Aloha in Hawaiian means hello, goodbye, and love. But it also has a deeper meaning; “aloha” can also be described as an attitude or spirit- a way of life. Aloha is being a part of all things and one with nature and it’s creator. This is aloha and this is the Hawaii we experienced at Aulani Disney Resort & Spa.
Earlier this month we flew to Oahu to experience the Aulani Disney Resort & Spa and let me tell you it was MAGIC and not just because there’s a splash of Disney (although that helps)… it’s magic comes mostly from the Hawaiian people and beautiful landscape of the west side of Oahu in the town of Ko Olina.
Aulani is all about “Ohana (family)” and I couldn’t love the communal vibe more. I felt like I belonged there because that is what Hawaiians do best: gather, love, accept, feed, host and play!
When you arrive at the resort you are greeted in traditional Hawaiian style with a lai, macadamia nut necklace and menihuni necklaces of the kids, plus fresh citrus water to recover from any less than perfect travel experiences. Side note: iPads on airplanes don’t always work for toddlers. We gave Zeke our two year a D- for airplane travel but we’ll forgive him because he didn’t open the emergency exit door to get out. No seriously that was an anxious thought of mine since he wanted “OOOOOOOOUUUUUUUT!” My best advice for traveling anywhere with small kids is to not have expectations because once you get to your destination it’s all worth it. On a more specific note, window stickies work well for a while, along with having a few new dollar section toys, magic marker pads and their favorite movies… oh and lots of different types of snacks. We also made sure to bring the boy’s favorite sippy cups on the airplane with us so that we could pour their milk or juice into those and prevent any spills while also providing a bit of home.
Now back to Hawaii and Aulani because it all feels like a dream! Let me just share with you why we think Aulani Resort is the premiere place to travel with kids.
Fun is everywhere:
The first morning we woke up bright and early and took full advantage of the empty beach. Zeke jumped in the ocean right away and started swimming like he had found his happy place. We highly recommend seeing the sunrise while you’re there.
White sandy beaches… need I say more? Probably not but I will…
Zeke in his happy place in the warm ocean waters.
Aunty’s Beach House:
You guys I’m about to blow your mind! Aunty’s Beach House is Aulani Resort’s state of the art free childcare service featuring dancing, games, crafting and cartoons for children ages 3-12. The Professor, one of Aunty’s neighbors, stopped by the first time Waylon visited to demonstrate Eruption Disruption Volcanic Science or his formula for Stitch’s Space Goo; he got to take the goo home it was a huge happy deal for him.
Teens and tweens aren’t left out either and can spend time on the beach with activities such as the Island Beach Challenge, with fun, team-based games and a scavenger hunt. In Island Treasure Photo Hunt, participants explore the resort, capturing signature iconic elements on film and competing to win keys that might unlock a treasure chest full of surprises. And in the evening, Imi Loa Na Hoku offers a stargazing experience focused on ancient Polynesian navigation by the heavens.
We recommend registering your children online before you even get to the resort. Once you arrive head to the Aunty’s Beach House to get your children their green wrist band and make sure to get in line around 7:30am if you want to secure a morning spot with lunch for your child. Oh the green wrist band…I have to talk about this! You guys they are so on it here. I’m kinda a nervous mother as you might know form my previous posts about anxiety but I have legit reasons to be because I birth ninjas… like straight outta the womb its like “oh oh where’d ya go?!” These green bands stay on your child during your entire stay and track their whereabouts while in Aunty’s Beach House. It’s all secure from the cast members to the GPS system to the secret code you create to pick your child up. It set my heart at ease, Waylon made friends and had the best time there and I got to have a 3 hour spa session while all that goodness went down. Let me get to that right now cause the Laniwai Spa alone is worth the puddle jump across the pacific.
I seriously didn’t want to take the green GPS wristband off when we went home ha ha.
I’ve been to a few spas in my lifetime and this one far surpassed them all. Intentional is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Laniwai Spa. Laniwai means “fresh water heaven” and everything in the spa carries this thread with it. When you begin your experience here a cast member has you choose a rock with a word on it in English and Hawaiian then guides you through the center of the spa to a pond where you make an intention or wish and drop it in the pond to give back to island. I may be a tad emotional but this totally moved me. Interestingly enough I sent Sam here the next day and he received the same word on his rock! Coincidence? I think not!
We both received the signature Lomilomi massage, which is a traditional Hawaiian massage designed to promote healing. The Signature Lomilomi adds the uses of soothing Lomilomi sticks and warm river stones to help achieve ultimate relaxation. And you must go early and stay late so you can utilize the outdoor hydrotherapy garden–Kula Wai.
