Aulani, a Disney resort and spa on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, just celebrated its seventh anniversary. We enjoyed a truly amazing vacation there. To help make the most of your time in paradise, here are a few things to know before you go to Aulani.
Where to find turtles
Turtles hang out at the aptly named Turtle Beach on the North Shore, but you don’t have to venture that far from Aulani to have a good chance of seeing a sea turtle. Often they swim in the water near Paradise Cove, which is a short walk from the resort. (Head out of the resort, go left and walk past the Four Seasons. You’ll come to a parking lot and there’s a trail to the beach from there.) I was there at sunrise one day and saw no turtles. I went back with my family around 8:30 a.m. the next day and made the new friend in the photo above. We enjoyed snorkeling there and saw lots of different fish. There were also two different wedding parties taking photos.
Please, please respect the signs and do not touch the sea turtles. There was one group of people that kept trying to touch them until someone (okay, fine, me, I’m that beach goer) pointed out the sign, and that they could be fined.
Bring a waterproof pouch for your phone before you arrive
We bought couple different ones to use on the trip (one for each family member), and this one was our favorite. Buying in advance is cheaper than purchasing one at Aulani and gives you a chance to test it out to ensure there aren’t any leaks.
While the photos are fine, I appreciated the pouch mostly because it kept the phone protected at the pool, the beach and on the canoe ride.
Tips for reservations at Ama Ama
Dinner at Ama Ama overlooking the ocean at sunset was one of my very favorite meals at Aulani. When making reservations, first check to see what time sunset is the evening you wish to go – you can do so here. Make reservations early but if the time you want isn’t available, don’t give up. People change their plans and it’s worth checking back as a few different times, especially the day before you wish to go.
I confess that I was a wee bit disappointed when we didn’t get a table in the row closest to the ocean, but I needn’t have worried. Our view was still spectacular.
Also, be sure to tell them if you’re celebrating a special event. They were happy to make sure that my husband had a cake, with cute Mickey-shaped sprinkles.
We enjoyed dinner as a couple while my teen was off participating in a teen activity. She joined us for dessert, and the restaurant was fine with that, so we had the best of both worlds.
There is a fun scavenger hunt, and it is best do it at twilight
You pick up an iPad in the Pau Hana room. Once it’s activated, Aunty takes you on a scavenger hunt around the property and there’s some magic in store at some of the stops. You learn about the menehune and some Hawaiian traditions. There are a few different options, but I think outside and in the evening is the best. I really liked it, my family enjoyed it, too.
Some of the stops along the way involve lights. They are easier to see and thus a little more magical when not in the blazing sun.
The Luana Lounge can be a lifesaver
Traveling so far means you need to make the most of every minute at Aulani. the Luana Lounge lets your family do that. Learn more about how to use it before your room is ready and after you’ve checked out of your room here.
If going to Pearl Harbor, get your tickets 60 days in advance
A visit to Pearl Harbor can be a powerful experience. My family felt that it was well-worth the time. That said, it’s tough to just walk up and get your tickets. They are available online 60 days in advance at Recreation.gov and go quickly. You can find more info on tickets here.
The character hotline is helpful
If you want to plan your day around meeting a certain someone, you can, but you don’t have to. There’s a number to call each morning that gives you the time and location for each character meet and greet. Sometimes, though, that means jumping out of the pool to mingle with your favorites, as we were here with Stitch. It’s awesome, but you might want to get cute coverups ahead of time. Get more tips on meeting characters here.
Water shoes are good
While not a necessity, we were glad that we brought water shoes. (I had Lands End sandals designed to go in the water. Not a sponsored shoutout, I just really liked them.) We wore water shoes when checking out the turtles as mentioned above, while swimming at Waimea Falls, and even just for cruising around the pool deck.
You May Also Like: What to bring and what to leave at home when packing for Aulani
Prior Post: Summer Stitch Fix Review June 2017
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