Considering our first trip and we are CLUELESS!

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by monorailrabbit, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. monorailrabbit

    monorailrabbit Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere!

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    DH and I are considering visiting Aulani for the first (and probably only) time to celebrate our 10 year anniversary in October of 2019. I have been digging around on these boards and the website, but I just still feel pretty clueless and overwhelmed. I am wondering at this point if this trip would even be a good fit for us. I'll lay out some of our info, and then things I need help with. Thanks up front - you guys rock!

    • Travel would be early October, likely 5-7 days but that is negotiable
    • 2 adults (mid 30's)
    • both of us are big into nature - we love wildlife, animal encounters especially
    • while we like relaxing, we are used to the parks (go! go! go!) and I don't know if we can just hang out and relax for the entire stay
    While looking around at the excursions, I noticed everything says "provide your own transportation". How do folks usually do this? We really don't want to deal with a rental car or driving - is uber the popular choice? We are really interested in doping a dolphin encounter of some kind - do you guys have recommendations? Do you need to be a strong swimmer to enjoy all of them? Any recommendations for horseback riding or any other animal-focused activities? DH is a navy veteran so we would really like to get to Pearl Harbor - again, uber? One thing I've noticed over and over is the cost of food. I've seen there is a market nearby - does the resort have refrigerators in all rooms? Anything else you think we should know or look into while we continue to research this? I know this is all kind of scatter-brained thoughts here, but that's about where I'm at! :faint::rotfl:Thanks in advance again!
     
  2. ErinC

    ErinC DIS Veteran

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    We are newbies planning our Dec. trip. We are going to have a rental car though. But I've looked into the Go Oahu card for us and I think transportation to many of these activities is included with the card, so you may want to look into the card for that reason. I'll be purchasing mine at Costco. They have a 4 day for $199. You can google the Go Oahu site though and see what all it includes.
     
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  4. alohamom

    alohamom DIS Veteran

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    Oahu, the island Aulani is located on, is an incredible place for nature lovers BUT you would really need a car at your disposal to take advantage of all it has to offer without spending a fortune on Uber.

    You have to be careful about when the Hawaii fall school break is, Aulani tends to be busier when this happens and I know it is in October. The weather is usually incredible then, that should not be a problem.

    There is some fantastic horse back riding up on the North Shore and also at Kualoa Ranch

    https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attracti...s-c61-t62-Oahu_s_North_Shore_Oahu_Hawaii.html
     
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  5. happymommy

    happymommy DIS Veteran

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    We rode with Happy Trails on the North Shore.

    Definitely you should have a rental car. Oahu is large, and I wouldn't rely on Uber ever.

    The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is closed until further notice. Structural cracks were recently discovered.

    Rather than a "typical" dolphin encounter, I would recommend a snorkel trip right from the Ko Olina marina to swim with spinner dolphins. We did it years ago, and my kids were both pretty young and enjoyed it. That being said, my oldest was born on Oahu, we go at least every other year, so they've been snorkeling since at least age 5 or so. Still you do not need to be a strong swimmer, just comfortable with being out in the ocean.

    We stay next door at the Marriott, but never eat at the resort. We do eat out in town, as well as grilling dinner. I dislike the practice at Aulani where the grills are only available for a short time in the evenings. At the Marriott, you can grill any time; we often grill lunch. I do most of our shopping at the Super Target in town, where the prices are pretty close to home with the exception of bread and eggs. Fresh fish is often very good at Costco though! Prices at the Marriott and Aulani for meals to me are too high for what you get. We do spend on meals, but prefer either Waikiki hotels if we're dining at a hotel, or local places like Sushi Bay in Kapolei, Korean places around town, especially Willow Tree in Kaneohe is really good, and On Dong in Honolulu for Korean Chinese noodles (their
    Jjajangmyeon is amazing).

     
  6. monorailrabbit

    monorailrabbit Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere!

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    Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far! I'm getting a little discouraged about transportation, as we really REALLY do not want a rental car. I guess I need to explore that option more, but it's something we don't want for a number of reasons. DH was unpleasantly surprised that even the excursions with Disney require us to provide our own transportation. I guess we are spoiled with Disney Cruiseline. Is uber just not reliable or is it just really pricey? We were thinking of maybe just going out off the property for 2 days - one day do horseback riding and another do dolphins, but maybe that isn't doable without a car?
     
