We went back to the room for a quick break before lunch and a trip to the beach below Aulani. There was a surprise waiting for us: Not only had our leis finally shown up, but our bed was covered in Aulani loot!
In addition to TWO of my beloved Aulani bathrobes, we got Mickey & Minnie plush, a tote bag, a baseball cap, a pin and two travel mugs. Best of all, Elena had written a very sweet note apologizing (unnecessarily) once again for the mixups. We were so touched by her thoughtfulness!
Later, after Jensey mentioned she’d seen the tote bag going for $60+ in the gift shop, we added up the value of our goodies and estimated it at more than 300 clams—not too shabby! But what’s nicer is that we still use most of those things a lot, and it’s a really nice reminder of our trip.
Before we hit the beach, we went looking for some lunch. Well, I did. Patrick was full of shave ice. I remembered reading in several Aulani trip reports about how great the sweet potato fries were at the One Paddle, Two Paddle quick-service place, so I thought that and maybe one of their mediocre burgers would make a good pool-day lunch…. Except when we got over there, we discovered it doesn’t open til 5pm!
This was absolutely confounding to me. What kind of pool-area snack bar is only open for dinner? That leaves Mama’s Snack Stop—with its boring menu of hot dogs and chicken tenders and NO sweet potato fries—as the only quick-service option for lunch. Oh wait, no, there’s a snack bar down on the beach that also doesn’t serve sweet potato fries…
So Patrick suggested I just get lunch at ‘AMA ‘AMA. And it was great! There was NOBODY in there, we got to try out the “modern” section of the restaurant, and they had sweet potato fries on the menu! And, since we split an order of the super-tasty Kālua-roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich in Steamed Rice Buns, we got outta there for around 20 bucks. Sorry I don’t have any photos—you’ll have to call on your memory of the 3,741 shots of ‘AMA ‘AMA I posted for the day before. Then it was off to the beach…
When we were there, there was only one path down to the beach. But when construction is finished, there will be two.
We brought all our snorkel gear down to the beach and staked out a chair, then strapped our flippers on and flapped awkwardly backward into the water.
I was not as huge a fan of the real-water experience. I think a lot of it was cuz the sun was REALLY bright and squinty-making, and I was still flailing more than I was snorkeling, and there was hardly anything to see under the water. It didn’t seem worth coughing down gallons of seawater for… Instead, I tried just lounging on our beach chair, but the group next to me was smoking, and the sun was sneaking around the edges of the umbrella I kept hitting my head on, and BOO-HOO-HOOOO! I was stuck in crummy old Hawaii having a lot of first-world problems! (I did tattle on the smokers, though it was hard to find someone to tattle to. I settled for the guys running Aulani’s rental booth, who could not have cared less.)
Meanwhile, Patrick was splashing happily in the bay. He found somebody’s cell phone on the ocean floor and put it up on the floating jumping platform Aulani has moored there. I guess it was probably toast, but I grabbed it anyway and took it back to the guys running Aulani’s rental booth to see if they had a lost and found, discovering in the process that last time they actually could have cared less!
After that it was back to Rainbow Reef, which was much calmer at that time of day. This was our last chance to snorkel for the trip and, lo and behold, I finally got the hang of it! When I’d had my fill, we went down the tube slide one last time and then headed back to the room to shower and change for dinner.
We did a little more exploring on our way to dinner.
I wanted to see if we could get some shots of Aulanis conference center (I mean, after staring at it every day for our entire trip, who WOULDN’T be desperately curious to know what was inside?) for my Disney weddings book, so I dragged Patrick over there. I’ll spare you, dear reader, but if you are curious, I have put all the photos HERE.
This is the Holoholo Tours and Travel Desk, where you can go to arrange for pricey excursions and car rentals.
In case you were curious about the snack selection in the gift shop…
Painted Sky is the teen spa at Aulani, which comes complete with its own frozen yogurt bar, Internet cafe, and gift shop that stocks every hipster-baiting piece of merchandise youll find in the theme parks. If I were a teen, I would think this place was the cat’s pajamas, as the kids say. But there were no actual teens present when we visited.
And here’s the “fitness center,” whatever THAT is….
For dinner, we were headed back to Makahiki Buffet so I could give it a well-rounded review.
Once again, we vowed we’d order off the a la carte menu to save money, and once again it was deadly dull. So once again, we emptied our wallets for buffet ($43 a pop!). You know the drill: Here come a TON of food photos with shots of their labels!
I declare Makahiki Buffet delicious!
A guitar duo was playing on the ‘Olelo Room’s patio
Oh yeah, we wore our leis to dinner, and they brought us a free congratulatory dessert!
Not content to stop at just five desserts, and in an effort to wring every last drop of value from the price of the buffet, I grabbed a few cookies and krispie treats for the road with the Grandma Hayward-approved Ziploc bag I smuggled in from our room.
After we’d sat around groaning for a while and debating whether to use Magical Express at WDW in a few days, we decided to get out and stretch our legs… by walking to the ice cream parlor across the street!
Two Scoops proved to be something of a disappointment. They only had eight flavors and nothing else: no shakes or sundaes or anything. They did inexplicably offer Philly cheese steaks, though!
I took two bites of my icy, flavorless Coconut Macadamia ice cream and dumped it in the trash. Patrick didn’t even try to fit any ice cream in!
Then it was back to the room to pack for Walt Disney World! (Don’t worry, we still had a full last day on Oahu before our red-eye the next day.)
Oh yeah! Here are the candies and personalized menu that Alan Wong’s gave us! My heart always skips a beat when Patrick is given the wrong last name…
While we were packing, there was a knock on the door. It was private dining, bringing us more pixie dust! (I think this might be the “amenity” that Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings lists as part of the Memories Collection package… or maybe it was our planner at work again!)
Once we were mostly packed, we took a break to go sit in the infinity Jacuzzi again. Being out there at night was a revelation—if only we’d done all of our swimming after dark! No sunscreen, no squinting… no seeing the fish, though, I guess… Or using the water slide!
When everything was finally packed, we took three boxes to the Aulani’s concierge, who helped us ship everything home at USPS rates. It was still way more than we’ve ever paid to ship anything back from WDW. Lesson learned! We actually had a lot of fun chatting with the concierge—he’d grown up on the island, lived in LA, and chosen to come back to Oahu after school. It was fascinating hearing about life on the island and how much he enjoyed living there. He was definitely one of those enthusiastic cast members who makes your day a little brighter.