Why You NEED to Add Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa to Your Bucket List!
When Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa first opened back in 2013, I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this new Disney project. I always associated “Disney magic” with the theme parks and wasn’t sold on the idea that you could still experience that magic without those parks.
However, I just returned from a six-night Honeymoon vacation stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa and I could not have been more wrong.
To put it simply, Aulani is spectacular. I experienced every bit as much of that “Disney magic” that I ever had during a theme park visit. You might say, “Well Jared, you were on your Honeymoon and might have been just happier than usual.”
In that case, you would absolutely be correct. I did in fact just marry the love of my life and a girl that I first began liking at just 13 years old. There is no denying that I was “extra” happy during the week of my Aulani stay.
However, my hope is that after reading this post, you will not just consider a possible Honeymoon stay at Aulani, but any trip at all for absolutely any occasion.
Let us first start off by talking about Aulani’s perfect location. Aulani takes up 21 beachfront acres in the Ko Olina Resort area of Kapolei, Oahu. Not only could I not say enough about the Resorts beach front location and cove, but I also found it incredibly manageable in terms of traveling around the Island.
It is located just 20-35 minutes away from the airport (depending on traffic) and there are plenty of dining locations, grocery stores and more all within a five-to-ten-minute radius.
In fact, perhaps the greatest part of Aulani’s location is its proximity to the Ko Olina Center. The Ko Olina Center is quite literally directly across the street from Aulani and features 12 specialty shops and 8 dining locations.
Being able to walk just five minutes to this center, was something we partook in on a near daily basis. We grabbed breakfast at the popular “Eggs ‘n Things” restaurant twice and absolutely loved it both times. We grabbed cocktails in cantina and ate dinner twice at the “Monkeypod” restaurant as well.
The center in general was an unexpected yet huge commodity that my wife and I won’t forget about. Also, if you don’t mind me saying, buy the breakfast burrito at Eggs ‘n Things and the Mahi tacos at Monkeypod. I have not stopped thinking about either of them since leaving.
As great as the location of the Ko Olina Center is and the local commodities the community brings, it is now time to begin gloating about Aulani itself. My (newly) wife and I experienced a total of three excursions and “explore the island” days.
They were all spectacular as we took a dolphin catamaran tour and witnessed over 50 dolphins’ take a swim. We partook in the Kualoa Ranch tour and explored the filming locations of over 150 Hollywood films such as the ever famous “Jurassic Park” films.
Lastly, we visited Turtle beach and Waimea Falls where we got to swim in a waterfall. However, as amazing as these experiences were, whenever we left the Resort, I found myself wanting to return to Aulani as quickly as possible.
Let’s dive into a few of the reasons why that might have been.
One reason why this was the case was the sheer size of Aulani. As previously mentioned, it is 21 acres big and although the gorgeous Ko Olina Four Seasons is located right next door, it often appears as the much smaller neighbor.
As soon as you arrive to the property, you instantly feel apart of that large and very safe environment that my wife and I described as a “warm Hawaiian hug.” This feeling continues to hit you from your room to the grounds.
From the eight different Pool areas, the beach, the breathtaking spa, the dining options, and the bars, we found ourselves constantly exploring and running into new areas we had not yet seen.
As for our room, we stayed in an Ocean view Studio room with one King sized bed. That was all we needed in terms of space we were pleasantly surprised the room was as big as it was.
It featured a spacious bathroom with a mini fridge, microwave, toaster, couch, desk and more but all of it pales in comparison to the incredible view we took in from our balcony. If there is ever a time to spend the extra money on a room with a better view, let it be on a trip to Aulani.
This Resort sits on the western side of the island and Ko Olina is known for some incredible sunsets. After our stay there, I fully understand why that is the case. On our first night there, we grabbed a flatbread from the pool side quick service location, “Off the Hook” and brought it up to our balcony.
We placed a few pillows on the ground, ate our pizza, and took in the sunset/ocean views. Sometimes it is the small memories like that one that can make a trip more magical. Long story short, the Aulani ocean view rooms are worth paying up for and as a little pro-tip, I would especially suggest being in a room as high up as possible.
There was a total of nine dining offerings offered during our stay at Aulani and we had the pleasure of getting to enjoy nearly all of them. “Makahiki- The Bounty of the Islands” was one our dinner destinations during our trip and we loved our dinner there.
Previously a buffet, it is now a prix fix offering but we never felt like we did not have enough to eat. My wife got the glazed salmon and barely stopped talking about it all week!
