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Where We Are: Hawaii

Aloha! We’re writing to you today from Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii. This dreamy getaway is located on the island of Oahu, about 15 miles west from the state capital of Honolulu. The resort and spa, owned and operated by Disney, is a beautiful Polynesian-themed resort on a private oceanfront lagoon. While the resort features numerous family friendly activities and Disney character themed experiences, it has plenty of adult fun, too.

You’re not really in Hawaii until you get a Mai Tai.

We started this trip nine months ago at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We were new to this whole travel thing and today, as we drink beers sitting at the poolside bar, it feels like we’re reliving that memory. Ever since then, we’ve loved working from resort pool bars.

Throwback to our very first day on this trip, working from Geyser Point pool bar at Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World

We arrived in the afternoon and opted to spend our first night at the airport hotel so we could take full advantage of our days at Aulani. We decided to venture out and took the city bus from the Best Western near the airport to the downtown center of the famous Waikiki Beach. We had a great dinner at Beach Bar at the Moana Surfrider Hotel and loved watching the surfers.

Our view from dinner at Beach Bar in Waikiki. Not a bad welcome to Hawaii!

We’re happy we explored Waikiki and took the bus through Honolulu before coming to Aulani. It really reminded us of how actual life on the islands is so different than resort life.

First Impressions on Hawaii:

  • So many homeless people: Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the United States, and that is painfully obvious when you take the city bus from the airport to Waikiki. We’re from Chicago, so we’re used to seeing homeless people, but we were still surprised by the volume we saw in Hawaii.  As world travelers, we experience homeless people a lot and in different settings, and it always conjures a different set of feelings. The thing that stands out about homelessness in the United States is the dichotomy of it. It’s the people begging for money from people spending $800 a night on a hotel room. It breaks your heart in a different (but equal) way than seeing people begging for money in an already poor city (think Phnom Penh). Homelessness is a global problem, but seeing how it effects people in different countries has been one of the more surprising elements of world travel.
  • The Islands are very different from each other. Just like any state, Hawaii has different cities that have different things to offer. Their cities just happen to be on different islands. We went to Maui for our Honeymoon four years ago and Oahu is our second Hawaiian island. We have heard that each island has a different vibe, and I believed it, but I didn’t quite realize just how different they would be. Oahu feels so much more urban and industrial, while Maui felt much more nature centric. I’d like to get to the Big Island and Kaui one day too and see what those have to offer.

Got a visit from this cute red head this morning

What you need to know — Hawaii:

  • Population: 1.5 million
  • Altitude: Varied. We’re at sea level at the resort, but the average elevation on the islands is 14,000 ft.
  • Exchange Rate:  NA
  • Primary Language: English (but fun fact, the secondary language is actually Japanese)
  • Walking Tour: Yes actually. Aulani has a couple walking tours through the resort.
  • Time Zone: Aleutian Time Zone, UTC -10 (5 hours behind US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Yes — buses only
  • Emergency Number: 911
  • Running: Yes – there is lots of great ocean side paths, including about a mile of paved ocean front that passes through Aulani.
  • American Football: No longer in season.
  • Starbucks: In Hawaii, yes. At the resort, no.
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: I don’t think so, but need to check!
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: No
  • Coffee Price: $6 USD for a cold brew or latte
  • Beer Price: $7/$8

Aulani looks darn good at sunrise