Trip Report- Aloha from Kauai & Aulani-Now with Pics!

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by nrteer, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    While planning our 15th Anniversary trip to Hawaii, I read everything I could in this forum and just wanted to share what we did to help out my fellow vacation planners!

    A little background about us:
    Family of 3 from Florida (mid-30s and dd9). We are WDW regulars and have been on a few DCL cruises. We travel frequently, but do a bigger trip every 5 years to celebrate our anniversary. About 18 months ago I started planning our 15th anniversary trip. We decided on Hawaii because Aulani was a Disney bucket list item for me, but I also wanted to visit another island while we were there. After researching the 3 other main islands, I chose Kauai because I wanted to see the beautiful Na Pali Coast.

    Day 1- Travel day
    With the six hour time difference, we decided to spend a night at LAX (and grab some In-n-Out) before our nonstop flight to Lihue the next morning. We booked a TPA-MIA-LAX flight on American using miles. Unfortunately, our TPA-MIA flight was delayed and we ended up missing our connection in Miami. American re-booked us on a MIA-DFW-LAX flight. Our MIA-DFW flight was also delayed, but we managed to run like crazy and make the LAX flight. Our 1 checked bag made it on a nonstop from MIA-LAX and arrived shortly after we did in the next terminal over. At 1:45am we checked into the Hyatt Regency LAX for 4 hours of sleep before our flight to LIH. No In-n-Out for me, but at least we were going to make our morning flight!
     
  2. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day2- LAX-LIH
    We had an 8am nonstop to Lihue on Hawaiian Airlines. The seat config was 2-3-2, so I booked a 2 with a window for dd9 and I and my husband across the aisle. Turns out, our row was the only one with a solid wall and no window and my husband, while in the same row number as us was almost 2 rows behind us due to seat staggering. No worries though, we are on our way to Hawaii!
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    Hawaiian fed us breakfast, but the only entertainment was music and tvs from the ceiling that were turned off most of the time. They did have ipads you could rent for the flight. We watched Moana on our ipad and I attempted to sleep. Before landing in Lihue, we were served POG and Koloa rum cocktails which were tasty. The gentleman in front of me offered his window so we could peek out at Kauai as we arrived. I took a few pics, but haven't figured out how to post them in this yet. Forgot to mention, this is my first trip report!
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    We landed at 11am, claimed our baggage, and hopped on the Enterprise shuttle to pick up our car we rented through Costco. We were given a Hyundai Elantra and informed by the rental agent that there was a big accident that closed the one road to the North Shore where we were staying. We decided to have lunch at Duke's at Kalapaki Beach to give the road time to open. Lunch was very good, the setting was great, and the Hula Pie was excellent! After we were stuffed, we checked google maps and saw that the road had reopened, so we headed north to Princeville to check into our condo at the Hanalei Bay Resort.
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    Kalapaki Beach

    We rented a studio through an owner. My only requirement was an awesome view and we got it! (When I learn to post pics, I will show you!) We dropped our bags, took in the view, and headed to Foodland to pick up some snacks, bagels, POG juice, and rum. Food prices were comparable to our prices here except for hummus and pineapple (go figure!). It was really yummy though!
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    Our balcony and view

    After a dip in the beautiful pool, we headed to the condo for a light dinner of snacks since we were still stuffed from Duke's. We watched the sunset and headed to bed soon after. Tomorrow is our Na Pali Coast boat tour!
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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  4. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 3- Na Pali Coast Tour

    The main reason I wanted to visit Kauai was to see the gorgeous Na Pali Coast. I booked through Na Pali Catamaran out of Hanalei about 6 weeks before we arrived. I researched a lot bc DD gets motion sick pretty easily and the Na Pali Coast is pretty rough. Their boat is designed to fit in the sea caves and help minimize the sea conditions. We all took Dramamine (just in case) before we headed into Hanalei for our 6:45am meeting time. They gave us a dry bag for our belongings and drove us to the bay where we waded out to the boat. The north shore departure gets you to the Coast in 15 minutes instead of 2+ hours from the south. Going out, the sea weren't too bad. We all stood and just looked at the coast in awe. Seeing the jagged mountains, numerous waterfalls, and sea caves, made the trek from Florida worth it! Sea conditions were so good, we were even able to go into the open ceiling cave. After 90 minutes or so, we stopped to snorkel while the captain set lunch up. The first thing we saw when we jumped in was a turtle! DD9 loves snorkeling, so we stuck together and saw a ton of beautiful fish while hubby swam off to take pics with the gopro.

