KidTripster Teen: Hey teens, here are 9 reasons that Aulani isn’t just for little kids
Teens may think that because it’s Disney, Aulani is a place geared more towards younger kids, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This vacation spot is designed to please the whole family - yes, even teenagers! Aulani offers a wide range of teen-specific activities. When my family went, I had a blast! After reading about my 9 favorite things, you'll see that Aulani doesn't only cater to the grammar school crowd.
1/Aulani Beach at Ko Olina Lagoon
This is Aulani’s private beach. Super exclusive, only guests staying at the hotel can use it. Ko Olina Lagoon is roped off, so you know exactly how far out you’re allowed to swim. In the lagoon, you can go snorkeling and see all the beautiful fish and sea life that Hawaii boasts. I even saw a few small (harmless) sharks. You can venture out countless times and always see something different. Other beach activities include boogie boarding, surfing, paddleboarding, and sunbathing. Where do you get the gear to do all this cool stuff? You go to Makiki Joe’s Beach Rentals, of course! This is the one-stop-shop for all your beach rental needs from kayaks to lounge chairs. Boogie boards, sand toys, life jackets, beach chairs, and umbrellas cost: complimentary for Aulani Guests; snorkel set cost: $20/day; stand-up paddleboard cost: $39/hour; beachside casabella (2-seat lounger with awning) cost: $75/day.
KidTripster Tip: Try to stake your claim on the beach as early in the day as possible because spaces tend to fill up quickly.
KidTripster Tip: Save yourself some money and pack your own snorkel, mask, and fins.
Waikolohe (means “mischievous waters” in Hawaiian) is the ultimate water experience! Whether you’re the raging rapids-type or slow cruising is more your speed, you’ll find something to entertain. There are three water features sure to stir up some fun. First, the lazy river guides you along a slow stream, either with or without a raft. The river is surrounded by rock formations and winds through caves and springs inspired by Oahu. The other two attractions are rapid water slides, so chill people beware. The Volcanic Vertical is an enclosed high-speed water slide that lands you in the Waikolohe pool. It’s a swift ride, so be ready to have your heart race. Next, check out the Tubestone Curl. It’s a twisting, turning, open-air water slide extravaganza that eventually spits you out in the Waikolohe Stream (aka the Lazy River). Here’s the best part, you can ride it solo or with a friend. Double the people equals double the fun!
KidTripster Tip: So that the resort knows that you’re a guest, all activities - including the pool - require a daily wristband. Getting one is easy enough. Just present your room key at one of the designated towel stations. To avoid waiting for the wrist swag, it’s best to get there early, maybe even before you grab breakfast. The lines get super long mid-morning, and they stop passing them out mid-day.
Like the idea of snorkeling but maybe watched Discovery Channel’s Shark Week one too many times? Well, Rainbow Reef may be a great option for you. It’s the only private snorkeling lagoon on Oahu. This man-made, 3,800-square foot reef gives you a spectacular view of many of the island’s colorful native fish. Also hidden inside this reef are Menehune, the magic little people of the islands, and art that's carved into some of the rocks. It’s really rockin’ and adds a little more enchantment to an already magical experience. All the snorkeling equipment is included with the entrance fee. You can experience the fun without the risk of running into any toothy underwater acquaintances. There’s also a viewing window; it costs nothing to look, and it’s fun when you don't feel like getting wet or paying. One-day cost: Youth (9 and under) $15; Adult $20; Full stay cost: Youth (9 and under) $29; Adult $39.
4/Menehune Adventure Trail
If you love puzzles and learning fascinating facts, this activity is made for you. Menehune Adventure Trail is a scavenger hunt and interactive game all rolled into one. To get started, go to the Pau Hana Community Center, found on the first floor of the Ewa Tower. Just give your last name and room number, and they’ll hand you a tablet so you can begin hunting. The tablet displays locations and clues all over the resort. Answer a question correctly, and the display lights up. Throughout your hunt, you’ll also see and learn facts about the Menehune - the island’s little people, known for their magic and mischief, so don’t be surprised if you find them messing with your tablet. Once you’re done, just return the tablet. Don’t worry if you have to cut your adventure short; you can pick up where you left off anytime during your stay.
