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Old 02-18-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
Cruise04
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The person that never wanted to go to Hawaii - Aulani - 2/10-2/17/13

I just returned this morning from a VERY wonderful trip to Aulani and Oahu. This was my first time visiting and, I think I can say probably won't be my last. It surprised me beyond suprising me. I am the person that had no desire to ever go to Hawaii, the opportunity presented itself so I said - eh, why not.

I took A TON of pics and I'll work on trying to get them posted this weekend. But a few things:

I had a 1 bedroom, ocean view that was SPECTACULAR! I was pleasantly surprised. The room was great and it was nice to have the luxury to cook because it did save me some money - I ate breakfast almost every day in my room and often brought food back from the food trucks for dinner. I was close to the elevator (I was a solo traveler and wanted to not be too far from the elevator) which I was close to the store, the restaurants, pretty much everything - except the parking garage. LOL I could sit on my lanai at night with a glass of wine and enjoy the music, I could sit and relax and eat my breakfast and drink my coffee in the morning, I could enjoy the sounds of the pool during the day.

I did rent a car and so I did venture out almost every day seeing the sights and soaking in the sounds of the island. I drove to Waikiki to catch a tour for Pearl Harbor, I drove down along the south shore and then to catch a tour for a whale watching cruise, I drove over to the east side doing the south part one day, then drove up north of Aulani and then over to the North Shore another day. I think I hit every major road on that island and saw so much. I spent two full days at the resort - the Monday after I arrived and Saturday before I left as well as the day I arrived which was a partial day and the day I left which was a partial day.

The construction noises didn't bother me. I knew they were going to be there and I wasn't going to let them get in the way of my vacation. One screecher at the pool was a nuisance, more than the construction, but I just dealt with it (I have a high sensitivity to high pitch noises in one ear and that screeching really bothered it).

I did the Starlit Hui, which I thought was good but it was very kid oriented, in my opinion. It was enjoyable. I did the character breakfast on my last day and the food was good with a wide variety but the character experience I don't think was like at the WDW resorts. Maybe because I was solo but I was observing. Mickey doesn't come around to your table, you have to go to Mickey and no one told me he was almost done and so I missed having my pic with Mickey. I was a little upset. Minnie and Goofy do come around to your table.

I ate at A'ma A'ma one night and, although the food was delicious, the price was a bit shocking frankly. But I did it and won't complain. The potato puree, though - O M G! Like butter in your mouth and I am not a mashed potato person. My table view was amazing, unfortunately it got cloudy as the sun was setting, but it was still nice.

Pearl Harbor - I can't describe what this tour meant to me and how I reacted. I had a great tour guide and wonderful people with the group that made sure I was included as I was the only single in the group. It was through the Pearl Harbor site but the tour company was actually Discover Hawaii Tours. Very very very good group and wonderful people.

Whale Watch Cruise - this was a two hour excursion that I booked through Groupon, thanks to a friend. They were GREAT. We had such a great experience and, again, the people on the boat were great. It actually was with Island Divers on the south side. Really can't complain. Very laid back people but they were awesome. This was from 4:30 to 6:30 and included the sunset which was spectacular. If you get sea sick - you might want to reconsider or make sure you take something. Our boat was surely moving that night.

Dole Plantation - I was very disappointed. I would not recommend it. I thought it was geared more towards kids. I found the garden beautiful but for $5 to walk through it, probably not worth it.

Tropical Farms Macadamian Nut Farm - they have flavored nuts you can try, kind of small, bit disappointing but I did get some nuts.

North Shore and Old Town Halewaie - must do! I thought this would be highly touristy like Waikiki or something since it's the area with the best waves. So totally opposite. There are little 'beach parks' and outlets to stop and enjoy the beach or just see the waves for a brief moment. Stop at them...don't pass them. I went up and started at Turtle Bay Resort, which I was disappointed in. Stopped at a roadside food market and got some great fruit. Sunset Beach area is very packed so be careful. But it's a beautiful area. Just to the west of there is a little 'park' where it's really rocky by the ocean and I got some truly incredible pictures of the waves. There happened to be a High Surf Warning that day. A little more to the west of that is where the Falls park is and across from there is another beach where you can see the waves. Then you can keep going west and you'll get to Halewaie (sp?). Cute little town. Some small shops with THE BEST shaved ice - Matsumoto's. It's awesome!

If you get a chance to go cross H3, do it - it's beautiful and going through the bridge is great, especially if you've never been through a bridge that goes through a mountain. That is the 'rainforest' area. Then go down and cut back across on 61 and stop at Pali Lookout. It gets really windy - but it's breathtaking.

Down along the south shore there are some breathtaking views and outlets. Stop at them, you'll get some very awesome pics and the water views are just incredible. You might even see some whales in this area. At one outlet I stopped at they had counted 5 whales. I saw 3.

I didn't feel that the resort was over 'Disney-fied', which to me was a good thing. I compare it to HHI, AKL, and WL. It's beautiful, it's serene, gorgeous sunsets from the lagoon beach.

I cried when I got there because I couldn't believe I was there. I cried when the DVC guy and I were talking and he asked me what the best thing was that I did. I cried when I left. I couldn't believe I was actually going on this trip and was there. And was very thankful that I went. Again, the person that never had a desire to go to Hawaii.

Pics this weekend.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:17 PM   #2
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Loved the review!

I have been lurking here through 3 trips to WDW and am ready for a change after 4 Florida vacations with my now 7 year old. Thank you for a heartfelt and wonderful Aulani review.........
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:09 AM   #3
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Great review! I so wish we could go to Aulani but DH can't do long plane rides anymore. So glad that you decided to give Hawaii a go and were rewarded for your choice. Thanks for writing.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:35 PM   #4
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That's WONDERFUL!!! I am so glad you went and tried it, even if you didn't think you ever wanted to go to Hawaii. I know so many people who say this, and sometimes I think it's that they think it's a tourist trap, sometimes the flight is too far, sometimes they don't know what could be any more special about it than somewhere else they know.

But it IS more special, isn't it?

Thanks for telling us-
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:18 PM   #5
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I echo much of your feelings. Although, since we had kids, many of the kids oriented things were good for us. We only took the train ride at the Dole Plantation and felt that was enough. We also felt that in the end, it was mostly just a tourist trap. We were happy to see it once and likely will not go on any return trips.

I wish we would have made it to Pearl Harbor but just didn't get a chance. I was the only member of my party interested in going and so I decided to postpone that until another time when the kids are older and can appreciate it a little more.

Glad you had a great trip!
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Old 02-23-2013, 10:02 PM   #6
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Can't wait to see your pics! We are going in September.
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