It’s been a couple weeks since we got back from Hawaii and I feel like it took me so long to snap out of my vacay funk (it’s a real thing). We went for my mom’s 60th birthday and seriously had the BEST time. My husband and I agreed that it was probably our favorite vacation ever. I’m so happy that we were able to go big for my mom’s birthday. If anyone deserves an amazing celebration, it’s her!
I was so excited to have the whole crew with us! My mom, brother, sister-in-law and niece and nephew were all there – it was a party with the full group of 9!
My mom and I are Disneyland pass-holders, so with that comes a pretty good discount at any Disney resort. During one of our many trips to Disneyland last year, we saw the Disney Aulani advertised and decided we must do that for her birthday with all the kids.
We seriously couldn’t have picked a better place to stay – especially when we had all the groms with us. Forget Disneyland – THIS is the happiest place on earth!
How cute are these personalized rolling backpacks? We filled them with all their goodies for the flight.
The girls did so well on the plane. Delainey was suuuper nervous and hesitant at first but it ended up being her favorite part of the trip, haha! We packed lots of new snacks, their leap pad and new coloring books for them to enjoy. However, they enjoyed those for about half an hour. Our saving grace was when the flight attendant handed out tablets. The girls each got one and they were programmed with new movies and cartoons – so clutch! Thank you, Hawaiian Airlines!
By the time we got our bags, our rental car and got to the hotel we were EXHAUSTED! The kids of course wanted to swim, so we sat and enjoyed delicious “mocktails” out of pineapples and enjoyed the sunset while the kids swam. Perfection!
The Aulani is a 20-30 minute drive from the airport. We decided to rent a van because we love to explore beyond the resort, but there’s definitely enough activities and amenities available that you could decide not to leave and be totally fine! So I think it’s really a preference and comes down to your travel personalities 🙂
Beach and Pools
We were up at ’em the next morning exploring the beach and pools. The resort is set in a cove so the water is really calm and there’s instant beach access from the resort. There is also another cove, called Honu Lagoon, that is walking distance that is known for sea turtles!
There’s a hut right outside the Aulani called Makiki Joe’s, where you can rent sand toys, boogie boards, stand-up paddle boards and snorkel gear. I have been wanting to try stand-up paddle boarding for SO long. What a perfect place to try it! It was actually harder and more of a workout than I thought. Everyone tried it though – the kids even hopped on, it was so much fun!
There’s also a perfectly paved trail that goes for miles right along the beach. David and I went jogging a couple mornings – it was the best way to start the day!
As gorgeous and fun as the beach is, I feel like we spent most of our time at the pools. There was not only several pools and hot tubs for the kids to enjoy, there were water slides, a play structure, a private lagoon called Rainbow Reef where the kids can snorkel along with a lazy river (which is where the kids basically lived). There was also an interactive splash zone where they had squirting jets designed to resemble a tidal pool. They have life jackets for the kids and all of the pools had a shallow area.
One of the days we were lounging by the pool and all of a sudden we hear club music. I instantly perked up. Pregnant or not, I’m always down for a pool party! We made our way over to the main pool where everyone was gathered. Pretty soon Mickey, Minnie and Goofy came out dancing – it was the Shake-A-Shaka Pool Party, duh! I was dyyying! It was seriously like we were in Vegas with the Disney characters. They brought kids up to play games and have a dance party. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
My favorite picture of my mom with all her grandkids on her birthday!
Watching her cousins snorkel in the Rainbow Reef!
A couple of the days we decided to venture out of the resort and visit the North Shore. On the way over, we noticed the Dole Plantation. A few people recommended it, so we decided to stop. There was a little “pick-a-pearl” stand where each of the kids got to pick an oyster, watch them open it and get a pearl! They all got different colors and loved it! The ladies working there put it in a setting of our choice – my mom treated each of the kids to a new necklace. Such a sweet sentiment and perfect way to remember the trip!
