Most of my life I’ve pretty much been known for loving two things 1) Disney and 2) Hawaii.
So when Disney built its Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii, it’s like they were building it just for ME. And it’s since become my home away from home. I mean really…Disney AND Hawaii. What could be better???
I’ve written quite a few posts about Aulani (read through my archives here), but this particular post is all about how many days you’ll want to spend at Aulani.
Aulani checks all of the boxes of a perfect resort…a tropical setting, everything revolves around the pools and beach, amazing theming and architecture, laid back luxury, and every amenity you could possibly imagine, but mostly it just gives you that feeling that you never want to leave.
How Many Days at Aulani?
But this is Hawaii! One of the most beautiful destinations in the world! So if you’ve got questions about how many days you’ll want to spend just at Aulani and how that fits into sightseeing the rest of the island (or even visiting other islands), I’ve got answers!
How Many Days at Aulani? (Not Leaving the Resort Area)
Let’s start off by talking just about the time that you’ll spend at the resort itself and in the little resort bubble of Ko Olina.
Aulani is a pretty decent sized resort with multiple restaurants, a whole pool complex, snorkeling lagoon, beach, and endless activities.
It sits in Ko Olina which is a high end resort area on the west side of Oahu that’s home to a Four Seasons, Marriott Vacation Club, a marina, golf course, a shopping center with a handful of restaurants, and a smattering of condos and vacation homes.
It has everything you need to keep you happy and busy living the resort life, but it’s pretty quiet and isolated from the rest of the island.
All that being said, my personal ideal amount of time to spend at Aulani (and in Ko Olina) is four nights.
That’s not four nights in Hawaii or on the island, but that’s four nights of basically parking my car and not venturing any farther out than I can walk.
Could I stay at Aulani for two full weeks and be a happy camper? Absolutely! I’m one of those people who can alternate between the beach and pool at a resort cranking through a book a day for weeks on end and never get bored so I could definitely justify a longer trip, but 3-4 days is a really good chunk of time to spend at Aulani and get to play and have fun and still relax.
If the budget is tight and you’re questioning how you’re going to make it happen, two nights is still a great option. You’ll have one full day and parts of your arrival and check out day (you could arrive at 7 AM on check in day, store your bags and spend the whole day enjoying the resort and on check out day they have a lounge with lockers and showers you can access even after you check out of your room). That’s a lot of bang for your buck for a two night stay.
How Many Days on Oahu?
I never recommend coming to Hawaii for less than a week (unless maybe if you’re coming directly from the west coast, you travel often, and you’re mostly coming for some R&R).
It’s just so far, you’re dealing with a major time change, and there’s soooooo much to see and do.
A trip to Hawaii isn’t like a quick jaunt to Mexico where you never leave the resort. There is so much to explore in Hawaii, plus you want to actually have a vacation.
Besides just coming to Hawaii in general, I rarely recommend staying on any one island for less than a week.
A lot of people come with grand plans to see all four main islands in 10 days and honestly that’s just absolutely nuts. You could spend a solid week on each island and barely scratch the surface plus add in all of that time in airports and there are just so many better ways to spend your time.
Sooooo…let’s assume you’re going to be on Oahu for a week (or longer!).
Honestly, if you’ve got the cash to stay at Aulani the whole time, go for it! Even if you alternate days spent at the resort and days spent out exploring the island, it’s just so nice to come back to a place that feels like a real oasis at the end of the day.
I personally prefer to split my trip into two parts (partially to save a little $$$ and partially for convenience and a more rounded experience).
If this were my perfect weeklong trip to Oahu, I would spend the first 3-4 nights at a hotel in Waikiki and plan to do the bulk of my “exploring the island” time and then finish off my trip with 3-4 nights at Aulani for my “vacation” time.
Should I Spend More Than a Week?
Yes! If you’ve got more than a week, Hawaii definitely has enough to keep you entertained. You could extend your time at Aulani by a few days or extend the time you spend exploring Oahu by a few days OR you could add in another chunk of time on another island.
If you have an extra four days or so you could squeeze in a really nice trip to Kauai (it’s a smaller island) or try Maui or the Big Island if there’s something specific there that you’d like to see (National Park bucket listers will want to visit Haleakala National Park on Maui and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island for sure).
But I still stick by my general rule of thumb and recommend a week per island if you want to really get to see and do much (and still feel like you’ve had a vacation).
Alternatively, if you’ve done the research and you’re actually a lot more interested in visiting another island like Maui or Kauai over Oahu but you still really want to stay at Aulani because you’re a “Disney person,” then you could do a week on another island and then fly to Oahu just to stay at Aulani for a few days and not feel like you need to see much else of the island since you’ve already had your “Hawaii experience.”
Want to read more? Don’t miss some of my most popular (and favorite) posts about Oahu:
If you’re trying to figure out where to stay, you’re going to want to look at my favorite boutique resort in Waikiki and the lowdown on where to stay on Oahu besides Waikiki. Plus I’ve got the scoop on how to avoid illegal vacation rentals and a roundup of where to stay in Ko Olina and reviews of the Laylow and Disney’s Aulani Resort. And a LOT more on Aulani like is Aulani worth it?, tips for staying at Aulani, how many days to spend, and the best things to eat and drink at Aulani.
If you’re researching luaus on Oahu, I’ve written quite a bit. First, I’ve got a full breakdown of the best luaus (and the worst) on Oahu. Then I’ve got complete reviews of Paradise Cove, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Aulani’s Ka Wa’a Luau. And if you’ve narrowed it down to the top two most popular on the island and still can’t decide, here’s Paradise Cove vs Polynesian Cultural Center.
If you’re trying to put together an itinerary full of the best things to do, take a look at my best 5 day itinerary, and roundups of the best things to do in Waikiki, “secret” things to do on Oahu, plus my favorite things to do in Kailua and the windward coast, in Ko Olina, and on the north shore. And if you’re looking for food recommendations, I’ve got the best restaurants in Ko Olina and where locals eat in Waikiki.
And last but not least, some of my favorite things on Oahu like Jurassic Park at Kualoa Ranch, Shangri La and the Honolulu Museum of Art, tips for visiting Pearl Harbor, easy hikes on Oahu, and the best spas on Oahu. And everything you need to know BEFORE you go to Oahu.
P.S. Thanks for sticking around and reading this whole post! If you have ANY questions about planning your trip to Hawaii, you can join my free Facebook group here. I’m there answering questions every day and there are 7500+ other friends who have a ton of Hawaii information to share!
Also, if you want to follow along on my travel adventures in real time, you can follow me on Instagram (@caitylincoln). My post captions are full of travel tips and I have a ton of story highlights and videos with great info. And please share my account with your friends that are headed to Hawaii! Your support really helps me keep this blog running!
P.S. If you want to follow along on my travel adventures in real time, you can follow me on Instagram (@caitylincoln). My post captions are full of travel tips and I have a ton of story highlights and videos with great info. And share my account with your travel loving friends! Your support really helps me keep this blog running!