Aloha from Hawaii!

I added another location to my list of travels, and I am already ready to go back! Hawaii is just as beautiful as I imagined, but it also has TONS to do. We extended our stay, and I still feel like there was much more to explore and see. It is just such a fabulous location with beauty everywhere. During the entire vacation, I was amazed at how beautiful our country is. Let’s go to Hawaii!


Where We Stayed: We stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa.


Where We Dined: My #1 recommendation is Duke’s restaurant located in Waikiki!


what we did: surfing, dole plantation, island circle tour.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. At the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei, it is nestled in many other popular resorts such as Four Seasons and Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. Our resort was the perfect family paradise for Hawaiian Disney magic.

The beach lagoon has gorgeous, calm blue water with complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas available for a family day oceanside. The resort features an infinity-edge pool overlooking the beach, a splash pad, waterslides, and a lazy river. You can grab the famous mickey bars, pineapple dole whips, or shaved iced from Papalua Shaved Ice all day, every day! Private cabanas are available for rentals on the beach and poolside—also, a walking trail between the many resorts that are side by side. The spa is gorgeous, providing many relaxing amenities, and even offers family massages! This vacation destination offers the best of both worlds with Disney character experiences and an island paradise! Each day Mickey and his friends are around the resort for a character meet and greet! Moana can also be spotted saying aloha throughout the day. There is also an 18-hole golf course located right across the street from Aulani resort in walking distance or a quick ride on the complimentary shuttle!

I will say, there were many kids at this resort – as expected. We loved our experience and would choose it again, but we may try a more adult-friendly alternative like the Four Seasons or the Marriott next time. Both of these give you the exact beautiful location, with a more adult-friendly environment. I love Disney, though, so I enjoyed every minute.

Where We Dined

This is my favorite part to talk about because Hawaii food is to DIE for. I am not sure what is so different, but eating anything on this beautiful of an island is just better…maybe.

My #1 recommendation is Duke’s restaurant located in Waikiki! Dukes is an iconic Hawaiian experience with breakfast, lunch, and dinner! All the food is to die for! I enjoyed the filet, the fresh fish option, and the coconut shrimp. We had Duke’s in Maui and then raved about it every day until we found they also had one in Waikiki. It is in the mall and does not look the best when you are checking in for your table. Ask for a table outside though, it is right on the beach and is gorgeous! You cannot end your dinner at Duke’s without trying their famous Hula Pie! Reservations can be made in advance at opentable.com to avoid a very long waitlist for this popular dining experience (you can do this several months in advance)!

Makahiki is a beautiful family-friendly restaurant named for the traditional Hawaiian harvest celebration. It was in our resort. This dining experience includes a 3-course meal for either breakfast or dinner. You pay a set rate and then you pick your 3 courses. I loved my Ahi fish, but I tried my sister’s ribeye and it was great too. Character options are available on Mondays, Fridays, & Saturdays. Reservations should be made 30 days in advance.

The Beach House was causal dining we also loved, it is located on North Shore. We ate here while we did the Island Circle Tour. The family favorite was the fries (get the garlic ones if you like a little spice). Paia Fish Market is a local casual dining spot that we absolutely loved. We also enjoyed Monkey Pod Kitchen, and Pizza Corner which were right across from our resort.

Another restaurant we loved was Marco’s Deli. We stopped here after we left the airport. The flight was long and we were so hungry we could have eaten anything. We mostly just looked at how quickly we could get to a restaurant. It was in a strip mall, and we did not have any prior recommendation to go here. We were blown away by how excellent the food was. They had homemade fresh salads, fresh bread, pasta, & amazing sandwiches. If you are hungry after a long flight, you have got to stop here!


What We Did

Surfing is a must do in Hawaii! We did private surf lessons in North Shore. The boards were included, and an instructor taught us the ways of the waves!  We used DFC Surfing academy. We had an amazing experience and would recommend it for everyone as they accommodate all ages! Our instructor was Chance-he was great. I wore a long-sleeve one piece swim and it was perfect for sliding on and off the board. 

You are welcome to take pictures of your own, but a photographer will also be on the  sand taking photos of your fun that you can purchase for an additional price after your lesson is over! The photographers name is @synthwavesurf on instagram if you are also looking for family pictures or other pictures while you are staying.

