Back from Aulani vacation. Quick report on an amazing vacation!!

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by SuzanneB74, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. SuzanneB74

    SuzanneB74 Earning My Ears

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    Feb 26, 2017
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    We are home after our first Hawaiian vacation! We had an amazing time staying at Aulani and exploring the island. Thank you so much to this website for all the input, trip reports, recommendation, etc.!!!


    Couple of quick notes:

    - We hated Safeway and advise anyone to not go there. Target and Costco – yes! Safeway is extremely overpriced. The Poke and garlic shrimp in the prepared case at Costco is very delicious. I am in Poke withdrawl! I want to eat that every day!!!!

    - My older DS did the teen activity every night and had a great time – he met a bunch of kids and made friends. I highly recommend for all teenagers.

    - My younger DS did all the tween activities – there were only 3 and they are in the evening. He really enjoyed them, but he was bummed they didn’t have them every night like they do for the teenagers.

    - Going to the North Shore, we took 750 instead of H2. We wanted as little interstate as possible for experience the countryside. The drive was beautiful!


    My family consists of myself, DH, DS 14 ½ and DS 12 ½


    Day 1: Landed at HNL after flights MCO-ATL and ATL-HNL. Flights were very smooth and comfortable. We flew Delta Comfort Plus and HIGHLY recommend! Comfort Plus gave us designated overhead bins and about 4” extra leg room. With the designated bin space, we only checked 2 bags and we packed enough clothes, etc. in the carry-ons to last for a few days in case luggage was lost, which thankfully didn’t happen. We rented a car rental at Alamo and then spend the afternoon at the resort. Went to Pizza Corner for dinner and went to bed early. Long day!!


    Day 2: Older DS had a surf lesson at 9:30 through Surf HNL. It was a great experience, he had a lot of fun and did a lot of surfing. I added the photos to the package and we got about 75. I highly recommend Surf HNL! Their surf location is about 15 min from the resort and was very easy! After the lesson, we drove to Manoa Falls. It was beautiful and short hike. Highly recommend! After that, we went to a restaurant called Ona Hawaiian Foods. (726 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu). This spot was highly recommended from a friend and didn’t disappoint. It is native food, very small restaurant. The owner serves the food and explains everything and how to eat it. It was so good!!! Check it out and the reviews on Yelp. But, the owners are retiring in August, so if you are in Hawaii before August, it is a great lunch spot. It is also down the street from Leonard’s! We stopped there after lunch and they were delicious! I understand now why everyone raves about them! After that, we headed back to the resort for the rest of the day.


    Day 3: We went ziplining at Climbworks in the North Shore. It was a lot of fun and the views were amazing! I highly recommend this! We left the resort at 6:45 and arrived at 8:00. We had more than enough time. It is on a farm, so along the course, we tried a variety of fruit and vegetables that they grow. The best was apple bananas – smaller and sweeter than traditional bananas. So yummy!! After that, we drove down 83 south along the coast and stopped at Keneke’s Grill at Punalu. It was a small restaurant – Hawaiian foods. I had fish, DH and DS had garlic shrimp and DS had a club sandwich. Then we stopped at Ahupua’a State Park played around in Kahana Bay for an hour or so – swimming and snorkeling. It was a great way to cool off. Then we headed down the road (only 4 miles) to Kualoa Ranch. We had reservations for the 3:30 Jurassic Jungle Tour. This was also a lot of fun and very beautiful. The kids loved seeing the movie sets. Towards the end of the tour, we took a short walk to lookout point which was breathtaking. The best part was looking into the valley and being able to see the set of Jurassic World 2. That means somewhere around us was Chris Pratt!!! But we didn’t see him, but our guide said they were actively shooting the movie. We bought ground beef and skirt steak from the ranch and took it home. We did encounter some traffic on our way back, but we expected it and it really wasn’t as bad as anticipated. My husband grilled burgers and we ate in the room. It was very good!


    Day 4: I did an early morning run along the beach. It was great and running along the ocean is so peaceful! Then we went to Paradise Cove to snorkel and it was amazing! We saw a lot of fish and two sea turtles. We all really enjoyed this! After that, we went back to the resort for the rest of the afternoon. We went to the Paradise Cove Luau at 5 and enjoyed it. The pre-show activites were fun and entertaining. We all thought the food was very good and the show was great. Highly recommend. We purchased Orchid tickets and our seats were very good and worth the extra money. I purchased the entertainment book and used the coupon in the book to save money – worth it!


    Day 5: Today we headed up towards the North Shore to explore the island. We stopped at a Green World Coffee Farm, which is about 1 mile south of the Dole Plantation. The coffee was very good! I picked up some small gifts to take home and a bag of coffee for myself. So glad we stopped – it was impromptu and unplanned, but saw it and wanted to stop! Then we went to Dole. We were just going to walk around, but the kids wanted to do the maze (used Entertainment Book again for this). They wanted to do it alone, so we sent them in and then we walked the grounds and browsed the gift shop. We got a tuna roll to snack on while we waited for them and it was very good! Then we left Dole and headed for the North Shore. We had lunch at Giovanni’s Shrimp truck. It was really good and a lot of food! We split a few plates and were very happy. Then we drove to Shark’s Cove. The snorkeling there was great. It wasn’t very crowded and there was a lot of fish and turtles. We were there for a while because it was so fun. Then we went for shaved ice. This is not normally something I like, but DH and I split one. It was so good! We got the Hawaiian blend. Of course, the kids loved it! After than we stopped at a few beaches and then headed home. DH grilled the skirt steak from Kualoa Ranch for dinner. It was delicious.


