Having been Disney Vacation Club members for four years now, we made our fourth annual trip to Disney Aulani this summer. Aulani holds a special place in our hearts as our home resort; we often get asked about the resort and travel tips for families. There are great restaurants both on and off property at the resort, but if you find yourself staying on property to take in all that Aulani offers and surround yourself in the stunning ocean views it can be a bit daunting to determine just where to eat.
When planning your travel to Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, don’t miss these four must try restaurants.
Off the Hook
You will quickly make friends with Off the Hook which is located poolside by the Waikolohe Valley pool area and water slide area of Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa. With the family friendly focus of Aulani, many of your days will be spent lounging by the pool as you go from activity to activity. The staff at Off the Hook are easy to find and eager to take care of your needs; from cocktails to vegetable appetizers for a snack to full meals for the family, you can find everything you need to get through your day at Off the Hook – without needing to leave you lounge chair if you desire. You can also get service from Off the Hook down by the lagoon so make sure you take time to relax and take in the protected ocean waters while at Aulani.
There is also a covered lounge area here where you can grab a quick bite or simply enjoy a cocktail if you prefer. Guests can also enjoy live music at Off the Hook on select evenings so be sure to check your Daily ‘Iwa which outlines your daily itinerary of activities at the resort for all ages.
Ama Ama is an open air contemporary island cuisine restaurant that offers the most spectacular views from the resort so make sure you enjoy at least one meal here. While the prices are a bit higher than other Aulani restaurants, they are worth it, especially for a sunrise breakfast or sunset dinner.
Bear in mind that Ama Ama can book up fast because of the views and the fact that they do not overfill the restaurant with tables. We deeply appreciate this because it allows my husband and I to enjoy a quiet dinner for a date night while the kids enjoy an evening at Aunty’s Beach House, which is located right on property (Plus, Aunty’s is FREE for Aulani guests!). After four years of visiting Aulani our best advice is to make your reservations for Ama Ama well in advance of your stay. Pick a night or two and just make the reservation so you get the time you want;you can always cancel, but you cannot always find an opening. Early evening time slots fill up quickly because everyone wants to enjoy the sunset. Ama Ama also offers beautiful live music on select nights so you can also enjoy island music in the background as you dine.
Ama Ama is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but closes for a short period between each of these mealtimes. We typically eat breakfast in our room when staying at Aulani but make a point to enjoy one breakfast at Ama Ama as a family. The calm morning waters of the ocean and quiet lagoon offer serenity to start the day.
The Lava Shack
Okay, so The Lava Shack doesn’t actually qualify as a “restaurant” but you need to eat one thing here during your stay at Aulani – Dole Whip.
Dole Whip is one of the most popular snacks at Disney Parks and guest at Aulani used to have to make the trip to the Dole Whip Plantation on the island of Oahu to enjoy this special island treat. Until last year when Aulani added the treat to The Lava Shack.
Enjoy pineapple, vanilla, or a twist. Just be sure you enjoy it early in your trip so you can determine just how many times you want to have it during your trip. I love grabbing Dole Whip as a light lunch so I can enjoy a nice dinner later that day.
Makahiki is located on the pool level of the main resort tower at Disney Aulani; it is also home to a favorite for many young children – a Disney Character Breakfast. With a casual feel and the ability to dine inside or out on the lanai overlooking the koi pond, there is a lot to enjoy about the restaurant. Makahiki is open for breakfast and dinner and features fresh, local foods served buffet style.
As I mentioned, Makahiki is home to a Disney Character dining experience which involves the heart of Aulani, Aunty. Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration at Makahiki combines all of the Disney characters you love with a touch of Hawaiian culture and is certainly a must do during your trip. The younger children especially love this special dining experience and be sure to bring your camera for photo opportunities with the characters as they mingle from table to table.
Makahiki books up quickly for Aunty’s Breakfast Celebration so be sure to make a reservation online well before your trip and since it is buffet style make sure you go hungry; there are so many tastes to enjoy!