Beach and luau options

bellarinah

Always a tone of surprise!
Joined
Feb 18, 2015
My family is going to Hawaii for the first time next summer. We’ll be doing island hopping to Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai. In Oahu, we’ll be staying at Aulani.

From what I read, people refer to the beach at Aulani as a lagoon. So does this mean that the beach doesn’t have any waves? If so, this won’t do for my daughters who will be 14 and 13 then. They enjoy playing with the waves at the beach. The waves don’t need to be huge, just normal like at Newport and Coronado in CA or the Outer Banks or Cocoa Beach. We’ll definitely stay at Aulani. But would love if anyone can recommend some beaches with good waves.

We want to do a luau too. I’m afraid the one at Aulani wouldn’t be exciting enough for their age group. Any suggestions and other options on that?

Also, feel free to chime in any activities in all the islands that would be great for 13 and 14 year olds.

Lastly, we will have a rental car everywhere we go. Thanks!
 

mmouse50

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 7, 2010
In July went to the Big Island and Oahu - stayed on the Hilo side of the Big Island, did Volcano National Park, Black Sand Beach and Robertson (black and green sand beach), snorkeling - didn't make it to the Kona side though. Thoroughly enjoyed the Big Island snorkeling but there weren't really big waves where we went, we did see some by the National Volcano park but I don't think I would get in them.
On Oahu we stayed in both Waikiki Beach and at Aulani - Waikiki beach did have waves but the current was strong so didn't go out far. At Aulani, it is definitely a lagoon no real wave action, but I am sure they will enjoy the pool, water slides and lazy river. Rainbow reef is a really neat experience also.
We went to Northshore, knowing that the big waves are in the winter not summer and it was strange to see the ocean as smooth as glass.

The luau was interesting - I don't have anything to compare it to but even though it is at a Disney property it is not a Disney themed production. Mickey and Minnie make a small appearance on stage but that is all there is of Disney. Before the luau starts you are able to partake in several activities, flower bracelet making, taro pounding (to make poi), quick ukulele lesson, and tattoos. The meal is a buffet and it does have a variety of foods. I had a 16 and 12 year old and they both enjoyed it.
 
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blondietink

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
If you have a rental car, you can just drive west from Aulani and there are plenty of beaches along withe way with waves. Also note that all the beaches on Oahu have lifeguards. We love going to the state park along Yokohama Bay "the end of the road". Also, north shore has great waves usually. If you go in the winter/early spring months, the north shore can have huge waves. The south of the island has bigger waves in the summer/fall.

We have been to Kauai and Maui also and the wave action tends to be similar to Oahu during the different seasons.
 

jimmymc

Professional Adventurer!
Joined
Nov 26, 2016
What you've read is true, Aulani is on a cove protected by rocks and gets almost zero waves. I've only ever been in winter, so the waves are huge around the island. The beaches west of Aulani are a short drive and will have more traditional currents. Kawela Bay is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, but it might be flat in summer.

If your kids are more active, there are multiple pillbox hikes around the island that are worth doing. You can also do the Koko Crater stairs.
 

Grumpy_Dad

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 1, 2017
DD was 15 when we went to Aulani a few of years ago and really enjoyed the beach there. There are no waves, but you can rent paddle boards and snorkeling gear and she really enjoyed that. There are also a couple of great watersides in the pool area if you want them. We live pretty close to the beach and she gets plenty of waves during the summers anyway so that may have been a factor, but DD wants to go back To Aulani as much as her parents do.

Regarding the luau, we all loved it. I had been to another luau on Oahu many years ago and enjoyed the one at Disney much more. We paid additional for the priority seating/entry and found it to be worth it. DD liked the lei making and the traditional style tattoos (fake) you could get. Great view of the show, and early access to the pre show activities was a lot of fun.

Other than Disney, My daughter really enjoyed visiting pearl harbor and a water sports center that we booked
through the excursion desk (H2O Sports, I think) and really had a great time. They have parasailing, jet skis, banana boat rides and the like. Seemed to be a lot of families with teens there.

