Aulani Tour Company Recommendations

tamu91

Howdy!
Joined
May 28, 2004
We're planning a family trip to Aulani for Spring Break 2021. Any tours or tour company recommendations around Oahu. This will be our first trip to Hawaii to any must do's on Oahu to help me plan the week. Thanks in advance.
 

Daisy7425

Mouseketeer
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
We loved Kualoa Ranch. They have all sorts of tours that start on their property. We did the Jungle Jeep expedition. Our kids were 8 and 6 at the time. If they were older we would have done something more adventurous out of Kualoa Ranch, like their ATV tour, horse back riding or kayaking. It's a great way to see the wild side of Hawaii. We rented a car (which I highly recommend) so that was helpful in getting there. We also loved Pearl Harbor and watching the surfers on the north shore. We did not enjoy the Polynesian Cultural Center ( you can read a whole thread here about the pros and cons of the PCC).
 


cgattis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
First off, Roll Tide! So glad to have A&M in the SEC; y’all have been THE best fans!! ( Plus my seats are near the visitor band and the Yell Crew always end up at our concession stand LOL and they’ve been so nice to my kids)

Anyway, just my take, but unless you just really hate driving, we found it super easy to get ourselves anyplace we wanted to go, with the freedom to change on the fly. Oahu (and the other islands) is small and easy to navigate; we had no issues at all.

That said, assuming everyone is fully-able physically, I think you should do Diamond Head. I know folks say the Tantalus lookout is a better view (we didn’t go there), but standing up on the edge of the crater and looking down into it, plus along the coast, was very cool. (We also met two sets of Bama folks up there too, oddly enough.) Do go early, though, as parking can be tough.

Another thing some say is too touristy is Hanauma Bay. We, however, count it as one of the top three things we did out of 4 islands. Even when it’s busy, the lagoon is huge and we felt like we were nearly alone in the water. Just gorgeous; we stayed until the last tram up the hill was leaving (cuz I was NOT walking up after climbing DH and snorkeling the rest of the day!!).

Pearl Harbor, of course, was a must for us. If you’re craving “home cooking”—or like me, some dang sweet tea—Dixie BBQ is like a mile from the memorial and has legit BBQ, plus fried okra.

We skipped the Dole Plantation because we got our Dole Whip fix at Aulani and really saw no other reason to go. We drove by it on the way to the north shore, where we also enjoyed snorkeling at Sharks Cove )but not as much as HBay. The rocks are very sharp there, so be careful if you go. We stopped for lemonade at Wow Wow in Haleiwa and it was delicious. Haleiwa town was cute and I wish I’d had more time to shop on all the islands, but I just couldn’t prioritize it over all the active things we did.

I also didn’t get much beach time on Oahu for any of the gentler wave beaches (Aulani lagoon is like a bathtub lol), so I’d like to do some more of those next time, like Kailua.

Our friends (and many here) really enjoyed Kualoa Ranch, so we’d probably do some horseback riding there if we go to Oahu again. Kids really enjoyed it more than I expected when we went riding last summer; we have horses but none are safe enough for them, so they never get to ride!! (Talk to my husband—I tried to get him to buy them some better horses!!)

So that’s WAY more than you asked!! Happy to answer anything I can.
 
  • Dracula

    Not so scary
    DVC Premium
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2010
    We're planning a family trip to Aulani for Spring Break 2021. Any tours or tour company recommendations around Oahu. This will be our first trip to Hawaii to any must do's on Oahu to help me plan the week. Thanks in advance.
    Check the Go Oahu card that gives access to a bunch of attractions around the island; it often (but not right now) can be found at a good price on Costco's website.

    We greatly enjoyed the paddleboard / kayak rentals on the North side, as well as snorkeling trips. A stop for a shave ice at Matsumoto in Haleiwa is a must!
     

    tamu91

    Howdy!
    Joined
    May 28, 2004
    First off, Roll Tide! So glad to have A&M in the SEC; y’all have been THE best fans!! ( Plus my seats are near the visitor band and the Yell Crew always end up at our concession stand LOL and they’ve been so nice to my kids)

    Anyway, just my take, but unless you just really hate driving, we found it super easy to get ourselves anyplace we wanted to go, with the freedom to change on the fly. Oahu (and the other islands) is small and easy to navigate; we had no issues at all.