After leaving the Dole Plantation, dole whips in-hand, of course, we headed to Waimea Valley. It’s a beautiful (and super easy) hike through the botanical gardens and at the end, there’s a waterfall that you can swim in. David, Amber, Blake, Abby and Beau ended up getting in the water. It was freeeeezing!! My mom, myself and my girls sat out and watched – too cold for us!! They have a little stand at the top where you can get life jackets for the kiddos.
The cutest tourists!
Poor Beau Beau – so outnumbered by all these girls!!
Mo‘olelo Fire Pit Storytelling – One of the evenings we walked down by pool to check out the Fire Pit Storytelling. There was a big firepit with a huge fire going. The master storyteller who goes by “Uncle” was telling the story of Moana. Pretty soon Moana came out – the kids were so excited!
‘Ohana Movie Night – This was ahhmazing! They set-up a huge movie screen and provide mats for you to sit out on the lawn and watch a Disney movie under the stars. How cool is that?! They have drinks and snacks available too.
Aunty’s Beach House – Since there were so many of us and we had so much help with the kids, we never felt the need to use the kid’s club. However, we did peek in and it was adorable. They had a whole wall of princess dresses, tables with crafts going and a stage where they were telling stories! All the kids looked like they were having a blast. If it were just David and I with the kids, we definitely would have taken advantage and had a romantic dinner to ourselves! It is an additional cost and the kids need to be 3 and potty-trained. You also have to pre-register 2 days before.
Laniwai Spa – On my mom’s actual birthday, we treated her to a spa day. O M G! It was gorgeous! One of the most beautiful spas I’ve seen. They even had these outdoor showers that mimic the different types of hawaiian rain. So cool. Another cool thing is that kids can even get treatments. My niece Abby joined Amber and they got massages together in the same room.
Ka Wa’a Luau – We put on our finest hawaiian apparel (Beau and David won best-dressed for sure! haha) and attended the luau. It was absolutely amazing! The food was delicious and the performers were incredible! After we ate, all of the kids fell asleep on our laps, but we stayed to watch the singing, dancing, and performing. It was definitely on the pricey side and you need to make reservations well in advance.
There are a ton of other activities available – I wish we had more time to try them all!
The full group at the luau! Love these people SO much!
Another day that we wanted to explore the island we decided to visit Lanikai Beach. There’s no wonder this is named one of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu. Holy moly. It’s unbelievably gorgeous. I even loved the drive over seeing where all the locals live, eat and shop.
Once we got there we parked ourselves on the beach, swam in the ocean and played some freeze tag with the kiddos. So low-key and fun! I would highly recommend visiting this beach!
Smoothie stop on the way back to the resort!
You can’t go to Hawaii and NOT get an acai bowl! This girl is hooked!!
Food and Dining
There are some amazing restaurants (upscale and casual) that are located in the resort or walking distance. The day we got there, we loaded up on groceries from a nearby ABC store so we had lots of snacks and breakfast stuff for the kids.
In the Resort:
- Papalua Shaved Ice – Home of the Mickey Mouse shaped shaved ice!
- Makahiki – This was probably our favorite meal! It’s an amazing buffet restaurant. We only ate here for dinner but they also do breakfast with the Disney characters!
- Ulu Cafe – We probably ate here the most because it’s right by the pool and it’s super casual and easy for the kids. ALSO, part of the package we got gave us one free meal PER PERSON, PER DAY at this cafe! Jackpot. Considering everything is pretty pricey, that was great to have!!
- Roys – We had a delicious meal here for my mom’s bday! We have been to a Roy’s before on the big island, so we knew it was delicious. It’s upscale hawaiian cuisine.
- Island Vintage Coffee – Great coffee, smoothies and acai bowls here!
- Monkeypod – We didn’t get to try this one but heard great things. Very family-friendly with a great happy hour!
I am beyond thankful for the time spent and memories made with my amazing family!! Watching the girls play and bond even more with their cousins was so fun to watch. And I’m so glad that my mom got the birthday celebration that she deserves!
If you guys have any other questions about our trip, let me know! Mahalo!