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Disney Aulani Pools and Water Features Will Wow Your Family

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“Let's build the greatest pool in the Hawaiian islands.” That's the goal Disney CEO Bob Iger set when Oahu was chosen as the location for the first Disney hotel not adjacent to a theme park. Disney Aulani is home not only to one of Hawaii's best hotel pools, but also the resort offers an array of other enticing water features. Let's explore all of the watery fun available at this Disney hotel in paradise.

You just might see Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Goofy poolside at Disney Aulani

You just might see Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Goofy poolside at Disney Aulani (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney Destinations)

Disney Aulani Pools

Much of Disney Aulani's water fun can be found in Waikolohe Valley in the center of the resort. Waikolohe means “mischievous waters,” tying into the resort's theme of the Menehune, mythical Hawaiian little people hidden throughout the grounds.

Waikolohe Pool is Aulani's main pool, situated beside the resort's beachfront cove. This zero-entry pool is a beautiful spot to swim and splash together as a family.

Aulani's Waikolohe Valley pool area

Aulani's Waikolohe Valley pool area (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Ka Maka Landing was added to the resort in 2013. This infinity pool provides incredible ocean views for all ages.

If you're looking for a little quiet time, check the children into Aunty's Beach House kids club and then relax at Wailana Pool. This small but lovely swimming spot is tucked away from the hubbub. Although kids are not forbidden here, they are discouraged.

Ka Maka Landing is an infinity pool with incredible views at Aulani

Ka Maka Landing is an infinity pool with incredible views at Aulani (Photo credit: Disney)

Waikohole Stream Lazy River

A lazy river named Waikohole Stream winds its way through palm trees and sweet-scented tropical plants like plumeria, pikake, and ginger. Playful fountains spray water at riders, but you can avoid these if desired. My favorite part is riding through a tunnel in a manmade volcano structure. Bubbles flow up from the river's floor in this cave, surprising riders on their first float.

Float away the day on Waikohole Stream lazy river at Aulani

Float away the day on Waikohole Stream lazy river at Aulani (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney Destinations)

Waterslides

Aulani offers two full-sized waterslides. Volcanic Vertical is an entirely enclosed (DARK) tube slide. My favorite, Tubestone Curl, is an open-air slide that spins inner-tubers around until they splash into a pool below.

Waterslide lovers will enjoy Tubestone Curl waterslide at Disney Aulani

Waterslide lovers will enjoy Tubestone Curl waterslide (Disney Aulani)

Menehune Bridge Water Playground

Mythical Hawaiian Menehune shoot and pour water on giggling children at Menehune Bridge, an impressive splash structure. With rope bridges, mini waterslides, and fountains galore — kids of all ages love this water playground.

Menehune Bridge is a joyous water play structure at Disney Aulani

Menehune Bridge is a joyous place to play (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney Destinations)

Keiki Cove Splash Zone

Especially for kids age 5 and younger, Keiki Cove features rainbow water jets and images of aquatic creatures. This splash zone was inspired by the tidal pools that surround Disney Aulani. Of course, children should be on the lookout for Menehune here, too!

Keiki Cove at Disney Aulani splash area was created especially for young children

Keiki Cove splash area was created especially for young children (Photo credit: Disney)

Whirlpool Spas

There are a total of five whirlpool spas at Disney Aulani. Most impressive are Alohi Point – Sunset Upper and Alohi Point – Sunset Lower. Together these form a bi-level hot, bubbling infinity pool that overlooks the ocean. It's a spectacular spot to soak up the last rays of the day as the sun dips below the horizon.

Soak in one of five whirlpool spas at Disney Aulani

Soak in one of five whirlpool spas at Disney Aulani (Photo credit: Disney)

Snorkeling at Rainbow Reef

Colorful Hawaiian fish swim in a unique manmade lagoon named Rainbow Reef at Disney Aulani. Children and adults intimidated by the ocean can experience snorkeling here in a controlled environment.

After a dip in Rainbow Reef, bring your gear down to the beach to swim with sea life in the ocean. Swim near the rocks in the bay to see the most fish. For an even better ocean snorkeling experience, follow the trail past neighboring Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club to a small coral reef bay. It's just a few minutes’ walk from Disney Aulani. You might even spot some sea turtles!

Rainbow Reef is a unique place to try snorkeling with real Hawaiian fish at Disney Aulani

Rainbow Reef is a unique place to try snorkeling with real Hawaiian fish (Photo credit: Disney)

Fish Are Friends

For an extra fee, children can attend Fish Are Friends, which gives kids a chance to feed fish in the Rainbow Reef. Children participating in this premium program through Aunty’s Beach House kids club also receive a Disneynature Oceans DVD.