    Lunch was a large sandwich (I chose turkey, DD had roast beef, and hubby had ham), bags of chips and cookies, cut pineapple, and Hawaiian sodas and water. It tasted really good after an hour of snorkeling. The wind had picked up, so returning to Hanalei was crazy. It was rough to the point that the front of the boat went under and the spray soaked us. It was great fun and nobody got seasick!
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    Hanalei Bay
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    NaPali Coast
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    We got back to Hanalei and headed back to the condo to shower and relax. We all fell asleep and woke up around dinner time. I wanted to try Kalypso, so we headed back to Hanalei. I had Mahi tacos and hubby had an ahi sandwich. The MaiTais were really good and the Warriors game was on, so it made for a fun atmosphere. After dinner we had our first shave ice at Jojo's. Kiddo had 3 flavors and we shared Passion Orange.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  5. Boardwalkin

    Boardwalkin Mouseketeer

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    Hawaii part of the trip sounds great so far. Thanks for sharing.
     
  6. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 4- South Shore

    The north shore was a little rainy this morning, so we decided to drive south and check out Poipu. Our first stop was a visit to Wailua Falls. It is inland a bit and right off the side of the road. There was a small parking lot which is convenient. After check out the falls, we headed further south to Poipu and parked in a small lot next to the Grand Hyatt to begin our hike along the Mahualepu Trail. It is an easy hike along cliffs with gorgeous views of the the ocean. It was sunny and quite hot along the sandy trail. We walked the trail as far as the golf course to see the views, but did not continue on to the beach. It was lunch time, so we hiked back to our car and headed to Puka Dog for lunch. I had a polish sausage with mild garlic sauce and lilikoi mustard. Hubby had spicy garlic sauce, mango relish, and the lilikoi mustard, and kiddo had plain. We had Maui chips as a side and enjoyed their homemade lemonade.
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    Wailua Falls
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    Grand Hyatt from the trail
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    Views from Mahualepu Heritage Trail

    We browsed in the shopping center before heading back north. I was glad we visited Poipu, but really glad we chose to stay on the north shore. I went back and forth between Princeville and staying at the Grand Hyatt in the south, but I loved the tiny surf town feel of Hanalei so much better than touristy Poipu.

    Our daughter really wanted to snorkel, so on the way back we stopped at Lydgate Beach Park bc I knew it had a walled off snorkeling area she could do by herself if we just wanted to chill in the beach chairs. Parking was easy and there were bathrooms to change in. They snorkeled for a while and actually saw some neat fish considering it was inside a lava rock wall. I relaxed on the beach and watched the chickens. They are everywhere on Kauai and were one of our favorite things to see while we were adventuring. We named all of the roosters Hei Hei.
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    Lydgate Beach Park

    We decided to try Federico's Fresh Mex in Princeville for dinner. It was in the shopping center near our condo, so it was convenient, but just average at best. While walking around the center, we discovered Lappert's Ice Cream. Definitely my favorite food I ate in Hawaii. I had the Coconut macadamia nut fudge ice cream, hubby had Coconut macadamia nut caramel, and kiddo had Mint chip. It was so yummy and their waffle cones actually tasted like waffles!

    *I am still trying to figure out how to add photos. I set up a flickr acct, but no luck yet.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  7. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 5- Waimea Canyon and Kilauea Point

    We got back in the car and drove south again to visit Waimea Canyon. I have never visited a canyon, so I was excited to see the views. I was worried that the clouds would cover the canyon, but we lucked out and they moved along while we were taking it in. Our first pull off was to see the red dirt waterfall. It looks like something from another planet! We drove on to the Waimea Canyon lookout and saw a beautiful waterfall and all of the beautiful shades of green, red, and brown of the canyon. There were a lot of helicopters in the canyon. They looked so tiny which helped give perspective to how massive the canyon is.

