Some Hawaii/Aulani advice

surran12

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
I am booking my families first trip to Hawaii. It will be myself, DW, DS(12) and DD9. We will be traveling from the east coast and staying for 9 nights in March. Currently I have the first 3 nights booked at the Royal Hawaiian to explore the Waikiki and southern area and then the last 6 nights in a 1 bedroom at Aulani where I plan for us to explore the north shore and east side of the island from during a couple of the days and hang out at the resort a few of the days.

I have enough points left that I could change 2 of the Royal Hawaiian nights to a studio and then move over to the 1 bedroom and just stay somewhere in Waikiki our first or last night.

I’m a bit torn on which direction to take lodging wise.

Should I leave it as is, Change to splitting between Studio and 1 bedroom or Keep the Aulani part the same but instead of staying at RH for 3 nights stay at Turtle Bay Resort and skip staying in Waikiki all together.

We are looking for some relaxing beach/resort time, beautiful scenery, some easy hikes and to go to some of the standard Oahu sights(Pearl Harbor, Polynesian culture center, Kualoa Ranch) . My wife and I will get back to Hawaii eventually but it is likely to be my kids only trip as we always change up where we go.

I appreciate any advice!
 

newdeal

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2009
100,000% turtle bay and skip waikiki altogether. waikiki sucks. aulani is great but there is nothing there really so driving around is critical but even then i wouldnt even set foot in honolulu. the western shore has a lot more to do than the east does and the north is also great. make sure to visit pearl harbour
 

gopper

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 24, 2014
I agree about turtle bay, we were there for just one day in June for kayaking and biking, it was stunning. My husband and I will likely split up our next stay and do 3 days turtle bay and 4 days Aulani. I never get bored at Aulani! I also agree that Pearl Harbor is a must, but hopefully the Arizona Memorial will be open, I was disappointed when we were there and could only ride the boat near the memorial
 
  • Mommy2Logan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 11, 2019
    We drove up to Turtle Bay recently from Aulani. It was a nice day trip. I had memories of driving up there about 23 years ago with my mom and having lunch so I wanted to stop at Turtle Bay but once we go there it looked like a dump in comparison to Aulani and the beach sucked in comparison. I suppose if you want big waves it is nice but wasn't what we were after. We didn't like the view or anything about it. You are going to get a lot of opinions so take my for what it's worth, just another opinion but in comparison to Aulani, we both commented that we would never stay at Turtle Bay.
     

    surran12

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 16, 2014
    I just want to thank everyone for their perspectives! It always helps me think through things by hearing others thoughts and experiences.
     

    CanadianEmily

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2019
    We've never been to Aulani (and I'm only checking out this board because I love Hawaii so much!), but we've typically stayed at the very far western end of Waikiki (Park Shore Waikiki). It's not a big fancy resort by any means, but we enjoyed being able to walk the stretch of Waikiki beach from one end to the other and back again. But we always spent most of our time on the North Shore, and we always went to Turtle Bay just to walk around. We love it there. To me, the view is stunning. I don't know about the beach. I can vaguely remember seeing it, but we're not beach people anyway. In our two trips to Hawaii, we spent one morning on departure day on Waikiki beach right in front of our hotel, and that was it. For us, it's essential to have a car. It doesn't matter so much where we stay, because every day we just hop in the car and go somewhere new. Having said that, our most favorite attractions are Kualoa Ranch and the boat tours offered by Wild Side Specialty Tours.

    Personally, I've always wanted to stay at Turtle Bay, but it never made sense to us in terms of the cost when we know we don't spend much time at the hotel anyway, and we've always planned at least one activity that was very far away from Turtle Bay, so that didn't make sense either. Plus, we do like being able to have access to the restaurants and the bit of liveliness in Waikiki.
     
  • georgia20

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2019
    We always stay at aulani, but last trip added a few nights at the Royal Hawaiian. We were not expecting much because people always complain about Waikiki but we absolutely loved it. It had such a different vibe. It was great walking to shopping and restaurants and the waves are just perfect here. Not too big but big enough to enjoy! Next trip we will probably split between aulani and the royal Hawaiian.
     

    tgropp

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2007
    We enjoyed Wakiki Beach during our only stay. We plan on taking our children, spouses and grandchildren in a Jan 2021. We planned for a week at Marriott Beach Club on Maui and then six nights at Alunai. After discussion with my wife, we both agreed to add an extra three nights for a Wakiki Beach stay. We are all Beach people and laying on the beach gazing at Diamond was special for us.
     

    vegs1

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 28, 2007
    We, too, enjoyed our stay in Waikiki and I’m happy we stayed there. While the beach was not nearly as wide as we expected, we loved walking along, seeing the sights. We hiked diamond head, did pearl harbour. All the “touristy” things to do. We did drive up the coast and see turtle bay. Would love to go there someday. We surfed, saw turtles and went to Dole. Then on to Aulani.

