condition and everything was in its place. Our first trip was out to the pool area and ocean. It was Magnificent!! A little crowded, but manageable. We walked out around the cove area to the left and climbed onto some rocks where small tide-pools held fish/crabs. Back to the room, the kids fell asleep and Susan and I took a walk to the hot-tub (which was awesome), the lazy river and did the water slides (2).

Day 2: Woke at 6am on Sunday at ventured to the KOA Pancake house (Cheap Breakfast/Lunch Only). Susan and I had Mahi-Mahi w/Eggs and potatoes and the kids had pancakes of course!. Off to MASS @10am at St. Jude Catholic Church. All visitors received a puca shell necklace, we sang Happy Birthday to all who had birthdays that day. It was a very laid back Catholic Mass beginning. A trip to Costco for the week’s groceries was next in line. We got out of there with only spending $150…that is amazing! Our list included 3-Gallons of POG Juice (Passion/Orange and Guava Juice) 36 Eggs, Lettuce, Beer, Cereal, Milk, Sushi, Butter, Bread, Turkey2lbs, Bottled water, 50-IceCream Treats, Salad Dressing, Banana’s, Cheese and more. Dropped it all off at the room, then headed to the beach (Free lounges and Umbrella), then swam out to the buoy’s (About 300ft) and back. A trip to the pool was next exploring the lazy river, slides (One dark, the other an open raft-type). Both were awesome!
Lunch was next, then a walk on the rock shore again w/pictures of the sunset. After, Disney was setting up the outside movie theater and watched Toy Story for about 45mins. We were getting tired, so we explored the resort, spa, yogurt bar. After heading towards the center of the resort area, they had a three piece band and I danced with my daughter Lauren. End of day was at 9:30pm…all tucked in bed!

Day 3: Lauren walked with G-ma and G-pa that morning early. Reservation at 8am at Makahiki Breakfast buffet w/o characters. Lots of great selections, tasty food and plenty of trips back to the buffet for Me and Ethan. We loaded up the van and headed to DiamondHead Crater Park. It was crowded, taking about 45mins to an hour to walk up .75miles. It was about 90F and sunny. The views were incredible and I highly recommend this hike. Bring water, wear hiking shoes and bring a camera. Parking fee was only $5. After the hike back down (was easy) we decided to venture north to the DOLE pineapple plantation. A tourist trap for sure, we walked around the gardens, snapped some pictures and ate an Ice Cream Dole Whip w/pineapple. After about an hour or so, we jumped back into the car and head to Waimea Valley on the North Shore. Wow, surfer city USA….amazing waves, tons of traffic and a lot to see. We arrived about an hour before Waimea Valley closed, but we were able to get a shuttle to the waterfall and walked back (About ¾ of a mile). A few folks were swimming in the pool below the waterfall, it was amazingly beautiful site. Walking back down the very wide, paved trail we saw tons of foliage, animals, plants, fruits and the stream. After returning to our van we had a BIG surprise sitting on top of our roof! Yes! It was a huge Peacock. It was stubborn, but after starting the engine, he/she flew down. It was getting late, so we headed back to the resort.

Day 4: Susan and I woke up early today at 5:30am to walk on the beach, we saw little and bigger holes that I assume was the work of soft-shell crabs. Pearl Harbor was on the 8am schedule today, so we headed out and arrived early, which was good. After seeing a short and very emotional preview film of December 7th 1941, we solemnly walked to the boat shuttle to visit the Arizona Memorial. You could hear a pin drop after the movie ended. There are strict rules upon visiting this memorial which is unlike anything else experienced before. Nothing but a camera and a water bottle was allowed. You must remember that you’re visiting the grave site of over 1000 men who were trapped inside and had no idea what was going on above deck. Oil still seeps out of her fuel tanks 70yrs later. We returned back and caught a shuttle to Ford Island where we toured the Battleship Missouri. Wow! Three Football fields long and carried over 1000 crew. Teak wood decking, 16-inch guns that can fire up to 23miles accurately. It was used in World War II, Korean War, Gulf War and Desert Storm. We took the guided tour and walked around freely below deck. The Missouri faced the Arizona memorial the beginning of WWII for the U.S. and the Missouri play the ending roll of WWII. A very emotional place to be and to see both sites at the same time. There were several other exhibits like the Pacific Aviation Museum, the Bowfin Submarine and other places to visit. You could easily spend two-three days at the Memorial site and Ford Island.
After heading back about 2:30pm, we had lunch in our room. We took a walk down to the beach, pool area and swam. It started to get really dark in the sky, so we took cover and it poured down rain for about 10mins, then stopped immediately. All the cast members were smiling. The West side of Oahu only receives about 6inches of rain annually. It was time to get some dinner back at the room, chill and book tomorrows adventure...Kauloa Ranch.

