TRIP REPORT: Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa (Part 3 – Activities)

The zero-entry pool at the Aulani
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Aloha! My coverage of Aulani, Disney’s resort in Hawaii, continues with a look at some of the many activities available on-property. Whether you are a child, teen, or adult, you are sure to find plenty to do.

A sample front page of The Daily 'Iwa from the Aulani

A sample schedule from The Daily 'Iwa at the Aulani

To stay on top of the daily activities at the resort, I would highly recommend picking up the printed schedule, called “The Daily ‘Iwa.” As you can see, the schedule is broken down into activities for ‘Ohana (family), keiki (children), and ‘opio (youths aged 13-17 years old). You can also find a digital version on Aulani’s website, as that one shows the schedule for the next 11 days, which is great for planning ahead.

There is also The Weekly ‘Iwa, which is given to guests when they check-in. It goes into more detail, not only about activities but also dining and shopping options.

Pools, pools, and more pools!

The area to pick up pool wristbands at the Aulani

A good portion of the Aulani’s guests start their day here in the queue for pool wristband and towel distribution. Each day is a different color of wristband. I saw many swimmers with multiple days’ worth lined up on their arms, creating a plastic rainbow of sorts. You can pick up a wristband at Kāwele Korner or at the Rainbow Reef (more on that later).

The posted rules for the pools at the Aulani

Over by the queue is a sign explaining the pool rules. Most of the signs on-property were in both English and Japanese.

Waikolohe Stream, the lazy river, at the Aulani

As for the options pool-wise, there is quite a bit of variety. I highly recommend taking a spin in Waikoloke Stream: the resort’s lazy river. It has fun features, like Menehune statues hiding in the background, as well as animals carved in the stonework to look for while you drift about.

One of the water slides at the Aulani

The Waikolohe Pool houses a pair of water slides, the Volcanic Vertical and the Tubestone Curl, for the thrill seekers in your family.

The zero-entry pool at the Aulani
Photo Credit: Rio McCarthy

It is also home to a zero-entry pool.

The Rainbow Reef at the Aulani

Rules for swimming in the Rainbow Reef at the Aulani

The Rainbow Reef is a 3,800-square-foot, man-made saltwater lagoon, filled with thousands of tropical fish. Guests can rent snorkel gear for a fee and get up close and personal with the wildlife without any of the dangers of snorkeling in the real ocean.

A guide for viewing some fo the fish in the Rainbow Reef at the Aulani

If you don’t feel like taking a dip (I hear the water is pretty cold), there is a viewing area (more of a cavern, really) below where you can get a glimpse of the fish and snorkelers alike. Helpful guides adorn the walls so guests can identify what they are looking at.

More fun for the whole family

The Pau Hana community room at the Aulani

The Pau Hana Room is the location of the resort’s premium activities, such as ukulele classes, as well as the cell painting. It has several comfy couches along with a computer and printer.

Board games available at the Pau Hana room at the Aulani

The Pau Hana Room also rents out board games and a large library of movies. The rentals are free as long as you return them on time (within a 24-hour period, if I recall correctly).

You will also find drawers full of coloring pages and the cast members do not bat an eye if you ask for one of each, even if you are an adult. They also provide the crayons!

The checklist for the Menehune photo hunt at the Aulani

If you are spending any decent amount of time on-property during your stay at the Aulani, I urge you to take part in the three Menehune-themed activities available. (You can learn more about just who or what the Menehune are in my previous trip report.) The first of which is the Menehune Mana’o Hunt, a sort-of photo safari. This checklist was different than the last time I was here, when the focus was on the many Menehune statues at the resort. Currently, it simply encourages guests to enjoy all that the Aulani has to offer (and take photo evidence, of course). I will note that when we went to turn in our completed collection, they did not verify the images or see if we posted them to social media as the checklist requests.

Doing the Menehune Adventure Trail outside at the Aulani

The Menehune Adventure Trail was touched upon in my trip report about Menehune, but it bears repeating. This two-part adventure is a must, especially if you have children in your group. We were a group of three adults and still had a blast, though. Armed with a specially programmed iPad, you will learn more about the resort as well as Hawaiian culture. The accompanying special effects are both impressive and fun.

As I mentioned, there are two parts to the Menehune Adventure Trail: one outside and one inside. The inside one is substantially shorter and takes place in the lobby and its nearby areas. The outside one spans a good portion of the outside gardens and pool area. And because the order of the events in the game are randomly selected, it could, in theory, have you hoofing it from one corner to another. Don’t let that scare you off, though; the experience is definitely worth it.