5/Painted Sky Teen Spa
That’s right. Teens get the Painted Sky Teen Spa all to themselves! No little kids or grown ups allowed; it’s for guests ages 13 to 17 only. You can get manicures, pedicures, age-specific massages, and treatments for your skin. They also regularly hold spa-related events and challenges like make-your-own nail polish or create-your-own facial. Do all this while bragging about it to your friends back home on the complimentary computer stations located right in the spa. If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!
KidTripster Tip: In order to experience any of the spa treatments, you must make a reservation. Booking an appointment is super easy. Just call the spa, reserve a time slot, and let the relaxation begin!
6/Ko Olina Golf Club
It may sound slightly dorky, but I love golfing with my family. It’s a great activity that we can do together, and the course at Ko Olina is absolutely beautiful. It features multi-tiered greens, stunning water hazards, and gorgeous views. Stick around and check out the clubhouse which has men’s and women’s locker rooms, complete with showers, steam rooms, and Jacuzzis. If that’s not enough to keep you there, the restaurant certainly will. From chef Roy Yamaguchi, Roy’s Ko Olina serves Hawaiian fusion cuisine. All this is within walking distance of the resort or a two-minute ride via complimentary shuttle. The best part is junior (age 17 and under) Aulani guests play for free after 3 p.m. with a paying adult. Standard rate: $185 for 18 holes, including golf cart.
KidTripster Tip: Want to do a Mulligan on the whole thing? Aulani guests save on two rounds of golf when purchased in advance.
7/Shopping at Ko Olina
It wouldn’t be a vacation if you didn’t do a little shopping, right? There are a few shops inside the resort, but most of the items are Aulani-themed. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything Disney! I even keep an Aulani pin on my favorite bag. Still, you may want another sort of retail experience. Fortunately, there are lots of cool boutiques located just across the way from the resort, where you can shop for apparel, gifts, sundries, and more.
KidTripster Tip: A variety of food choices also are available at the country market in Ko Olina.
KidTripster Tip: Forgot something for your trip? Not a problem! There’s a Costco, Target, and Long’s Drugstore just a short drive from the resort.
8/Aunty's Beach House
This is not a teen activity, but it’s worth mentioning to teens. Most will be pumped to know about this place, because it solves the problem of getting saddled with babysitting your younger siblings. Aunty’s Beach House is an awesome, adult-supervised clubhouse for children (ages 3 to 12) that has all sorts of fun, Hawaii-inspired activities, as well as a playground, video games, movies (Disney movies, of course!), and more. So while parents relax and the little kids get to play, teens can do their own thing.
KidTripster Tip: Don’t forget to pick up the Daily Iwa (activities schedule). It lists all the specific teen activities and challenges that are happening that day.
9/Ka Wa'a Luau
New to Aulani, you and your family can feast at the Ka Wa'a Luau. In addition to a sumptuous island buffet, you'll experience the history of Hawaiian Islands through traditional dance, including hula kahiko and modern hula 'auana. The dinner and show last about three hours. So grab your grass skirt and get moving! Cost: Youth (ages 3 to 9) $79; Adult $119.
KidTripster Tip: You should make your reservation in advance by calling (808) 674-6850. Reservations can be made up to 60 days prior to your arrival. Just know that doesn’t guarantee your seating. In order to secure the seats, you have to go to the Ka wa‘a Luau Desk in the main lobby and pay.
For more ideas for your Hawaiian vacation, click here.
Laine Messier is a homeschooled high school student, who currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York City. She’s lucky enough to be able to explore the globe with her parents and is always on the lookout for unique and exciting experiences. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her surfing, jamming on her guitar or searching for new adventures with her trusty canine sidekick, Tess.