    That said, assuming everyone is fully-able physically, I think you should do Diamond Head. I know folks say the Tantalus lookout is a better view (we didn’t go there), but standing up on the edge of the crater and looking down into it, plus along the coast, was very cool. (We also met two sets of Bama folks up there too, oddly enough.) Do go early, though, as parking can be tough.

    Another thing some say is too touristy is Hanauma Bay. We, however, count it as one of the top three things we did out of 4 islands. Even when it’s busy, the lagoon is huge and we felt like we were nearly alone in the water. Just gorgeous; we stayed until the last tram up the hill was leaving (cuz I was NOT walking up after climbing DH and snorkeling the rest of the day!!).

    Pearl Harbor, of course, was a must for us. If you’re craving “home cooking”—or like me, some dang sweet tea—Dixie BBQ is like a mile from the memorial and has legit BBQ, plus fried okra.

    We skipped the Dole Plantation because we got our Dole Whip fix at Aulani and really saw no other reason to go. We drove by it on the way to the north shore, where we also enjoyed snorkeling at Sharks Cove )but not as much as HBay. The rocks are very sharp there, so be careful if you go. We stopped for lemonade at Wow Wow in Haleiwa and it was delicious. Haleiwa town was cute and I wish I’d had more time to shop on all the islands, but I just couldn’t prioritize it over all the active things we did.

    I also didn’t get much beach time on Oahu for any of the gentler wave beaches (Aulani lagoon is like a bathtub lol), so I’d like to do some more of those next time, like Kailua.

    Our friends (and many here) really enjoyed Kualoa Ranch, so we’d probably do some horseback riding there if we go to Oahu again. Kids really enjoyed it more than I expected when we went riding last summer; we have horses but none are safe enough for them, so they never get to ride!! (Talk to my husband—I tried to get him to buy them some better horses!!)

    So that’s WAY more than you asked!! Happy to answer anything I can.
    wow, thank you for all this info and thanks for the yearly drumming on the field. Tough to see our boys get beat every year but always with class 👍 gig’em
     
    Last edited:

    cgattis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2009
    thanks for the yearly beating.
    Happy to do it! 🤣🤣🤣 We usually catch your band marching in and always stop to watch your mascot—she’s so beautiful and so calm. My dog is a maniac so it fascinates us LOL

    Lots of good info here on this board, so you can probably get an answer to most anything you think of; just ask! Aloha (you’re going to LOVE it)!
     

    ffindis

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2000
    We used Oahu Private Tours run by Jason Nau and could not recommend it enough. It is just your group and they will personalize it to meet your needs and desires!
     
  • amystevekai&bump

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2007
    I couldn’t not post about my experience with Custom Island Tours.

    My DH. & only driver, snapped his achilles three weeks before our trip & all our touring plans vanished! I contacted custom island tours and gave them a list of all the places I’d like to see in one day and they said they’d fit in as much as they could. They even picked us up from our Waikiki hotel, held our luggage, and then dropped us off at Aulani, saving us the transfer costs there too!

    Our driver & tour guide, ‘Cousin Isaac’ went above and beyond, took us to see everything we asked and more - due to traffic we ran out of time, but he stayed with us for a further 1.5 hours so that we could tick everything off of our list - aside from my wedding day, I can literally say that was the best day of my life - no exaggeration - I would wholeheartedly recommend Custom Island Tours! 👍
     

    BigTex71

    DIS Dad #536...... Fort Worth, Texas
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2009
    We used Oahu Private Tours run by Jason Nau and could not recommend it enough. It is just your group and they will personalize it to meet your needs and desires!
    We used Oahu Private Tours on our trip last summer and it was the highlight of our Oahu portion of our trip! Highly recommended. I posted info about it in my trip report listed in my signature. It was our best family vacation to date.
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    We used Discover Hawaii Tours for a tour to Pearl Harbor and the Aloha Swap Meet, and we used Oahu Nature Tours for a tour to Diamond Head. Both companies picked up and dropped off at our hotel in Waikiki. I don't believe either go as far as Ko Olina, but worth checking out because its been a few years now. We opted to do tours to both of these locations because parking is a challenge at both, and Discover Hawaii Tours facilitated getting our Arizona Memorial tickets at Pearl Harbor which can be tricky. I would recommend either company, we had a good experience with both and found them reliable.
     

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