The reward for completing all the Menehune activities at the Aulani

Complete both versions of the Menehune Adventure Trail, as well the Menehune Mana’o Hunt, and you are rewarded with materials to create a kukui nut keychain. Each activity earns you pieces of the kit. Above, you can see the three made by my party. It makes a lovely keepsake.

Mo'olelo fire pit storytelling at the Aulani

The Mo’olelo Fire Pit Storytelling is a more relaxed family fun activity. As you gather around the fire pit near the upscale ‘Ama ‘Ama restaurant, Uncle will regale you with tales of Hawaiian lore. Moana currently plays a part in this event and even makes a special appearance!

Mickey and Minnie in Hawaiian outfits for a meet and greet at the Aulani

And Moana isn’t the Disney character inhabiting the resort; Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Stitch, Chip, and Dale also host meet and greets. Disney Photopass photographers are on the scene in case you don’t feel like toting your phone or camera around. Duffy and Shellie May were also available for photos during my previous trip, but I failed to find them this time around. I don’t know if that was purely bad luck or if they are retired.

The signage for Kawa'a, the luau at the Aulani

With the exception of the Rainbow Reef, everything I have shown thus far is included in the price of your stay. The luau, Ka Wa’a, however, is not. You can choose between two tiers of tickets: VIP Seating and General Admission. With VIP Seating, you get a fancier lei, early check-in (as you can see in the photo, they even have a separate line), priority up-front seating, and complimentary drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Regardless of what ticket you purchase, included are pre-show activities, like taro pounding, kapa printing, flower arranging, and temporary tattoos. You are also treated to a buffet dinner.

Ka Wa’a only performs on select nights and it is one of those events that you should reserve in advance (call 808-674-6320 to book).

Activities just for kids

The entrance to Aunty's Beach House at the Aulani

Available to kids aged 3-12, Aunty’s Beach House is full of entertaining options. They have video game systems, costumes to dress-up in, interactive game tables, arts and crafts, and more. There are also events that take place at Aunty’s Beach House, the majority of which are complimentary. When I was there, there were just three Premium Experiences that required payment.

The line for Aunty's Beach House at the Aulani

Every morning, I noticed a huge line forming in front of Aunty’s Beach House. It started around 6:30am or so and remained constant throughout the remainder of the morning into the early afternoon. Initially, there were just parents in the line. No kids to be found. As the morning continued, kids appeared in the line as well. I am not sure what the line was for; I neglected to ask. I suspect it was to sign the kids up for the program because the online pre-registration form apparently doesn’t guarantee participation.

Another view of the Menehune Bridge at the Aulani

The Menehune Bridge is another place that is kid-only territory. If you aren’t under 48 inches, you aren’t allowed on this water wonderland. It has a mini waterslide, water spinners, and elements that randomly dump water on unsuspecting guests. I don’t mind telling you, I was pretty darn jealous.

Activities just for adults

The adults-only Wailana pool area at the Aulani

The Wailana Pool is exclusively for guests who are 18 and older. With a pool bar nearby and an ample supply of lounge chairs, this is the perfect adult getaway. ‘Alohi Point, home to two whirlpool spas with an infinity edge, also has similar age restrictions.

The hours for Laniwai, the spa at the Aulani

Aulani’s spa, Laniwai, offers many relaxing treatments, from the Hawaiian lomilomi massage to shiatsu to scalp massage. The name “Laniwai” means “freshwater heaven” and guests can enjoy a water heaven of their own with the hydrotherapy garden available prior to their appointment. There is also a lounge that offers water, fresh fruit, as well as small things to nibble on. The teen spa, Painted Sky, is located next door.

To book appointments for either spa, call 808-674-6300.

There are so many activities at the Aulani, it is hard to decide what to do first! I hope my article gives you a better idea of the variety available. You can catch up on my previous Aulani articles at Part One and Part Two.

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About the author

Natalie Kipper

A native to Southern California, Natalie's first visit to Disneyland was on her second birthday and she has been going regularly ever since. If you are in the Parks, you will most likely find Natalie in line for the Haunted Mansion or scouring the Emporium for the latest Disney merchandise.
You can contact Natalie at [email protected]

1 Comment

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  • Just got around to reading this, the line early in the morning at the kids club is meant for parents to scope it out. Also, it is good if people without kids want to see the inside, I hear there are several Society of Explorers and Adventurers references in there.

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