    Loved our stay at each place.
     

    cgattis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2009
    Two nights in Waikiki was plenty for us. On our arrival night, we saw the free hula show and turned in. We did Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay from there, and the kids surfed. Then we got out of there! I don’t like the city vib when it’s plunked down into paradise; I’d rather see nature. We did Waikiki, a cruise, then Aulani, so doing Waikiki, Turtle Bay, then Aulani sounds fun too. I’d save Aulani for last though, so you’ll be ready to just enjoy more resort time.
     
  • surran12

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 16, 2014
    I want to thank everyone for the replies. Each of your experiences and perspectives are extremely helpful.
     

    kyton

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 10, 2012
    For the last 8yrs we have been doing at least 1 split stay between Ko Olina and Waikiki every year (most years we do 2 per year). Our kids are now 14, 12 and 9 and they all love Waikiki as much as Ko Olina. We tend to go Ko Olina first as our relax and sloth time whereas Waikiki is spent visiting restaurants and beach every day.

    We hire a large floating yoga mat out front of Hale Koa and the kids never fail to see at least 3 turtles playing underneath.
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    I would leave it as is. We had a very similar itinerary and it worked out wonderfully for us - trip report is in my signature.

    We loved Waikiki and 3 nights was good, but we did arrive later afternoon on our first day and left mid-morning on our last day. We spent our time in Waikiki exploring the area, shopping, and also did Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. Hanauma Bay is another good option during this time. We did not have a car during this time to avoid parking costs and hassles, so we did organized bus tours to Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head, which I definitely recommend. You avoid parking hassles there, and the Pearl Harbor tour facilitates your tour time tickets. You can also utilize the pink line trolley to go up and down Waikiki and to Ala Moana Center.

    During our 6 nights at Aulani, we time at the North Shore, Kualoa Ranch, and Kailua. We had 2 full resort days as well. Worked out great for us. We stayed in a studio and found it tight for two adults, so I would strongly advise against a studio with 4 people. A studio has a pullout sofa bed and a queen bed. With the sofa bed in the down position, there would be little to no room to walk around in the room and it would be hard to access the balcony. There's also little room to store suitcases. Definitely keep the 1 BR.

    We considered whether we should spend any nights at Turtle Bay - it seems like a beautiful resort and its in a great area. But we thought it'd have the same feel as Aulani with that resort experience. This is why we went with a Waikiki hotel instead - less focus on the hotel, and more focus on the area since its such a different vibe from Aulani/Ko Olina.
     

    kyton

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 10, 2012
    Oh that sounds great! @kyton - Do you have to be staying at Hale Koa to rent these?
    Alohamom, no there is a rental stand out front of the hotel (https://koabeachservice.com/) that rent SUP, water bikes plus other items. They rent the mats which are huge. Our kids normally get one for 2hrs and have a ball wrestling and flipping off it into the water. We also rent an umbrella plus two lounges from the boys - normally for 1/2 day, which gives us somewhere to shelter from the sun.
     

    mfleeting

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 27, 2014
    We really enjoyed our Waikiki days. We liked watching the surfers in the morning, walking the beach in the evenings, watching people go out on the Canoe's (or whatever they are called), watching the waves come in, and just enjoying the beach and water. Those are things you don't get at Aulani especially with the water being a cove. We are actually possibly going back in June for a long layover and probably only going to spend 1 night at Aulani (to please the children) and 2 nights in Waikiki.
     

    kickash

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 24, 2014
    We did a split stay this summer with 9 nights at Aulani and 3 nights at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort (the one with Duke's restaurant). Our 3 nights in Wakiki were Fri-Sat-Sun (we departed Monday). We arrived Friday around 3 pm from Aulani, checked in to the hotel, then we had dinner at Duke's then walked to see the fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Saturday we got up, had breakfast in the club level (excellent!! highly recommend) then did Diamond Head and the southern shore (Hanauma Bay, blowhole, Kailua, Lanikai, etc). That took allll day. Sunday we spent on Waikiki. Beach is small and crowded, but my kids loved how far out we could go from shore. We spent the whole day in the water and ate at The Hula Grill that night. We enjoyed walking around Waikiki at night, getting ice cream, checking out some of the fun t-shirt shops, etc. It reminded us of the boardwalk vibe in Ocean City, MD mixed with the Vegas strip lol! While I had previously been to Waikiki, my family hadn't so they appreciated the ability to visit there.
     

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