Aloha, Disney Aulani


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North America » United States » Hawaii » Oahu
August 7th 2022
Published: August 9th 2022
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Our family had an amazing time in Hawaii (the big island) this past December. We rented a car, explored the island, saw volcanoes, rode horses through valleys, swam with manta rays, and had a blast! At the end of our trip, we had a canceled flight and ended up stuck at a resort for a couple of nights just relaxing and swimming. It was a great (if unexpected) way to end our trip.

Andrew and I decided it would be nice to have a vacation at a resort, a place to hang around, swim, and relax. This year, we have a lot of milestones. He and I are both turning 40 this year. We have our 15 year wedding anniversary. Also, Andrew's celebrating 10 years of sobriety. We decided to cancel other, smaller trips we had planned and head back to Hawaii to celebrate! This time, we have an entirely different trip planned than December. We decided to stay at the Disney Aulani resort on Oahu, and we're staying here for the entire trip (except for a couple of small excursions offered by the resort). This type of vacation isn't for everyone. I know there are plenty of people who wonder why you'd go to Hawaii and hang out at a Disney resort the entire time. I respect that, but I just have to say this: Disney does an amazing job creating an amazing vacation space for families! It's exactly what we want for this trip.

We left Des Moines at 4am Central on Saturday morning. We flew to Minneapolis, had a decent layover, and then had a long flight to Honolulu (8.5 hours!). We landed at 3pm Hawaiian time, which is 8pm central. I'd only slept about 1.5 hours the night before, and I managed to nap for about 1 hour on the plane. When we arrived (after going to baggage claim, catching a shuttle, and going through check in), I really just wanted to sleep, but I forced myself to push through! We got to our room (incredible), got Instacart for some breakfast and lunch items, changed into our swimsuits, and set out for the pool! We went on the water slides (so fun!), and then went back to our room where I conked out until morning.

I'm glad we pushed through until the evening, because we woke up refreshed! The first thing on our agenda
Paradise CoveParadise CoveParadise Cove

That's Oliver and Andrew snorkeling in the background!
was a Disney breakfast. We're starting our vacation with a Disney character breakfast and ending with a Disney luau. We had a reservation for 7am, and that ended up being a perfect time because the pools open at 8am! We got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Chip, and Dale. Chip and Dale were hilarious. There was beautiful music sung by a man with a ukulele. For just a small portion of it, Minnie joined in on percussion, shaking some kitchen gadgets. It was a lot of fun, and the food was good! Plus, we were outside and enjoying the warm, breezy Hawaiian morning.

Afterwards, we set out for more waterslide time, and we got to explore the lazy river that weaves around the pool area. The sun wasn't really shining yet, so we put some sunblock on our faces and left it at that (foreshadowing?). Oliver expressed an interest in snorkeling at Disney's Rainbow Reef, so I left the family to find the booth to sign us up. Sadly, they were all booked out for the day when I got there at 9am. They let me know I should line up by 7:45 for the 8am opening to get a time. Lesson learned! I wandered around trying to find the family. I found an activities kiosk and signed the kids up for T-shirt stamping at 2pm. Afterwards, I checked the waterslide lines but still couldn't find Andrew and the kids. I decided I'd go on the lazy river and look for them around the resort that way. After my little adventure, I still had no sign of the family and decided to just keep having fun on my own. If I kept doing fun things, I'd be bound to run into them eventually! It was when I was going on the tube slide that I finally ran into them. I told them I'd seen Pluto and Goofy when I was wandering around the resort. Turns out, when I was on foot and ran into Pluto and Goofy, the family was in the lazy river waving at them, too!

We couldn't do the Rainbow Reef, but we went up to our room to get our snorkeling gear and set out for the nearby Paradise Cove. It's about a 10-15 minute walk. At the last minute, I reapplied sunscreen to the kids and got their shoulders, neck, etc. We headed out! Oliver had the best time snorkeling at Paradise Cove. He snorkeled for hours! Andrew joined him for a lot of it. Some of the area was quite rocky. Oliver was comfortable because he had surf shoes (padded water socks), but the rest of us got our feet torn up when we went too far into the ocean. So, Joanna and I hung out in the shallow water. She made some sand castles and enjoyed the light waves. I realized I was feeling some sun and moved to the shade. When it was time to go, we set out on foot. Joanna was bothered by the sand in her sandals and had to keep stopping to clear it out. It seemed like she always picked a sunny spot to stop. I finally asked Andrew if Oliver and I could just walk ahead. I needed to get in the shade! So, Oliver and I walked back to the resort, and he told me about all the creatures he saw. He saw sea turtles, fish, sea cucumbers, and even some crabs up on some rocks. I'm so glad he found something he loved! That made it worth it.



When we got back to our room, Andrew and I could see just how badly we burned. Our faces were OK, thanks to sunscreen. His stomach was mostly OK because he rubbed his sunscreen off on his front side. But both of our backs and my front were quite burned. That's what 2 hours at a beach with no sunscreen will do! Oops. We both felt so stupid, but we couldn't change it. Thankfully, the kids were both fine. Andrew went down to a shop and got us some after sun, and we lounged in our room until the 2pm T-shirt stamping. Oliver complained a bit about having to do the T-shirt stamping, but they both ended up getting into it and spent a good hour making their shirts. Actually, Joanna finished before Oliver, and Oliver kept going! When we were done, Andrew picked up some lunch from one of the resort restaurants (Off the Hook), and we ate in our room. It was really very good. I just had a simple veggie burger but it was delicious, and the fries were some of the best I've ever had.

I was hoping I beat the jetlag but hadn't. I really struggled to stay awake. My original goal was to stay awake until 8pm, but I kept changing my goal as the afternoon continued. Finally, I got to the point where I struggled to open my eyes after I blinked, and it wasn't quite 5pm. With a lot of effort, I made it to 6pm, when I gave up, closed my eyes, and fell asleep immediately. I don't think I moved an inch until 2am, when I woke up wide awake!

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