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So you are thinking about taking a trip to Aulani with you baby (or babies if you are a lucky twin mom like me!). You’ll find everything you need to know before you RIIIGHT here.
Planning a trip with a baby is tough! First, they change all the time. How do you even know what baby’s personality will be like? What will she be interested in? What will she be capable of – walking? Sitting up? Who knows. Second, it’s really hard to figure out what babies need on vacation. It’s not as if they are going to get excited, or even be able to do an epic water slide, or enjoy a fun luau or themed meal. However, even though some babies are great travelers, and can handle anything their parents can handle, some need to get out and explore a bit more.
Disney really knows what it’s doing when it comes to creating resorts for families. Aulani has things to do for every age group and interest, from infants to grandparents and everyone in between. You’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ll find something for your child, at any age, has something to do there.
Taking a vacation to Hawaii Aulani was a great choice for us when our twins were babies, because, coming from the Pacific Northwest, it’s a relatively short flight- about 6 hours direct, and the closest winter/spring destination with warm weather (though, unfortunately, not GUARANTEED warm weather).
When traveling to Aulani, you’ll be flying into the Honolulu airport (HNL). From the west coast, it’s a manageable, but still long, 6-hour flight.
From the airport, you’ll still need to drive approximately 30 minutes from the airport to Aulani.
You can rent a car at the airport, or take the shuttle to and from the airport for a very reasonable fee.
If you do chose to rent a car, note that you’ll pay $37/per day to park it at Aulani. However, renting a car is nice because you can make easily make get out to pick up any necessities you might need (and babies need a LOT). We like the Target in Kapolei, on your way out to Aulani. It’ll end up saving you a lot of money, and you’ll be able to get exactly what you want.
You’ll be thrilled to see that your vacation truly does begin the moment you get out of your car or shuttle. You’ll be greeted by friendly staff members and a glass of refreshing fruit flavored water, and given a beautiful floral lei for the ladies and kukui nut lei for men. Babies and kids even get a fun necklace! The resort has a small kids play area near the check-in counter, so you can let your baby wiggle around or at least check out the beautiful views while you wait for your room.
Aulani has many different options for rooms and suites. And honestly, all are great! Standard rooms at Aulani are stylish and modern. They have bathtubs, mini fridges, and enough floor space for two pack’n’plays and still have some floor space left to play. The large balconies give a bit of extra space to spread out, and are a lifesaver for drying swimwear and towels. For a small splurge, check out the Deluxe Studio rooms. They are very similar to standard rooms, but they have a small kitchen area with an extra sink, counter space, and a microwave. Families with babies will love having this space for washing bottles, and just storing extra baby stuff.
The villas are, of course, fantastic. If villas are an option for you, do it! They feature large, well appointed kitchens, and lots of extra space to relax. How great is it to cook a few of your meals on vacation? Or, if you want a vacation from cooking, you have plenty of space to eat takeout pizza in your room.
For all rooms or suites, you’ll find that Disney does a great job of providing everything you need. At Aulani, you can borrow pack’n’plays (two if you have twins!), bed rails, bottle warmers, diaper genies, high chairs, etc.
Best Baby-friendly Activities
Aulani is truly an all-ages resort. Babies are not forgotten and you’ll have a blast letting your little one explore the resort, and perhaps experience a few firsts. Our favorite baby-centered activities at Aulani are:
You’ve flown 6+ hours for a beautiful Hawaiian beach, and, of course, the beach is going to be one of the highlights of your trip. The beach at Aulani is beautiful, and is actually on a manmade lagoon. This expands the beach space, giving more wonderful sandy space, and protects the beach from the powerful Hawaii currents, making this area a bit more approachable for small children. Aulani lends out beach toys free of charge, and provides plenty of chairs, so you can get comfortable and let your baby dig in, literally!
The splash zone at Aulani is beautifully designed for children under 5 (though children of all ages are welcome), and I think really zeros in on the 12-18 month range. It’s a small space, so parents will be able to easily keep their mobile, and quick babies in sight, and cruisers will be able to use the decorative wall to move around. Younger babies will still love sitting with their parents and watching the fun and unique water spray patterns. And they’ll be able to participate in water play without being completely submerged, which might keep them warmer. This was our favorite activity when my twins were babies. SO much fun!
For crawling babies, pick swimwear that covers knees. We love Swimzip sunsuits because they protect skin from the sun, and knees and elbows from scratches as well! On days my kids were not wearing Swimzip, they had to bear crawl around to prevent scratches on their knees
Aulani is one of the only Hawaiian resorts that heats its pools. Aulani’s pools are heated to approximately 85°F, which isn’t exactly bathwater, but it’s a huge improvement over most Hawaiian pools, which are only heated by the sun and stay around 75°F. Babies get cold so quickly in the pool, so having warmer water allows you to spend more than 5 minutes in the pool.
The largest pool at Aulani, Waikolohe Pool, has a great zero entry for littles, and is sizable enough for families with babies to find a quiet spot free from splashes of bigger kids. The resort also holds Disney Pool Parties at the Waikolohe. Though babies are too young to really participate, they’ll enjoy the show.
