Aulani Trip Part 1: Preparing & Getting to Aulani
Deciding to go to Aulani is the easy part, right? Now figuring out how to get there will require some thought and homework. Your budget will influence your options and choices in regards to airfare and then transportation once you arrive in Hawaii.
Flying to Hawaii
For most, going to Hawaii requires one to fly there. It will definitely be one of the items that will eat into your budget. Supply and demand will affect the cost. You will want to fly into Honolulu (Daniel K. Inouye International Airport - HNL). Here are a couple of my tips:
- Use an app like Hopper or Kayak to help you look for flights. Enable your notifications so you can get up to date alerts. If you have other accounts like Hipmunk or Expedia, set your flight preferences and get notifications about airfare rates for your trip dates. Everyone seems to have their preferred method of looking for and booking flights so use what has worked for you.
- Try to get a non-stop flight. Your time is worth getting there the fastest way so you enjoy paradise. There is a big time difference if you are coming from the East coast. The long plane ride is always a good place to try to get some sleep. Remember that Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) There is no daylight savings time.) Hawaii Time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.
- If you can travel on a weekday or non-peak travel seasons (summer and holidays), airfare won't be as a much as a shock to you. If you have to travel during a busy season, consider flying out either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
During the past trip, we went over for the July 4th holiday. I knew that airfare was already going to be pricey. We ended up flying out of LAX on a Wednesday an it saved us about $250 per person. For my family of 4, that was a big savings.
Transportation to Aulani & Car Rental
There are no Magic Shuttles or any other Disney official transportation system from the Honolulu airport to Aulani. The resort is about 25 miles west from the airport. We have always rented a car during our vacation for some of the following reasons:
- Having a rental car makes it easier to take some day trips to see all that Hawaii has to offer.
- It is cost effective for my family. When you factor the cost of a rental vs. what it costs for a round-trip ticket on a shuttle service, sometimes the car rental is a better deal and more convenient. We are also able to have more control of our time as we are not reliant on a shuttle schedule where sometimes you might have to be picked up so many hours in advance.
- My husband is perfectly happy to stay at Aulani for most of time but my kids and I like to go shop. Yes, there is some fun shopping in Hawaii (that will be another post). So, we can leave him by the beach and my kids and I have the freedom to explore the island to sight-see, shop, and find some great food locations.
- We have a DVC unit (has a kitchen) so it is easy for us to go to get groceries at the nearby Target and Costco.
- I usually go with ALAMO rental because there is a ALAMO office right on Aulani. On this visit, the on-site car rental came in handy because the car that I had rented had its oil-check light come on halfway into our vacation. I went the on-site ALAMO office and they were able to make arrangements to easily get me another car. It was seamless.
I should give you a heads up that if you do get a car rental, there is a self-parking fee at Aulani. It's pretty steep at $37 per day if you are a Guest. If you are a DVC member staying on your points, there is no charge for up to 2 vehicles.
Finally, don't forget to look into bundling your flight and car rental. Sometimes I have done that and it works out to be a good deal. Do some online comparisons to see where the car rental deals are. Don't forget that Costco or Triple AAA memberships sometimes have deals on car rentals. Sign-up for some of the rental car companies and see what kind of coupons are available for your trip.
Driving around Hawaii is easy. The roads can be a little narrow and there are lots of two lane highways. You'll notice that the speed limits can be much slower than what you may be used to on the mainland. Just embrace your inner "aloha" and go with the flow.
There are no cute official Disney signs to help you find your way to the resort. In fact you won't see direct signs that say "Aulani". You'll want to follow the signs that say "Ko'Olina". Finding Aulani once you arrive in the area is pretty easy. Just look for the most beautiful and interesting structure in this area and you'll be at Aulani.