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If you're looking for some Disney magic in tropical paradise, then look no further than Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. Located on Oahu, this resort focuses on immersing you in Hawaiian culture without laying on the Disney touches too thick. There's tons to do at this resort and Ko Olina makes for a peaceful getaway compared to some of the hustle and bustle of the cities. These are some of the 10 best things to do at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Oahu with or without kids.
Worth noting at the time of this posting that Hawai'i is currently undergoing a bit of a water crisis - everyone has been asked to conserve water when they can because some jet fuel found its way into the water supply. If you're visiting, do your best to practice sustainable, responsible tourism. Support local, be conscious of your water use, and consider volunteering somewhere on the island or donating to organizations like the Hawai'i Community Foundation.
Swim in the Infinity Pool
Aulani has a beautiful infinity-edge pool that overlooks the lagoon. If you’re looking for it on a resort map, it's called the Ka Maka Grotto Infinity Pool. Whether you hang out in the hot tub by the rocks or right on the edge of the pool to overlook the beach, you’ll love this pool.
Ka Maka Grotto is a family-friendly pool, so if you want to enjoy this experience without kids, you can time it just right or you can check out some of the adult-only pools.
Take a Lap around the Lazy River
Did you know that Aulani has its own lazy river? The lazy river is included with your stay and takes you around the entire pool area, including the volcano (which doubles as a slide). This is a great way to get a lay of the land while enjoying the sunshine and the water.
In fact, Waikolohe Stream (the official name of the lazy river) has two different waterslides. The Volcanic Vertical takes you into the nearby pool, but the open-air Tubestone Curl brings you straight into the lazy river.
Don’t worry about being cold. They keep the water temperature in the low to mid 80s Fahrenheit.
Have Breakfast with Mickey Mouse
Makahiki - The Bounty of the Islands is right on the first floor of the resort. You’ll need to book a reservation ahead of time, but you can enjoy a delicious three-course breakfast including fresh pastries, local fruits, and an entree of your choice. We had our photo taken outside with Mickey and Pluto, then saw Max and Goofy inside the restaurant!
When we went in October 2021, they did not have the characters going from table-to-table for social distancing, but we got a kick out of watching Max and Goofy “cook” up some breakfast.
Go to a Luau
The Ka Wa’a Luau is a great way to enjoy a luau without having to leave the resort. If you’ve been to a few luaus before, then this one may not be for you based on some reviews I’ve seen. But if you’ve never been to one (like me!) then you’ll definitely enjoy this. There are some character appearances and you get to learn some hula moves with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, which is super fun. But the dancers were extremely talented and the food tasted great.
Pre-COVID, the food was served buffet style. When we went in October 2021, the food was served in some really nice bento boxes. You definitely get plenty of food - I couldn’t finish mine!
GO for a Walk Along the Ko Olina Lagoons
Ko Olina has a stretch of four lagoons along the beach. One of these lagoons is shared by Aulani and the Marriott next door. But if you take the path down to the lagoon, you can keep walking and explore the others until you hit the Ko Olina marina. This is a short and beautiful stroll. Plus, you may also see some mongoose along the way! We saw some rummaging through a trash bin.
It’s not the same as Hanauma Bay, but you can try snorkeling at Aulani, too! I had never been snorkeling before, so we did this as a sort of test run before tackling Hanauma Bay later in our trip.
The little reef that Disney built here is really beautiful and there are a ton of fish. There are also lifeguards, so if you want to take your kids snorkeling or if you’re an adult who has never been like me, this is a great way to get your feet and fins wet.
Snorkeling gear is provided here. This includes your snorkel, mask, and a vest. No need to bring your own!
Rent a Paddleboard
Did you know that you can go paddleboarding at the lagoon? If you want to try something a tad more adventurous than just soaking up the sun, you can rent out a bunch of different equipment to use at the beach. This includes kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkels.
Set Sail on a Canoe
Aulani also offers sailing canoe excursions from the lagoon. You can book a reservation for Hawaiian Ocean Adventures at Makiki Joe’s. If you’re really feeling adventurous, this is a great way to explore the island.
Get some Shave Ice
No trip to Hawai’i is complete without some shave ice (not to be confused with shaved ice - they're different!). You can get shave ice at Aulani and they even offer it with Mickey Mouse ears! I really recommend trying some flavors that are more unique to Hawai’i here, too. Huapia, for example, is a flavor that stems from a coconut-based Hawaiian treat and is really delicious.
Majestic Circle Island Tour
The Majestic Circle Island Tour picks you up from Disney’s Aulani Resort and is a great way to explore the highlights of the whole island in one day. We made a ton of stops along the way and lunch was included.
check before you go
These were most of the experiences available when we went during our stay, but there may be more as places begin to open back up and relax COVID-19 restrictions. There are tons of other activities to do at Aulani, including a Menehune Adventure Trail that’s engaging for kids, spas, ukulele lessons, firepit storytelling with Moana, and more.
Jessica is a huge Disney, anime, and Star Wars nerd who channeled that love into motivation to lose 75 lbs.