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Old 08-17-2012, 11:54 AM   #1
Hessie628
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Aulani and Ohau must dos

Hi all! We are heading to Aulani in a little over a week. I was curious as to what you all thought were must dos at the resort or on the island. We have some tours booked already, but I was curious for others' opinions who have been. Any not so "touristy" things we should maybe check out as well? We will have a rental car for our 9 day stay. Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Hessie628 View Post
Hi all! We are heading to Aulani in a little over a week. I was curious as to what you all thought were must dos at the resort or on the island. We have some tours booked already, but I was curious for others' opinions who have been. Any not so "touristy" things we should maybe check out as well? We will have a rental car for our 9 day stay. Thanks!
We just returned from Aulani earlier this week, and also did many of the "touristy" type things when we were there in 2010 before Aulani was open. Here a few favorites that cost little or nothing as long as you have a car.

Diamond Head hike - $5 to park, most everyone can do it, great view at the top.

Snorkeling at Haunama (sp?) Bay - $5 to park, $7.50/person for entrance, plus snorkel rental. Not only is it one of the most famous snorkel sites in the world, it is also an incredible beach. Picture a crescent shaped sandy beach with steep cliffs around you on 3 sides with the ocean on the 4th.

Koko Head Crater - Free. Google this one and check out the pictures. It's a hike up the crater on an old tram line. It's so steep I saw some people doing it "crawling" using their hands and feet because of the angle of climb. Absolutely incredible view at the top, with a view of the entire Southeastern point of the island. Very strenuous, but if you can do it, it's a great accomplishment.

Manoa Falls - Probably the most popular waterfall hike. Pretty waterfall if it's been raining. It's a walk through the rainforest, so if you've never done this it's a great place to encounter what a rainforest looks like. Prepare for mud.

Pali Lookup - $3 to park. Plaques describe the historical significance, plus it's a great view. If you choose to ignore the "Danger - Falling Rocks" sign there's a great trail down the old Pali Highway that existed before the new road was built. Don't wear a skirt or a dress unless you want to be holding on to it the entire time. It's so windy you can often lay into the wind without falling.

Kaena Point - Free. You can approach this from the South or West side. The south side has a much prettier walk along the cliffs above the ocean. The other side is kind of boring but they both end up at Kaena Point which contains an albatross habitat and a great view of the south-western tip of the island. Hot, bring something to drink and sunscreen.

Tantalus Drive/Round Top Road - 9 miles of road that weaves up the side of the mountain, and back down the other side. Not dangerous or scary for the most part, just a beautiful drive where each wide part of the road will give you another amazing view.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal - There's a monk seal that has found a sunny spot each morning very near Aulani. It was there both times we checked during our stay at about 9:00am. On the path by the beach in front of the resort start walking to the right past the Marriott. Continue to the end and you will see a warning sign that states "Ending Resort Property - Proceed at your own risk". Continue down the short incline, flip flops would be a bad idea, and at the small isolated beach around the corner, most days, the seal will be sunning itself. Some conservation district has put up string "fence" around where it suns to protect it, and because it comes here most every day it must feel safe behind that string.

The H3 - Free. What's exciting about driving on a freeway? Take the drive and you'll find out. Start from the H1 out of Aulani and get on the H3. I believe the H3 took 29 years and over a billion dollars to build. Very pretty drive and quite amazing the way they bring the road through the mountain. Immediately after the tunnel, look straight up to the right and you'll see metal stairs going up the mountain and then along the ridge. Google Haiku Stairs to get some background on this controversial project.

Looks of free stuff at Aulani. The handheld game that has you explore the pool area is a lot of fun, and they also have Ukelele lessons and some of the crafts are free. Our family also considers the free Starlit Hui a "do not miss". I think it's a better show then we saw at the Luaus.

Like I said, just back earlier this week. Let me know if you have any other specific questions.

Last edited by dtauer; 08-17-2012 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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We're going for 3 days after a cruise in early October. Some great suggestions we'd never heard before. How long is the hike to Manoa Falls? Is it very strenuous, we did Diamond Head 10 years ago and found it a bit long. And now we're 10 years older and in worse shape. Same questions for the Pali lookup and Kaena point.

Thanks,
Debbie and Tony

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtauer View Post
We just returned from Aulani earlier this week, and also did many of the "touristy" type things when we were there in 2010 before Aulani was open. Here a few favorites that cost little or nothing as long as you have a car.

Diamond Head hike - $5 to park, most everyone can do it, great view at the top.

Snorkeling at Haunama (sp?) Bay - $5 to park, $7.50/person for entrance, plus snorkel rental. Not only is it one of the most famous snorkel sites in the world, it is also an incredible beach. Picture a crescent shaped sandy beach with steep cliffs around you on 3 sides with the ocean on the 4th.

Koko Head Crater - Free. Google this one and check out the pictures. It's a hike up the crater on an old tram line. It's so steep I saw some people doing it "crawling" using their hands and feet because of the angle of climb. Absolutely incredible view at the top, with a view of the entire Southeastern point of the island. Very strenuous, but if you can do it, it's a great accomplishment.

