What Are the Best Things to Do near Aulani
As you know, not every Disney Vacation Club property resides by a theme park. Instead, several favorites involve a different kind of vacation, one where your agenda is more open-ended.
So, we’re starting a new series today about those DVC resorts. Here are a few of the best things to do near Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas.
Obviously, the suggestions here differ, depending on whether you’re traveling as a family with small children or are activity-minded adults. I’ll provide suggestions for both.
For decades now, helicopter rides over the Hawaiian Islands have delighted tourists. Magnum PI used this premise in the 1980s, and the setting for that show was Oahu. So, when you visit this island, everyone expects the tourists to take a helicopter tour.
They’re popular for a reason. During your quick flight, you can appreciate the breathtaking scenery from above, making it kinda like the Disney Skyliner…but for Oahu. Here’s a video showing how the experience looks:
The pristine mountains are dazzling, but the blue oceans truly wow me. These tours generally start at $300 for private ones or about $150 for shared ones.
The North Shore
Surfers, take note. Oahu’s North Shore is world-renowned as the sport’s epicenter. The Banzai Pipeline causes what Crush from Finding Nemo would call gnarly waves. This section is so popular that the so-called Triple Crown of Surfing occurs at the North Shore each December.
The sport’s popularity has created a cottage industry for tourists. The area offers snorkeling with the fish and the extremely popular Dole Planation, filled with pineapple fields.
You’ll find the North Shore about 26 miles away from Aulani. Car services are plentiful in the area, which will help with the navigation if you choose not to rent a car.
Disney also sells a North Shore Experience package that starts at $164.92. You’ll probably find this option easier than setting up an itinerary of your own.
Of course, you don’t need to head to the North Shore to engage in aquatic activities. They’re plentiful throughout Oahu, including at the resort itself.
Aulani’s Activities page shows several options, such as bumper tubing and jet skiing. The dolphin encounters are also well-reviewed.
Then again, you may prefer something more relaxing. If so, consider booking a catamaran cruise. It’ll allow you to enjoy drinks and snacks while you text all your friends that you’re on a boat.
I view cocktail boat cruises as reasonably priced, as many start around $100 per person. That’s roughly the same price Disney charges for its dessert fireworks cruises. You’re getting a much more exotic experience at Oahu, though.
A visit to the Pearl Harbor site has remained arguably the most popular activity for Aulani guests since the resort’s opening.
Disney has even leaned into this truth by offering excursions on the official Aulani website. Prices start at $65.97 per guest for this tour of the area.
The tour will take you from Aulani to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, known prior to World War II as Pearl Harbor Naval Base. During your excursion, a guide will recite the events of that fateful day, explaining what it was like for the military officials and the citizens in the surrounding area.
Everyone has their favorite activities at and around Aulani. However, Pearl Harbor is probably the closest thing to a must-do for those willing to leave the cozy comfort of the Aulani resort. It’s a historically and culturally significant experience, although I’ll warn you that it may bum you out a bit, something you might not want during your Hawaiian vacation.
No matter where you live, some restaurants in your area probably serve authentic Polynesian cuisine. They do this because everyone loves the intoxicating mix of barbecue and sweet sauces.
On the island of Oahu, you’ll find plenty of incredible Polynesian dishes available. In fact, the Hawaiian Islands have become a hotbed for celebrity chefs. When Honolulu suffered its tragic fire in 2023, three former Top Chef contestants earned headlines for their noble efforts to feed the community.
On Oahu, you technically don’t need to leave the Aulani resort to dine like royalty. Its restaurants are legitimately among the finest on the island.
However, should you feel ambitious, here are a few perennial favorites you should consider:
- Lucky Belly
- Mina’s Fish House
- Moke’s Bread and Breakfast
- Poke Bowl
- STRIPSTEAK Waikiki
- Sweet E’s Café
I’ll add some important caveats here. Some of these places, like Noe, are at the Four Seasons close to Aulani. Others, like STRIPSTEAK, require a trip to Waikiki, which is a slightly longer trip than visiting the North Shore. So, you may decide that they’re not worth the effort. Once again, the answer depends on your sense of adventure and willingness to leave the Disney Bubble at Aulani.