This Fall, Disney opened up a new Resort in Oahu called Aulani. I am a big Disney fan, so we made a point of going to see it, stopping for dinner after our day out visiting the sights of the Island. Aside from how gorgeous the property is, my first impression was definitely: “Where’s the Disney touch?” Aside from the gift shop, the resort was almost Disney-free. Apparently the resort was meant to celebrate Hawaii, though as a guest I think I may have missed the Disney touches.Although Mickey Mouse came out to say hi at one point, only hotel guests are allowed to take a picture with him. Big sad on that one.
We walked the property checking out the fun tube route and waterside, the wading pool and the infinity hot tub looking out over the manicured beaches. All very impressive. I know from the website, the on-site activities are impressive, so I think that part of the resort would be fun to experience. As a plus, the resort does cater to younger kids with their kids club.
The resort is quite far away from Honolulu and Waikiki, so most of your meals would probably have to be on property, as a guest. There are 4 restaurants and 2 bars – and all are very expensive. As a guest, you could expect your stay to be very expensive based on food alone.
We dined at the Makahiki buffet restaurant, which was a pricey $43 per person. Despite the hefty price tag, the food was very impressive. The assortment was large, as each section of the buffet was kept small and refreshed often. From fresh seafood and sushi to many hot meal items including some traditional Hawaiian dishes, we definitely made the most of our meal. The desserts were particularly impressive, including the mini lava cakes. Yum. There was also a kids buffet, featuring food that kids may eat more of such as pizza and macaroni.
If you’re very hungry and willing to make the drive, the meal is worth it – thankfully, if you eat on property, at least the parking is free!
I think a stay at Aulani would be amazing, but only if you go expecting to pretty much stay on property or if you rent a car. I think having to dine on property at the Disney prices is crazy, but perhaps it would be worth it for all the amenities the resort offers. What do you think?
Mid-way into our Hawaii stay, we walked down the road from our hotel to the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, another great hotel a little closer to central Waikiki. There we dined at the Kani Ka Pila Grille, the poolside dining option at the hotel. It was one of our best meals in Hawaii.
Kani Ka Pila Grille was recently rethought by Outrigger to feature more authentically Hawaiian entertainment, and I do have to say it was the best we heard in Hawaii. A lot less touristy and more subtle – just fantastic.
Aiden had his own gigantic burger from the kids menu, while we shared a crab cake for appetizer followed by some great meals. I had a seafood pasta while Ianiv had veal – both were amazing. Really well done (prawns were not overdone!) and well presented. The bread pudding dessert is what made the meal though – wow. Go there just for that.
Disclosure: Our meals were compliments of the Outrigger Reef, whose Director of PR invited us out even after we chose a different hotel for our stay.
Aside from our Luau date night, we decided to spend one more night on our own while on vacation. My pregnancy food aversions steered me clear of the steakhouse or seafood options, so we went to Sergio’s Italian Table at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I wish we’d gone to Tropics instead.
The restaurant is quite dated. Upon first entering, we were told the restaurant wasn’t serving alcohol, but we could bring our own. Weird. When we were seated, we were given stale bread – Mmm. Our dining options were restricted because apparently someone forgot to do the ordering. What we did order – myself the Bolognese – was very unimpressive. About as plain as it could be made, with poor ingredients, and very oily. A sad meal for our date night!
More Dining at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Another restaurant we wouldn’t give rave reviews to at the Hilton Hawaiian Village would by CJ’s New York Style Delicatessen. We went there for brunch one day and found the service poor and the food ok – but not outstanding.
On the flip side, we did very much enjoy the Round Table Pizza for lunch a couple of times, had an ice cream at Lappert’s Ice Cream and hit up both of the Starbucks locations. For full dining options, read here. The Tapa Bar also makes a mean Blue Hawaii.
We ate both a brunch and a dinner at the Tropics Bar & Grill at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This was my favourite restaurant on property and one I wish we’d gone to instead of some of the other choices we went to. The restaurant is right on the beach with both indoor and outdoor dining. The restaurant was even featured on the series Hawaii Five-0 where they were served a Blue Hawaii cocktail.
Although we didn’t get Aiden his own kids meal, we still were given a kids package each time we sat down, containing a colouring book and stickers. Great idea on the stickers.
Ianiv & I dined at this restaurant twice, though our mothers also took Aiden there on their own one night. On that night, they had very poor service from their waiter, but on our two subsequent visits together, the service was stellar. The meal was great both at breakfast and dinner – the burger even comes with a cute mayo bottle. I’m all about the cute. Plus, the burger was the best I had on the island (some places served it too raw for my taste).
The restaurant plays live music every evening with a beautiful view of the sunset. Worth a visit!
The same day we went to Waimea Valley, we stopped at Haleiwa, a little town on the North Shore of Hawaii. From our hotel, we drove past some coffee plantations and the endless fields of pineapples that form the part of the Dole Plantation (a big tourist destination we didn’t visit).
Haleiwa is marketed as a surf town with “local style”, but it is very touristy. Very. Although the town is a great area to go for lunch if you’re in the Waimea area, I would not recommend driving just to “see” it.
The only highlight of our trip to Haleiwa was the discovery of a tiny little diner, Kono’s, that served an amazing kalua pig breakfast burrito. There were also toys there for little kids, which was a huge plus.