The Complete Guide to Pools and Swimming at Aulani Resort
Updated April 10, 2023
Originally published June 29, 2022
The immersive experience of a Disney vacation and the luxurious beauty of a tropical getaway combine at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaiʻi. And what dream vacation would be complete without saying “aloha” to the pool? We put together this comprehensive guide to nine special aquatic experiences at Aulani Resort so you can prepare for all the fun.
We spoke with Alyssa-Lende Kāne, the Front Office, Guest Service Manager at Aulani Resort, to get some insider tips about the pools. Thousands of Guests have turned to her for recommendations, and she’s shared her top insights with us below. If her words inspire you to plan your travel and experience Aulani Resort for yourself, remember to book with your Disney® Visa® Credit Card to receive special vacation financing on qualifying packages.1 Now, let’s dive in and explore each area in detail.
This is the largest pool at Aulani Resort, perfect for families with tweens and teens who love thrills. Also the name of the valley where Aulani Resort resides, Waikolohe of course has a fun backstory. “‘Wai’ means ‘water,’ and ‘kolohe’ means ‘mischievous,’” Kāne explains, “so the name literally means, ‘rascally flow of water.’” As mischievous as the signature Volcanic Vertical body slide can be, there are also plenty of opportunities to lounge poolside and relax with family and friends around this 8,200-square-foot area.
The adjoining Waikolohe Stream provides another popular experience: Tubestone Curl, a twisting and turning tube adventure that plops you into Waikolohe Stream, a lazy river that Kāne recommends for a relaxing float. As you unwind and let the gentle current carry you, be on the lookout for art as you go. “The stream itself, whether you walk or float along with it, has hidden animals carved along the way,” she says.
Ka Maka Grotto
Every pool offers a special experience, but Kāne calls this one her personal go-to. “My favorite pool is Ka Maka Grotto,” she says, and it’s easy to see why: among the features of this popular family pool are a misty grotto, an immersive after-dark experience with thousands of glittering lights, and an infinity pool overlooking Ko Olina Beach. For extra enchantment, Kāne recommends listening below the surface. “You can hear sounds of whales and dolphins when you go underwater,” she says.
Keiki Cove Splash Zone
For families with little ones, the interactive fun of Keiki Cove is a must. Designed for kids five years old and under, this whimsical playground comes with plenty of surprises and delights. They’ll find rainbow-colored water jets and, if they pay close attention, they can see glimpses of the Menehune (mythical “little people” of local legend who cause mischief on the island) worked into the designs around the play area.
Speaking of those “little people,” their magic extends to the nearby Menehune Bridge play area. When asked what she recommends for families with children, Kāne has a quick answer: “The slides at Menehune Bridge!” The two slides built into this 2,100 square-foot play area are just the beginning; there are spinning gourds that spray water, a climbing structure, intriguing Menehune carvings and other interactive water elements that let Guests under 48 inches tall make a big splash.
With your Disney Visa Card, you can save 10% on snorkeling in Rainbow Reef, which includes access to a private lagoon, a mask, snorkel set and life jacket.2 “Rainbow Reef is one of my favorite family experiences for all our Guests,” Kane says. Teeming with more than 1,300 different fish, this lagoon immerses you in the natural beauty of Hawaiʻi. “Sometimes snorkeling in a big ocean can be a little intimidating for first-timers, but when you go into Rainbow Reef, you can still have the full-color experience, with life jackets for safety and, of course, Disney Cast Members for assistance.” The area provides the perfect combination of adventure and serenity.
For a serene soak, Wailana Pool is the ultimate relaxation situation. Take a dip in the 1,500-square-foot pool, rest in the shade provided by tropical trees or bliss out in the sun as you listen to the soothing sounds of the water wall that empties into the pool’s deep end. “Wailana” means “calm” in Hawaiian, and this pool delivers on its promise by offering parents a quiet pool to relax in.
Ko Olina Beach
Aulani Resort’s natural beach lets you dive into incredible seascape views. While you’re there, Kane recommends renting paddleboards from Makiki Joe’s for riding the waves near the shore. It’s “the first step along the path to learning surfing basics,” she suggests.
In addition to rentals, you can also find some complimentary beach equipment to use, like boogie boards, life jackets, beach chairs and umbrellas.
Explore the ocean with swimming, snorkeling or a ticketed Sailing Canoe Experience you can reserve for an extra cost. Or simply stay on the sand, soaking up the sun and some of the best vistas nature can provide.
Kula Wai Hydrotherapy Garden
O’ahu’s only outdoor hydrotherapy garden offers a soothing oasis for anyone looking to relax and reset. “Hydrotherapy, utilizing the healing powers of mineral baths, rainwater and naturally-occurring streams has been used by Hawaiians for centuries and recreated in Kula Wai’s spa treatments.” Pamper yourself throughout this 5,000-foot garden, including the cold water therapy plunge pool—a method used by early Hawaiians to help reset the body’s regulatory system, boost the immune system and increase circulation.
While you’re giving relaxation a whirl, step into any of the five whirlpool spas available at Aulani Resort. There’s one located near Ka Maka Grotto, one near Waikolohe Pool, one near Waikolohe Stream and two at ‘Alohi Point, a scenic overlook treasured by Guests looking for the perfect soothing spot to watch the sunset. The whirlpool spas at ‘Alohi Point feature an infinity edge, creating the feeling that they extend directly into the Pacific Ocean.
Aulani Water Slides
Add twists and turns to your pool time with some of the popular water slides throughout Aulani Resort. Little ones have two slides to choose from in the Menehune Bridge play area. And for older, more adventurous explorers, the Volcanic Vertical body slide at Waikolohe Stream plunges you into Waikolohe Pool with a splash!
If you’re planning to get away and enjoy a tropical vacation in Hawaiʻi, “Aulani Resort is where it’s at,” says Kane. And when you redeem your Disney Rewards Dollars toward enhancements like renting a private poolside cabana for ultimate relaxation, you can even take your Aulani Resort vacation to the next level.3 See you soon!
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