Main pool at Disney's Aulani resort

Hawaiian Adventure Disney’s Aulani Resort

After our NCL Pride of America cruise, we stayed two nights at Disney’s Aulani resort. It was a relaxing way to end our two-week Hawaiian Islands adventure. Here is a quick tour of the room, hotel, and surrounding area.

We have had a lot of fun visiting Disney theme parks and resorts. Over the years, we have the opportunity to experience so many amazing things. Through storytelling and great customer service, Disney just seems to be able to deliver. We had heard great things about how they brought that magic to Hawaii.

boat on beach at sunset at Disney's Aulani Resort

When we were planning our Hawaiian vacation, we wondered if we could somehow add stay at Disney’s Aulani resort. Would they be able to deliver the magic in Hawaii like they do at Disney World? We took the chance and extended our stay in Hawaii for two nights after our cruise. We couldn’t wait to try Disney’s interpretation of Hawaii, and booked our trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, which is located on the western side of Oahu, in the Ko Olina area.

Aulani didn’t disappoint. Disney’s Hawaiian resort is beautifully themed and we enjoyed our stay.

The Aulani Resort Hotel

While the main part of our Hawaiian Island adventure was going to be island hopping on NCL’s Pride of America, we wanted a chance to visit Disney’s Aulani resort. We added a two-night stay at Aulani for after our cruise. Our main goal was just to relax, enjoying the beach & resort.

main Aulani hotel building and koi pond

Aulani is a large resort with over 350 rooms. With the addition of the Disney Vacation Club villas, the number of rooms is significantly higher. The hotel buildings surround a beautifully landscaped area with multiple pools and a lazy river. Aulani is situated on one of the protected lagoon areas which provides for a calm area to enjoy the water.

Aulani is Located at Ko Olina

beach view showing Disney's Aulani resort in distance

Aulani is situated on the western end of Oahu in the Ko Olina area. This area consists of a series of sheltered lagoons with a park and walking path. Aulani is one of several hotels in this area along with a Marriott and a Four Seasons.

We enjoyed walking through the park every morning and evening during our visit. It was among the best parks of our stay.

park and walking path along the ocean in Ko Olina area of Oahu, Hawaii

And after our evening walk, we enjoyed watching the sunset from the beach at Aulani. It was a fantastic place to enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

Outrigger boat on beach at sunset at Disney's Resort in Hawaii Aulani

Aulani Hotel Amenities

The Aulani hotel consists of a multi-story main building with check-in area, gift stores, and several restaurants. The design and theming are pretty amazing. One thing many people appreciate is that they provide a waiting area for children to watch cartoons while the family gets checked in.

hallway with interesting ceiling at Disney's Aulani resort hotel

Disney’s Aulani Resort is beautiful and very well themed. Be sure to check out the art throughout the resort. And look out for the mischievous Menehune – you never know where they might appear.

Art piece with several people around a table at Disney's Aulani Resort

There are several pools including a large pool with a zero entry.

Main pool at Disney's Aulani resort

Another pool is an infinity pool with a grotto area with and hot tub.

Infinity pool at Disney's Aulani resort

We really enjoyed the lazy river which was one of the amenities included for no additional charge. We grabbed a double tube and took several laps around the river.

Lay river at Disney's Aulani resort in Hawaii

Continuing past the pools, you’ll find a nice beach area. Beach chairs and umbrellas are provided. You can use a boogie board, though there aren’t really waves to ride in the lagoon. Stand up paddleboards are available for an extra charge. We opted to relax on beach chairs and enjoy the view. Swimming in the lagoon was a nice way to cool off on a sunny day.

View of beach and lagoon at Aulani

There are multiple areas with beach chairs. Some are in the shade. However, in some of the sitting areas, we noticed people putting towels on the chairs early in the morning to claim their spot for the day. An alternative way to get a nicer sitting area is to book chairs in one of the extra-charge areas.

Sometimes when you are on vacation, you need to do laundry. Aulani had a nice laundry room. Keep in mind that this is a large resort. The three washing machines were often in use during our visit.

Laundry room at Disney's Aulani resort

Our Aulani Hotel Room

We had a garden view room with two Queen beds. The room was quiet and comfortable. While there were a few Disney elements, theming wasn’t over the top. We had towels on the bed shaped like Mickey and there was a Mickey Mouse lamp.

Hotel room at Disney's Aulani hotel in Hawaii

Our room had a decent balcony, or lanai, with two chairs and a small table. We enjoyed having breakfast on our balcony. There are some interesting elements to the design of the hotel. We could also see the adjacent Four Seasons hotel from our balcony.

Garden view balcony at Aulani

The garden view was lush and we looked into the spa area.

Garden view from hotel room balcony at Aulani

The bathroom was a decent size with a large counter.

bathroom in hotel room at Aulani

It had a large tub & shower with nice tile.

Tub and shower at Aulani

We were kind of surprised that they had mini bottles of H2O shampoo and conditioner. It was great to enjoy that Disney resort smell which may not be available at other Disney resorts.

