home News forums Reviews Trade links

Go Back   The DVC Boards at MouseOwners.com - the place to talk DVC and Walt Disney World > TRIP REPORTS > Trip Reports
 Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

 Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes

Old 09-13-2018, 12:45 PM   #1
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default Are you sure we have to leave?? Aulani Trip Report

We just got back from our first trip to Aulani and I feel like there's nothing I'd rather do than keeping thinking and talking about it.

Here are the details:
Friday Sept 7 - Tuesday Sept 11 (flight got back on the 12th)
Myself (25) and DW (23)
Poolside gardens view studio (Waianae Tower Room 404)

Disclaimer: I looked at my phone and realized I took one picture the whole time so DW is sending me some pictures I'll add later!


Off we go! Neither DW or I had ever been to Hawai'i before, but my dad went to college at Chaminade on Oahu and DW has two good friends who grew up on Oahu and Molokai'i respectively, so we had A LOT of suggestions on things to do. Usually when we travel, we are super active and don't rest a ton, but we've been in the process of opening a business over the last few months, so my goal was to sit by the pools and relax as much as DW would let me. It ended up being a great balance of getting to explore but plenty of time to sit as well.

We left from DFW airport on United at 8:30 am to fly to IAH, where we only had 20 minutes to get to our connection because of a weather delay. But we made it alright, and off to HNL we were! We never fly United. We're Southwest people. But I was really impressed with how comfortable the plane was. My only critique of the flight was that in lieu of having screens on the seats, all entertainment is funneled through the United app (so make sure you download beforehand), and the wi-fi isn't always fast enough to buffer your movies to keep up. Not a big thing, but maybe just an issue isolated to our plane. Altogether, the flight out there wasn't bad at all, and 4 nights was plenty of time to justify making the trip.

We landed at HNL around noon, and tried to gear ourselves for a long day to get ourselves adjusted to the 5 hour time difference. We rented a car from A1 Car Rentals through Expedia (sketchy on the outside by mainland standards, but no issues with them at all). For the five days, we paid $150 total for the car. For the flexibility, it was well worth it (side note: Uber/Lyft are more expensive on the islands. If we didn't rent a car, we would've paid about $350 for Uber for where we went). Even just based on the price for shuttles getting to/from Aulani, I would say it's worth it to rent a car. I'm glad we did. It was a last second call.

We drove in to Honolulu for lunch and ate at a Ramen place at Ala Moana mall. The mall is huge! I noticed a DVC ad for their booth across from the Disney Store in the mall, and it had me jumping already to get to Aulani! It's also a free place to park if you're looking to walk around. Waikiki is maybe a stretch of a walk from there, but we got the tip to park at the zoo for $1/hour (no change is given, so be warned!). We decided to just drive past the beach and head to our Airbnb, which was on the west coast of the island in Waianae. Our waitlist for Friday night never came through, and in a month of scouring the RAT multiple times daily, no rooms ever came open for that Friday. It ended up working out, because it gave us the opportunity to experience the less explored part of Oahu, which we love to do when we visit somewhere.

We got to Waianae around 4. Traffic to the west coast starts to build up around 2:30, so it took about 15 extra minutes to get there. No big deal. Not like we're stuck looking around at paradise or anything . The drive out there goes straight by Ko'Olina, and we got our first look at Aulani as we went past. Even from a distance it sticks out so well for how gorgeous the resort is. Tough look for the Four Seasons next door .

We rested for a minute before heading up to Makua Beach and the Makua Cave, where we planned to watch sunset. Apparently during winter, Makua Beach is where the sea lions hang out. You can definitely tell this is the less touched part of the island. There was one other car at the beach, and one couple taking some pictures in the cave. It was a perfect spot for the sunset, and the cave is really cool to walk around for 10 minutes. We headed back to where we were staying around 7, and decided to pass out, given it was midnight our time and we had been up since 4:30.
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 12:52 PM   #2
kzrooster
Add-on Aficionado
 
kzrooster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Kalamazoo Mi
Posts: 10,806
Default

Great start Jimmy! Waiting patiently for more..... and pictures....
kzrooster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 01:22 PM   #3
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default Saturday

I woke up early on Saturday. Definitely still hadn't fully adjusted to the time change. It just made it so that I could watch College Gameday and some football before DW woke up haha.

We planned to do a local hike in Waianae and eat before heading to Aulani. The hike was up to a pink pillbox that overlooks the west coast of the island that we had found on a couple of local hiking blogs. The trail was described as starting after the ninth light pole on the street just off the main highway that runs along the west side of Oahu. It was actually the twelfth light pole, but who's actually counting ? The hike had been described as pretty easy, but that definitely must be relative to professional hikers. It was tough, and we're pretty active people. Definitely not for the faint of heart. It was also suuuuuper muggy, which didn't make it any easier. We were glad we did it though. And the pillboxes along the way are awesome! A+ on the views and experience.