Manoa Falls - Probably the most popular waterfall hike. Pretty waterfall if it's been raining. It's a walk through the rainforest, so if you've never done this it's a great place to encounter what a rainforest looks like. Prepare for mud.

Pali Lookup - $3 to park. Plaques describe the historical significance, plus it's a great view. If you choose to ignore the "Danger - Falling Rocks" sign there's a great trail down the old Pali Highway that existed before the new road was built. Don't wear a skirt or a dress unless you want to be holding on to it the entire time. It's so windy you can often lay into the wind without falling.

Kaena Point - Free. You can approach this from the South or West side. The south side has a much prettier walk along the cliffs above the ocean. The other side is kind of boring but they both end up at Kaena Point which contains an albatross habitat and a great view of the south-western tip of the island. Hot, bring something to drink and sunscreen.

Tantalus Drive/Round Top Road - 9 miles of road that weaves up the side of the mountain, and back down the other side. Not dangerous or scary for the most part, just a beautiful drive where each wide part of the road will give you another amazing view.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal - There's a monk seal that has found a sunny spot each morning very near Aulani. It was there both times we checked during our stay at about 9:00am. On the path by the beach in front of the resort start walking to the right past the Marriott. Continue to the end and you will see a warning sign that states "Ending Resort Property - Proceed at your own risk". Continue down the short incline, flip flops would be a bad idea, and at the small isolated beach around the corner, most days, the seal will be sunning itself. Some conservation district has put up string "fence" around where it suns to protect it, and because it comes here most every day it must feel safe behind that string.

The H3 - Free. What's exciting about driving on a freeway? Take the drive and you'll find out. Start from the H1 out of Aulani and get on the H3. I believe the H3 took 29 years and over a billion dollars to build. Very pretty drive and quite amazing the way they bring the road through the mountain. Immediately after the tunnel, look straight up to the right and you'll see metal stairs going up the mountain and then along the ridge. Google Haiku Stairs to get some background on this controversial project.

Looks of free stuff at Aulani. The handheld game that has you explore the pool area is a lot of fun, and they also have Ukelele lessons and some of the crafts are free. Our family also considers the free Starlit Hui a "do not miss". I think it's a better show then we saw at the Luaus.

Like I said, just back earlier this week. Let me know if you have any other specific questions.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
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Try the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor and the Bishop Museum for sightseeing. At the resort, check out the Starlight Hui and free activities that are listed in the daily 'Iwa. There is a sample one on the Aulani website. I also did the outrigger canoe at the resort. It is $99per adult and they take you out for about 50-60 minutes.
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Old 08-17-2012, 04:59 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by disneykins View Post
We're going for 3 days after a cruise in early October. Some great suggestions we'd never heard before. How long is the hike to Manoa Falls? Is it very strenuous, we did Diamond Head 10 years ago and found it a bit long. And now we're 10 years older and in worse shape. Same questions for the Pali lookup and Kaena point.

Thanks,
Debbie and Tony
I wouldn't call the Manoa Falls hike strenuous, but it is more of a hike. Diamond Head is more of a walk that goes gradually uphill until you get to the stairs.

The other main difference is that for the most part Diamond Head is a maintained trail with either concrete or gravel. Manoa Falls trail is maintained but is much more rugged with areas that are muddy and there are some areas where you need to climb a little to get around obstacles. Nothing major, and little kids do it all the time, but it is truly a hike, not a walk. It was somewhat muddy the day we went and several people were complaining. My thought was, imagine that, it rained in the rain forest. We used water/reef shoes and it worked great because they gave us traction without getting our athletic shoes all muddy. Manoa falls is probably about 1 mile each direction.

Also, note that there is a new way to get to the top of Diamond Head. Previously the only option was the 99 stairs up the very steep slope and then the circular stairs to get to the very top. Since we were there in 2010 they built a walk around the side of the peak instead of up through it from the bottom. My wife did the walk around and said it was much better than going up all of those stairs. I still prefer the "classic" route up the stairs.

Regarding your questions about Pali Lookout and Kaena Point. Pali Lookout can be little to no walking/hiking. Just going on the observation platform and reading the information is beautiful and interesting. The hike begins after you cross the "Danger - Falling Rocks" sign. Because the trail is the old road, it's paved and an easy walk down. Eventually, about 3/4 mile I think, you run out of the road where there was a rock slide and past that point it's a very rugged trail, we've never gone beyond that point.

Kaena Point shows as a road on most every map, and most every map is wrong. The road to the point hasn't existed for years, and the only way to get to the point is a hike. From the North/West side it's a flat easy walk of about 2 miles I think, but very dull. From the South side (nearest to Aulani) it's about 2 1/2 miles and a beautiful walk along hills overlooking the ocean. If you're adventurous there are also areas you can walk down to some secluded beaches and rocky shorelines. Near the end of the hike from this side there is one scary portion. The trail was washed out at some point, and the trail now goes up and over the washed out portion. I saw a runner cross this portion at full speed when we were there, but we were much more cautious as it is along the side of a pretty significant drop. Also, on this side we went about 20 minutes at a time without seeing anyone else. The hike from the other side is much more traveled.