Beyond Makahiki, we really enjoyed the quick service locations on property. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at “Ulu Café” and “Off the Hook” at different points of the trip. Beyond being more affordable, the quality of the food was far better than expected.
We utilized both the coffee bar and the regular bars daily and you can even get any cocktail served in a Pineapple (it is Hawaii after all)! We also just HAD to get some shaved ice and some dole whip while on property (duh) and loved that they both had their own shacks.
In typical fashion, I wanted to save some of the best parts of this piece for last. I want to know talk about all the incredible amenities and offerings that Aulani has to offer that made my vacation as spectacular as it did.
From dining to the best pool area, I’ve ever gotten to enjoy, to characters and much more. I was never bored at this Resort and as I previously mentioned, I was able to continuously explore.
We had a total of three days that we’re for the most part fully dedicated to the Resort. We liked to call them “Aulani days” and to make the most out of this Resort, you will absolutely want to ensure that you take advantage of everything this Resort has to offer. So, let us “dive” into the pool and beach areas, shall we?
With a total of eight pool areas, you truly cannot find a pool area like Aulani’s at any of the other Disneyland or Walt Disney World Resorts. The sheer size of the pool area reminds you of a waterpark and I found myself constantly exploring.
The main pool is known as the “Waikolohe Pool” and takes up 8,200 square feet of family fun. One of the two waterslides (the body slide) leads directly into this pool and this pool is perfect for the whole family.
However, if you are more of a lazy river kind of person like me, the “Waikolohe stream” might be for you. My wife and I joked that we must have done some 20 odd laps around that lazy river by the time the trip was over.
One of the simple things that was available at several of the pool locations, were the “infinity-edge” pools. The “Ka Maka Grotto” was a family pool that had this infinity-edge feature.
This allowed you to lean over the edge and look straight out into the ocean. As mentioned earlier, the sun would set on Aulani’s side of the island and made this feature extra special.
As if this pool was not special enough, the location we probably spent the most amount of time in was “Alohi Point.” This was an adult only whirlpool spa that offers up waterfalls and ocean views that include infinity-edges to the pools.
Beyond this adult only whirlpool area, there was also the “Wailana pool” that is essentially the resorts quiet pool. We found ourselves sitting on the ledge of this pool and enjoying a quiet break here and there more than once.
With so much pool time, we found ourselves nearly forgetting about the breathtaking oceanfront area that was offered up at Aulani as well and I would be remiss not to talk about it. Aulani offers up its own private beach front and it is perfectly situated in a cove.
This allows families to feel safe while swimming and not have to worry about large waves or riptide currents. I found myself thinking I was in my own “large saltwater pool” and I could not get enough of it.
The cove and privacy of the beach did not exactly make for perfect snorkeling waters, but Aulani is a short walk away from “Paradise cove” which offers up incredible snorkeling and I have not even mentioned “Rainbow Reef” yet either.
Rainbow Reef is a 3,800 square-foot saltwater private snorkeling lagoon and is perfect for beginner snorkelers or people of all ages. It is located right in the heart of the pool area and is the only private lagoon of its kind on the entire island.
Guests can rent snorkel gear, private beachside cabanas, pool side cabanas and so much more and I could go on rambling about all the different offerings like that but just know that the Resort has so much to offer in that department.
As I talked about at the very beginning of this piece, for many people, taking a family trip that does not involve the parks is not always easy. There is bound to be a general fear when it comes to the kids not having enough to do.
You may also think that they will simply miss the rides and theme parks. However, I felt surrounded by Disney magic the entire time I was on this trip.
Each day brought different characters to visit and take photos with. We waited in line to meet Stitch but also would walk by and wave to Moana, Mickey, Goofy and more. The cast members were as kind and as helpful as they are in the parks. It felt like every person around you was put there to make you smile.
Whether it was listening to a Hawaiian folk singer play his Ukulele by the pool or waving to Stitch while circling the lazy river. It always felt like we were in paradise, yet Disney was still all around us.
I have been very blessed throughout my young life. I have been to Disneyland, onboard a Disney Cruise, have travelled all over the globe and I am in the Walt Disney World theme parks nearly everyday due to the nature of my job here at MickeyBlog.com.
However, with all the incredible locations I have been lucky enough to travel to, I am not sure any of them top Aulani. It is paradise sprinkled with some Disney magic and I am not sure what more a person could ask for.
Add Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa to your bucket list. You will not regret a single second of it.