    Day 6: We woke up early and drove to Diamond Head, arrived at 7:30. It was amazing! I loved the hike! I would have loved to return when I knew it wasn’t crowded – I would to run the trail as a workout, but way too crowded for that. The views were amazing!! Then we headed to Pearl Harbor. We go the audio tour as well. It was great, so much extra information. We loved it and recommend the audio tour. The entire experience was amazing and very emotional. Everyone who comes to Hawaii should do this! I didn’t get the advance tickets, but easily got tickets in the 24 hour window. I set my alarm for 6:45 (awake anyway, but wanted to be sure.) Logged on, created an account and then at 7:00 got tickets. I was happy I got them because I was bummed when I missed the advance tickets. After that we went to the Swap Meet, kids got souvenirs and we picked up a few items we wanted. On our way home, we stopped at the Leonard’s mobile truck – we needed more Malasadas!


    Day 7: I did the 6:30 Cardio class on the beach, which was great! Wish I had done more classes, but this was a good one! Coffee on the balcony afterwards was relaxing too! Once the kids woke up we went back to Paradise Cove for more snorkeling. We also walked over the Lagoon 2 and snorkeled there too, but Paradise Cove was much better. My DH and DS had a tee time at Ko ‘Olina for 9 holes at 3:00. They really liked the course and had a great time! My older DH hung out with friends he had met. So I parked myself at the adult pool with a skinny margarita and a book. Everyone was super happy! We met back up for dinner and photos. Then we started packing. L


    Day 8: Departure Day. Got all packed up and put everything in the car and spend the morning at the pool. Ate lunch at Off the Hook. DS and I went to the Lagoon for a while and then we all went to the Day of Departure Lounge and got showered and dressed for travel. This lounge was great – perfect to prepare for the long flights home.
     
    Evette and lfishe3 like this.
  2. SuzanneB74

    SuzanneB74 Earning My Ears

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    Forgot to add two things:

    The Disney Photo Pass was great! We got a ton of family pictures all over the resort and the pictures are amazing! The few pictures that are bad is because of a kid with their eyes closed! Lol. Also, DVC members get 10% off!!! I also love that you can view the photos in the room. I loved being able to see them everyday. I highly, highly recommend buying the CD. You will not regret it!!

    We brought our GoPro for snorkeling. The photos and videos underwater are great! The kids loved having that. They also used it zip lining. So fun to re-watch!
     
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  4. disneydreamingdebby

    disneydreamingdebby DVC Member

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    Thank you for your report! I am in the process of preparing our trip plans. The recommendation for HNL saved me much time and legwork to figure out where to book lessons for my daughters (15).

    Can you tell me a little more about the teen activities?

    Was there anything you planned to do and didn't? If so, why did you change your mind and did you regret it?

    So, I can get advanced tickets online in the morning instead of all eight of us lining up at 6:15? Please tell me that is a viable option!
     
  5. SuzanneB74

    SuzanneB74 Earning My Ears

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    Hi there!

    Surf HNL is great. Make your reservation online. I called and talked to someone first. They texted me the day before to confirm and were very nice.

    They had teen afternoon and evening activities everyday. They were things like sand castle making, beach activities and games. They had game nights, animation activities, photo hunts and more. My son told me there were 15-20 at each one and when it ended each night (9:30) he ended up hanging out at the pool with kids he met there. He really had a great time.

    We originally wanted to go to the Blowhole and Koko Head down by Diamond Head but ran out of time. We talked about doing a catamaran trip through Hawaii Nautical but we decided not to because we snorkeled a lot on our own and I thought our days were pretty packed and wanted to make sure the kids had enough down time at the resort.

    Yes! Go to recreation.gov and read about the 24 hour in advance tickets. Definitely be online at 7 am HST the day before you want to go to get tickets. They go fast. Before 7 am create an account and be logged in so you can check out quickly. We just reserved the tour online. When we got there we were able to get the audio as they had a ton of them.

    If you have more questions let me know!!! You will love your vacation!!!!

     
  6. alldiz

    alldiz DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for you detailed review. Can't wait for our trip this July and I am eating up all of the great info.
    I hope my DD 15 will participate in the teen activities.
    Kerri
     
  7. jerseygirlmk

    jerseygirlmk Mouseketeer

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    Feb 23, 2015
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    Awesome thank you!! Did you see if the new luau location at Aulani is worth it? We are debating between Paradise Cove and Aulani. We would certainly do the VIP packages as well!! Congrats on a lovely vacation!!
     
  8. SuzanneB74

    SuzanneB74 Earning My Ears

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    I didn't see the new location, but I talked to a Disney PhotoPass photographer about it. She took our pictures the evening we went to Paradise Cove and told her we were heading there and she said we would have a great time. Then I saw her the next day. I complimented her on her photos and then she asked how we liked it and we told her it was great. I asked her about the indoor Disney one and she admitted that right now the Disney one isn't that great and that Paradise Cove is much better. I highly recommend Paradise Cove and one of their upgraded seats.
     
    jerseygirlmk likes this.
  9. SuzanneB74

    SuzanneB74 Earning My Ears

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    If they are attended as well as they were when we were there, your DD will have a blast! There were a ton of teenagers!
     
    alldiz likes this.

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