H2O bath products at Aulani

Aulani Dining

Aulani has multiple dining options. While we didn’t opt to try the four-course dinner or character meal, we did get to try several.

For breakfast, we reviewed the selections at Ulu Cafe. This casual restaurant has pastries, sandwiches, fruit, and many other options. We opted for a coconut chia pudding & berries and coffee. To round out our breakfast, we headed over to the Olelo Room. It is a bar by evening but offers a limited breakfast menu. One thing we had to try were the Malasadas or Portuguese donuts. Yum! These might have been even better than the ones we bought at Harry’s on the Road to Hana.

Malasadas, chia pudding, and coffee for breakfast at Aulani

For breakfast on our second day, we opted to walk across the street to the ABC Island Country Markets store. They had a great selection of quick serve dining items offered for significantly less that on Disney property. Even if you don’t choose to get food there, check out this store. You might find some great souvenirs or other items.

Erling at ABC Island Country Markets store

While we were enjoying the beach at Aulani, a waiter was serving guests. You could order from a wide variety of food & drinks and he would bring it to you right at your beach chair. How convenient. We decided to try the pizza. While we weren’t expecting to be wowed by pizza on the beach, it was fantastic. The meat lovers pizza generously topped, tasty, was large enough for four servings. Since there were only two of us, we saved half for lunch the next day.

Meat lovers pizza on the beach at Aulani

For a light dinner one night, we headed back to the Olelo Room for appetizers and drinks. Judy had the vegan tacos which were pretty good. Erling opted for the Karaage Chicken (Japanese fried chicken bites) which were OK.

vegan tacos at the Olelo Room at Aulani

The bar is partly inside and partly outside. We enjoyed listening to the band during our meal. To end the night, we shared a pineapple cobbler which was served with a scoop of gelato. Pretty tasty.

Pineapple cobbler at the Olelo Room at Aulani

Dinner the second night was at Off the Hook. This is a casual restaurant near the pool. Judy had a crab cake BLT with Maui Chips while Erling had Huli Huli chicken with herbed coconut rice. These options were pretty tasty. However, we didn’t realize that Maui Chips would just be a bag of potato chips. Since we had on Disney special occasion pins, we were also served a nice piece of cake to end our meal.

Crab cake BLT with Maui Chips at the Off the Hook restaurant at Aulani

We are glad we had the chance to try some of the on-property restaurants. Maybe next time we’ll go for one of the others. If you are staying for more than just a few nights, you might opt to explore some of the other options in the area.

When we stay at a Disney resort, we try to stay on property. Going somewhere else feels like leaving a magic bubble. However, by crossing over the road you have access to a number of shopping and dining options at the Ko Olina Center. You might try Eggs ‘n Things or the Farm to Barn Cafe for breakfast. For dinner, they have the 808 Craft House, Mekiko Cantina, or Monkeypod Kitchen.

Road crossing between Aulani and Olina Center

Transportation to Aulani

Disney’s Aulani Resort is located on the western side of Oahu in the Ko Olina area. It is about 20 miles to the Honolulu airport. Compare that to our pre-cruise stay at the Waikiki Beach Marriott which is just over 10 miles to the airport. However, it seemed like there was less traffic heading to Aulani than to the Waikiki Beach area. If we have the opportunity do the NCL cruise again, we’d likely opt to stay in the Ko Olina area as it was a quieter experience.

If you are considering staying at Aulani before or after your cruise, it is about 25 miles from Aulani to the cruise terminal where the NCL Pride of America cruise departs.

We had arranged a cab ride from the cruise to Aulani. However, due to a glitch, the vouchers for our transportation weren’t included. We opted to use a Lyft ride which worked very well.

For our trip from Aulani to the airport, we had a shuttle arranged through out travel agent. About ten passengers travel together in a sprinter van. That service worked well. A cab ride is also an option.

Aulani Arrival Tip

You might arrive before your room is ready. And you might want to take advantage of the pools and beach while you wait. Be sure to have a swimsuit accessible. You can leave your luggage with the bell station.

To change, there are two bathrooms near the pools. One is small and busy. The other is a better choice. Go to the lower level of the main building and step just outside as if you are heading to the pool. You’ll find the entrance to the bathroom area where you can get changed for the pool. It is near the Makahiki and Olelo Room restaurants. In the picture below, you’d head to the right.

Entrance to bathroom and changing area at Aulani

Disney’s Aulani Resort YouTube Video

Check out our Disney’s Aulani Resort YouTube video where we show the highlights of this nice resort hotel.

Disney's Aulani Resort seen from beach. Thumbnail for YouTube video.


We wanted a place to relax at the beach after our NCL Pride of America Cruise. Having positive experiences at Disney resorts, we thought it would be fun to visit Aulani. Our stay was fantastic. Disney’s Aulani Resort is a beautifully themed resort with comfortable rooms, nice amenities, and great service.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Hawaiian Islands Adventure series.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach Marriott

NCL Pride of America Cruise

NCL Pride of America Cruise Excursions

Have you stayed at Aulani? We’d love to hear all about it. Please leave us a comment.

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