Updated: Jul 29
Did you know that Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa is the only resort in Hawaii that is themed with a focus on Hawaiian culture?
Disney has cast its magic on this Hawaiian getaway which immerses its guests in local traditions, experiences, art and design. Its 21 acres are located on a beautiful lagoon on the island of Oahu, with pristine waters and white sand beaches. I had the absolute pleasure of spending 8 glorious nights at this beautiful resort earlier this year and I’m excited to share my top highlights.
Let’s begin with Hawaiian culture and how it’s beautifully honored and reflected in every corner of Aulani. From the moment I walked into the Maka’ala lobby, with its curved arch inspired by a traditional Hawaiian canoe, I felt the spirit and love of the island. The canoe motif is present throughout the resort, reminding me of what’s at the heart of Hawaiian culture - purposefulness and cooperation. The interior design incorporates an abundance of lustrous wood, color murals depicting traditional Hawaiian stories and art work including oils, acrylics, watercolors, batik on silk, sculptures and wood carvings. There is a synergy between the man-made buildings and the natural mountains, vegetation and waters…a very beautiful balance of elements that is simply breathtaking. It’s this connection to Hawaiian culture that makes Aulani such a unique and special experience.
I would highly recommend the “Māka’ika’i The Culture through Nature Tour”. My husband and I learned so much about Hawaiian culture. We loved finding out how Disney Imagineers incorporated Hawaiian nature, wildlife and landscaping into the designs of this beautiful resort. Another tour we enjoyed was the “Māka’ika’i: The Art and Culture of Aulani”. We were awed by the beautiful artwork and learned about the contributions made by local Hawaiian artists to the collections found throughout Aulani.
Food is such a big part of culture, and Aulani provided us with an abundance of delicious choices. From the popcorn buckets we refilled at “Ulu Cafe” (quick service) to the enchanting Ka Wa’A - A Lū’au, we tried them all. If you’re looking for casual dining, “Off the Hook”, found by the pool area, offers a variety of appetizers, salads and sandwiches; our favorite being the chopped salad. They also make a fantastic Tropical Mai Tai! ‘Ama’Ama was by far our favorite meal at Aulani. We enjoyed an elegant 4-course meal with wine pairings, in this open-aired restaurant overlooking Ko Olina Beach. The sun sets right over the beach and the site is absolutely breathtaking. So whether it’s a quick bite, a specialty coffee, Dole whip, fine-dining or a Hawaiian Lū’au, Aulani will not disappoint.
At the heart of all things Disney is “Family” and Aulani is no exception. Whether you are traveling with young children, older ones, or adults only, there are activities that will have everyone smiling. There are fitness classes on the beach, snorkeling in Aulani’s Rainbow Reef, “Make your own Mickey Ears” experience, pin trading, hula and ukulele lessons to name a few. Enjoy a family-friendly character breakfast at Makahiki Restaurant or meet characters throughout the day at various locations around the resort. When it comes to water play, in addition to the beautiful Ko Olina Beach for guests to enjoy, there are pools, water slides, splash zones, interactive play areas, lazy river, hot tubs and more. Adults can choose to indulge in spa treatments or relax in adult-only areas. Aunty’s Beach House is a supervised experience offering complimentary kids club activities. While kids are enjoying these activities, adults can indulge in some quiet time for themselves. Family is truly at the heart of Aulani.
I would be remiss if I didn’t speak a bit about the Disney magic. Just like all other Disney experiences, the attention to detail and top-notch customer service is ever-present. The accommodations are luxurious and the views breathtaking. The thing that makes Aulani quite the unique Disney experience is the way it honors Hawaiian culture first and throws in a bit of whimsical Disney pizzazz. It’s different from a Disney theme park experience or even a Disney cruise. We became completely immersed in Hawaiian food, music, art, landscape and people. The subtle Disney accents were the pixie dust.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a tip. If you have a late departure and want to squeeze in a bit more Aulani magic, take advantage of the Luana Lounge. It’s an indoor area with showers, lockers, comfy seats, and a large-screen tv. On the day you wish to use the lounge, you must reserve a time at the front desk. When you arrive, confirm what time the front desk opens daily and begins taking reservations. The Luana Lounge books up quickly, so I suggest arriving 30 minutes before the front desk begins taking reservations. It will be worth it!
We somehow knew Hawaii would be a special place, but Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa really blew us away! This is the only resort of its kind in all of Hawaii. At the end of the day, whether you’re a Disney enthusiast or not, this Hawaiian experience at Aulani is not to be missed!