A trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa is always an adventure. Disney likes to say it’s a cruise ship on land, and they aren’t kidding. They pack in dining and play activities for the entire family.
What if your family is just you and your partner? Not to worry! Like so many of Disney’s destinations, there is plenty to see and do. Dining and relaxation opportunities abound, as do adventures inside and outside the resort. Your trip to Disney’s original cruise ship on land is rife with possibility.
Let’s jump to the obvious first. Aulani boasts several dining establishments on the property that ensure your every taste desires are met. Just like any Disney park, you can choose from quick bites, a full but fast meal, and fine dining. And probably some experiences in the middle.
Starting at the top of the chain, you definitely want to make reservations for a night at ‘AMA’AMA. This is the pinnacle of fine dining at Aulani, and guests come from all over the island to enjoy a meal here. ‘AMA’AMA is named after one of Hawai’i’s most important local species of fish and this carries into its decorative themes and menu. Set aside some time for this four-course, prix-fixe menu stacked with local ingredients and flavors. A diverse wine and cocktail menu accompanies top-notch dining with a view of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.
You definitely don’t want to miss Aulani’s other main dining location, Makahiki. If you like Disney character breakfasts, this is your chance! If you don’t, maybe wait until the three-course dinner menu is out. Makahiki hosts plenty of fresh and local ingredients in its menus. It’s also next door to the always-entertaining ‘Ōlelo Room. This lounge offers similar, fresh flavors with a huge cocktail, wine, and sake menu. The main attraction every evening is live music from local entertainers. I still dream of calm, cool evenings with guitar and ukulele music preparing my brain for bedtime.
OK. Now that I’ve booked my next trip to Aulani, let’s move to the next place to eat. You thought we were done, didn’t you?
Off the Hook is a little hut between the hotel, the pool, and the sky and the sea and it calls me. The Poke nachos are the freshest I have ever had. The tropical drinks here even give Trader Sam a run for his money. I think we ate and drank here eight times during our four-night trip.
Never mind that you can order whatever you want from your chair by the pool or the ocean. I had to tell my waiter three times that I was writing blogs for fun and not for work before he let me order a double Mai Tai. And yeah. You can order a double of pretty much anything as you lounge by the ocean. I live in Colorado. Oceans are a big deal and I want to stare at them as long as I can whenever I’m in town.
Wipe that smirk off your face! This heading denotes things adults can do other than eat and drink at Aulani. I also wanted to find things other than RELAX and READ THAT BOOK YOU’VE BEEN WANTING TO READ for this portion. So strap in and don’t wear your nice running shoes on these adventures. Sorry, Brandy. I didn’t think the mud would stain your soles so thoroughly. But there’s a story on those shoes now, right?
Tours of the island are popular, whether you want to see the entire island or smaller venues like the Dole Plantation or the Pearl Harbor base. I wrote a little blog about this a couple of years ago. At this point, even more activities are available than ever. Oahu is open for business! Go forth and find adventure outside the resort!
About that shoe comment. Hiking abounds around the islands. Get yourself a good hiking app and pick a trail that meets your skill level and exploration needs. You should watch out though, for trails that are technically on private or closed land. Stick to the legal trails. There are plenty of great views without trespassing!
Hiking is my favorite way to experience a new land. If you are respectful to your surroundings and hike responsibly, you leave the land in excellent shape for more visitors and locals. We are visitors, remember, sharing limited resources with thousands of others. Careful as you are, you might not be able to avoid all the mud, though!
You can’t go wrong with activity just outside your door. Take a walk or jog from Aulani all through the Ko Olina Resort. Several miles of beachfront connect via paved walkways. I recommend a morning jog, as there will be few out to enjoy the sunrise. But that’s a general rule when jogging, I suppose! Stay off the golf course’s paved areas if you want to avoid meeting golf carts.
Rent watercraft down at the Ko Olina Marina, a short walk away. From there, you can also book tours or even fishing trips out on the Atlantic. Take a trip to the north shore of the island, known for its surfing. Take a lesson or two! Personally, I’d rather stick to the types of exercise for which I have the appropriate balancing skills: walking and running.
After some excellent adventures, you probably want to get those muscles worked on. I couldn’t leave out relaxation! Back at the resort, you can do just that at Laniwai, Aulani’s spa. Massage therapy, couples services, facials, and a signature Hawaiian massage are all on the menu. When you are finished, linger for a while in the resort’s hydrotherapy garden. This giant space contains baths both private and co-ed, plunge pools, a lounge with food and drinks, and six showers that each simulate a different style of rain.
This is another amenity that people staying outside the resort can use. Get your reservations in early! They open up 30 days in advance. I know some ConciEARs who would love to give you a hand with that.
Oahu is known for its shopping. Aulani is located on the west side of the island in a resort area called Ko Olina. The resort area has plenty of opportunities for shopping, but you probably want to venture out a bit. A short drive away, you can find the Ka Makana Ali’i shopping center. Hundreds of stores and entertainment venues are waiting for your visit!
For the true shopping experience, you must head to Waikiki. The city is about as upscale as they come, packed with opportunities for you to spend some cash. After a short drive or cab ride, you will find several large shopping centers and plenty of beachfront strips that offer everything from surf gear to jewelry.
A trip to Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa can be as much or as little Disney as you want! The Disney adults in your life can still catch character breakfasts and greets. You can always partake in any of the family-oriented content like the luau and storytelling sessions. If you’re in for adventure or a more laid-back experience, Aulani has that as well!
What if you did end up bringing your whole family and want to enjoy some of these adult adventures yourself? Bring the kiddos by Aunty’s Beach House, where kids 4 to 12 can experience some supervised fun! Some activities require a fee, but all require reservations. Not a bad trade-off for a bit of free time for the adults, though!
Like so many Disney adventures, there is more to do than you can possibly experience in one trip. Spend some time chatting with our expert travel planners and build your own dream Hawai’i vacation! We are excited to get planning with you.