Help... first time and overwhelmed

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by nandm92574, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. nandm92574

    nandm92574 Earning My Ears

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    Well of course i can do a Disney vacation with my eyes closed but Aulani is completely new to me. I always come to the Disboards and know that I can find the best of the best for travel planning (all the feels for the Disboards :flower:). So the deets.... my family (DH, DD 14, DS 18) and a surprise trip for the in-laws both turning 70. The kids want to do a shark experience ( :scared:not me). In-laws don't want to miss Pearl Harbor, lazy days on the beach and golfing. I want to experience the island with a bit of off Disney time (luaus, etc) real Hawaiian food. Tall order for a multi-generational family. We are not worried about spending (I mean of course we are but I don't want a suggestion to go overlooked for budget reasons). And we are going during Spring break so its probably nuts there... So some initial questions 1) when can (and should) I begin making dining reservations and spa? 2) Executive casabellas or cabanas? And are they worth it? 3) Nice golf courses? 4) Safe shark stuff ( a bit of an oxymoron :sad2:)

    And of course, where the Disboards come in handy, any must dos on the island (including at Aulani) because we will have a car. :thanks::thanks::thanks::thanks::thanks::thanks:
     
  2. southerngirl528

    southerngirl528 Dreamin' of Maui

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    Below is a link for a thread with some GREAT ideas for off property things to do IMO!

    https://www.disboards.com/threads/3rd-visit-what-to-do.3704228/#post-59694316

    While I like the Aulani forum here, for much more detailed Hawaii info I like www.tripadvisor.com. Just beware though, there is a DE for Oahu that does NOT like Aulani and tends to scare off some newbies. Funny thing is she has never actually stayed overnight at Aulani. We have stayed at Aulani 3 times and trip 4 is all booked for next year! :banana:

    Golf? Easy peasy! Aulani is in Ko Olina which is a very nice golf community. The Ko Olina course, which is pretty much right across the street from Aulani, has tournament play each year for the LPGA. NICE course. Check w/Aulani concierge to see if there are discounts for guests. If you're a DVC Member, check with MS.

    There are a lot of local food places around the island, several nearby for certain. Koa Pancake Place is much loved and I love Foodland grocery stores for their fabulous poke! (raw fish)

    I know nothing about the shark encounters as I am not a fan. It alters the sharks natural behaviors and shark attacks have seen a dramatic increase in recent years in Hawaii. Whether it's related or not, I can't say for sure, but some think so. There is a separate thread about this here on the Aulani forums with good info for you re: that.

    We have NOT rented a cabana at Aulani though we do when on Maui. I feel like they are overpriced and not great locations at Aulani. JMHO. But with your large family, it might be worth it for you. :cutie:
     
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  4. southerngirl528

    southerngirl528 Dreamin' of Maui

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    I love the Gypsy app for the Oahu circle island driving tour. North shore and the east side of Oahu are gorgeous and very much remind me of Kauai.

    Pearl Harbor is a must-do for everyone IMO. For now and the unforeseeable future, they are not allowing guests to disembark on the USS Arizona Memorial as some sort of fault in the steps for the dock at the memorial arose several months ago and the repairs are posing a big challenge to engineers for some reason. BUT you still can sign up for the USS Arizona and see a film that is stunning. Literally. You could have heard a pin drop after the film finished. And they apparently are still taking folks out on a boat afterward to do a close drive by of the memorial. Don't miss it either way.

    There is easily a day's worth of things to do at Pearl Harbor for history buffs: USS Missouri/aka "Mighty MO", an aviation museum and the USS Bowfin submarine. Here's the official link for info:

    https://www.recreation.gov/showPage...arbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369
     
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  5. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    A cabana might be worth it for your group since there are 6 of you (I think) and you won't have to worry about getting chairs together at the pool, which can be a battle in the mornings.

    The executive lanai would be a cheaper alternative to a cabana, so it may work for your group too. It faces the ocean and is off a main stairwell going to and from the beach, so there is foot traffic going by all day if that's a concern. I've also seen reports where some people don't realize your area is exclusive to you and reserved for your group, so they've had to shoo people out. Not sure how often that actually occurs. Its not right by the pool either, if you need to keep an eye on anyone.

    Cabanas and executive lanai should be booked ASAP because they are limited availability. There's only one lanai and some of the cabanas are in the adult 18+ section.

    The casabellas you can reserve in advance are the upper deck and lower deck, which are at the edge of the property. They are mostly shaded and off the beaten path, so if you want quiet these would work. Though I'm not sure if they hold 6. They were too isolated for us, and too far of a walk to the bathroom and main pool. Aulani graciously refunded us after we determined (about 30 minutes in) that we didn't like it.

    There are also beach casabellas which you can reserve day-of only. They are just two seater padded loungers on the grassy section of the beach. There are usually a lot of beach chairs open, so these weren't worth the cost to us. We also found that they did not stay shaded later in the day when the sun moved down and it forced us to leave the casabellas.

    As far as must-do's, IMO, North Shore shouldn't be missed - Kono's had some of the best food we had all trip and Matsumoto's is also a must for shave ice. I also think a day or evening in Waikiki is a must-do because the vibe and atmosphere is unlike any other place we experienced on the three islands we visited.
     
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  6. bobbiwoz

    bobbiwoz I'm happy to dance with you!

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    We have a cabana at the Adult pool later in September, later I can tell you what we think about our experience!
     