    We drove on to KoKe'e State Park to see the Kalalau lookout and found the rain. We wanted to see the coast where we had taken the boat tour, but we only managed a glimpse through the clouds. It was crazy to see how far up we were compared to sea level. The last lookout is Pu'u O Kila (elev 5,140ft). It was raining, but fitting since it is on Mt. Wai'ale'ale, one of the wettest spots on Earth. We started to head back down and managed to leave the rain behind.
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    On the way back to the north shore, we stopped in Wailua to have lunch at Street Burger. It was so yummy! I had the bacon bbq burger and hubby had a classic cheeseburger. Kiddo had a plain cheeseburger. They had lots of beers and hubby had one (what kind, I don't know), and I had a Mexican Coke.
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    After lunch, we stopped at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and lighthouse. It is the northernmost point in the Hawaiian Islands. I think it was $5 per adult to enter the Refuge. The lighthouse is on the short side and you cannot go in. There were a variety of seabirds flying around. We saw Great Frigate birds, Red footed Booby, Shearwaters, and Nene (not flying). There were binoculars available and a decent gift shop. The rain found us again in the parking lot, so we headed back to the condo.
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    Kilauea Point
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    Back at the resort, we walked down to our beach (Pu'u Poa) which we shared with the St. Regis. It had an area to set up chairs, but as you walked left, it was covered in trees which provided shade. We walked all the way to the end where we could see Hanalei and the pier. We headed back to the resort to watch the sunset by the fire pit, but the rain found us again, so we ran to the car and headed to Lappert's. I had the same flavor as the day before, hubby had strawberry, and kiddo had Oreo.
    HI30.jpg Puu Poa Beach
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  8. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 6- Tunnels Beach and Maniholo Dry Cave

    The morning was rainy, so I started to pack since we depart for Oahu the next day. The weather started to clear around 10am, so we decided to drive to Tunnels Beach for some snorkeling. There is very little parking for Tunnels, so we parked at Haena Beach park. We checked out the dry cave first. It is a fairly wide and deep cave and quiet inside. I do not like small spaces and I was fine. We walked all the way to the back and thinking about how we were under a mountain kinda weirded me out. I also noticed quite a few spider webs on the top of the cave. We crossed the street back to the beach and headed right towards Tunnels. I found a shady spot under a tree for my beach chair and my hubby and kiddo snorkeled. I was just taking in the relaxing beach when a turtle surfaced! I walked down to the water to watch it eat something off of the rocks and gathered some tiny shells. Hubby and kiddo saw a ton of fish and some turtles. We were there for about an hour and then headed back to Hanalei for lunch and some shopping.

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    Inside Maniholo dry cave
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    Tunnels Beach
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    We went to Ching Young Village and tried Chicken in a Barrel. I had 1/4 chicken that came with chili and white rice and hubby had pork. He was expecting Kahlua pork, so was slightly disappointed when it wasn't. Kiddo had a caesar salad. We picked up some souvenirs and then drove back to Kilauea to play mini golf. Our DD loves mini golf, so we made sure to squeeze it in. The Kilauea mini golf is set in a beautiful botanical garden. It was comparable price wise to mini golf in Florida. There were informational plaques at each hole discussing the plants in Hawaii and how they got there. Hubby won golf as usual and celebrated with local Kauai roasted coffee. We headed back to the condo to pack some more and take one last trip to Lappert's. (There is one location on Oahu at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but we didn't make it there.)
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    Kauai Mini Golf

    Tomorrow we arrive at Aulani!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  9. Psymonds

    Psymonds Mouseketeer

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    We'll be doing the reverse, Aulani, then Kauai, Soon. I don't think theres a Kauai spot that we love that you missed, so I'm even more excited for that part, we'll have 2 weeks in Poipu so that will be our relaxation portion after Aulani.
     
  10. Psymonds

    Psymonds Mouseketeer

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    I anticipate 4 or 5 of these. we stay across the street.
     
  11. EagleRockTony

    EagleRockTony Earning My Ears

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    Happy 15th! Sounds like you squeezed quite a lot into 6 days on Kauai, great job! Lapperts is the best, I can smell the waffle cones as I type! Will Arrive at Aulani this Sunday, family is so excited! Five nights then onto Kauai at HBR for 10 more. Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 7- Oahu/Aulani

    We got up early and drove to Lihue to catch our 830am flight to Oahu. We had an on time departure and were on the ground 30 minutes after take off. We claimed our luggage and caught the Alamo shuttle with lots of other people. Since our bus was full, I decided to use the kiosk. I booked an intermediate car through Costco and we were upgraded to a full size. We were given a choice of a Ford Fusion or a Toyota Camry. We took the Fusion and were off to Aulani! Traffic wasn't bad and we arrived in about 25 minutes.