Last edited by dtauer; 08-17-2012 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 08-17-2012, 05:42 PM   #6
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Spend at least 1 day at the pool and beach. (I spent at least 2 full days camped out by the pool.) You'll need it to recuperate from everything else! Things I did:

snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

drive around the island, stopping at some of the beaches on the North Shore
Pearl Harbor

Dole Plantation

Polynesian Culture Center

Punchbowl Cemetery

a snorkeling excursion at the marina near the resort, where I got to snorkel with sea turtles and dolphins (my favorite excursion!)

a day trip to the Big Island to see the volcanos

a spa treatment at Aulani (pricy, but oh so nice!)

I did several of the free craft activities at Aulani

Starlit Hui

I finally got to see all three Toy Story movies by getting the movies at the Community Hall

I read at least 10 books on my Kindle

And above all, find Leonard's mobile trailer and try the coconut creme filled malasadas! It's about 10-15 minutes from the resort


I went to Hawaii 25 years ago, and other things I did then included:

Paradise Cove luau (which incidentally is within walking distance of Aulani!)

an evening dinner cruise

a tour of Honolulu (Iolani Palace and I don't remember what else!)

a Sea Life Park on the east side of the island

since I stayed in Waikiki the last time, I definitely went to the beach, although I was disappointed in it (the sand wasn't nice and it was crowded)

went to the International Market place in Waikiki


The only things that I didn't do this time that I would have liked to do were hike up Diamond Head and go to the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. Since I didn't get to do those this time, I'm hoping to go back to Aulani in 3 or 4 years.

Have fun!!!
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:31 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the ideas. We hope to go next June! Anxiously awaiting booking in December!!!
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Old 08-19-2012, 11:12 AM   #8
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North shore beaches are great - better waves (and famous garlic shrimp trucks).
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:31 PM   #9
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Lots of great suggestions so far! Major places to hit!!

Also .....

Stop at Laniakea Beach to see the sea turtles sunning on the beach. If you go earlier in the day, you will see them in the water munching on the seaweed, but if you go later afternoon, they will be on shore! Best of all, it's free (since you have a car rental)

Drive through and stop at Haleiwa on the North Shore. Try the shave ice from either Aoki's or Matsamuto's.

Stop at Ted's Bakery for a great lunch!

Do a variety of different tours at Kualoa Ranch. Chinaman's Hat is also nearby. Also close is Tropical Farms macademia nut farm, free samples of macademias and coffee.

Giovanni's Shrimp truck for the best shrimp ever!!

Aloha Stadium swap meet for cheap souvenirs (open Wed., Sat., and Sun.)

Sorry if any are repeated ... I did a quick scan of the other posts
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:55 PM   #10
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No Pearl Harbor and Arizona Memorial?

My wife and I leave in 3 days and this will be one of the first places we visit. Thanks for the great list as we plan to do the non-touristy "stuff" as well.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:38 PM   #11
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Absolutely!! It was mentioned by izzy. We enjoyed our visit very much!
Have a great trip!
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:42 AM   #12
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Definitely check out the Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium. There is a small fee per person to park (maybe $1.50?), and you can get souvenirs for very good prices. There is also fresh food there. Try the malasadas (portuguese donuts).

I kayaked with sea turtles at Lanikai Beach on the east side of the island and it was one of my all time favorite vacation experiences. Google Lanikai beach for some pictures.

Enjoy!
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hessie628 View Post
Hi all! We are heading to Aulani in a little over a week. I was curious as to what you all thought were must dos at the resort or on the island. We have some tours booked already, but I was curious for others' opinions who have been. Any not so "touristy" things we should maybe check out as well? We will have a rental car for our 9 day stay. Thanks!
In no particular order:

Pearl Harbor
Polynesian Culture Center
a day trip to the Big Island to see the volcanos
Paradise Cove luau (walking distance from Aulani!)
an evening dinner cruise
Submarine dive off Waikiki Beach
Dole Plantation (least favorite)
Elvis Impersonator dinner show
hike to Diamond Head
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Old 08-21-2012, 08:21 PM   #14
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I'll agree with others' postings - especially the Pali Lookout. It's the most beautiful view I've ever seen; there's one on Kauai that's a tie but I think my favorite is still Pali Lookout.

And, as already mentioned, the hike to the top of Diamond Head. It really makes you realize that it is the side of a volcano and not just a mountain.

A couple of other ideas: Byodo-In Temple is a nice place to walk around. It's on the east side.

On the North Shore, we were able to see many turtles right near the shore. And the shave ice already mentioned.

Many don't like the touristy Waikiki Beach but we love it. Gotta have a Mai-Tai at Duke's Canoe Club overlooking the beach.

There's so much to do and see on Oahu. Hope you have a great trip!
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:40 PM   #15
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Smile

I'm subscribing to this thread...thanks for all the ideas!!
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