First time, what is not to be missed?

Discussion in 'Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa' started by TGM, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. TGM

    TGM Tour Guide

    Jun 1, 2014

    We're heading to Aulani in early August, and we've never been before. What should we see, and what should we avoid. Is there anything on Oahu, outside of Aulani that is not to be missed?

  2. newdeal

    newdeal DIS Veteran

    Apr 12, 2009
    How many people are going and what air their ages?
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  4. buffettgirl

    buffettgirl The whole tag thing, so 1990's internet.

    Dec 26, 2008
    The whole rest of the island.
  5. corgi_monster

    corgi_monster DIS Veteran

    Jun 10, 2007

    - Pearl Harbor
    - drive around the island
    - Bishop Museum or Iolani Palace
    - Walk Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki/Waikiki Beach at least once in your life
    - eat a plate lunch, Zippy's chili/chicken and a saimin, and shave ice
    - try Hawaiian Sun can juice


    - Diamond Head Hike, drive up tantalus instead
    - all other crowded hikes
    - driving during rush hour traffic at all costs
    - Ala Moana unless you're a shopaholic or like expensive Japanese boutiques like Samantha Thavasa
    DVCRSheridan likes this.
  6. nkereina

    nkereina Last chance to lose your keys.

    Feb 11, 2009
    IMO, North Shore, Pearl Harbor, and Waikiki are all worth visits on a first time trip to Oahu. They are all unique vibes separate from what you will find in the Ko Olina area where Aulani is located.

    We did Diamond Head but like PP, it's not something we'd do again. We also loved Kualoa Ranch and the windward side of the island but if time or budget is limited, I would do the other things I mention before this.

    Whatever you do, I highly recommend renting a car. Best way to see and do as much as you want, and gives you more flexibility and options than anything the resort can offer you in terms of organized tours.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
    alldiz and DVCRSheridan like this.
  7. DVCRSheridan

    DVCRSheridan Disney Ohana

    Aug 8, 2006
    Pearl Harbor is a must for everyone, IMO. Other than that, try not to be too structured. Explore the island at your pace while also taking plenty of time to simply relax and enjoy everything Aulani has to offer. Talk to the waiters/bar tenders/front desk staff at Aulani, they'll offer you some excellent local knowledge. If you're flying Hawaiian Airlines by any chance, engage with the flight staff. Most are local and their knowledge of the island is fantastic. Drive along the North Shore and stop at random beaches, fruit stands, shops, restaurants etc... Try not to get too caught up in having a steadfast "touristy" schedule to follow. Head up to the North Shore and just follow it all the way back around the island taking in all of the views along the way. Stop wherever grabs your attention. Enjoy your time and enjoy the island for everything that it has to offer. Our best experiences were often unplanned. Stopping when we saw a spot to snorkel or hike or just marvel at the natural beauty.

    *As someone stated earlier, avoid rush hour around the city at all costs.*
  8. thedogatemyhomework

    thedogatemyhomework Mouseketeer

    Jun 9, 2015
    When planning try as much as possible not to plan on doing things in different parts of the island on the same day (especially opposite ends of the island)

    Other possible things that many tourists seem to enjoy (parking can be an issue at each of the first 3):

    Manoa falls
    Hanauma bay
    Kailua beach
    Polynesian cultural center
    Kualoa ranch
  9. Spring Green

    Spring Green Earning My Ears

    Jan 12, 2018
    We stayed at Aulani with a group of 9, ages 4 - 75, and did take some day trips, but our take-away was that while at Aulani, enjoy Aulani; it would have made more economical sense to find much less expensive accommodations that are closer to the other sites we visited.

    We enjoyed what we did, though. We secured (on our own, not through Aulani) Pearl Harbor tours (staggered so the youngest among us didn't go out to the actual memorial or sit through the intense movie they show before you board the boat), and we also enjoyed the submarine tour, and visited the Battleship Missouri. All recommended.

    We also enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center. Stopping by the Dole Plantation Site on the way to PCC worked out great apart from the fact that we arrived a bit late in the day at PCC, which limited how many of the village activities we could take part in before our luau.

    A few folks hiked Diamond Head one morning, and really enjoyed it.

    We had a rental car and free parking due to having rented DVC points.
  10. bajadahl

    bajadahl I am the Pirate your mom warned you about!!!