    We received our leis and necklace and headed to the check in desk. We rented points for an ocean view studio in the fall. My only request was to overlook the main pool area. I did not do online check in because I didn't want to mess up my room request. The CM was very friendly and let us know that our room was not ready as it was before check out time. She wanted to look for a room that was ready and I said I would rather wait for the room I requested. She gave us a key to the lounge so we could change into our swimwear and told us we would receive a text when our room was ready.

    I have to admit, coming from the serenity of Kauai, Aulani was overwhelming at first. The pool area was packed, the food lines long, and we weren't sure where anything was. Since we got up so early, we were hungry for an early lunch, so we headed to Ulu Cafe. The menu there did not appeal to DD, so we walked over to Mama's snack shack. We found a table near Rainbow Reef and enjoyed our coconut shrimp. As we ate, we started to take in the atmosphere and tried to adjust to our second vacation of the trip.

    After lunch, we went to the lounge to change. There were several families in there waiting to depart Aulani and I think they were all out of aloha. Screaming, crying, and arguing welcomed us as we opened the door. My husband is not a fan of crowds, but is a willing participant in our Disney vacations. I was afraid that he was going to hate Aulani. As we changed, I remembered that I didn't tell him about the pool chair situation.

    We managed to find a chair in partial shade near the inifinity pool. Hubby just wanted to relax, so he plugged into some music and DD and I were off to find the slides. We loved the slides, but thought the tube slide line took forever to move. Next, we tried the body slide and then off to the lazy river. I thought we should check on hubby, and on the way found a lounger in full shade. He was a fairly happy camper now, enjoying the breeze and his tunes. Around 2pm we got our room ready text. We were assigned room 1510. We took a dip in the infinity pool (loved the view) and then decided to head to our room.

    We figured out in was in the Waianae tower and headed up to the 15th floor. The view was absolutely perfect! The room wasn't huge, but the 3 of us had plenty of space. We unpacked, showered, and headed to the ABC store to get some snacks and drinks. We came back and had POG and rum while we relaxed on the balcony. We had finally adjusted from Kauai mode and were now in Aulani mode!

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    Our view

    I wanted to go to the Olelo Room for dinner and to listen to music, but was unsure if there were kids options. I was happy to find out that they did. DD had a cheeseburger and I remember that pizza was an option, but would take 30 minutes to cook. We had mai tais, the taro nachos, and tempura. All of it was tasty, especially the nachos. The music was relaxing and we loved that we could hear it on balcony in the evenings. After dinner, we walked down to the beach and enjoyed the sunset.
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    Lazy river at night
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  13. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 8- Diamond Head & Waikiki

    We got up early to beat rush hour traffic and headed to hike Diamond Head. Thankfully, we were early enough to score a parking spot inside the crater. The sun was out, but it was breezy, so off we went. The hike itself wasn't too bad except for the stairs. They weren't my favorite, but I knew the view would be worth it. DD loved climbing out of the bunker at the top. It was a clear day, so the view of Honolulu was beautiful! We walked back down to the car and drove to Waikiki for breakfast.
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    View from Diamond Head

    We parked in the Royal Hawaiian Center garage and walked down to the beach. The view of Diamond Head was so pretty and knowing we had just been at the top was fun. Since we already went to Duke's in Kauai, we decided to try Hula Grill upstairs. The view of the beach and Diamond Head from our table was beautiful. We watched the surfers and canoe riders while we waited for our breakfast to arrive. Hubby had breakfast fried rice, I had the Paniolo omelet, and the kiddo had pancakes that came out shaped like Mickey!

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    Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach

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    Brunch view

    After breakfast, we walked down to the beach to the Moana Surf Rider resort. Every family member that has visited Hawaii has taken a pic of the Banyan tree, so we took our photo of it and headed out to Kalakaua Ave for some shopping. We found an art gallery where we picked up some art prints and a koa wood turtle to bring home to family. They validated our parking, so it only cost us $3 to park for 4 hours. We walked down to see the Duke statue and then headed back to Aulani to get ready for our luau.

