Day 5, Part 2: Photo Tour of Waikolohe Valley & Rainbow Reef

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.

These torches were inspired by Hawaiians’ use of kukui nuts as torch fuel.


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!

Reportedly not as good as Matsumoto’s…


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!


“Aw, MAN! Are you old people gonna make me get out so you can have a boring dumb old vow renewal again?!”


This one feels like Stalker-vision!


“Coming soon to the site of the old Polynesian burial ground…. Raging Spirits Haunted Splash Zone!”


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.

Where we stashed our stuff…


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.

Here’s me, totally not panicking



There was a completely different species behind the windows in the tank wall…

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.



“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”


For non-English speakers, the graphics indicate that you should go to the right for the relaxing tube ride or to the left for the morgue.



The not-quite-as-picturesque backup Jacuzzi



Look who we ran into in the Lazy River—our pals the Roots!

Up Next: Even MORE Swimming, Touring and Dining at Aulani!

21 Responses
  • Moma
    November 17, 2013

    Well gee, I just discovered these pictures.

    We are also “power” vacationers (at least I am and Daddy goes along with the plan.) I can relax at home 😉 and we may never get back to wherever we are traveling, so we see as much as possible…unless the government shuts it down. 🙁

    The snorkeling photos of the feeding frenzy was awesome! If I had known there was snorkeling there when we stopped by to take some pictures, we would have wanted to do it. But, you probably have to be staying there to snorkel there…? I have a Fujifilm XP Water Proof camera, which worked wonderfully! And, it’s still working! It uses the same old memory cards as my land camera.

    I see we also missed seeing all the cool rock animals, or do you have to be staying there to see them too?

    • Carrie
      November 18, 2013

      LOL! I think you just have to know what to look for with the rock animals — they’re in all the rockwork along all the paths. And I do think you have to be an Aulani guest to go in the snorkeling pool…

  • Elizabeth
    June 25, 2013

    I actually “invested” in a cheap digital waterproof camera so that I can take it to waterparks and use it during times when there might be lots of sweat involved (Disney races) or rain expected. It also takes underwater video!

    And after reading this entry I feel the need for some Typhoon Lagoon snorkeling and lazy river action soon!

  • Pigletyyz
    May 22, 2013

    Ok, lots of animals but I swear I saw a Sleestak! Land of the lost…anyone…is it just me?? As always, awesome trip report and can’t wait to read on for more adventures:-)

    • Carrie
      May 22, 2013

      That would be awesome! I wonder if WDI would really sneak in something like that, or if the legal department would put its foot down…

  • Claire/Chilly
    May 22, 2013

    Whoops read part 3 before part 2! There never seems to be that many people about in your photos, was the resort quite empty?

    • Carrie
      May 22, 2013

      Apparently it was at 50% or 60% capacity when we went. But I think the real reason is Patrick shot many of those photos early in the day while we were waiting for the snorkel pool to open.

  • Jennifer
    May 21, 2013

    Which underwater cameras did you like better, the ones you brought from Amazon or the one you bought there?
    Do you remember the type you bought off Amazon? TIA!

    • Carrie
      May 21, 2013

      You know, I think they were the same! (It should be noted that I saturated the H outta all our underwater photos in Photobucket for these posts—they didn’t come out of the camera looking like that.) The one we ordered from Amazon was Kodak Weekend Underwater Disposable Camera.

  • Tim
    May 20, 2013

    I’m always thinking of the next activity as well. I try to live by the quote “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” but I never seem to completely learn the lesson.

    That is one heck of a pleasant-looking lazy river. Good stuff.

    • Carrie
      May 21, 2013

      Whew! I’m glad it’s not just me!

  • jenn paul
    May 20, 2013

    LOL, I vacation like you.. I don’t! I’m a terrible relaxer, and it really bums Bob out, how does Patrick deal with it, or is he the same way? Love the lazy day though, it’s so nice to be lazy about getting everything in 😉

    • Carrie
      May 20, 2013

      Patrick’s pretty good about rolling with the punches, fortunately! In fact, it’s usually when I overcompensate by scheduling nothing that he gets frustrated. 😀

  • Jennifer
    May 20, 2013

    Hey! Great update!

    So…some of the fish I don’t know but here is my list

    blue whale
    jelly fish
    fish X2
    shark or dolphin
    armadillo? or turtle of some kind?
    Blue tang fish (Dory)
    white shark

    I also think I see a Seal (or sea lion) and some type of bird.

    • Carrie
      May 20, 2013

      Wow, you’re good! I’m going to have to go back and look for that arma-turtle. 🙂

    • Carrie
      June 10, 2013

      OK, the official judging period has ended, and I declare YOU the winner of the Name-the-Most-Animals contest! If you send me your address through my contact form, I will send you a Disney-related prize!

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