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  7. CamDisDay

    CamDisDay Earning My Ears

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    I LOVE THE CABANAS! Especially if you have a group of 4 or more. Nice chairs, lounges, couch, safe, iPod docking station, TV (my grandpa loved that he could watch TV and be in the shade). Like others have said get on this ASAP, IMO the best ones are facing the grotto. The Aulani site has excursions to book through them. Im sure there are more affordable ones out there... but if you are unsure its a good place to get an idea, I liked the convenience of it booking through the hotel. Last time we were there I stopped at the concierge desk and he plotted out a route for me on a map, it was awesome! We drove around the island and stopped at places along the North Shore like turtle bay and Waimea Valley Falls (soooo cool).

    There is also a really cool luau in Ko Olina, Paradise Cove (depending on mobility, its within walking distance from the hotel). We had fun and the food was great! https://www.paradisecove.com

    Have fun planning!! When you get there just relax and enjoy island life :)
     
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  8. cgattis

    cgattis DIS Veteran

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    I second @southerngirl528 about the Arizona film. It is actual footage from there that day—23 unbelievable minutes. Even if you don’t get to disembark the boat at the memorial, don’t miss that film.

    We would say snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is a must-do. We also enjoyed the Paradise Cove luau. We passed on golf due to the price, but the course there was gorgeous.

    We didn’t do a Cabana, but personally I think the executive lanai is the coolest spot—slightly below pool level, but looking down over the beach and right next to the awesome infinity adult hot tub. Our favorite part of Aulani (besides just the amazing vibe at night!!) was floating the lazy river for hours finding all the hidden animals.

    So cool that you’re celebrating their milestone birthday. My dad would’ve been 80 today and I put off taking him for two years too long...You will have an amazing trip!
     
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  9. Mikamarii

    Mikamarii Earning My Ears

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    If you have a car the drive to Sea life park Is amazing. We purchased tickets to Sea Life park online and got a great deal as tickets on site are pretty pricey. But watching the dolphin show with the ocean as a backdrop was awesome.

    North Shore is awesome as well. Can get pretty busy but worth the trip to see it. The high crashing waves are a sight to see

    If heading to North Shore check out Waimea Valley. Its a beautiful site. You can walk to the far end where there is a waterfall and they provide life jackets. You can swim in the lake right up to the waterfall. Water is very cold but a really cool experience. There is an admission but I don't think it was too much.

    Oh and the Dole Plantation!!!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
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  10. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

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    Admission is $16pp which we found a bit steep for what you get. I've also read that the water has high levels of bacteria, but swimming is still permitted to my knowledge. We didn't care much for Waimea Valley, but it would be an easy hike for older people - lots of shade and a mostly paved path. Easier than something like Diamond Head, but of course very different sights.
     
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  11. kyton

    kyton Mouseketeer

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  12. Riburn3

    Riburn3 Earning My Ears

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    I personally second Waimea Valley. I thought getting to the waterfall and the area overall was gorgeous. Jumping in at the end is optional and most people when I was there didn’t seem to want to. Myself and a few in my party did. It was freezing water compared to the rest of the water around the island and don’t really think it’s worth it. Knowing there’s some bacterial risk, I would skip that portion.

    I also believe it is where they filmed some epsodes of the ABC TV show LOST in the 2000s.

    Overall it’s beautiful and compared to the fleecing you get doing some activities at Aulani, is cheap comparatively.
     
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  13. nandm92574

    nandm92574 Earning My Ears

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    wow!! such wonderful input. Its why I come here first :-) thanks for the help
     
  14. jodybird511

    jodybird511 Mouseketeer

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    I second the rec from cgattis on the executive lanai. We've been to Aulani twice and have had the lanai on 4 separate days (2 each trip)--I feel like I'm always promoting it on this forum. lol. The view is amazing--see pic--and you can really spread out. I think it's a much better value than the cabanas, personally. Don't know if you're a member, but the DVC discount also applies to the lanai. We did, on a couple of occasions, have to shoo folks off, but mostly people figure it out--Aulani does set out a little sign that it is reserved area, but it's easy to miss.


    Executive Lanai 2018 4.jpg
     
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  15. nandm92574

    nandm92574 Earning My Ears

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    Wow what a great view. Since my kids are older and I don't have to worry about pool skills, etc. My mother in law much prefers looking over the beach. Looks like the lanai is great! thank you for taking the time to post this... I really appreciate it!
     
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  16. JeanfromBNA

    JeanfromBNA "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!"

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    If you Google "shark diving Oahu," it will bring up several operators on the North Shore. I can't remember which one we used, but we had a lot of fun. Memorable experience.
     
  17. Amw1064

    Amw1064 DIS Veteran

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    I have a video my daughter made of our trip in 2017 in my signature. We skipped the luau, dole plantation and Pearl Harbor that trip because we had gone 3 summers in a row. (yes, we loved it that much) I would definitely recommend Pearl Harbor and it was recommended to me to go on the weekend so that you didn't hit the work traffic. We did it on a Sunday morning and then went to the Aloha Swap meet after. We skipped Waikiki our first trip and on our second we went over and just looked around. As you can see by the video this last trip we made a day of it. Loved everything we did. (outrigger canoe ride, lunch at Dukes and catamarran ride) No shark help here. We also did the Waimea waterfall on our first trip. It was a nice easy little walk to it. My husband and daughter did go in but I felt the water was way to cold. Trips 1 and 2 we stopped at Dole plantation for dole whips and at Matsumotos for shaved ice.
     

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