We went down and had breakfast at the Countryside Cafe in Waianae. Even if you're just at Aulani, this is TOTALLY worth the 10 minute drive to eat at. We got the crab cake Benedict and their sampler plate of French toast, waffles and pancakes to share. The fresh lilikoi pancakes were to die for. Literally DW and I talked the rest of the trip about how good these pancakes were. The strawberry waffles and bananas foster French toast were also great, but those pancakes.....

After breakfast we walked across the street and took a quick walk along the beach. I grew up on Siesta Key in Florida, so nice sand is something I'm well accustomed to. But the sand here is just so thick and soft. Like walking on pillows.

It was time to head south to what is now my happy place. We pulled in to Aulani around 11. Ko'Olina is a quaint little resort community with a couple neighborhoods and golf courses. It really is a beautiful little area. If you have time, I definitely recommend just walking around the other resort areas.

As we pulled up we got our leis, and the Cast Member gave us a few other recommendations for hikes after we told them what we had been up to that morning. We made use of the Luana Lounge for a quick shower and to change after check-in. Valet will keep your car after you check-in so that you can get comfortable, which was great. We took about 20 minutes before heading back out to go park in the garage. WARNING: The parking garage can be a maze. Follow the path you came in to get out . DW and I had a little adventure our first time in haha.

The resort is beautiful! I felt like maybe I was going to be underwhelmed just because of how much the beauty is built up, but didn't feel that at all. You could spend hours just taking in all the details of the art and architecture (which we definitely did later).

It was now about noon, and we had an appointment for Laniwai Spa around 3. To burn some time, we got a drink at Off the Hook and sat for a while talking to the bartenders (and me peeking gazes at the football on the tvs). It's a great little poolside bar area to grab a quick snack or drink. We started walking around the resort to try and get our bearings, and then plopped in a chair on the beach.

You can get in to Laniwai 45 minutes before your appointment, so at 2 we started walking that way. At 2:15 our host came out to meet us and walk us around. I'm not a spa guy, but man this was an awesome experience. With all the pools and showers and amenities, you could easily spend an entire day after your appointment hanging around the spa. The massage was great, but the Laniwai experience is so much more about all the areas of relaxation outside of just your appointment. Something I usually wouldn't spend the money on, but definitely worth it, especially if you make it an all day thing! I also ate about 100 of the chocolate covered treats they put out in the relaxation areas I think the Cast Members were wondering where they kept going.

We decided to go to the Sunset Hour at the Olelu room and got the popcorn fries and wings and a couple drinks while we listened to the live music. The popcorn fries were surprisingly great, and the two appetizers were enough for dinner for us (plus my 100 chocolate covered treats). We would come back for them again a couple days later for sure!

We knew we wanted to grab some snacks from the market across the street, so after our dinner we walked across the street. The market is pretty fairly priced for Hawai'i, and has some great sushi/sashimi selection too. We grabbed some chips, cheese and crackers, beer and mini rum bottles and were set. On our way back in, I grabbed one of the refillable mugs (for coffee and with our mini rum bottles now for our own mixed beverages). It was about 9, and since it was a luau night there wasn't a ton else going on, so we headed up to our room and sat on our lanai for a little bit before heading to bed.

Great day, and with how slow island time seems to move, it already felt like we had been home for a while!
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 01:47 PM   #4
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default Sunday

I woke up around 6 (I'm an early riser so this is basically on schedule for me now), and sat on our lanai for a minute before going out to walk around. Our room was right over the kids splash area with a great view. One floor up and we would've had a better view of the ocean too, but we could get peeps of it from where we were.

I walked down to Ulu Cafe to get coffee and walked out to the beach for sunrise. I was more than tempted to do some of the morning cardio and body workouts, but DW made me promise before the trip that I'd let my body rest from the high intensity workouts I do at home. So, I resigned myself to stretching and walking the beach sidewalk around the point. It's so cool to watch the sun come up over the resort and start to see the place come to life. This was something I enjoyed doing every morning. The peace and quiet is great before the hustle and bustle starts.

On the way back to the room I grabbed some malasadas and an açaí bowl from Ulu. The cinnamon and cane sugar malasadas are probably the best ones they had, but aren't on the level of stopping at Leonard's for some (which we did later). The açaí bowl is big and pretty tasty, and was definitely enough for both of us. It saved pretty well in the fridge for the next day too.

