04 August 2021

Sights, Sounds, and Flavors of Hawai'i - Part III

Aulani is a great base of operations if you’re visiting Oahu. Aside from ease of access to many points of interest on the island, it also has a plethora of activities to partake in without ever leaving the resort. From crafts and ukulele lessons, to character meet and greets or storytelling, there is something for everyone. However, a great deal of the day-to-day action occurs between the towers in Waikolohe Valley.
Let’s start with the mischievous, but resourceful, characters that you’ll see around the resort. In wood or stone, the menehune can be found in nooks, crannies, elevators, and even underwater taking part in all sorts of activities, particularly napping or playing hide and seek. There are more than 300 menehune figures scattered all over Aulani, and a great little detail to look for as you make your way around the resort.

If you’re looking to see what the menehune’s magic can do, you’ll definitely want to take part in the Menehune Adventure Trail. Grab a tablet from the Pau Hana community center and Aunty will send you on tasks all over the Waikolohe Valley and throughout the resort to help friends and family members with challenges. Along the way you’ll see many menehune and displays of just what their magic can do. It’s a great way to learn the resort and begin to understand some of the legend of the menehune.

If you want a more direct experience with the menehune, there is always the Menehune Bridge, a water play area for younger guests that has been constructed by the menehune. In fact, several of them have stuck around to play with the water and soak the young visitors.

Another classic way to see the Waikolohe Valley is via the Waikolohe Stream, how you get into this winding and wonderful lazy river is up to you. If you climb up the volcano in the middle of the resort you can take the Tubestone Curl down on your tube. This swirling tube slide is full of fun, and its splashdown will send you directly out into Waikolohe Stream.

The stream itself takes about 10 to 15 minutes to float around in, although we definitely saw several kids who seemed to be racing their way around the winding lazy river. The path takes you from the lush valley area of the resort to the volcanic, rocky edge near the beach. Along the way you’ll pass under lush trees, splashing and bubbling water features, gorgeous bridges, and you’ll even see a couple of menehune along the shores. This is also a great way to see some of the animal shapes worked into the rockwork throughout the valley. These carvings aren’t as dramatic as those found on the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, but there are varying levels of how visible they are.

If you find yourself atop the volcano in Waikolohe Valley without a tube, your best way down is via the Volcanic Vertical, a completely dark tube slide that will splash you down into one of the many pools at Aulani. It’s hard to say just how fast you get going on this water slide, but you’ll definitely feel the speed increasing on you as you approach splashdown. Speaking of pools, there are pools of every size and for every activity level. From family splash areas to quiet corners for adults to relax, and let’s not forget the beach of one of Ko Olina’s manmade lagoons is literally only steps away.
The last activity from the Waikolohe Valley that we’re visiting today is the Rainbow Reef. The largest constructed reef on the island, this reef offers snorkeling to guests of all ages. The fish that call Rainbow Reef home come in every shape and size, many of which most of us have never seen before. It is a serene way to spend a few minutes, and comes complete with a few menehune and some animal rockwork.

I highly recommend getting out and about to see all of what Oahu has to offer (and we’ll talk about that more in another article), but Aulani offers a great respite. Since we were coming all the way from the east coast, our bodies only adapted so much and we were typically up early. This ended up working perfectly for us, as we were able to get out the door early, beat crowds at various sites, and return to the resort to relax or float about in the afternoon and evening hours. Or, if your tired of water activities, spend a few moments of calm enjoying the crazy amount of beautiful plants or watching the koi swim. And any day capped off with listening to Uncle Ike in the valley, near a pool or around the fire pit, is always a win!

No comments: