When we traveled to Aulani, a Disney resort and spa on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, I expected to like it, but I was surprised by how much I loved it. I fell head over heels, and quickly. One aspect I adored was that there was always something to do and there was also plenty of space to relax and do, well, nothing. You can strike whatever balance makes you happiest.
While there’s lots to do and see as a family on Oahu, you can have a great time without ever leaving the resort. Here are 25 of our favorite activities at Aulani that we enjoyed on our visit there
Get great family photos along the beach
PhotoPass photographers are hanging out at the beach around sunset. In addition to taking photos with their great cameras, they can grab a few shots with yours (or in our case, our phones). It may depend on how many people are waiting. You don’t have to make an appointment, just wander down to the beach.
Character dining at Makahiki
Meals with characters are a ton of fun. Diners meet and get a quick photo with one character before heading into your meal, and then a few others circulate. There aren’t a ton of characters but they are super interactive and a ton of fun.
Listen under the water at Ka Maka Grotto
As if being in this infinity pool isn’t already awesome, listen under water for some other treats. I don’t want to spoil the fun and tell you exactly when you’ll hear. However, it’s worth checking out a few different places in the pool, as the sounds you’ll hear can vary.
Borrow a boogie board and play in the ocean
I loved that the boogie boards were free. They’re great for kids to play on and for adults to use as floats out in the water.
Menehune Adventure Trail
Sign up for an iPad from the Pau Hana room for free and embark on this fun adventure that delights all ages, even teens. It’s great to do at twilight, when the magical effects that include lights are most visible and get the biggest “wow!”s.
Say “Aloha” to Chip & Dale (and your other favorite characters)
You can call a number each day to find out which characters will be greeting guests that day, as well as when and where to find them. Get more tips for meeting characters at Disney’s Aulani here.
Float along the lazy river
My whole family adored the lazy river. It’s relaxing, but not boring, and different times of day felt like different experiences. And this isn’t just any old lazy river – it’s unique to Aulani and being able to inhale the scent of the flowers, enjoy the music and spot the menehune along the way makes it special.
Visit Laniwai Spa
Definitely leave time for relaxing in the garden.
Send your kids to do to their own things, whether that’s at Auntie’s Beach House of sending teens to Painted Sky, the only teen spa on Oahu
You can read my teen’s review of her facial here.
Attend the Ka Wa’a Luau
This was our first time in Hawaii so we had to the do the luau. We opted to stay on property and enjoyed the Ka Wa’a luau. Our favorite portions were the activities beforehand and the story telling of the luau itself, particularly the portions about the Ewa area of the island and why it’s special.
Listen to live music at the ‘Ōlelo Room
Sitting on the patio near the koi pond listening to live music is a lovely way to close out the day. The musicians are very talented, and I appreciated that while there are great cocktails, it’s also a family-friendly space. Tip: the nachos are fantastic.
Make your own music with ukulele lessons in the Pau Hana room
Be sure to sign up in advance for this free experience. I was surprised at how we were all strumming along in under an hour!
Authentic Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Experience
Channel your inner Moana with a canoe ride. At $99 per person over age 10, this was a splurge, but it was well worth it. We’re still talking about the pod of dolphins that came to play with the canoe.
Enjoy some quiet time at the Wailana Pool, which is for adults only
There’s lots of shade. Also, the pool bar is great. We were there during the NBA finals and they had the game on.
Mo’Olelo Fire Pit Storytelling
Gather around the Circle of ‘Alae ‘Ula to hear Uncle share tales of the past.
Take a picture with the statue of Stitch
If you’re at Aulani, chances are you’re with your family, or your ohana, and you can’t see Stitch without quoting the line from Lilo & Stitch, which my family thinks is a way underrated Disney film: “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
Wander the resort and take some photos
The grounds and gardens of Aulani are simply stunning. We were glad we took some time to enjoy them, and capture some images to remind us when we’re home. There are official tours offered explaining what went into the design and such, but unfortunately it never meshed with our schedule.
Grab some shave ice
This Hawaiian treat is delicious. The locals like it with sweetened condensed milk drizzled over top, and my husband was a fan! And of course they made it special by adding Mickey ears.
Eat a Mickey ice cream bar
These delicious treats in the shape of Mickey are treats you can only find at Disney, and to enjoy one on the beach is a particularly delicious way to savor paradise. Yum!
Play Connect Four or Ping Pong on the beach
This is a fun way to spend a few minutes. Have an ongoing family tournament throughout your stay when going to and from the beach.
Play name that tune in the elevator
The elevator music is Hawaiian renditions of favorite Disney tunes. We’d play a game of name that tune and sometimes other guests would join in, which was fun!
Look for Menehune
Aside from the official hunt, you’ll find these mythical creatures all around the resort. It took us a while to really get into it, but once we did, we started noticing them everywhere, including this one in an elevator.
Aloha Fun with Disney Friends
We went thinking it was an all-ages event and while there aren’t any age restrictions, this activity is great for younger kids. It’s all about pretending to surf on towels that look like surf boards. A lot of tweens and teens peeled off shortly after the start, but if they had stayed, they would have gotten to see a character pretend to surf, too.
Make a lei
My teen attended the lei making session and the lei she crafted was just beautiful.
Visit the fish at Rainbow Reef
Aulani has its own self-contained reef where you can snorkel. Even if you aren’t swimming with the fish, watching them through glass windows is ridiculously relaxing.
Here’s a video of us doing many of these:
While we felt like we did a lot, there simply wasn’t time to do everything we would have liked. If (or when) I’m fortunate enough to return, I’d love to do the ‘Imi Loa Nāa Hōkū (Explore the Stars) activity which allows guests to gaze through a powerful telescope while a local expert talks about the stars and their role in early navigation, maybe take a garden or architecture tour, and do movie night. Guess I have lots more reasons to return!
You May Also Like: What to pack for Aulani and How Luana Lounge helps you make the most of your time at Aulani
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