We also did the Island Circle Tour, which is a self-drive around a couple of stops. This is a great way to see highlights around the island! One of the stops we enjoyed was Halona “Blow Hole” lookout. This stop features a volcanic lava tube that propels water high into the sky mimicking a whale’s blow hole. This is a fun, scenic spot to hang out by the water and get some photos!

Another beautiful stop was the Laie Hawaii Mormon temple. The grounds are set up on a hill with  gorgeous scenery to enjoy. Another stop I highly recommend is the Ho’omaluhia botanical gardens.  The gardens would be a great stop to bring your lunch for a picnic and enjoy the lush vegetation that is absolutely breathtaking.  

If you love pineapples & ice cream, the Dole Plantation is a very cute stop that is totally worth it! The line looked super long on arrival, but it moved quickly, and they are generous with their serving sizes! You can also do a tour of the plantation if you want to make it an afternoon activity.

I would also recommend the shopping on Kalakaua Avenue. They have Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Golden Goose, as well as local souvenir shops and Hawaiian hula dancers. Some luxury items are cheaper in Hawaii, and tax is much less!

If you want to leave the resort and hop around to some beautiful beaches, I would recommend Hanauma State Park. Reservations are mandatory for this beach experience, but it is well worth it! They can be made 48 hours prior to your visit. You can check the website for updated park hours, as they are subject to change. My mom actually got online at 6:45 am, two days prior to make our reservation. This is VERY important if you want to visit this park. The  snorkeling is amazing! If you do not bring your own snorkel gear, it is available for rent. Bring your own towels and/or beach chairs as they don’t have them available like your resort has. http://hanaumabaystatepark.com


Polynesian Cultural Center

This was an AMAZING luau experience. Depending on the ticket you purchase, you can arrive early to walk around the Polynesian cultural center for entertainment, shopping, and  learning about Hawaiian history and culture. At the  Luau you are greeted with an iconic lei and  pina colada smoothie. The dinner is an all-you-can-eat meal with an arrangement of meats, fish, fruit, vegetables, desserts and authentic Hawaiian dishes. 

Throughout the meal, you will enjoy a Polynesian show with dancing and even a pig roast! Following the meal, we enjoyed the fabulous Breath of Life show that told a story of the Polynesian culture and featured many forms of entertainment including fire  dancing and hula. I must say that this was my favorite part of Oahu. You cannot leave without going to a Hawaiian Luau; it was so much fun. https://www.polynesia.com/


Hawaii is a location that I could go 100x and not get tired of it. I’m already planning another trip back. Until next time – you check it out for me. 

COVID-19 Protocols

You must have a COIVD-19 test before your trip to Hawaii, and it must be 72 hours before your flight. https://travel.hawaii.gov/#/ As of right now, it must be a NAAT test from a CLIA Hawaii trusted testing and travel partner. Here is the link for the trusted travel partners  https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/ ensure you use a partner (this is very important that it is a  Hawaii trusted partner if it’s not one of these you will be turned away or have to quarantine for 10 days). We used AFC and it was free through our insurance. CVS and Walgreens are also on the list but are around $150.

After you get your COVID test results go to  https://travel.hawaii.gov/ to add your results. 24 hours prior to departure you must do your health questionnaire which will give you a QR code. Things to bring to the airport are QR code (printed or digital),  government ID, COVID test results, cell phone. We had to show proof of our QR code at the airport as well as the resort when checking in.

As for masks, they were pretty strict about wearing them anywhere indoors. When we were outside, we were fine and did not get asked to put it on. I was just happy to be traveling again, so I would have been glad to wear it anywhere.

Should I Use A Travel Agent?

For a trip like Hawaii, I would most definitely recommend a travel agent. Planning and navigating a vacation with so much to do/see is much easier with someone helping you ensure your plans come to life. My mom is the best, she planned our whole trip. A typical myth about travel agents is that they cost money. Actually- resorts pay her a commission to help you, so it costs no extra to you to use one. You can email her at heather@smallworldbigfun.com with any questions/quotes. I would not know what to do/see if it was not for her, thanks, momma!




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