    Feb 10, 2012
    I completely agree with this. We are planning our first trip in July for 10 days and I have found I just don't want to pay the Aulani Rate for the days we are going to be exploring the island. So for the first 5 days we are booked at the nearby Hampton Inn (Free Parking) for this portion of the trip we will explore Pearl Harbor, Dole Plantation, North Shore, Waikiki, and anything else that makes our list. After moving to Aulani on the 5th day I will return the rental car and we will enjoy the resort for the remaining 5 days.
  11. JFox

    JFox Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2015
    ebonyeyes likes this.
  12. Midoria

    Midoria Mouseketeer

    Dec 7, 2016
    Reserve the car now since they don't require pre-payment. Prices for cars will only go up.
    ebonyeyes likes this.
  13. alldiz

    alldiz DIS Veteran

    Oct 15, 2006
    Happy to hear this we did your top 3 on our 1st visit:-)

    OP. We stayed at Aulani for 5 nights before a 1 night stay in Waikiki Precruise. I did not rent a car. We took a private tour to north shore for the day. We managed to do Pearl Harbor as an excursion on way to airport so that worked out perfect.

    The Hawaaiin cruise visited all the islands. I thought my O’ahu trip was a one a done. I really loved Aulani... and LOVED Oahu!
    In fact I can’t wait to go back and just stay on Oahu whole time. I would rent a car this time and really explore.
    Happy planning
    nkereina likes this.
  14. ebonyeyes

    ebonyeyes Mouseketeer

    Nov 12, 2008
    Yes! Reserve now! I reserved a car with them in January and the price has continued to go up since then.
  15. JFox

    JFox Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2015
    How was your experience with them? It must have been OK since you are a repeat customer.

    I booked 5/14-5/17 for $84. I really would like one more day but adding that Friday doubles the price. We are going to have to cram in all of our car trips during our rental period.
  16. Pete W.

    Pete W. DIS Veteran

    Aug 20, 1999
    I didn't find this to be the case. We booked SUVs for 3 islands (Maui, Big Island, Oahu) for our upcoming April trip. I initially reserved them in October 2017 after reading that prices only go up and that SUVs are in short supply. But then I ended up re-booking 2 of the 3 at a lower price in February and SUVs were still available. We used the Costco discount for Alamo.

    I absolutely agree that you should book early just in case, but you should also check periodically for lower prices as your trip gets closer.
  17. JFox

    JFox Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2015
    OMG! So glad I reserved when I did. Even rebooked for a different car at a lesser price. Checked this morning and the rates are doubled for the same period.
  18. minniemoms

    minniemoms There's no place like Disney

    Jan 22, 2004
    I’m a first timer too. Love reading all the must do’s..
  19. dolewhipdreams

    dolewhipdreams Counting days until my next Dole Whip

    Feb 24, 2017
    If you go to the North Shore (which I also recommend), we loved the town of Hale'Iwa. It's a surfing town that has a really cute main street and some awesome beaches. Check out Kua Aina sandwiches and Matsumoto's Shave Ice while you're there.

    We also visited Waimea Valley, which is not too far from Aulani. It's a botanical garden that has a lot of beautiful walking paths and at the far end of the park is a waterfall where you can swim in the pool. A very neat experience.

    If you're willing to drive to Honolulu, there's a great catamaran company that does a sailing where you go and snorkel with the sea turtles. It's Makani Catamaran. They did a great job with our sail.

    Ocean kayaking was also very fun! We went out of Kailua, but depending on the time of year and the surf, there should be locations all around the island. If you aren't very experienced with kayaking, be sure to hire a guide.
  20. scottmel

    scottmel <font color=darkorchid>Does my logic in my origina

    Jul 28, 2002
    We are going this July for 10 nights - splitting a trip at Halekaulani (Which is more expensive than Aulani yet this is where a lot of my activites are happening.....not sure how I feelabout this...)

    ^Pearl Harbor,

    Ohau Private Tours for both South and North shores (they are taking us snorkeling as well at north shore so combo site see activities and really reasonable)

    Bishop Museum (free for being hotel guest)

    Ukelele Tour (free)

    Diamond Head Hike

    Ranch (done from Aulani) and the temple

    My goal is 2 resort days..
  21. Princess KP

    Princess KP DIS Veteran

    Oct 4, 2011
    The Laniwai Spa!

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