Day 5: An early wake up to get to Kauloa Ranch on the East side of Oahu. Kauloa Ranch is a 4,000 acres property bordering the ocean and is famous for multiple movies being filmed on the property such as Jurassic Park, Journey 2: Mysterious Island, Godzilla, 50 first dates, The Rundown, Pearl Harbor, Windtalkers, and more. Our full day consisted of 4 tours (2-morning/2-afternoon) with lunch in-between. The first was the “Jungle Tour”…a 40min ride into the jungle with a history lesson on the origins of the land, who owned it and what is has been used for in the past. The second, was the “Ocean Voyage Tour”. Crossing over the ancient fish pond in a flat bottom boat, we walked through the mangroves and came upon the open ocean were a catamaran-type boat was waiting for us. We trolled out about 45mins and had magnificent views of the island. On our way back we saw several sea-turtles swimming near the reef. Thousands of Hammerheads sharks are birthed in the bay and when they reach 24inches or so, they swim out to sea. Lunch was next, it was a buffet which was Asian styled. They had salad, fruit, rice, chili, and my favorite BBQ Pork ribs. Oh, so good!!! A few trips were to made back to the ribs. The food was above average. Onto Tour number 3, this was the “Movie Tour”. We boarded a school bus with no windows and see out to see the valley area of Kauloa Ranch where Jurrasic Park, Godzilla, Windtalkers and parts of Jerry Bruckheimers version of Pearl Harbor was filmed. It was awesome seeing the nearly 2,500ft high mountains with deep cuts from the rainwaters and luscious green foliage covering nearly everything in sight. The guide told us, once when it was raining on a tour, he counted 15 waterfalls at one time. It must have been like heaven on earth. The last tour was the “Garden/Fish Pond”, where we boarded an A/C shuttle bus and visited the orchard where we found Macadamia Nuts, Tangerines, Guava and Coconuts. The Mac’s tasted awesome, just had to find a big rock to crack them open. Lauren found two Tangerine’s which we ate. A Guava, which is like a strawberry. Then, the guide pulled out a sharp stick and pounded the Coconut husk which removed the outer layer revealing the actually coconut you see in the stores. The nuts have two eyes and a mouth, you split it between the two eyes said the tour guide. The milk splashed out, but he was able to save quite a bit for us to try. It tasted light and sweet. We brought half back to the resort and shaved pieces off to eat. It was really, really good. After taking the tour we boarded the flat bottom boat again and took a short tour of the Ancient Fishing pond built in 400 A.D. The Polynesians used a dry-stack method *without morter and built a 3ft high wall around 4-acres of land. To seal the gaps in the rocks, they placed coral since they knew it would grow and make the wall solid. Very ingenious!!! We went back to shore and rode the shuttle back to the main ranch where Lauren then took her 5-min horse ride. You need to be 8yrs old to ride the 1.5hr or 2hr trail ride. She loved it even though it was short.

Day 6 & 7: We hung out at the resort, swam, rode the slides, were super-lazy in the lazy river, the kids did the resort reef snorkel adventure and we checked out a few other things onsite.

Hints, tips, tricks and other fun stuff:
1) We ate most meals in our room, the breakfast buffet, KOA pancake house (2-times), shaved ice at the resort, Off-The Hook twice. All the food at each place was average to above average.
2) I’d recommend Costco, but if there is less than 6 people in your party Safeway would suffice.
2) Check out the Rocks near the shore, but be careful of big waves. We saw small crabs, big crabs, tiny fish and several Mongooses which ran from the mangroves to the shores edge. I think they were grabbing the medium-sized soft shell crabs from the rocky shoreline and having them for dinner.
4) The Refillable mugs were awesome at $18.99 a mug, you’ve got $15 souvenir and we took full advantage of the 5 drink stations. You can get Black Tea and Mango Tea from Off-The Hook, just ask. The drink stations had Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Fanta Orange, Nestea Raspberry, Powerade blueberry, Barq’s Root beer and MinuteMaid Lemonade
5) The yogurt bar (Rip Swirl) by the spa was awesome…it’s hidden away by the quiet pool.
6) Catch a movie on the lawn if you can…they have an awesome setup with amazing sound system.
7) A minivan was awesome for all 6 of us, gas was $3.99 at Costco and we only used ¾ of a tank of gas for the whole trip. I booked the van about 4-months in advance at Dollar Rent-A-Car. They gave great service on pickup and returning. It was so much easier than the renting process at Orlando =))
8) Check out the rocks around the pool and lookout for animals carved into the rock, just like the tree at Animal Kingdom.
9) Pearl Harbor is a must, along with the Battleship Missouri at the least. Diamond Head Crater is a must, Kualoa Ranch and the North Shore is a must also.
10) Water shoes are a must, the beach area is a little rocky. Bring your own snorkel/mask so you’re more comfortable with it than renting a used one.
11) Bring a colorful beach bag that is waterproof. It makes it easy to spot among all the lounge chairs.

