Traveling in 2020 has been difficult, to say the least. While we flew over 8 times in the months of January and February we have not stepped on board an airplane since and only went to a couple of nearby hotels. For the past 10 years, we have always traveled to a fun destination for Thanksgiving whether it be Japan, Mexico, a cruise, or Hawaii. This year we scoured Expedia looking at all our options and decided a Hawaiian vacation would be the safest place to travel to.
DECIDING ON A HOTEL
We have been to Hawaii numerous times and no matter how many times we go, choosing a hotel is never easy. Since it was our entire crew traveling and we wanted to make sure we were as safe as possible, we decided on booking through the Expedia App. On the app, any enhanced cleaning and safety practices offered by the resort are listed right up front, including things like whether the resort offers contactless check-in, requires masks, or enforces social distancing.
We decided on Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa as they had many enhanced safety measures and the resort is perfectly suited for kids of a wide variety of ages. We booked through the Expedia app which was so simple and easy to use.
***Pro Tip*** Flexibility is key when planning a trip right now, state’s restrictions can change from day to day. We used Expedia’s “free cancellation” filter to find accommodations that offered a free cancellation
GETTING TO HAWAII
Hawaii has several protocols in place to keep the island and their residents safe. For our travel, we had to have a negative test taken 72 hours before we arrived on the islands. Before you travel check Hawaii’s safe travel site for details. One of the other challenges with traveling is choosing an airline. On Expedia, the app listed cleaning and safety practices by airline so you can compare while you shop for the best fare. We ended up going with Delta as it and Hawaiian were the only airlines flying to Hawaii that block middle seats.
The Perfect Break We Needed
I was a bit worried this trip would be stressful rather than the break I was hoping for. Once we arrived at the resort, immediately I knew it was the vacation our family needed. You could literally see the relief on all our faces to be on vacation again. My oldest son said to me on the first day, “I literally can’t stop smiling.” It has been such a long tough year for the kids being away from friends and school, it was so great to put a smile on their faces.
Our Amazing Hawaiian Resort
There is nothing like being in Hawaii, and the Aulani resort is simply amazing. There is so much to do at this resort it is incredible and there is something for every member of the family. The views, the sunsets, the pools, even the food was incredible.
The Pools, Slides and Splash Park
If you love a great pool, then this is definitely the best resort on Oahu. The Aulani has three different pools, one is an adults only pool, then you have the main pool, and an infinity edge pool overlooking the ocean and beach.
In addition to the pools are two incredible slides and a giant lazy river which winds throughout the resort. A body slide that has you racing through a volcano and an open-air tube slide where you can ride alone or with a partner. This is our favorite as it drops you right into the lazy river.
For the little ones is the Menehune Bridge which is a water play area that has bridges, water blasters, slides and so much more. Our 7 year old could spend hours in this area.
Aulani has a wide variety of rooms, we decided on a two-bedroom ocean view villa as it offers a full kitchen and room for all 5 of our children. In fact, the room can sleep up to 9 people. The views from the resort are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
Aulani has quite the extensive offerings of food choices. The most popular place is Ulu Cafe where in the morning, you can breakfast burritos, acai bowls, traditional breakfast plates and my favorite, malasadas. In the afternoon you can enjoy Poke Bowls, Flatbread pizzas and Hawaiian mixed plate.
In the evening, I recommend visiting Makahiki. There you will find yourself enjoying a 3 course prix fixe menu. We were there for Thanksgaving and got to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a Hawaiian touch.
You would think that the pools, beach, and spa would be enough but Aulani has even more resort activities they offer. This includes their very own snorkeling reef, character greetings, hula lessons, stargazing and so much more.
The thing I love about this resort is that it can be enjoyed by people who love Disney or don’t care at all about Disney. This is because the resort is more of a beautiful Hawaiian resort with just a touch of Disney.
I could have probably spent all my time at the hotel, but my kids wanted to venture off and do some fun activities so we booked a couple of different excursions.
Glow Paddle Boarding
The first excursion we booked through Expedia was Glow Paddleboarding at night. It was right at the beach of our resort in Ko’olina so we did not have to worry about traveling far.
I was initially a bit worried as the lagoon was pretty dark when we arrived. Our guide, Mark arrived right on time and brought out the glow board. It was such a fun experience. The boards lit up the water below so well that you could even see fish swimming beneath your board. The lagoon itself is the perfect place to paddle board as you dont have to deal with any waves and can just enjoy the experience.
Swimming with Sharks
Now, this was an experience I was nervous up til the day of to do. In fact was surprised my husband clicked the book it button on the Expedia App because he said he never would swim with sharks. Low and behold, this year continues to surprise us as I found myself with my husband and my oldest onboard a vessel headed out to swim with sharks
We booked the Swim with Shark Adventure as it had incredible reviews and a nice cage for me to feel quite safe inside. The experience itself was amazing. After about a 15-minute boat ride out to sea, (it does get choppy so get some seasick medicine before going) We found ourselves with about 15-20 Galapagos sharks. The sharks actually almost seemed peaceful just casually swimming by our cage.
The water was crystal clear and you could see for several hundred feet underwater. It is one of those experiences you’ll never forget and now I highly recommend it to anyone.
Overall Hawaiian Vacation Experience
Overall, our visit to Hawaii was pretty much perfect. There are obvious things to expect while traveling during this time like the use of face masks, social distancing etc…, but the resorts, the excursions, the airlines, and the state of Hawaii all had great policies to make sure we were safe as could be and have a great time.