There is tons to do at the resort but you don’t want to miss out on experiencing more of Hawaii. We highly recommend the catamaran experience. An Aulani cast member joins you on this excursion to educate you on Hawaiian culture and also accompany you while snorkeling. Our guide found a sea star and sea urchin and let me hold them! Plus he made my octopus obsessed son so happy when he found a small octopus and let him touch it. Very educational and hands on…we loved this!
How amazing is this?! We saw several pods of dolphins… I was ready to jump overboard and ride the fin of one (like something from “Island of the Blue Dolphins”) buuut I think that’s probably illegal and I have two kids so I resisted this primal urge.
Look real close and you’ll see a couple beautiful sea turtles.
I must mention the food on the catamaran is bomb! Best pulled pork I think I’ve ever had. Zeke probably ate a million muffins in the first 30 minutes on board.
Nothing like meeting an instagram friend in real life in Hawaii! I absolutely loved getting to hang out with Ginger Parish and her family.
The KA WA‘A Luau:
KA WA‘A, is an amazing dining and entertainment experience at the Hālāwai Lawn. The local island buffet was delicious, and the music and traditional Hawaiian dancing was breathtaking…no really once the hula dancers and men with fire sticks started doing their thing my kids eyes were like saucers and their jaws hit the lawn… it was awesome and I took full advantage and downed my mai tai while they sat quietly.
Aulani also offers complementary ‘Ohana Disney Movie Nights, on the Hālāwai Lawn so you can watch family-friendly Disney movies under the stars. All you have to do is show up and they give you a straw mat for your family to sit on. Bring a blanket from your room and maybe some candy too and you’ll be so cozy. Although my kids don’t really care about cozy; they were in heaven running around with their glow in the dark sticks while we watched “Cars 3” outside.
My handsome right-hand man!
Tarro smashing and poi making was Zeke’s favorite, he kept stealing the cast member’s stash for his own.
Mai Tais!!!! One for me, one for you!
I’m pretty sure he thought he was Maui after he got this hook tattoo.
Selfies with Zeke always crack me up…
I got a tad bit excited when I found out that we would be attending a luau so when I found this dress by Cynthia Rowley I knew it was the one.
You might not exactly have high hopes for gourmet food selections at a resort that caters to families but ummmmm… let me tell you Aulani does food right. The character breakfast at Makahiki served up the best buffet which we took full advantage off and side note our server was a gem! She totally understood what it was like eating out with a 5 year old and two year old and brought us coffees to go, always served us with a smile and told us how cute our “non-table-sitting-children” where. Seriously it meant so much to me and made me enjoy this meal so much more. Plus Mickey, Minnie and Goofy cruise around while you eat so that makes this family meal so memorable.
Breakfast or any meal for that matter is a must at ‘AMA‘AMA. It’s kinda fancy so bring a pair of closed toe shoes and book the kiddos in Aunty’s Beach House and go! I ordered the “‘AMA‘AMA Breakfast Sandwich” and it did not disappoint!
Pretty much every morning we would go to this pool side coffee bar order hot chocolate and watch the sun rise… it’s the little memories like this that I love the most.
Shave ICCCCCCEEEEEEE! They loved this treat so much and the Mickey ears just make it that more special plus it was huge so I got to finish it off.
The Pools and Beach:
You can easily spend all day at the pools and beach and we did! The Waikolohe Stream or “lazy river” as Waylon called it was his favorite. You can explore the whole pool area by floating on a tube. We brought the boys their own puddle jumpers or water wings because they’re light weight, but they have life jackets at the resort for your use as well. Another highlight was the Menehune Bridge, a 2,200 square-foot interactive water play area for children with three slides, interactive water elements and a climbing play structure. We let Waylon run wild here and he had the best time making friends and pretending that he was a pirate.
Don’t miss out on Rainbow Reef the only private snorkeling lagoon on O‘ahu that offers an up-close look at the many brightly colored fish found in the Hawaiian waters. Sam and I took turns in this pool checking out all the fish as the boys were just slightly too young to get the hang of snorkeling. They did however love to look at the fish from above!
When you’ve had your fun at the pools head to the beach for warm water and white sand and don’t worry about beach toys because that’s what sharing is for…unless you bring Barbies to the beach then beware my boys will want to play with them like they’re some mythical creatures. That happened ha ha.
This beach hat by Hemlock Hat Co. was perfect for a day in the sun!
Cynthia Rowley outdoes herself with her wetsuit designs. I love this one for sun protection and when the water is a tad bit chilly, also I should note it’s super “mom-friendly” as you don’t have to worry about any little ones pulling at your suit.
After you visit Aulani they say you’re family “ohana”… so we love you Aulani! We’ll see you next year!