For those going to Hawaii...

Birdie dog

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 19, 2015
We're doing the May Hawaii to Vancouver and will fly to Hawaii a few days early as we've never been. We've got four adults going. I'm having a hard time deciding between Aulani and Hale Koa. Obviously Aulani looks amazing. But, we can spend our 4 nights in Hale Koa for the same price as one night in Aulani. With no kids, it's hard to beat that price difference.
Has anyone stayed at Hale Koa and could give me some advice?
 

cruisehopeful

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 25, 2015
I don't know about Hale Koa, but I got an email with a bunch of specials for Aulani. I already deleted it, but I believe that it was 20% off if you booked 4 nights (30% off for 5 nights) and it had a 24 hour cancellation policy and some type of resort credit. You may want to call Aulani and ask about the recent email specials that were sent out. I know the best specials were for immediate travel, but they did have special offers going now through 2021.

EDIT: After viewing the video on the Hale Koa website, I'd rather stay there if I wasn't traveling with kids. I've been to Oahu a few times and spent one night at Aulani. Aulani is tucked away from everything else on the island. When I stayed there, it was extremely loud the entire time.
 
Last edited:

over50visits

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2004
I have stayed at the Hale Koa many times, and visited Aulani several times. For the money, nothing in Hawaii compares to the Hale Koa. The setting is spectacular (a large 72 acre park on Waikiki beach), a brunch to die for, breakfast on the lanai overlooking the park and ocean, large rooms, many places to walk to find areas to picnic, walking access to so much and easy bus/taxi access to Honolulu. There are a number of nice hotels on the beach, but none can match the price or come anywhere close to the setting of the Hale Koa. The Aulani is nicely landscaped (but feels pretty small), and the brunch there was outstanding.

Both would be wonderful places to stay; if you want the Disney experience you can get it, and you'll pay for it. Hale Koa is open to any military members (and a few other related categories).
 

brentm77

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
I think the decision should be based on what you want to do on Oahu. Aulani is on one of the more isolated areas of the island and is more arid. Frankly, there are much more beautiful/tropical parts of Oahu. However, the resort is gorgeous and the service is what you would expect from Disney (I have visited the resort but not actually stayed there overnight). The pool facilities are great, as are the beaches with the lagoons (for swimming, but not snorkeling). You also pay Disney theme park prices for all the food on the resort - $20 for a hamburger type of thing. If you want to lounge around the beach and resort mostly, it might be worth the money. But, if you want to spend most of your time exploring the island, culture, local food, etc., I would not spend the money. It is one of those resorts I will stay at one day when I just want to relax for a week.

Hale Koa looks nice, but realize you will be in a fairly large city. When you leave the resort, you will be surrounded by skyscrapers and traffic. We generally avoid that area of the island. But Diamond Head is famous, as is Waikiki Beach there. Some people really like it.

If it were me, I would consider the North Shore. The waves calm down by May. It is very tropical. Great local food. Polynesian Cultural Center. It is somewhat secluded, and you would need to drive far to see things like Pearl Harbor or Honolulu. But it is my favorite part of the island. We have also done VRBO near Lanikai Beach and it was great. Probably one of the prettiest beaches on the island, smallish town, and not too far of a drive to the North Shore, Honolulu, or great snorkeling. You are kind of between the two big tourist areas of the island.
 

Intr3pid

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
We're doing the May Hawaii to Vancouver and will fly to Hawaii a few days early as we've never been. We've got four adults going. I'm having a hard time deciding between Aulani and Hale Koa. Obviously Aulani looks amazing. But, we can spend our 4 nights in Hale Koa for the same price as one night in Aulani. With no kids, it's hard to beat that price difference.
Has anyone stayed at Hale Koa and could give me some advice?
You can say the same thing for everything Disney - from the cruise and theme parks to the resorts in Florida.
To be sure, Aulani is not about what's around it - rather, what's in it. There is a good reason why its pool complex and lagoon are considered one of the best in Oahu:

If you have never been and are traveling without any kids, why don't you split your time between the two? I know it will mean hauling your luggage over from one to the other, but you will get to see the rest of the Oahu in a more wallet-friendly way and tick Aulani off your list too.
 

over50visits

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2004
Your total will be approximately 4 times as much for Aulani vs Hale Koa (I just did a apples-to-apples comparison for identical stays and similar room views). Aulani has a small beach and beautifully landscaped swimming area. Hale Koa has a large beach, and you can walk forever on the Wakiki beach. And 25 full time gardeners just for the plants/flowers there. They are both next to other resorts/hotels, just Hale Koa has a large buffer.

But Aulani does have Disney theming and characters. To some it is worth it. If you choose there, savor and enjoy it!
 

jenmiller114

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
We stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village which is right next to the Hale Koa. We like going over to the Hale Koa beach area because the beach rentals are significantly cheaper, (even more so if you are staying at the resort.) I know they just remodeled their pool and it looks spectacular. Last time we were there, it seems like they have live music by the pool every night. If you are going for some adult fun, that may be the better option because you are in the heart of Waikiki with lots to do. And from what I understand the military discounts are really good.

On the other hand, we have stayed at Aulani and we love it for the reasons listed above. It is everything you expect a Disney property in hawaii to be. It's gorgeous and outrageously expensive. But we do love the lazy river and just relaxing. We usually split our stay with a couple days there and a week at the Hilton. But if I was going as an adult with some friends, I think I would prefer to be in Waikiki. I like that they have more restaurants and bars and things to do and it's all in walking distance. If you are looking to just enjoy the resort and all it has to offer, you can't go wrong with Aulani.

We are facing the same dilemma as we are also on this cruise. As much as I would like to visit Aulani, I think we will just go to the Hilton. it's very close to the cruise port, we won't need a car and we love Waikiki. It's busy but fun. And I will use the money I save for some cruise excursions and fun on the ship!

Good luck deciding. I don't think you will be disappointed either way.
 

  • EXCLUSIVE - Dreams Unlimited Travel Gift Basket!
    Book your Disney Cruise Line vacation through Dreams Unlimited Travel and receive an exclusive, complimentary Gift Basket. This Gift Basket is a result of client feedback as well as posts from DISboards.com; we call it our “What you didn't know you needed on a Disney Cruise Kit”.
    Click Here for Details

  • Colo17

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2020
    If you can stay at Hale Koa you should be able to get military rates at Hilton, which is right next door. Hale Koa was ok, although similar to an average mid-range hotel elsewhere. You can still use Hale Koa facilities if staying at Hilton. Lots to do in Waikiki, especially if you haven't ever been there.
     

    mom4fun

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2012
    If you can stay at Hale Koa you should be able to get military rates at Hilton, which is right next door. Hale Koa was ok, although similar to an average mid-range hotel elsewhere. You can still use Hale Koa facilities if staying at Hilton. Lots to do in Waikiki, especially if you haven't ever been there.
    Can anyone use Hale Koa’s facilities or just military?
     

    over50visits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2004
    Can anyone use Hale Koa’s facilities or just military?
    Basically just members of the uniformed services and their family, and DoD employees. There are some additional authorizations, but they are pretty limited (such as discharged veterans with 100% disability). Same applies to Shades of Green at Disneyworld.
     

    DCLCrazy64622

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2017
    I second this. Aulani is pretty far away from most tourist attractions on Honolulu. We were glad we stayed at the Hilton Waikiki resort near Diamondhead. When we saw how far Aulani was to most things, we were glad we didn’t stay there.
    I think the decision should be based on what you want to do on Oahu. Aulani is on one of the more isolated areas of the island and is more arid. Frankly, there are much more beautiful/tropical parts of Oahu. However, the resort is gorgeous and the service is what you would expect from Disney (I have visited the resort but not actually stayed there overnight). The pool facilities are great, as are the beaches with the lagoons (for swimming, but not snorkeling). You also pay Disney theme park prices for all the food on the resort - $20 for a hamburger type of thing. If you want to lounge around the beach and resort mostly, it might be worth the money. But, if you want to spend most of your time exploring the island, culture, local food, etc., I would not spend the money. It is one of those resorts I will stay at one day when I just want to relax for a week.

    Hale Koa looks nice, but realize you will be in a fairly large city. When you leave the resort, you will be surrounded by skyscrapers and traffic. We generally avoid that area of the island. But Diamond Head is famous, as is Waikiki Beach there. Some people really like it.

    If it were me, I would consider the North Shore. The waves calm down by May. It is very tropical. Great local food. Polynesian Cultural Center. It is somewhat secluded, and you would need to drive far to see things like Pearl Harbor or Honolulu. But it is my favorite part of the island. We have also done VRBO near Lanikai Beach and it was great. Probably one of the prettiest beaches on the island, smallish town, and not too far of a drive to the North Shore, Honolulu, or great snorkeling. You are kind of between the two big tourist areas of the island.
     
  • cruisehopeful

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2015
    What was loud about it? Music? Kids? TIA.
    Yes, all of that. Even though I am a Disney fanatic, I like Hawaii for the Hawaii vibe and culture. Loud running around kids, loud music and the loud speaker daily opening message all removed the Hawaii feeling for me. I know there are lots of people who love Aulani. I would stay there again, but not for a Hawaiian experience.

    Meanwhile, Waikiki can be too rowdy for families with small children. So, I've been told. I didn't have a problem with it when my kids were small, but I also grew up at the beach in southern California, so I am used to the party atmosphere of beach nightlife.
     

    DCLCrazy64622

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2017
    We were there in December 2019. I didn’t find it to be rowdy at all regarding parties and what not. However it was very busy in Waikiki with the traffic and general chaos of tourism.
    Yes, all of that. Even though I am a Disney fanatic, I like Hawaii for the Hawaii vibe and culture. Loud running around kids, loud music and the loud speaker daily opening message all removed the Hawaii feeling for me. I know there are lots of people who love Aulani. I would stay there again, but not for a Hawaiian experience.