The gorgeous infinity edge pool, Ka Maka Grotto, has beautiful views from the infinity edge, as expected. It also has some fun caves with sculptures of little animals build into the wall for babies and kids to enjoy.
The lazy river, Waikolohe River, was the warmest of all the pools, in my experience, and was a big hit for my twin babies. They could sit in my or my husband’s lap and ride around, checking out the sights, including lots of beautiful flowers and foliage, little menehune (mythical, mischievous people in Hawaiian culture), and bridges to float under, and caves to float through.
Chairs are aplenty in the pool area at Aulani. And the staff doesn’t mess around when it comes to pool chair policy. The rules are that empty chairs are ‘saved’ for one hour. Staff comes around, and marks unoccupied chairs by folding towels. If no one has come to claim the spot in an hour, they’ll remove the towel (and take other items to a holding area), freeing up the chair.
So don’t plan on parking everything in a spot all day while you are out exploring. But, if you are visiting with a young child, you know you’ll be back every 30 minutes for sunscreen, snacks, diapers, whatever, so it likely won’t be an issue.
Overall, I LOVED the chair policy. I was free to move from place to place and could USUALLY find a chair in a convenient spot, since no one was holding chairs all day.
Aulani provides life jackets, so you won’t need to bring your own. And you may not WANT because they have restrictions about what you can and cannot bring into the pools (like many major resorts). Check out their rules here to ensure you don’t pack something you won’t be able to use.
Aulani is home to a private snorkeling saltwater lagoon called Rainbow Reef. Ok, a snorkeling lagoon doesn’t SOUND like it’d be of any interest to an infant, but hear me out. This lagoon has a great viewing window perfect for littles to check out. I never even got a picture of this great little viewing spot, but I can assure you- even the tiniest babies will appreciate the colorful fish and beautiful turquoise water! Plus, it’s pretty amazing to see snorkelers in the water with the fish. An older baby might even recognize Dory and Nemo in the lagoon!
Aulani also has a great Koi pond that was a huge hit for my babies. They loved just sitting and watching the giant fish every time we walked by.
Tip: The ‘Olelo Room is right next to the koi pond, so grab a table right next to the koi pond so your baby will be occupied while you grab a quick drink or appetizer.
An awesome paved trail follows the beach from Aulani about a mile to Ko Olina Beach Park. It’s a super nice little walking trail with beautiful views and Hawaiian breezes along the way. Whenever my twin babies would get a little bit overwhelmed, or needed a nap, this trail was the perfect break for all of us. Doing stroller naps on the beach trails is perfect for both baby and parents!
Options for dining at Aulani are many, and for families with babies, it’s pretty nice to avoid getting in the car to go out for dinner. The dining options vary from ultra casual to elegant, and all but the pool bar are kid-friendly! For older babies who are eating more solid food, its nice to see that Aulani follows the Disney nutritional guidelines, and generally included a fruit and a vegetable with each meal. If your kiddos are like my kids, they won’t actually eat those things, but I like to continue to put it in front of them anyway LOL!
Our go-to restaurant at Aulani with littles is the Ulu Cafe because it’s ultra casual and you can take everything to go. My twins have also been super wiggly so we prefer to go eat at the beach, or in our room so we don’t have to worry about keeping them still. Breakfast at Ulu is especially great with a large selection of hot and cold meals. My favorite is the acai bowl, but breakfast sandwiches are also excellent. Ulu cafe also offers poke bowls, sandwiches, snacks, and pizza.
Makahiki is best known for its Character Breakfast, which is a must-do activity, even for babies. The breakfast features miscellaneous Disney characters, songs, and tons of fun activities. Babies may not be able to participate in everything, but it’s still a fun experience and a great breakfast. But be sure to book early! Character breakfast is extremely popular and sells out early. Makahiki offers buffet style dining, which is nice with little people who may not enjoy sitting still a restaurant for extended periods.
‘Ama ‘Ama is Aulani’s top restaurant with a menu that changes frequently based on what is in season and has a beach-side ambiance. The restaurant is kid-friendly and has a great kids menu but meals are served and meant to be enjoyed at a slower pace, which of course is tough with babies. So give it a try, if you are up for it. OR, use one of Aulani’s quality kid sitters. OR, wait until you baby falls asleep, and enjoy a nice meal while your babe naps!
Overall, Is it Worth Going with a Baby?
The biggest questions out there – is it worth it? It really depends. There are a lot of things to consider regarding your priorities, plans and perspective. For example:
- Are you planning to use the pools, splash zone, etc? Or are you just interested in going to the beach?
- Do you like the idea of being in a large resort, where you can relax, stay put, and enjoy the amenities?
- Do you want to take your child to Aulani just once and want to time it JUST right to maximize the experience? Or are you looking for a great/the best spot to take your baby on vacation?
For my family, traveling to Aulani with babies was absolutely worth it. I loved that babies aren’t just an afterthought at Aulani. This was one of the only resorts out there that I felt was really designed for them, as babies. As we approached my twins’ 1st birthday, I wanted to take them somewhere truly baby-centric, where they wouldn’t just be stuck in a stroller or a babycarrier, and I felt like we found it at Aulani. We even planned a trip to the same resort one year later!