Last week for spring break, we took a family trip to Hawaii. We had not been on a longer vacation like this in a couple years...AND the trip was extra special because we also brought along my parents and my brother for an extended family trip! With my parents living in Philly and us living in Los Angeles, we only get to see them in person a couple times a year. It's always bittersweet to have your kids so far away from their grandparents, so it was an opportunity to spend really great quality time with them. Also, my dad hasn't been on a vacation in TEN YEARS! He is a business owner and workaholic like I am, so I had to force him to come with us. I convinced him we had to take the chance to do these things while we can and not keep putting it off. In partnership with Disney's Aulani Resort, we had SUCH a great week in Oahu. Here's a look at what we did if you'd like to see...
We spent A LOT of time in the water every day! Our kids like water, but they don't get to spend much time in a pool. So I loved that every day, they were in the water, playing, swimming, and just enjoying the weather and their time together. The water activities at Aulani are honestly unlike anything I have ever experienced.
You always see people go to luaus in movies or on TV, so I loved taking the kids to a real luau (Aulani’s luau is called KA WA‘A) that truly celebrated Hawaiian culture. The story they told was so beautiful and the narration was amazing—I was in tears by the end. Also, there were a ton of fun pre-luau activities for the whole family to partake in that even my mom really loved!
During one of our days, we rented a mini van (did I mention how much I want a mini van?!?) and drove to the North shore of the island. We got roadside snacks, explored some of the other beaches, and ate at food trucks a plenty! I pretty much ate my weight in shrimp and poke by the end of our trip!
More than anything, the best part was simply uninterrupted time with family—both my OG family to which I was born into and my new family which I have created. My kids got such great time with their grandparents and uncle which is the most priceless thing for me.
Also, the fact that my Dad finally got a little R&R was pretty much the best thing ever!
Also, to answer some specific questions I received about our trip and our stay at Aulani, here are some of the most common ones I received during our stay from you guys through Instagram:
1. How "Disney" is it?
Other than childhood movies I loved, I have only really embraced Disney as an adult in the last few years after having kids. I am not the typical person who would go to a Disney resort because I would assume that it would be too in-your-face or novelty for me. But, I truly thought the amount of Disney here was perfect. The kids loved the Character Breakfast where you can take photos with Mickey and Minnie (gotta love their Hawaiian outfits!). There are other characters you can find around the resort and take photos with daily. I felt like it was a fun surprise when we did see a character since they weren't everywhere all the time. The other little touches of Disney included some of the kids' food—shaved ice, musubi, breakfast waffles, etc. that had Mickey shapes to them which I thought was just so cute.
2. What's the best age for kids there?
Our kids are 3 and 6, and I thought it they were a great age for the trip. I saw lots of babies and toddlers there as well. For us, Coco being three was the perfect and youngest age that I would want to do a trip like that. I think it really depends on your kids' comfort levels in water and how comfortable you are with letting them be in the water. Some kids who couldn't swim were in floaties and life vests the whole time which made it so that they could freely go in and out of the water with parents nearby and not having to hover. We didn't have our kids in any because they are in different phases of learning to swim, so we wanted them to practice. Since the kids' club (Aunty's Beach House) starts at age 3, I feel like if your kids are 3 and up, you can then take advantage of the club a bit more and give yourself a date night or a day off for a few hours if you want to. Whereas you couldn't do that with younger kids. One tip about Aunty's is you have to sign up first thing in the morning to get your kids into some of the classes, they book fast and it's like the hottest club to get into at the resort! ;P The security there is also VERY locked down. I was super impressed with how they check kids in and out of the club house.
3. What's the food like?
There are a range of food options there from fancy to totally casual. Our favorite restaurant was Ama Ama which was nice but not so fancy that you can't bring kids. We probably went there three times (lunch and breakfasts) during our stay. We also loved the much more casual Mama's Snack Shop for their fried coconut shrimp and fries. For days that we didn't want to have a sit-down meal and bring food up to the room, we found getting some poke, spam musubi and Dole whip from Ulu Cafe was a better option (and more affordable) than room service. Finally, Pāpālua Shave Ice was a favorite stop for the kids. The Mickey shape was so fun! There's a big shopping center right across the street that we also had a couple meals out at so that we could all get a little walk in and try some other food!
4. Can you really relax while on vacation with kids?
Going on vacation with your kids is never going to be peaceful (except maybe when they are MUCH older). Since we had three extra adults on hand, that certainly made helping with the kids so much easier as we have never gone on a vacation with other family members since we have had our kids. We opted to stay in a 2-bedroom villa so that we could all be together in one room but have separate sleeping areas. The kids had one area, we had one room, and my parents and brother shared another. So it felt like we could all retreat to our own area for bedtime but also be very close by in what felt like a cozy apartment with a kitchen and laundry (which was a lifesaver when the kids got extra messy). I also received a sneak peek of the Mama Mahalo Month package that's coming in May that's created especially for Moms, which included a special breakfast-in-bed menu and a great spa package. I felt very pampered and super relaxed afterwards.
5. Is it worth the money?
I can never really answer what is "worth it" for anyone else but myself because everybody's definition of "worth" is different. It's not a cheap vacation for sure. Prior to us working with Aulani on a partnership for this trip, I did book the trip on my own with the intention to go and pay the normal rates. And for us, it was definitely something to save up for and would be our biggest trip for the year. But as any long trip that is in a somewhat far away destination is, you have to save up for those trips unless you are a millionaire. I think that you fully get the value for what it costs in that it's SO full of things to for for kids while also making it it luxury and nice for adults.
6. What's the best part about Aulani?
The water activities for sure! Every hotel or resort in a warm destination has great pools or multiple pools. But Aulani's was hands-down the best I had ever seen. From multiple pools that offer lots of shallow areas for kids to a lazy river to water slides to water parks, it was full of things to do. Also their beach has a built-in lagoon that made the beach so clean and the waves really gentle for kids. We felt very comfortable the whole time that our kids were water safe. Plus, they have so many lifeguards around all of the pool areas which always feels comforting.
We had such a great time, and it reminded me that no matter how busy we get with work and school and life, we all need to take the time to slow and rest our bodies and brains. I so needed this and will treasure this trip forever!
P.S. If you want to see the Instagram stories from our trip last week, you can currently see it on my highlights!
*This post and trip was in partnership with Disney's Aulani resort. Thanks for making this trip magical for us!