Kids attending Aunty’s Beach House kids club

Kids attending Aunty’s Beach House kids club can pay to participate the Fish Are Friends program (Photo credit: Disney)

Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden

Water takes center stage at Aulani's Laniwai Spa, 18,000-square-feet of spa goodness. Laniwai means “freshwater heaven” and is an apt name. The spa is home to the Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden, the only outdoor hydrotherapy garden on Oahu. Hawaiian flowers and plants fill the 5,000-square-foot garden. It also features a whirlpool spa, cold plunge pool, and two herbal soaking tubs. A circular feature with six different types of rain showers is downright heavenly.

A rain shower in Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden at Laniwai Spa

A rain shower in Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden at Laniwai Spa (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Ko’Olina Beach

Even with all of the Disney-created water play available, it would be a shame to miss the natural beauty of the ocean during your visit to Aulani. The semi-circle Ko'Olina Bay offers kid-friendly, tame waves. You won't be doing much body surfing here, but the warm Hawaiian water provides a gorgeous spot to play with kids in the Pacific. Gear for snorkeling, paddle-boarding, canoeing, and kayaking are available from Makiki Joe’s Beach Rentals.

Ko’Olina Beach and Lagoon at Aulani

Ko’Olina Beach and Lagoon at Aulani (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer, Disney Destinations)

Water Excursions

If you're still thirsty for more water fun, sign up for an off-site excursion through Adventures by Disney during your stay at Disney Aulani Resort. Options include sea-kayaking, surf lessons, and a Catamaran voyage.

Enjoy activities like Stand Up Paddleboarding on Aulani's Ko’Olina Lagoon (Photo credit: David Roark, Disney Destinations)

No matter how you choose to spend your time at Disney Aulani Resort, surely water will play a fun and fabulous role in your Hawaiian vacation!

Check out Aulani's hotel pool competition in this round-up of the best hotel pools in Hawaii. Read more about Aulani's family features or check out additional Disney Aulani reviews on TripAdvisor.

Disney Aulani's Pools and Water Features that Will Wow Your Family

Save this story about Disney Aulani

If you're dreaming of a Disney Aulani vacation, be sure to save this story for future reference. Go ahead and pin the image above for your travel planning!

Do you think Disney succeed in creating the best hotel pool in Hawaii? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: A big mahalo to Disney for inviting me to the grand opening of the Disney Aulani Resort! This story originally posted in 2011 and was updated with new information about Disney Aulani pools and water activities in 2018. All opinions are mine, as always.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Doesn’t seem like they forgot much! Certainly looks enticing to me!

  2. Lisa Goodmurphy says:

    It looks wonderful! We visited Maui and Oahu a couple of years ago and I didn’t think that I wanted to go back to Oahu but after reading all the articles about the Aulani this week I think my kids would love this resort.

  3. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Sonja & Lisa – I hope you will get a chance to experience this resort some day! So. Much. Fun.

  4. Disney knows how to reseach their subject – like water fun in Hawaii. On our recent trip to South Africa we enjoyed many game drives that Disney had marvelously copied at Disneyworld’s Animal Kingdom. We saw many of the same animals, jostling about on a rough road. Water lovers (like me) will love Aulani’s many water experiences.

  5. WOW!!! Looks incredible!

  6. Wonderful! Looks amazing! Can’t wait to show other friends – who knows, maybe take a friends-family vacation to experience this or other continental delights!

  7. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Stanna – A multi-family vacation at Aulani would be so awesome!

  8. That is so amazing! I’ve seen a lot of super fancy hotel pools, but I’ve never seen anything like this. I shouldn’t be surprised. Disney does everything to the hilt!

  9. Dana Vento says:

    Leave it to Disney to make even their hotel pool an adventure. It’s practically a water ride itself. My family would love it!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      You could easily spend your entire vacation in the hotel pools, lazy river & on the waterslides at Aulani!

  10. Catherine Sargent says:

    This looks so amazing. I could spend the entire day by that pool and in the lazy river. I love that Disney has so much to do even at the resorts.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hawaii & Disney are like a match made in heaven – hope you can visit Aulani someday!

  11. This is just an absolute dream vacation. I once lived in Hawaii and am determined to bring my family back someday! And the Disney component really merges the best of two worlds! Someday for us!

  12. Toni | Boulder Locavore says:

    This looks so much fun! Would be a great way to end summer!

  13. I’ve been dying to go to Disney Aulani. Your photos are just stunning, and wow it looks so incredible!

  14. Becca Wilson says:

    This looks like it would be such a great time! My kids would really love something like this.

  15. I would love to experience a taste of Hawaii with Disney! This looks amazing when I have my own family I am definitely taking them to Hawaii and possibly experience this!

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