Final Days at Aulani, Disney’s Hawaiian Resort and Spa

Photo ©Jean Janssen. This is the end of our Aulani adventure. There is not a lot of typical Disney decor at the resort, but we started our visit with this guy, Mickey Mouse.

We have one more full day and then a travel day from Hawaii. Our flight doesn’t leave until 8:45 pm, so our travel day will afford us some beach time. The latest checkout I could get was noon. Today however, is a full day. No dinner reservations on our last night. We decided not to repeat anything and evening dining options are limited without a car. We could always use UBER, but we are in relaxation mode and just don’t want to make the effort. Besides, we need to eat up what is left in the refrigerator tonight.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. This was my chosen pool spot. The chairs faced either Pu ‘u Kilo and our resort tower, or the opposite direction out toward the beach from an elevated position with great views. Aulani.

I spilt time at the beach and the pool today. After two poolside cocktails, we ate lunch at Off the Hook. Boris had gotten us breakfast sandwiches from the quick service Ulu in the morning. I am usually a fan of eggs, cheese, and bacon on a croissant, but we both agreed these were awful. Fortunately, lunch at the Hook was consistently good, even great. I will admit that after Boris’ two double shot pina coladas, his lunch hotdog didn’t go down so well. My shrimp tacos were fabulous.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Quick service restaurant at Aulani

Aulani has a lot of different pools and chair areas to chose from. Unfortunately during our visit there were not seating areas or even a pool that was limited to adults only. There were plenty of couples and groups of adults to justify this type of area. There were times when I put my headphones in just to take a break from the kid noice. Of the flip side, this is great news for families; you can sit and jump in anywhere you want.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Infinity Pool at Aulani

Boris headed up after lunch. I stayed down all day. I discovered that they had Dole Whip on property, the beloved snack at WDW’s Magic Kingdom and the Polynesian Resort (our home DVC resort). It was probably a good thing that I didn’t realize they had it earlier or I may have made it part of my daily routine. One option for dinner was to go across the street for pizza. Ulu also offers it, but we hadn’t heard great reviews from the other guests. However, Boris wasn’t up for going out so we finished off the snacks that we had in the refrigerator and sat on the balcony enjoying the music from the lounge as the sun (quickly) set. The pools are open until 8 pm, but they normally clear out by 6:00 pm just before it gets dark. There are some fun lights that outline the lazy river that look particularly cool at night.

Photo ©Jean Janssen I am pretty sure that the singer we heard at the Character Breakfast was the same one playing in the Lounge on our last night at Aulani.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. The pool officially close at 8 pm, but clear out just after 6 pm at Aulani.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Last overnight at Aulani

Our last morning, I did a little packing before our last visit to Eggs and Things for breakfast right when they opened at 7 am. We were the first in the door. I had the pork chop and eggs with pancakes as a side today. We both thought that our first breakfast there was the best. I got the most of the rest of my packing done after breakfast and then headed down to the beach for my last opportunity in the sand. It was a beautiful clear day and the water was refreshing.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Carved Stitch statue at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa.

One of the things I really haven’t mentioned, but you should be aware of before you go to Aulani is that although this is a Disney resort, you will see very little Disney decor or references around the property. Even the characters are kind of tucked away. You have ask for the character greeting schedule and often the meeting place is around the side of the resort. One of the few permanent Disney features is a carved Stitch statue. Guests like to leave their leis there. They get cleared off and will reappear again, sometimes on his head and sometimes around his neck.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Carved Stitch statue at Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa.with a little bit of added decoration courtesy of the resort guests.

I stayed out until 11:15 am and then headed up for a shower and to pack the last of my things. We were out of the room at 12:02 pm right on schedule. After we left our suitcases at bag check at the front of the resort, we headed across the street to the Ko Olina shopping center to look around a bit and grab lunch. I actually would have waited and coordinated our visit there with the Monkeypod happy hour from 3:30-5 pm, but Boris wanted to go right away. I took along my almost empty tote in case I wanted to buy something. They charge for bags under Hawaiian state law.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Side pool behind the opposite tower to ours at Aulani

I should probably back up a little and explain Ko Olina. It is referenced often in relation to the resort and I had trouble when I was filling out my Safe Travels form for Hawaii because I thought that was the name of the city. Ko Olina is actually the name of the development. Ko Olina features three resort hotels: Aulani, The Four Seasons, and a Marriott. There is also a condo section on the beach and a housing section for permanent residents that is not on the beach, but does afford a lovely view of the mountains. It is rounded out with the shopping center and the Golf Club and Course where Roy’s is. (As an aside, the James Beard winning Roy Yamaguchi, the owner for the golf club restaurant, was featured as a judge on the most recent-20th-season of Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey.) The developed features several lagoons waterside.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. The tourist train on the track once used to pick up the sugar cane in Ko Olina. The train is under a canopy of monkeypod trees.

