Some of us from the DIS Team were lucky enough to visit Disney’s Aulani this past May as part of our Disney Beyond The Parks coverage. It was such an amazing experience – as if being in Hawaii isn’t good enough, Aulani is one of the most beautiful resorts I’ve ever seen.
We’ve been covering Aulani with videos, photos, and DIS Unplugged segments so feel free to go on over and check out some of that. We had a fantastic time at Aulani and in that spirit, I’d like to compile some of my ‘Top 5’ picks for the resort! Below are a series of lists with a few of the must-dos, if you will, at Disney’s Aulani Resort. Enjoy!
Top 5 Things To Do At Aulani
- Explore The Resort!
This might seem like a given, but Aulani is so huge that you’ll definitely benefit from getting used to the resort early in your stay. Plus it’s fun to walk around exploring all of the cool places!
- Lazy River & Swimming Pool
I think that the pool area at Aulani could be classified as a water park – and it’s only getting bigger! Spend some time just floating down the lazy river, or maybe just soaking in the infinity hot tub.
- Storytellers & Bonfires
There is no shortage of entertainment at Aulani to keep you occupied. My favorite was the storytellers that told traditional Hawaiian tales by a huge bonfire at night.
- Shop At The Resort
Not only do the shops at Aulani carry some traditional Disney character merchandise, but there is a large supply of authentic Hawaiian goods as well.
- See The Sunset & Sunrise
When you hear that Hawaii has the most beautiful sunset you’ll ever see, it’s not a lie. This is something that you cannot miss during your stay. If you’re an early riser, I recommend waking up to see the sunrise as well – it’s equally as beautiful.
Top 5 Things To Eat & Drink At Aulani
- Kona Island Brewing Co.
It’s no surprise that I’m a beer fan, and having the Kona Island Brewing Co. only a couple islands away means that there are some great beers available at Aulani.
- Authentic Hawaiian Food
I was very excited to try some authentic Hawaiian foods while in Hawaii. The breakfast at Makahiki did not disappoint and the pool quick service also offered some true Hawaiian choices.
- Kona Coffee
When I wasn’t drinking a Kona beer, I was drinking Kona blend coffee. My tip is to buy the refillable mug on your first day and then enjoy coffee throughout your trip.
- Shave Ice
Shave ice is life changing. It’s so much better than a snow cone; the ice is shaved smaller and the flavor options are amazing.
- Tuna Poke
Tuna poke is a staple in Hawaii and they definitely know how to make it at Ama Ama. If you’re a sushi fan (poke is raw tuna), then I would definitely recommend giving it a try!
Top 5 “Hidden Gems” At Aulani
These little guys are fairly well known about but there are several that are very tricky to find. You could definitely make it your mission to find all of them during your stay… not sure if you’d be successful!
- Cast Members
One of the best resources I found at Aulani were the Cast Members working there. They were so knowledgeable and willing to talk to you and answer your questions about the resort and even about Hawaiian culture.
- Lobby Background Music
I’m a huge fan of background music at Disney theme parks and the Imagineers went out of their way to make Aulani special in that regard. All of the music in the lobby was custom composed and performed by Hawaiian musicians just for Aulani! Spend some time listening – it’s absolutely beautiful.
- Interactive Surprises
There are several interactive aspects around Aulani and I don’t want to spoil anything specific. The special flickering lights, music, and special effects around the resort really make for a special experience.
- Cultural Artwork
The resort is full of artwork and pieces that signify special moments or aspects of Hawaiian culture. Instead of walking past them, look at them and maybe even ask a Cast Member about them. It’s a great way to learn more about Hawaii.
Top 5 Places To Explore Beyond Aulani
- Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley is a beautiful park on the North Shore of Oahu that offers beautiful hiking opportunities and swimming underneath a waterfall. You can also walk across the road for easy access to the beach.
- North Shore
The North Shore in general is a beautiful place to visit. The photo above was taken at sunset at Turtle Bay Resort. The surf is known as some of the best in the world so you’ll often times see surfers in the water.
- Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation is somewhat of a tourist trap – but a great one! They have anything pineapple you can imagine, including the Dole Whip! For some reason it tasted so much better coming out of a tacky plastic pineapple (which now sits proudly on my shelf.)
- Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a movie buff, as hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed here including LOST, Jurassic Park, and Mighty Joe Young, among others.
- Pearl Harbor
If you’re a fan of American history or have a connection to the military, Pearl Harbor is only a short drive away and definitely worth seeing. Since we were so busy with our coverage of Aulani, we weren’t able to visit this trip but I look forward to going in the future.