At 7:45 we went down and put our stuff at a couple chairs with a nice view and got in line to get our wrist bands. This isn't something you need to rush to - there wasn't a line at all and you can get your bands whenever, but they start giving them out at 8. We got in the lazy river, which was surprisingly fun and something we would frequent, especially when you get in at a not busy time.

Our adventure today would be up to the North Shore, so at 11 we packed up and made the drive to Hale'iwa. Not a bad drive at all, and beautiful scenery the whole way. We went to the famous Giovanni's shrimp truck for lunch. It's definitely worth the 30-45 minute wait for their shrimp, even though there are two trucks next to them with literally nobody eating at. I got the hot and spicy and DW got the normal garlic scampi. I LOVE spicy food, but the original scampi is the way to go. Just because they don't go through as much of the spicy, they seemed like they had been sitting there a while, and the garlic ones were just better. This is definitely worth the wait though!

Hale'iwa is a little surfer town with a bunch of small shops, so we walked from the food truck yard through the shops and art galleries as we made our way to Matsumoto's for shaved ice. I was skeptical of how good shaved ice could actually be, but call me a doubter no more! This is a must do on Oahu. I got their three all natural flavors - yuzu, mizore, and lilikoi. The first two are like simple syrups, and they are the BOMB. DW kept trying to steal them from me. Her pineapple and lilikoi were also great, but mine we incredible we both agreed.

We walked back to the car and drove down to the North Shore beach for a little walk before heading back to Aulani. All in all it was about a 3 hour adventure that was well worth the time.

Back at Aulani, we found a couple chairs in the shade and hung around the pools for a few hours. We tried both slides and both agreed that the tubeless one was more fun. It's definitely more intense, and you're in total darkness the whole time, and usually has a shorter line. They're both great though and worth going back to.

For dinner, we grabbed a pizza from Ulu Cafe. They are BIG and also super filling. I like to think of myself as a pizza connoisseur, both in quality and quantity able to consumer . But one and a half slices was more than enough to fill me up, and made for great leftovers the next couple days. With the pizza, we went up to the room to grab a couple beers and sat on the lanai over the Olelo Room and listened to the music while the sun set.

At 8, we decided from our Daily Iwa to do the Art and Cultural tour. It lasted about 45 minutes, and was well worth the time getting to learn about the detail that went in to all of the art focused around the lobby. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend hopping on these free tours. It truly gives an even deeper appreciation for the beauty and heritage of Aulani.

After the tour, we went down and listened to Uncle's fireside stories, which were fun, even for adults! After that, it was up to bed to close the book on another great day!
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 02:06 PM   #5
Jesper
One Bedroom
 
Jesper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Toreby
Posts: 277
Default

Following along, and reliving our own trip to Aulani a few months ago. It's truly a fantastic resort.
__________________
Jesper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 03:31 PM   #6
beemertec
Two Bedroom
 
beemertec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Georgia
Posts: 598
Default

I am glad to hear you had a great time. Was it Goma Tei that you ate Ramen at? We ate there and really enjoyed it. I think the mall has two Ramen places though.
__________________


beemertec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 03:57 PM   #7
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default Monday

I got DW to wake up early with me this morning and we walked the sidewalk along the beach all the way down to the Marriott while the sun was rising. We got back and grabbed a couple donuts from Ulu Cafe (I got maple bacon and chocolate chocolate. Both were good, but I would choose the chocolate one over the maple bacon if given the choice again). Our venture today would be to Lanikai Beach on the east coast of Oahu. Knowing that it can get a little crowded over there with it being a small beach, we left around 9:45.

This is an incredible drive! Before the tunnel, it feels like you're in a rainforest or jungle on both sides, and as soon as you come out the other side of the mountain it's like you've been transported to a completely different hidden world. We stopped in the little town Kailua to grab poke from a place called Hibachi and took it with us as we drove to Lanikai. It's this beautiful little sliver of shore that looks out in to crystal clear water and some really cool little islands. We sat on the beach for a few hours and had our picnic. The poke was bomb! It definitely ruined any sort of poke dish we could get in Texas for me . I got the spicy tuna, which was about $6, and if I were tasked with only eating that the rest of my life I would be fat and happy.

If you go to Lanikai, try to go early and not on a weekend. Parking is crazy tight as it's all just street parking in the neighborhood. We found a spot after a couple circles around the block.

Around 1:40 we made our way back to Aulani, which ended up being lucky, because a bad accident happened just down the highway around 2:45, and it was taking people around an hour to go one mile (basically from the Target the exit before to the exit for Ko'Olina). But we were back around 2:15, and found out later from our server when he said everyone was late to work haha.