View from Room 1051 (2-Bedroom Dedicated Island Garden View 10th floor).


Diamond Head Crater (Not quite to the top yet!)

Dole Plantation

Waimea Valley Waterfall

Aulani Beach/Resort at Sunrise

Kualoa Ranch Jungle Tour

Ocean Voyage Tour Chinaman's Hat Island

Jurassic Park Filming Location - Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

The Mountains w/Clouds at Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

Turtle Island East Oahu - Near Kualoa Ranch, Oahu

Aulani Beachfront Family Photo

On the rocks!

Don't look kids!!

Sunset Ko' Olina, Oahu

Battleship Missouri 63 and Arizona Memorial in background

Big MO's guns

Coconut, Guava, Macadamia Nut, Mac Nut w/Shell and a Tangerine

Starlit Hui w/Luau Dancers

Starlit Hui w/Luau Dancers and Daddy-O

The Burial site

Last edited by bfrosty; 06-18-2012 at 06:39 PM. Reason: adding photos
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:07 AM   #2
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Great TR and wonderful photos.

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Old 06-19-2012, 09:34 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing!

It looks like you had a wonderful time!

Thanks for sharing things that worked for you and all that you did!
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:03 AM   #4
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Thank you for sharing. Beautiful photos.
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:04 PM   #5
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Thanks, it was a trip of a lifetime.

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Old 06-19-2012, 07:31 PM   #6
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Thanks for posting your trip report!

Now that you have tried an Island View villa, do you think you will try a different view the next time you go to Aulani, or do you think you'll book an Island View again?
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:54 PM   #7
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What a GREAT TR! Your pictures are stunning. It makes me very excited for our trip in December!

Kauloa Ranch - did you book this on your own, or through Adventures by Disney? I know we would like to go, but am not sure of the best way to go about it. Going again, would you do all the tours?
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:05 AM   #8
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I don't think so, I think all the rooms are nice and we really don't spend a ton of time there, just to shower, sleep and eat. Other than that, we are in the pools, going down the slides, out in the ocean or on an island adventure.

I'd think if you've never been to Hawaii, that maybe an oceanview once would be worth it. We stayed in Maui 12yrs ago and had an oceanview at the Hyatt. It was awesome at first, but after the initial WOW....we were over it.

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Old 06-20-2012, 12:12 AM   #9
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Great Question

We actually booked it while at Aulani a couple days before.

They had plenty of room. Once there, we signed up for all 4 tours. The guy said oh "We have 600 guests" today...it's going to be busy. Then, on our second tour I overheard our guides talking and they were like oh "We have like 282 guests today".....=)) Take that for what it's worth.

We enjoyed all 4 tours with an hour and 15mins break for lunch. The Pork Ribs were truly awesome and great BBW sauce.

I let the sign up guy pick the order, since he knew best.

1) Jungle Tour (I assume at 8am, it's still cool temperature-wise)
2) Ocean Tour (Very refreshing on the open ocean)
Lunch from about 11am-12:15am.
3) Movie Tour via Bus
4) Garden Tour (Most laid back, pick fruits and a little boat ride)

All tours are about an hour or so...So, you don't get bored and there are plenty of photo opportunities.

I'd like to do the Horseback Riding, but my DD7 was too young (9yrs old min.?) and the ATV riding looked cool. I think there is an ocean voyage with lunch on the beach, but not sure.

Ask more questions if you like.

Originally Posted by Silly Little Pixie View Post
What a GREAT TR! Your pictures are stunning. It makes me very excited for our trip in December!

Kauloa Ranch - did you book this on your own, or through Adventures by Disney? I know we would like to go, but am not sure of the best way to go about it. Going again, would you do all the tours?
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