  7. happymommy

    happymommy DIS Veteran

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    Uber isn't really a great option. First off, Ko Olina resort where Aulani is located is quite far away from anywhere you'll likely want to visit. So there are not a lot of Uber drivers, and it will be costly.

    If you're wanting to visit Oahu and not need a car, a better option is to look into staying in Waikiki. Tons of dining options walking distance, shopping, and many tours/excursions will have transportation from Waikiki hotels. Matter of fact, my next trip next spring will be 5 nights at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki with no rental car (we just want to relax and enjoy the hotel and walk to restaurants) then picking up a rental car for our week at Ko Olina. I just wouldn't do Ko Olina or Aulani without a car. We like to visit the flea market at the stadium, eat in town, shop at Target/Walmart. Since we normally go for at least 2 weeks (I did a month last summer), some days the car does just sit there. But I like to have it available, and I book it early so never pay too much - last year I had it for 31 days and it was only about $900.

    You won't need a rental car to do a dolphin snorkel trip; there are ones from the Ko Olina marina.

    You mention DH being a veteran? Does he have benefits? If so, have you looked into the Hale Koa hotel? I've stayed there several times, and it was a great option. Also the dining options there were very reasonable (we used to go there just to eat when we lived on Oahu and my DH was active duty). They have a tour desk as well, and can get military discounts on many excursions. They also have a luau that many really enjoy.
     
  8. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    We are two adults, early 30s, and visited Hawaii/Aulani for our honeymoon in September 2016. My trip report is in my signature.

    Like you, we want to see and do things on vacation but have a good amount of relaxation time as well. I think we found a good balance. We had never rented a car before, but bit the bullet and rented one on Kauai and during our stay at Aulani and I was SO glad we did. During the Aulani portion of our trip, we rented DVC points so parking was free, we stopped at Target and purchased quick and easy snacks and drinks to save on food costs, and it allowed us to do sightseeing at our own pace. We explored the North Shore and windward side of Oahu, both of which I recommend. Driving was very easy, parking was never an issue (outside of Waikiki anyway), and it was well worth it. Otherwise, you're reliant on organized tours which will cost an arm and a leg, and Uber can be iffy in the Ko Olina area where Aulani is in our experience. Perhaps it has improved in two years, but I still would prefer a car.
     
  9. Dis_Yoda

    Dis_Yoda DIS Veteran

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    We went for my 30th Birthday. My trip report is in my signature as well.

    I did not find driving to be that large of issue and was glad we had it. I have status with Avis which also helps!

    Kualua Ranch has some horse related activities as well. We did the Movie Tour there and had fun!
     
  10. arcticdisneylovers

    arcticdisneylovers DIS Veteran

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    We rented a car for 1 day in December and it was only $35 at the Airport - we drove to the Dole plantation and couple other stops. No problem at all navigating just used mapquest on our phone. Everything was so well marked we would definitely rent a car on our next trip.
     
  11. thedogatemyhomework

    thedogatemyhomework Mouseketeer

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    Food costs are going to be higher...grocieries...more expensive...mcdonalds...more expensive...you’re less likely to notice the price increase at the nicer dining places. Basic rule of thumb for what groceries will be the most expensive vs. almost anywhere else in the US...size/weight/perishability/fragility...its still going to be cheaper to run to target, costco, etc. but maybe not by as much as some might expect.

    The flipside to this is that there are a huge variety of different types of food...and of coarse stuff like luaus where spending more could be very worth it. Breakfast is probably the meal to “cheap out” on as there really isn’t anything particularly unique to hawaii as far as breakfast foods go (unless you wanna count stuff like pineapple pancakes, coconut syrup for pancakes, etc.)...tho the character buffet at aulani is good for a disney character breakfast (thats not saying much food quality wise...but it is one of the better ones disney does food wise)
     
  12. ChicosWife

    ChicosWife The Caribbean DCL Life For Us!

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    We are in the same boat. We are Disney cruisers, but want to visit Aulani, but am so used to everything being included in the price. Are the food packages reasonable? Is there a lot to do at the resort, to not have to leave?
     
  13. 94bruin

    94bruin DIS Veteran

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    As far as I know, there are no food packages. All inclusives, food packages aren't a thing out West (thinking DL & Aulani).