Lots more time followed in the pool and on the beach, and we got a Dole Whip from the stand on the beach. Unfortunately the Tiki Room Dole Whips no longer hold their own when up against the O.G.

For dinner, we had seen that Monkeypod across the street had Happy Hour until 5:30 with half priced appetizers and a bunch of drink specials. The food was really good! At Happy Hour prices, I'd say Monkeypod is well worth the trip. At not Happy Hour prices, I would avoid it. Great food, but I would call it overpriced even in relation to Disney across the street.

Walk back to Aulani in time to get down to the point of rocks on the beach for the sunset, then we headed to the movie night on the lawn. We got to watch Tarzan, and I would've loved a folding chair. The people who brought pillows down were really the smart ones. The mats are comfy, but it's hard to sit criss cross apple sauce for 90 minutes.
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 03:58 PM   #8
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by beemertec View Post
I am glad to hear you had a great time. Was it Goma Tei that you ate Ramen at? We ate there and really enjoyed it. I think the mall has two Ramen places though.
It was Goma Tei! I had forgotten the name. It was really good!
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 04:02 PM   #9
beemertec
Two Bedroom
 
beemertec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Georgia
Posts: 598
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jsweeney View Post
It was Goma Tei! I had forgotten the name. It was really good!
I just posted a picture of a dish from there in our TR. It wasn't cheap ramen, but each bowl was enough for two of us. Did you make it to See's Candies around the corner for dessert? We went in and bought a box of chocolates, and they fed us more samples than what we bought!
__________________


beemertec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2018, 04:17 PM   #10
jsweeney
One Bedroom
 
jsweeney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 293
Default Tuesday

Tuesday was a sad day. Our flight wasn't until 8:45 that night, but we very seriously considered changing it (United was waiving fees because of the Tropical Storm headed that way), but decided we needed to get back to the real world.

We had signed up for the DVC Member Celebration hour, but DW overslept it. It was probably good that we didn't go, because I was in a mind set of emptying our bank account for as many points as they would give me . We had found a great chair spot that stayed shady all day in the back of the adults pool area, so we dropped our backpacks there after packing up and giving our bags to the desk. We spent basically all day just hanging around the pools and eating/drinking everything that we had accumulated over the last couple days.

As we were driving to the airport, we saw this incredible double rainbow to end a fantastic trip.

We got out just before the tropical storm was moving in. Landed in LA and got lucky that the lady at the desk let us on to the DFW flight leaving 2 hours before our scheduled one!

Sad to be home, but definitely a place we'll be back to!

Some overall thoughts:

-I was amazed at how uncrowded the resort felt. Even with every DVC room filled and most cash rooms unavailable to book, nothing ever felt too crowded.

-Pools and everything close at 8 for the most part. Was surprising at first, but after a couple days of observing it seemed that most people were out of them and getting ready for dinner by 6:30 or 7.

-There's so much to do! Every day had something new to keep you engaged and excited.

-I was disappointed a little bit in the stores. Very little selection as far as t-shirts go. It's great in terms of not being focused around Disney, etc, but there wasn't a shirt that said Aulani. Seemed like a miss, and could've just been when we were there.

-DW and I have gotten to travel a lot over the last couple years, but this is the first place we were both in agreement that we will be back to visit soon. I'm ready to go ahead and set a date on that "soon" .

-I was sold on the idea that we'd be breaking the bank at Aulani, but was pleasantly surprised that there are affordable ways to eat/drink while there. We spent $200 on food over 4 days at the resort. Obviously we're more flexible without kids, but it's doable.

-Buy the refillable mug. Part of what made food/drink affordable was buying our own booze from the market and making our own drinks. And I drink enough coffee to create value in free refills no matter the price.

-I found a Disney place I can drag DW to that she enjoys as much (or maybe more) than me!
__________________
1994-2009: Bi-yearly camping trips to Fort Wilderness
1998: Animal Kingdom inauguration trip
2005: Wilderness Lodge
2007: Boardwalk GV
2007-2011: Annual trips to Night of Joy
2010: Port Orleans to run Disney Half Marathon
2014: Day trip to all parks with siblings
Jan. 2017: Fort Wilderness w/DW for first time
Jan. 2018: VGC - first trip to DL!

Me: Jimmy , DW
jsweeney is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:42 PM.

© MouseOwners. "MouseOwners" is a registered servicemark. This is an unofficial fan site and is not affiliated in any way with The Walt Disney Company, the Disney Vacation Club, Disney Vacation Development, or any of their affiliates or subsidiaries. All Disney images © The Walt Disney Company.
Powered by Forum Software