Have a great trip!
 
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CaptainAmerica

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
We want to do a luau too. I’m afraid the one at Aulani wouldn’t be exciting enough for their age group. Any suggestions and other options on that?
Not sure what you're getting at here. Why would the Aulani luau be not exciting for teenage girls in particular?

People have varying opinions about what the best luau on the island is, but nothing about KA WA'A is childish or anything, if that's what you're getting at.
 

CaptainAmerica

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
DD was 15 when we went to Aulani a few of years ago and really enjoyed the beach there. There are no waves, but you can rent paddle boards and snorkeling gear and she really enjoyed that. There are also a couple of great watersides in the pool area if you want them. We live pretty close to the beach and she gets plenty of waves during the summers anyway so that may have been a factor, but DD wants to go back To Aulani as much as her parents do the rest of us do.
Agree completely. I don't need my Hawaii beach to be identical to my Rhode Island or New Jersey or Florida beach because I can get to those a lot easier and cheaper.

Regarding the luau, we all loved it. I had been to another luau on Oahu many years ago and enjoyed the one at Disney much more. We paid additional for the priority seating/entry and found it to be worth it. DD liked the lei making and the traditional style tattoos (fake) you could get. Great view of the show, and early access to the pre show activities was a lot of fun.
Pre-covid, I agree completely. But the pre-show activities were neutered quite a bit and haven't come back to what they used to be. I still like the on-site luau but I no longer thing the priority seating is worth the extra cost.
 

Lilsia

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
The luau is great and my daughter (16 and then 19 when we went) enjoyed it very much. Both before and after the shutdown. They do all of the same dances as any other luau does. There is really not much variation to luau performances since they are doing their traditional dances. We liked the fact that the cove is protected. It is so much easier to float and use the paddle boards. Hawaii has some strong rip currents that people might not be aware of so the cove is much safer, especially for kids. There are some beaches that are close by, as others have said, if you want more waves. As far as activities, Kualoa Ranch is great. We like the horseback tour but many enjoy the ATV/UTV tours or the ziplining.
 

DreamIsaWish

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
I'm not sure what would make one luau more "exciting" than another. But I will say that we went to Toa Luau and enjoyed that a lot. One of the highlights of the trip for my tween. Good food, pre-show activities. And you can go to the botanic gardens before the show for no extra charge (normally $25 per person). We were running late so we didn't have time to swim in the waterfall, but that might make this one more "exciting". It's not part of the luau, but it is something you can do before at no extra cost.
 

princesscinderella

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 27, 2011
We just did a trip that went to Oahu, Maui and Kauai. We did the old laihania luau on Maui and it was a beautiful beachside setting and a traditional Hawaiian dance based one- it doesn’t have fire dancers. We saw the Disney one from the balcony three times while at Aulani and it was also nice but we did enjoy the one on Maui a bit better, the food menu at Aulani was not as celiac friendly.
In Kauai we did the tubing through the sugar irrigation tunnels and it was so fun and a sunset boat tour of the Nepali coast with holo holo charters. That was super fun but it was historic waves when we were there so it was pretty rough and a bunch of people got sea sick, thankfully all of us have good sea legs. If you do choose to do that don’t sit on the seats at the back you get soaked. Sit in the main cabin. Kauai was our favorite. Stop for lunch at DaCrack it’s worth the wait if there’s a long line.

In Maui we did a Hana highway tour with temptation tours which was great and I’m glad I got to ride along instead of drive it. Although our guide said it had greatly improved because they shut the road down to only locals during covid and took the time to repair and repave a lot of the road. I highly recommend getting TSA precheck for all your party as some of the lines at the small airports were crazy long, whereas precheck had no waits.
 

Grumpy_Dad

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 1, 2017
Agree completely. I don't need my Hawaii beach to be identical to my Rhode Island or New Jersey or Florida beach because I can get to those a lot easier and cheaper.