The land on which the development sits is the driest part of the island of Oahu. This land was formerly sugar cane fields. In fact the railway lines for transporting the sugar cane are still in place. You cross them when walking to the shopping center or the golf club. Today we saw the train passing with tourists taking the short ride. They got dropped off at the shopping center where the Ko Olina development office is.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. You crossed the street and then the train tracks from the resort/beach side to reach the shopping center or further down the street the Golf Club in Ko Olina. Monkeypod Kitchen is on the left. Behind the palms you see the monkeypod tree.

Our shopping was limited but successful. Boris found two Hawaiian shirts that he really liked including a new Christmas design one. It is subtle enough that you might not notice the strings of Christmas lights, that is to the extent any Hawaiian shirt can be subtle in its design. I found a brand of sandals I love that I first got on a previous trip to Hawaii. I bought 3 pair and some fur-lined loafers in the same OluKai brand which are probably post-surfing shoes to warm the feet. Afterwards, we went to Pizza Corner for a late lunch. The pizza was just ok. There are only a few tables available outside. All of their indoor dining is currently closed. They do a lot of takeout. We saw many people walking back over to the resort with their Pizza Corner boxes throughout our stay.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Splash Pool at Aulani.

Afterwards we went back over to the resort and looked in the shops there before finding a comfortable chair near an outlet (for charging). I had a dry swimsuit in my tote bag and was tempted to go out to the pool, but didn’t. I regret it. If I have a do over, or another visit, I would use that time to go outside. I just hated the idea of having to fly with my body covered in sun tan lotion. The complementary changing rooms are currently not available due to COVID protocols.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Last day on the beach I saw these pretty cool lounge chair towels that hooked over the back on the chairs. I had clips, but I might need to get one of those towels.

Sitting inside also meant we had to wear masks. This was on top of airport time and flight time where masks will also be required. I used the time to read and would look up periodically to enjoy the view. I have read quite a few books on this trip. We went out to the bag drop early so I could transfer my purchases and my tote into my checked bag. Our driver was also early and we had smooth travel to the airport.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Pluto is loving Goofy antics at Makahiki at Aulani.
Photo ©Jean Janssen. Travelers to the mainland have to take their checked luggage through an agricultural inspections prior to checking bags. They attach one of these beauties to each of your checked bags.

I asked the driver if they were still doing agricultural inspections and he said sometimes. It has been a long time since my last visit to Hawaii, but all mainland passengers had to do them then. Well they are still in place now and it looks like a pretty permanent set up. So, as you enter the airport your first stop should be to run the bags you are checking through the scanners and get your agriculture inspection stickers. They will send you back if you try to check bags before they have been inspected. Carry on bags are not scanned there; they’ll get you when you pass through TSA security.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. My wrist band collection from Aulani

After we cleared security, I stopped and picked up something to eat. I prefer to avoid eating the food on the plane if possible. Then we camped out waiting for boarding. I snapped some pictures of our wrist band collections. It is obvious who spent more time in the pool and on the beach. You were issued wrist bands daily when you went to pick up your towels. The DVC members got the groovy sparkly ones. I was there long enough that some of my early ones-a bright blue and royal blue-had already had the color all washed off. I am kind of proud of my collection. I would have had one more if I had gotten one the day we arrived when we just went and sat on the beach. I will cut them off when we get home.

Photo ©Jean Janssen. Boris’ wrist band collection feom Aulani. If you look closely you might see the string of Christmas lights on his new Hawaiian shirt.

Because there were empty seats on the plane (and were some on the way out too), there was some confusion as people shifted around. There was a young man who was blind who was seated in the row in front of me. I was impressed by how well he adapted. He had an assistant getting on the plane and the flight attendant were very available to him. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable traveling alone with his disability; kudos to him.

I was just lucky that Emma and Maggie were at the airport at the same time when we arrived from Honolulu. They are headed to Disneyland in California for Dapper Days.

I was a shorter flight home, just over 7 hours. It is the time change that will really effect me plus the fact that I can’t really sleep on airplanes. I did some photo clean up and read during the flight. There were movies too. I got a nice surprise when we landed in Houston. IAH (Bush International Airport) in Houston is a five-terminal, huge international airport. Emma and Maggie were leaving from terminal E for California. They are going to Dapper Days at Disneyland. Our arrival gate was also in terminal E, so we were able to see each other briefly at the airport. It is pretty obvious from the picture which one of us is lacking sleep.

Photo ©Jean Janssen

Until the next adventure…Aloha

–Natasha

About travelbynatasha

I am a retired attorney who loves to travel. Several years ago I began working on a Century Club membership achieved by traveling to 100 "foreign" countries. Today, at 49 years of age the count is at 82. Many were visited on land based trips. Some were cruise ports. Some were dive sites. Most have been fascinating.
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