    It all depends on the purpose and length of your trip. We just came back from a 7 night stay. We left the resort twice but we didn't feel the need to see everything on Oahu because we stayed an extra 5 nights in Waikiki. The days we spent at the resort we basically lounged pool side, aside from a few character meals. I'm a planner by nature and my family often gets tired by the end of my trips. Because we've been to the other islands and will most likely be back, we really forced ourselves to take it easy. They do have activities around the resort. You can go online and check the daily Iwa to see a sampling of the schedule.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
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  14. jodybird511

    jodybird511 Mouseketeer

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    There are typically not food packages available. Occasionally, when you book a cash reservation, there will be a special food allowance at Ulu, but this isn't always available. Mostly, food is all out of pocket, and it's extremely overpriced IMO. On our recent trip, we were in a 1 bdrm villa and purchased groceries for the week. We spent about $200 on groceries for our family of four, and ate most meals in the room. I think we had, maybe, 3-4 meals all week "out."
     
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  15. 94bruin

    94bruin DIS Veteran

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    Yes, overpriced! A single served cereal at Ulu cafe was $4!!!! I don't think that even includes the milk!
     
  16. jodybird511

    jodybird511 Mouseketeer

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    So ridiculous. We had gone back in Dec 2016/Jan 2017 and could not BELIEVE the pricing and mediocrity of the food on site. That being said, I adore pretty much everything else about Aulani--the food is almost my only complaint. As such, we planned ahead for this trip we just returned from, and were really satisfied with going the grocery route! We also invested in a bottle of rum and a bottle of mai tai mixer--at a total cost (including our brought from home insulated tumblers) of about $36, we're pretty sure we save about $100 on cocktails alone!
     
  17. ChicosWife

    ChicosWife The Caribbean DCL Life For Us!

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    Yikes! So, that means expect to spend a lot more money, separately on food?? Is it easier or more practical just to plan to leave the resort for meals?
     
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  18. jodybird511

    jodybird511 Mouseketeer

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    Assuming you have a rental car, I absolutely would, unless you are buying groceries. And if you want to save money, you're going to not only want to leave Aulani, but Ko Olina altogether. There are tons of restaurants in Kapolei--many typical chains, but also some local places. We didn't do any of that, b/c we mostly "cooked," (I use quotation marks, b/c we did VERY simple meals that were mostly "warming," rather than "cooking"--things like tortellini with sauce, some bread, salad, etc.), but if we weren't cooking, that's where I would head for a cheaper meal. For our family of four, the cheapest onsite meal we had was $62, from Ulu. We did Makahiki once for dinner, and spent over $200 for the four of us, and did a lunch at Ama Ama, to the tune of about $80, and that was WITH the DVC discount (10%, I think). We are not extravagant diners, either--this was your basic entree and soda/water--no alcohol, no apps, and no desserts.
     
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  19. 94bruin

    94bruin DIS Veteran

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    I don't know if it's easier to leave the resort for food as it's isolated. Similar to Joybird, we "cooked" most of our meals. One character breakfast, one character dinner, one dinner at Monkeypod. All the rest were meals we put together with food either from Foodland or Costco. WE also brought some grains from home eg oatmeal, pancake mix, rice. That way we wouldn't have to buy big quantities and would be cheaper. The space they took up was space for souvenirs going home.

    Will you have a kitchen? That will make a big difference.

    One thing that you could get is poke from Foodland. We made some rice in the kitchen and paired with poke from Foodland. I know it's weird but the grocery store Foodland is known for their poke! https://www.foodland.com/our-stores-poke-0
     
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  20. 94bruin

    94bruin DIS Veteran

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    Also, Uber isn't always readily available on the islands. A taxi ride to Kopolei is approx $15 each way. So you'd have to consider adding $30 to your food bill if you want to taxi to the nearest town.
     
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  21. jodybird511

    jodybird511 Mouseketeer

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    Agree with 94bruin, regarding bringing certain items from home to supplement groceries bought on the island. We brought along salt/pepper, dry snacks (crackers, nuts, dried fruit, granola bars), coffee, sugar, coffee filters, cereal. I think that was it. Along those same lines, we also brought some powder dishwashing detergent, tide pods, etc. We brought a variety of sizes of ziplocks, and packed our dry snacks in small plastic containers to prevent them from getting squished in the luggage AND to give us some food storage containers while we were there. Finally, you'll want to pack reusable grocery bags, as HI does not allow the use of plastic bags, so you will have to purchase bags at the store if you don't bring your own!
     

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