    I was excited to see Aulani's luau, but when I heard it would be inside for our visit, I decided to book a different one. I researched Paradise Cove and Fia Fia and chose Fia Fia. I liked that we could walk there and that it was smaller than Paradise Cove. The evening was beautiful! We bought the general seating package and were given 2 beverage tickets per person. Our seats were in the second row at the end. DD loved that she could get up and dance and not be in anyone's view. We did not arrive super early, but managed to get a woven palm headband made by one of the dancers. We chatted with him about Florida and a popular fire dancer in Orlando. The food was a buffet and had a variety of selections. I remember mahi in a sauce, short ribs, mac salad, green salad, and pork. The kids had their own buffet that consisted of mac & cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, raw veggies, and really good chicken tenders. Dessert was chocolate, guava or haupia cake. The mai tais were very strong! I enjoyed the dancing and Chief the host was great. The fire dancers were fabulous as was that evening's sunset. At the end of the show, you can meet the dancers. DD enjoyed doing the hula with them. One of the men gave her one of his grass leg decorations to use as a hula skirt. She danced all the way back to Aulani!

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    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  14. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 9- Pool Day

    We started our day with the Character breakfast at Makahiki. DD loved seeing the characters and the food was tasty. We filled up on Mickey Waffles with coconut syrup and we were ready for our resort day. I took DD to check our Aunty's Beach House bc she had the Aloha Party later in the afternoon. She was excited to check out all of the fun stuff there. We headed upstairs to put our bathing suits on and headed down to claim some chairs. We got great ones in the shade by the zero entry pool. We noticed significantly less people Tues-Thurs, than when we arrived on Monday. It made for a more relaxing resort experience.

    The 3 of us spent most of the morning doing the slides and lazy river. The river was pretty empty and very relaxing. Hubby and I headed back to our seats to lounge for a bit while DD swam with some new friends near the zero entry area. Around 12:15, I took DD to change and check in for her Aunty's activity. Hubby got us lunch and drinks to enjoy in our loungers. After lunch we walked down to Secret Beach to check it out before our family photo session there that evening. I picked DD up from Aunty's around 2:15. She wasn't a huge fan of the organized activity, but they let her go have free play, so she was happy with that. We showered to get ready for our spa appointments.

    *Backstory- DD is fascinated by our wedding. She loves to try on my dress and veil and so wishes she could have been there. I looked into vow renewals, but ultimately decided to buy us white maxi dresses (hubby had a white beach shirt), and hired a wedding photographer to take photos to remember our 15th anniversary and have special photos that would include the kiddo in them.

    DD had a hair appointment and I had a make up appointment to get ready for our photos. They let us stay together in the Laniwai Spa instead of having her go into Painted Sky. I was happy about that bc we went to into Painted Sky and it was packed. The adult salon section was empty and much more relaxing. They brought muffins and macaroons and I had yummy peach mango tea. DD had her hair french braided down the sides, but left one crossed the back and met up with the right one, making one braid to hang over her shoulder (probably makes no sense!) with white orchids. I chose to have my make up done bc in my daily life, I wear mascara and chapstick. I have never had it done professionally (not even on my wedding day) and decided I wanted to for our pictures. It looked very natural and I was happy with it. She even gave me orchids on hair pins to put in my hair.
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    We had about an hour before we needed to meet our photographer, so we had some snacks to hold us over until our late dinner reservation. When it was time, we got dressed and walked to Secret Beach. I guess we looked wedding-like bc everyone was telling us Congrats. There was a wedding going on at the beach and the Paradise Cove Luau was starting. (That luau had way more people than the one we went to!) Our photographer was great. She took lots of natural shots as well as posed and did a variety of backgrounds. The session lasted about 30 minutes and then we walked to the Four Seasons for dinner at Noe.

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    I love how she is laughing in this one!

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    I chose Noe for dinner tonight bc we had an Italian wedding reception, so I was trying to make it as wedding-like as possible for DD. The atmosphere at Noe was beautiful. It doesn't overlook the ocean, but the lanterns in the trees give it an intimate feeling. Our dinners were very good. For starters we had bruschetta and arancini. They gave DD raw veggies with an eggplant dip that had a super mild flavor. For dinner, I had a truffle pappardelle, hubby had ravioli and kiddo had pasta with cream sauce. I was impressed with the kids pasta. It was so tasty. For dessert, hubby had an espresso, I had stracciatella gelato, and DD had yummy chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and m&ms.
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    Noe

    Our "wedding day" was pretty much perfect!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  15. disneydreamingdebby

    disneydreamingdebby DVC Member

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    Thank you for writing this! Happy 15th!

