After breakfast we went back to the room to change into our swimsuits. I also called our wedding planner to let her know that our leis had never shown up. She felt awful about all the things that had gone wrong with our ceremony and seemed to feel personally responsible even though it was vendors who’d dropped the ball in both cases. She said she’d like to make it up to us and asked if we were Champagne drinkers. Sensing an opportunity, I blurted out, “No, but BOY did we love those robes at the spa!” Tee-hee!
Then we were off to spend the rest of the day in the water. We planned to be at the snorkeling pool, Rainbow Reef, right when it opened so we could beat the crowds and get in on a fish feeding. While we waited, Patrick extensively documented the rest of the Waikolohe Valley for you.
I think Aulani has the bestest Disney lazy river. It’s longer than Stormalong Bay’s but shorter than the ones at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. However, I love it cuz there’s so much shade!
I think it’s wonderful that Aulani provides these for those who need extra help getting in the pool. I’d never seen anything like them.
Patrick was SUPER-bummed that the Menehune Bridge was closed during our visit. I’m pretty sure I could get him to agree to an Aulani return trip in a heartbeat if I used it as bait.
This is where you show your room key to get a wristband and towels. Tip: Grab your towels for Hanauma Bay here the night before if you’re leaving early in the morning
This cave is part of the Menehune Adventure Trail, which we didn’t have time to do. But there was time to stand in the cave!
This cave allows you to look into Rainbow Reef at the flitterin’ fish and, if I’m in the water, a flailin’ frau!
Patrick had so much fun shooting underwater in Hanauma Bay that we splurged on a second disposable underwater camera at the gift shop. Wish I’d thought to buy two at Amazon’s prices, though!
Finally it was time to visit the fishes. We paid the $20/person day rate for access to Rainbow Reef, but if we’d had more than one full day at Aulani, I prolly woulda bought Patrick the $39 length-of-stay pass. They gave us wristbands and pointed us in the direction of life vests. We used the snorkel gear we brought with us for Hanauma Bay.
This was still only my third time snorkeling ever, so I had my third mini panic attack when I hit the water, but this time the Disney lifeguards didn’t yell at me. Once again, Patrick sweetly lead me by the hand out into the water until I figured out how to swim and breathe simultaneously.
I enjoyed exactly 34 seconds of serene flotation before a cast member plunked a head of lettuce in the water in front of me and set off a TERRIFYING feeding frenzy among the fish.
Berserk fish swarmed me, some gunning straight for me before veering off sharply at the last second. Not one of them actually touched me, but in that frantic moment I could understand EXACTLY why Jensey’s afraid of fish! I do think it’s a good way to let guests see a lot of fish all at once, but I probably should’ve waited for the later feeding so I’d be more accustomed to being in the water with them first.
The lettuce pretty much vaporized within seconds, and then things calmed down a bit.
I did eventually calm down enough to enjoy myself in Rainbow Reef, but nobody can outlast Patrick at snorkeling, so I eventually migrated to the infinity Jacuzzi to warm up and bliss out. I don’t have a photo of that, so here’s a repeat Root shot to show you the view I was enjoying.
Now, frequent readers of my trip reports probably figured this out way before I did, but I realized then that I am not actually very good at relaxing. I’m always, always, ALWAYS thinking ahead to the next activity, which is not just a terrible way to vacation, but also a terrible way to experience life in general. So at that moment I worked very hard to shut my brain down and just enjoy the moment. I concentrated on how lucky I was to be spending a Tuesday morning floating in warm water overlooking a glorious beach and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with not a care in the world…. It was the most serene 45 seconds of my life!
When Patrick was done, we explored the main pool, backup Jacuzzi, and water slides.
Like Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life, the “rockwork” of Aulani’s Waikolohe Valley is carved with hundreds of animals. Because I don’t feel like counting them myself, I am offering a prize that I don’t know what it is yet but will be super-awesome to the reader who can list the most from our photos…
(I mean all the photos from this day, not just those three….)
Aulani has two water slides: the enclosed “extreme” body slide Volcanic Vertical, and the open-air tube slide Tubestone Curl, which you can go down in single or double tubes. I liked the tube slide better—it was fast but fun. The dark slide was too … everything. Too dark, too fast, too, well, extreme! It’s telling that the tube slide consistently had long lines, while the dark slide was always a walk-on.