Aloha, Aulani! Hawaiian Graduation Vacation Recap

Posted July 5, 2014 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Travel / 6 Comments


Hello lovely readers! This past week things have been quiet around here, but as most of you know, I had the amazing opportunity to spend most of this week in Hawaii! The trip was a graduation gift from my amazing Aunt (also the one who took me to the Scholastic Warehouse Book Sale a few weeks ago- she’s great!) and it was truly an incredible experience, filled with history, relaxation, and of course, reading!


We started off our time on the island with a night in Waikiki, the first time I had ever been to the island of Oahu! (I’ve been to Hawaii previously, but a long time ago and only to Maui). Waikiki was so surreal- a mix of big city life literally right on the beach, with street performers, vendors, locals, and tourists all mixing together. The water was the most stunning shade of turquoise I had ever seen! It was a lot of fun just walking around the beach and people-watching!

The view from our hotel room in Waikiki.
The view from our hotel room in Waikiki.

Pearl Harbor

The next day we took a tour of Honolulu’s major sights from atop of double-decker bus (which left me very impressed with the views but also very sunburned, as I was not expecting the top of the bus to be, well, topless). We saw a lot of the historical buildings mixed with the newer additions, such as the palace used by Hawaiian royalty before US occupation and the new Hawaiian convention center. The tour made me so interested in Hawaii’s history as a monarchy before occupation and how they keep preserving their culture a primary focus. We visited a beautiful cemetery atop what’s referred to as “The Punchbowl” that afforded amazing views of the city below.

Government building commissioned by Hawaiian King Kamehameha, with his statue in front.
Government building commissioned by Hawaiian King Kamehameha, with his statue in front.

Our last stop on the tour was Pearl Harbor, to visit the memorial of the USS Arizona. The memorial was both beautiful and eerie, as it floats atop the Arizona, which sank in such shallow depths that parts of the ship are still protruding above water. Pearl Harbor was a site I had been wanting to visit for quite a while now, so it was a fascinating experience to finally be able to have the honor to pay my respects to the hundreds of men entombed in the ship so close to the fourth of July.

USS Arizona floating memorial.
USS Arizona floating memorial.


I spent the second half of my Aulani stay at the Disney Resort in Oahu, Aulani. I’m a huge Disney fan, so being able to visit their first non-theme park centered resort was the opportunity of a lifetime.

IMG_3117The resort lies about 40 minutes away from the hustles and bustle of Waikiki, with it’s own protected cove for swimming. The resort was beautiful, and the Disney customer service was apparent in every aspect! The moment you arrive you’re given welcome leis, fresh water and escorted to the front desk for check in.

IMG_3154Our room (which was a pretty standard one) was amazing and very roomy, with subtle Disney touches (such as Mickey shaped towels and a few hidden Mickey’s in the hotel decor). The amenities were amazing and there was turn-down service every night where they brought you the itinerary for the next day’s activities as well as chocolate!




The real draw to the resort were the outside amenities and activities. There was a lengthy lazy river, water slides, a man-made reef pool for scuba diving, tons of food options, and various activities: hula lessons, surfing lessons, scavenger hunts, movie nights, etc. What Aulani has to offer that many other resorts don’t is the specific Disney touches: character brunches, meet and greets with characters, hidden Mickeys and “menehune” around the resort to find, unparalleled attention to detail in decor, professional photographers everywhere and Disney themed dining options and merchandise. It was so cool to see Chip and Dale hanging around the pools, and one morning I did a character brunch buffet where I got to take pictures and meet many of the classic characters (I’m a determined Disney “character hunter” at the theme parks so this was really fun for me!)



There’s really no words to describe the beauty of the pool and beach areas. I can’t even count how many pools and spas, and most of them were infinity pools that had drop-offs that overlooked directly onto the beach. It was popular without being overcrowded, and not matter where you ended up claiming beach chairs, there was an amazing view of something, whether the beach, the architecture, or the Hawaiian flora and fauna. IMG_3200The water in Disney’s protected cove was so amazing clear, and safe. There are wave breakers several yards out that protect the cove from rough water or large sea creatures, and my most amazing view was when I swam out into the ocean and looked back at the resort rising majestically against the sky…I’m a little obsessed, if you can’t tell! Though the protected cove may be a limitation for some visitors (you’ll have to travel a short distance down the beach area to surf) it’s not boring. My friend went snorkeling in the cove and saw a sea turtle!

The protected cove served as Aulani’s private beach, literally steps away from the pool area of the resort.

Overall, for me, visiting Aulani was an experience of a lifetime and something I’m incredibly thankful that I got to cross off my bucket list. It’s beautiful and unparalleled compared to the other Hawaiian resorts I’ve stayed at, and the staff is unbelievably accommodating. It was my first time there, but I’m determined it won’t be my last.

Beach Reading


With all of the things going on during my vacation, I was still able to fit in some quality time with my books! (And I’ll be honest, it was so much fun being able to leisurely read for an hour, then take a break to go down the water slide and lazy river a few times, and then resume my book with a snack in my same chair less than an hour later). I finished Love Letters to the Dead on the airplane ride there, started and finished Second Chance Summer at the resort, and got about a third of the way through The Raven Boys on my flight home.

Back to Reality

If I had a choice, I would definitely still be there, but I’m back in the states and catching up on posting content, which I know was slim during my absence! I spent the fourth at home catching up with family and friends, and resume work Monday, but my vacation was much needed and much appreciated, and propelled me through some books I wanted to get through! Thanks for being patient with my lack of posts during my absence, and reviews of my three reads over the trip will be up soon! Have you vacationed anywhere so far this summer? Have you been to Hawaii or love Disney resorts?  Let me know in the comments! I hope everyone has had a great start to the month of July!


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6 responses to “Aloha, Aulani! Hawaiian Graduation Vacation Recap

  1. That sounds awesome! I’m glad you had a nice holiday. This Easter I went on my first trip to the USA and visited Disney land Florida and Universal studios. Both were awesome! I can’t wait to go back. X

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