    I hadn't heard about Fia Fia. Perfect timing for me to read about it. We had decided on Paradise Cove, but I just read a bad review that is making me nervous! Now I am going to research Fia Fia!
     
  16. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

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    Day 10- Dole Plantation and Bishop Museum

    After a quick breakfast at Ulu cafe, we headed to the Dole Plantation. We did not buy tickets ahead of time. I am glad bc I probably would have bought the combo ticket for the train and maze, but it was pretty hot and sunny so we only did the train. There was quite a line for tickets, but we got them fairly quickly and headed to the line for the train. We got on the third train that arrived after we got in line. They made you take a picture holding a pineapple before boarding.

    The train ride was pretty relaxing. We saw some of the machinery, lots of different plants, and a pretty reservoir. The information and music on the train were interesting. After our ride, we went to the gift shop. It was a zoo in there, but we managed to find a few souvenirs for hubby's work and a stuffed pineapple for the kiddo. We skipped the Dole Whip line and went back to the car for our next adventure.
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    We did not continue on to the North Shore like most people. Since we spent time in Kauai, we felt like we had a good feel for the small Hawaiian beach town. Instead, we drove to Honolulu to visit the Bishop Museum. We enjoy visiting museums and I wanted our daughter to get a sense of Hawaiian history. (We did not visit Pearl Harbor this trip, but definitely will if we return to Oahu.)

    The drive to the Bishop Museum wasn't bad. Parking was easy and there was a machine to pay for it. We never encountered the parking people to show our stub to though. The museum was about $20 per adult and around $15 for DD. I was shocked when the lady pulled out a stone age credit card machine that made the imprint of the card on paper! She gave me my giant receipt, two maps and off we went. There was a docent at the entrance who told us the importance of each area and what we would see. We started with the Kahili Room, then Pacific Hall and then Hawaiian Hall. Pacific Hall was all about the history of voyaging and had lots of artifacts. DD recognized many things Moana used during her voyage and in her village. They also had some interactive exhibits for kids. DD's favorite was building a canoe.

    Hawaiian Hall was organized chronologically from the bottom floor up. It gave the complete history of the Hawaiian Islands through Pearl Harbor. The exhibits are well done and we gained lots of insight into Hawaiian culture. We found a table where a docent was mixing pigments. DD sat down and he taught her about Tapa printing using the seed from the pandanus tree. She was able to make her own print by painting the different seeds and stamping them. We also designed our own quilts using patterns important to Hawaiians and had designs we made projected on gourds. There were lots of things to interest children. DD is 9 and enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't bring a toddler or preschooler. There is a garden and a science hall that is supposed to be great as well as a sports hall, but we were getting tired and hungry, so we decided to go back to Aulani.

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    (These guys look very familiar to me! As a WDW regular, I enjoy getting misted by their cousins in Adventureland. It turns out, they are actually drums!)

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    We showered and went to Ama Ama for a sunset dinner. The view was beautiful and the music was nice. I had taro shrimp tacos to start and hubby had the crab cake. Both were very good. For dinner, I had the shrimp pasta dish minus the squid ink and hubby had moon fish. I think DD had a steak. We really enjoyed our dinners. For dessert, we shared the chocolate aloha. It was a dense, yummy lava cake with ice cream. I was glad we tried it for dinner even though I read so many mediocre reviews. After dinner, we stopped by the fire pit to list to Uncle's stories. He was very entertaining. We headed up to our room to listen to music from the Olelo Room on our balcony, but it was the only night that wasn't Hawaiian music. It was a duo doing covers. We weren't into it, so we went in and got a head start on packing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  17. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Day 11- Resort/Travel Day

    We started our day with breakfast at Ama Ama. The daytime view was as pretty as sunset the night before. I had the macadamia nut pancakes, hubby had eggs benedict, and DD had mickey pancakes. We took our time and enjoyed the view since it would be our last day at the resort. After breakfast, I returned DD's band to Aunty's and then we went up to the room to pack and get ready for the pool. We checked out and the CM gave us a lounge key.
    HI54.jpg
    Breakfast view
    HI55.jpg