Pre-covid, I agree completely. But the pre-show activities were neutered quite a bit and haven't come back to what they used to be. I still like the on-site luau but I no longer thing the priority seating is worth the extra cost.
That is a good point, our trip was pre covid, so I wasn't aware of the changes to the pre show activities. I hope they bring them back at some point, we had a lot of fun.
 

CaptainAmerica

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
That is a good point, our trip was pre covid, so I wasn't aware of the changes to the pre show activities. I hope they bring them back at some point, we had a lot of fun.
I'd love to hear from someone who has been more recently than me. Our last trip was in January when most of the country was post-COVID but Hawaii was still pretty strict about masks and distancing.
 

Monykalyn

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
Maui: definitely take time for snorkeling on this island. Sign up for the snorkel store snorkel report. We also did RtH private tour (pricey but 💯 worth it) with private vanride up to Hana and helicopter tour back. Luau here with Feast of Lele-good food,
Oahu-we stayed Waikiki beach-but did light house hike, Kualoa ranch 1/2 day tour, Manoa falls hike, drove along north shore. Got malasadas from Leonard’s bakery t food truck (no line). Lots of Mai tais at Tikis and Dukes as we could easily walk there! Kualoa ranch is really neat.
 

Monykalyn

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
And 100% agree with TSA precheck. Travel with carryon only if you can. Took over an hour to get luggage at Honolulu when we island hopped from Maui. But with precheck we breezed through security lines.
This summer nearly all covid restrictions were gone as well.
 

WillGan

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 10, 2022
My family is going to Hawaii for the first time next summer. We’ll be doing island hopping to Oahu, Maui, Big Island, and Kauai. In Oahu, we’ll be staying at Aulani.

From what I read, people refer to the beach at Aulani as a lagoon. So does this mean that the beach doesn’t have any waves? If so, this won’t do for my daughters who will be 14 and 13 then. They enjoy playing with the waves at the beach. The waves don’t need to be huge, just normal like at Newport and Coronado in CA or the Outer Banks or Cocoa Beach. We’ll definitely stay at Aulani. But would love if anyone can recommend some beaches with good waves.

We want to do a luau too. I’m afraid the one at Aulani wouldn’t be exciting enough for their age group. Any suggestions and other options on that?

Also, feel free to chime in any activities in all the islands that would be great for 13 and 14 year olds.

Lastly, we will have a rental car everywhere we go. Thanks!
Read some of the responses and I’ll just give my perspectives based on my 3 stays at Aulani and being a local boy born and raised from Waianae).
If you’re really concerned about entertaining your teenage girls, a Waikiki stay would’ve been best! Shopping, touristy things (tours, hikes, more stuff you see posted on social media), and sure waves (south shores have bigger waves during summer) but beaches are usually crowded those times and locales to really body surf, etc., nonetheless, it’s a beach in Hawaii that should suffice. Aulani’s lagoon is calm and it’s more a place to go in, utilize some of the resources (I believe you rent) such as SUP, snorkeling, etc. The lagoon is more for taking a relaxing dip or swim in mostly after catching some sun. As for Luau’s, you have a car, you might as well check out the one that is farthest away, The Polynesian Culture Center up in Laie. It’s practically an all day affair but worth every cent! Check out reviews, YouTube posts, to judge for yourself. I don’t think nothing is wrong with the one Aulani provides especially because it’s on property, but since you asked, might as well use that car since you’re paying for it!
Other activities I’d recommend are the typical Hawaii stuff, hiking, swap meet, Pearl Harbor is more for adults and not teens. Enjoy the sweets around the island like Boba, Shave Ice, etc. if there social media buffs, all those things are what matters. Making their peers envious. Other than that, you should ask them what they want or hope to see. Hope this helps and wish you a great stay! Maybe we’ll see you guys there on the 4th of July! Aloha!
 









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