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Traveling with teens is definitely a different experience than traveling with little ones. Especially when you only have teens! We LOVE traveling with our partners at Disney because it’s a company that we’ve all grown up with and a company that we can travel with while consistently ending a vacation saying that we all had a great time. They are truly the best at authentic details, including everyone in the family, and even dealing with things that normally make travel tough – like food allergies. Because of this, we seriously couldn’t WAIT to spend our last bit of summer on vacation in Hawaii WITH Disney at Aulani
Yes, Disney has a property in Hawaii. On Oahu actually. And no it’s not a theme park! It’s an absolutely stunning resort filled with authentic Hawaiian culture, amazing people, and incredible details with a touch of Disney magic sprinkled in. You’ll get the same service that you’d expect from Disney but in a completely different environment. Since there really is SO much for families at Aulani I thought we’d focus on what my teens loved about vacationing with Disney in Hawaii.
Learning the Hawaiian Language at The olelo Room bar & lounge
My boys aren’t new to Hawaii. We’ve visited as a big multi generational group several times. So while they knew “Aloha”, “Mahalo”, and “Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa” (the Hawaiian state fish – a triggerfish) they didn’t know much more. The Olelo Room Bar & Lounge at Aulani is the most unique bar and our favorite night time spot at Aulani. All the bartenders can speak fluent Hawaiian and are more than happy to teach you some new words or help you on your pronunciation of words you thought you knew.
Add in beautiful live music each night, and there you have our family favorite after dark spot to grab something to eat, drink (they have fun non-alcoholic options to try too), relax, and learn a bit more about Hawaii.
Snorkeling at Rainbow Reef
My boys love snorkeling but we’ve never had an experience quite like the one at Rainbow Reef. Rainbow Reef is a private snorkeling lagoon (the only one on Oahu) that offers a crystal clear view of local marine life. There are many fish and you can view them without having to worry about currents or waves. It’s relaxing, fascinating, and perfect for new snorkelers or even advanced snorkelers to get an up close look at many types of fish.
We loved that you could watch your friends and family snorkeling from a little tunnel around the corner.
We spent many hours playing at the beach. The boys just loved relaxing in the calm waters and watching for fish to swim by (or in a few cases to jump by). They also have boogie boards available or even stand up paddle boards for rent. There are MANY chairs to choose from by the water and snacks are never far away.
The food options at Aulani were GREAT according to my teens. They love the Mickey Spam Musubi, Mickey Shave Ice, Poke & flatbreads at Ulu Cafe, and the amazing options (and the view) at ‘AMA‘AMA.
My boys are ALL about a good buffet too and the fun part about staying at Aulani is that you can book a Disney Character Breakfast! The character breakfast is the best way for teens to get a quick photo with their favorite Disney characters without having to seek out a photo opp. As with all Disney character dining, the characters will come right to your table so you can enjoy your meal with the family knowing that you’ll get those fun photos throughout the morning.
They also make it easy to get that family photo with Mickey at the start of your breakfast!
They can enjoy a full (delicious) buffet with the family and get in a bit of Disney before starting the day. I have to say, as a mom of teen boys (one of them 6 foot tall) a buffet is one of my new favorite ways to dine.
KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au
Ka Wa’a (the luau at Aulani) was a highlight for all of us. The whole experience was beautiful from beginning to end. They had activities set up before (the boys liked the ukulele lessons and tattoos), of course, an amazing spread of food, and an incredible, unique performance that tells the story of ancient legends and lore of Hawaii.
We don’t have enough good things to say about this luau. They’ve done such an amazing job of bringing Hawaiian art, food, and entertainment together into a family friendly, fun evening. You’re not going to want to miss this.
My teens love being with the family on vacation. They always have. They did LOVE all the options that Aulani has available for teens though. They have many throughout the day and different options each day available for kids, teens, and families. The daily ‘Iwa (schedule) has all the info you need for each day of the trip. They had some fun beach side activities just for teens that I thought was a great touch!
We quickly discovered the Pau Hana community center which is sort of the activity hub. We rented movies and games for down time in our room, learned how to use and experience the Menehune Adventure Trail (a high-tech scavenger hunt around the property that is great for families or teens to do on their own), and got to check out fun classes (like Ukulele lessons) in progress.
There is plenty to do in and around the pools on property including our family favorite lazy river the Waikolohe Stream.
The fireside Mo’olelo was a favorite of my boys. You gather around the firepit to take in Uncle’s magical tales of Hawaiian legends and lore. They are really good and were fun for all of us!
Aulani also offers Guided tours if that’s something your teens are into. We LOVED learning the art and culture of Aulani Resort and think that it truly is a great starting off point for your trip. You’ll be amazed at the attention to detail and rich history that’s showcased throughout the property that you won’t notice unless you’re lucky enough to have it pointed out to you!
If you have time to make it off property, Aulani has a great selection of excursions you can book right from Aulani to make your trip that much less stressful. It is definitely the perfect home base for adventurous Hawaiian day trips.
Last, but certainly not least, Aulani offers endless ways to be a family together and this is what I feel Disney does best. Whether it’s activities, tours, shows, or just a meal, there are options to make everyone happy which in turn helps to create unforgettable family memories. There are even some spacious villas with full kitchens and a washer and dryer so that families can be all together.
Have questions about Aulani? Ask away? Have your own tips to add? Feel free to add them here! We’ll do a follow up post in a few weeks giving our best tips for your next trip!