    Meanwhile, Waikiki can be too rowdy for families with small children. So, I've been told. I didn't have a problem with it when my kids were small, but I also grew up at the beach in southern California, so I am used to the party atmosphere of beach nightlife.
     

    mmouse37

    DCL Diva!!
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2001
    We are also on the May Honolulu to Vancouver cruise. We are three couples plus an 8 year old. I have always wanted to stay at Aulani but I fear prices will be crazy and I we feel we can stay somewhere cheaper and use those funds towards some cruise excursions. I think we may stay in Waikiki but rent a car and drive out to Aulani for lunch or dinner just to check it out.

    This may sound odd but has anyone ever stayed at a hotel and endured the Timeshare sell for 2 hours just to get a great deal for a few nights at that hotel. I got a great offer for a hotel in Hawaii if we participate in the "sell" for 2021 and was considering it possibly in 2022.

    MJ
     
    Last edited:

    AquaDame

    DCL
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2010
    We are also on the May Honolulu to Vancouver cruise. We are three couples plus an 8 year old. I have always wanted to stay at Aulani but I fear prices will be crazy and I we feel we can stay somewhere cheaper and use those funds towards some cruise excursions. I think we may stay in Waikiki but rent a car and drive out to Aulani for lunch or dinner just to check it out.

    This may sound odd but has anyone ever stayed at a hotel and endured the Timeshare sell for 2 hours just to get a great deal for a few nights at that hotel. I got a great offer for a hotel in Hawaii if we participate in the "sell" for 2021 and was considering it possibly in 2022.

    MJ
    We haven't but my husband's aunt and uncle did one of those for a free kayak tour on Kauai. They said they'd do it again so it couldn't have been too bad.
     

    tlprice

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 5, 2014
    I just returned from Auluni (December 16-21). I didn't find there to be any loud music, loud running around kids, and I'm not sure what loud speaker somebody earlier was talking about. It was so beautiful and very peaceful. The only fairly loud music was the woman singing Hawaiian music on the lawn (which was beautiful to listen to) and the live music at Olelo in the evenings. It WAS expensive, but if we had stayed at Hale Koa, my daughter would have gotten right back on the plane and headed home. She HATED the city and that was one of the great things about Aulani being out of the way. Even though there are other resorts right next door, you are not in the CITY. You also don't have to pay for beach chairs and umbrellas at Aulani (as someone mentioned you do at Hale Koa) so there's a little savings :-).
     

    over50visits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2004
    At the Aulani, the beautiful landscaping in the pool area between the hotel wings felt...crowded. No real open spaces. Just see winding walkways with bushes or fences along each side. And the neighboring hotels were right there. The public area (restaurants and shops) were all there in the building, no sense of being at the beach. We spotted several Disney characters enchanting the kids, and the private beach though small felt special. Even though the grounds are crowded and right next door to other resorts, it felt relatively isolated and serene (absent the excited kids!).

    At the Hale Koa, the big city is a few blocks away, but somehow we felt pretty buffered from it by the huge expanse of park and vegetation, and the Wakiki hotels are pretty well set back. And it is kind of cool the lobby has no walls, you drive up to unload and check in about 50 feet from the front desk. Restaurants and shops surround more landscaped gardens, and the stroll to/between them is refreshing with ocean views and large trees to walk under.

    For the Disney experience, the choice is easy. For hugely less money (rooms, food, souvenirs, parking, tours, cost to get to various tourist areas), large rooms, expansive public areas, a huge beach, and a feeling of isolation from the nearby big city, the choice is easy. And breakfast on the lanai watching and listening to the ocean waves and the landscaping is priceless.

    Just saying, you are very likely to have the experience you expect to have. Whichever you choose, expect to have a great time.
     

    Cheburashka

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2020
    This may sound odd but has anyone ever stayed at a hotel and endured the Timeshare sell for 2 hours just to get a great deal for a few nights at that hotel. I got a great offer for a hotel in Hawaii if we participate in the "sell" for 2021 and was considering it possibly in 2022.
    No way would I go to a timeshare pitch on vacation (not referring to DVC, but to regular timeshares). I made the mistake of going to a few of those when I was younger. To begin with, they are incredibly boring. Worse, when you don't buy, the salespeople get sour, if not downright nasty, and I do not want to deal with that on vacation. At all. Especially if they're associated with my hotel. In fact, such an offer would probably warn me off from staying at that hotel at all.
     
    Last edited:

    tankin

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2013
    We're owners at Aulani so I've been there a number of times. As some others alluded to, it all really comes down to what you want out of your time on Oahu. If you're looking for a laid back out of the way resort to sit by the pool, that's Aulani. If you're looking for the hustle and bustle of a major city and easy transportation, without a car, to tourist sites around the island, that's Hale Koa. I have a number of military friends on Oahu and they love Hale Koa.

    Short answer its like picking the "best resort" at WDW or the "best concierge cabin" on a DCL ship. Its all what you want and you can't go wrong either way.
     





    Connect

    TODAY'S HEADLINES

    Book your Disney Cruise through Dreams Unlimited Travel and receive a Shipboard Credit and an Exclusive Gift Basket!



    Top