I hadn't been to Oahu since I was too young to remember. We don't often go on destination vacations (my husband's busy work schedule only allows for weekend trips) but if we can make it work, Kauai is our favorite place to be. This year, we decided to switch it up and try a new island, Oahu, mostly because that's where the Disney's Aulani hotel is and we figured in a year or two this would no longer be a draw for the boys.
The hotel itself is beautiful! Situated right on the water. But I had no idea how huge Oahu was! When we go to Kauai, there is a tiny two lane highway. Oahu was more like Los Angeles with a sprawling freeway system and tons of traffic!!
The hotel offered a little scavenger hunt to get familiar with the grounds. The faux mountain in the background reminded me of the big thunder mountain ride at Disneyland.
The hotel offered free day care - no reservations necessary. In addition, they offered a host of "classes" that you had to register early for. People were in line by 7 am to register. Thank goodness L.A. time was three hours ahead. I'd wake up, get coffee, secure seats by the beach and then get in that horrendous line to sign them up. I did this a few times. They ended up taking a comedy class, volcanic eruption and a science class (with Disney characters).
The hotel had a huge pool with a water slide and a lazy river. They also had am amazing kids water structure that was the boys' favorite.
They even had their own snorkeling lagoon stocked with fish in case the ocean was too intimidating. We checked it out:
I prefer the ocean. And we spent plenty of time there as well, snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding and relaxing!
My dermatologist would be proud of how much I covered up. I mean, really proud!
We visited the Dole Pineapple Maze - touted as the world's largest maze. It was SO hot that day! I think we were all a little grumpy. You get a card and have to find all six stamps throughout the maze and stamp your card.
The dole whips at the end were well worth the work.
My favorite part of the trip was our visit to Waimea Falls. It's in the middle of a beautiful botanical garden.
After a mile or two, you get to the falls. You have to wear a life vest. The water was SO cold. Mr. P. refused to go in. But I got Doodle to wade out with me. We should have brought water shoes, because it was pretty rocky down there.
And then, we were under a roaring waterfall!!! (see the two little dots at the bottom?)
We went to La Mariana Tiki Bar for dinner one night. It's a bit of a drive down at the old Marina. The whole place looks like a tiki hut frozen in time.
Was he scared of the pu pu platters?
The boys loved relaxing in their room and ordering room service. We spent hours playing the card game, Munchkin. The hotel also played a Disney movie about every other night, screened on the big lawn outside. Since our room overlooked the lawn, the kids were able to see the movie from the balcony.
They also relaxed in the tub:
We hit up the famous Matsumoti Shave ice in Haleiwa.
And dim sum in Chinatown:
We really did try to avoid the "character buffet." Every time I spotted a Disney character wandering around the pool area being silly, I was reminded that I am not a resort person! But, the last morning the kids were hungry and we had exhausted all other breakfast options, so we sucked it up and went for it. The kids loved being able to grab whatever they wanted to eat (and I loved the Asian breakfast!) And the acai bowl was also a favorite.
Inevitably, the characters came wandering around for photos. The kids obliged.
And then we even took a family photo….although, as you can see, we just aren't big Goofy fans.
There were big, white puffy clouds:
And small moments of pure bliss:
But next year, it's back to small, quiet, Disney character-free Kauai for us!!
Places we went:
Dole Pinapple Maze
Waimea botanical gardens and waterfall
La Mariana Sailing Club and restaurant
Monkey Pod Kitchen
Aulani Disney Resort
Matsumoto Shave Ice
Places we wanted to go:
Children's Discovery Center
Diamond Head Crater