    We found a table by Keiki Cove and set up for the day. We all did the slides and lazy river together before DD met up with some friends in the pool. We relaxed in the pool area until 2pm and then went to the lounge to shower and change. I knew DD would like the Meneheune Adventure Trial, so we got a device from the Pau Hana room and off we went. We were having fun, but after about 40 min, the wifi wasn't working, so the things wouldn't get the signal to interact. We returned it and they offered to give us another, but we decided to grab something to eat before heading to the airport. We hit Ulu Cafe one more time bc I wasn't sure what options the airport would have.

    HI53.jpg
    Meneheune Adventure Trail

    We left Aulani around 5pm and did not have any traffic issues. We returned the rental car and took the shuttle to the Delta terminal. There weren't any lines at the agriculture screening, ticket counters, or security. Somehow my family was hungry again already, so they got snacks at Starbucks while I picked up a few last-minute souvenirs we forgot.

    We had an 8:40pm flight to LAX. The plane was nice and had lots of entertainment options. We tried our best to get some sleep before our 6 hour layover at LAX. When we landed, we had to ask where our connecting flight was bc it wasn't listed on the monitors. The agent told us and also let us know that terminal 3 had limited food, so we would be better staying where we are for a while. We found a quiet place that had small couches so DD could rest while hubby worked on his laptop. I was out of it and just people watched. Around 7am we got some breakfast and then headed on a shuttle to terminal 3. There was only a Burger King there, but they are getting a Shake Shack and Taco/Tequila place soon. We hung out for an hour and then boarded out flight to Tampa. The plane was older, but still had Delta Studio. I watched Rogue One and then slept the rest of the way. We landed and were smacked in the face with a wall of humidity, so we knew we were home!

    Thank you for taking the time to read about our vacation! We enjoyed Hawaii, but I am not sure we will return to Aulani. It was beautiful and fun, but I think if we were to go to Hawaii again, I would like to visit the Big Island to see the volcanoes and dive with the Manta Rays and maybe Maui to see Haleakala.

    There is a big world out there. It's time to dig out the travel bucket list and plan our next adventure!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
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  18. alldiz

    alldiz DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    7,609
    Thankyou so much for you detailed review!
    We are going to Hawaii for the 1st time this summer.
    Loved reading about your adventures. We are doing the POA cruise around islands
    after Aulani so will do most touring then with a 1 day trip to North Shore.

    I didn't realize Fia Fia was at the Marriot next door.
    I love that you did those photos so your daughter can be part of your "wedding" :-)
    Kerri
     
  19. parkhopmom

    parkhopmom Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Messages:
    48
    Loved your report! I am in the very beginning stages of planning a Kauai/Aulani trip for our 35th anniversary. If you could do it over, would you still do Kauai first or start with Aulani instead?
    Kathy
     
  20. Flower1

    Flower1 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Can I ask about the wedding photographer you hired? Was it someone from the Aulani? We are going for my parents 50th wedding anniversary in November and they also looked into renewing their vows, but decided against it. The photographer sounds like a great idea. Can I ask how much the session was?
     
  21. nrteer

    nrteer Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2013
    Messages:
    20
    Thanks for taking the time to read about our trip!

    If I were to do it again, I would probably do Aulani first and then Kauai. I think it depends on your travel party. I was afraid if we did Aulani first, our DD9 would be bummed in Kauai. Being a Disney Junkie, I knew she would love the character interactions, slides, and lazy river and I knew our condo in Kauai wouldn't have any of those. We have been back for a couple of weeks and she talks about a lot of Aulani experiences and mostly just the chickens, snorkeling, and Lappert's ice cream from Kauai!

    I am not sure if I can name the photographer I used on these boards, but if you do a google search for Waialua Wedding Photographer, she is the first result. We are extremely happy with our photos. I booked a mini session which included 30 minutes of photography and 15 edited photos. I believe the cost was $250. I looked into using the photographer at Aulani, but I wanted the photos taken offsite, so they wouldn't work out for us. Unfortunately, I still haven't figured out how to upload photos to my posts, so I can't share any pics.
     
    Flower1 likes this.

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