Hi there! I would like to share our trip to Oahu, Hawaii. This was a last minute planning because we just planned it within 30 days from the date of our departure. We just happened to have a 6 days off and wanted to go on a little trip to Oahu with our 3 year-old daughter.
Considering that our trip is within 30 days from departure, we expected that prices might be higher, and we were right! We traveled in May 2019 and we have compared prices from different sites like Kayak.com and Booking.com.
Costco Travel saved the day! It’s still expensive but it’s a better deal compared to other websites and compared to booking everything separately, from hotel, to airfare, to land transfers. You know what they say, “Think Costco first!”
Tip: When booking through Costco Travel, it’s best to give them a call rather than just doing it online
The whole trip cost us $4,089.15 for 3 people (2 adult and 1 child). This price includes airfare (United Airlines), hotel stay and land transfer (airport to hotel, and hotel to aiport). Here’s our itinerary:
- Departure Flights:
- LAX – HNL 1:45PM – 4:35PM 5hrs 50min
- Time Zones are different
- Arrival Transfer to hotel by Shared Transfer – One Way
- LAX – HNL 1:45PM – 4:35PM 5hrs 50min
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
- 3 nights
- Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
- 2 nights
- Departure Transfer from Aulani to HNL airport
- Shared transfer by SpeediShuttle
- Return Flights:
- HNL – LAX 3:26PM – 11:57PM 5hrs 31min
- Time Zones are different
- HNL – LAX 3:26PM – 11:57PM 5hrs 31min
Note: We arranged our own transportation from Hilton Hawaiian Village to Disney Aulani, courtesy of a friend who lives there. It’s about 40 minute drive. If you take Uber, it will be around $60
We wanted to stay at Disney Aulani for the whole duration of our trip for our daughter but they were fully booked on the weekend and it will be very expensive if we stay there for 5 nights. Costco Travel did a great job on helping us stay within our budget, so we stayed 3 nights at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach and 2 nights at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.
Here’s a list of things we did in Hawaii with our 3 year-old daughter
I’m used to long flights but this almost 6-hour flight was kind of exhausting for some reason. My daughter did great for 6 hours in the plane! I’m sure she’s exhausted too but I feel like she’s more excited. She’s always looking out of the window. This is her fifth trip on a plane and she’s completely fine with all those trips! When we arrived at HNL airport, we were greeted by a nice lady from our shuttle service. She’s very friendly and helpful.
It was already around 6pm when we checked in at our hotel. Hilton Hawaiian Village is close by everything! There’s a lot of restaurants around and the famous ABC Store – it’s everywhere! ABC Store is like a 7-eleven store. Hilton Hawaiian Village is a beachfront hotel and it’s nice to just walk around and just relax.
After walking and taking pictures by the beach, we just waited for a friend who just moved to Oahu from North Carolina. He took us to dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant and that pretty much ended our first night. We were exhausted.
Our friend picked us up at our hotel to go on some tours. We’re lucky we have a friend who just moved to Oahu from North Carolina.
Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts
This was just a quick stop before we went to Kualoa Ranch. We were supposed to do a quick tour but we won’t make it in time for our Kualoa Ranch tour. We just visited their store and tried some macadamia coffee, which is really good! They sell macadamia nuts covered with chocolate, flavored macadamia nuts and souvenirs. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to check out the farm but maybe next time!
Movie Site & Ranch Tour at Kualoa Ranch
We had so much fun on this tour. We were surprised that there were a lot of movies filmed here. Not really surprising because it’s really beautiful there! The tour lasts for 90 minutes and tickets cost $47.95 Adult | $36.95 Child (3-12). See tour details here. There are other tours that they offer but since this trip is a last minute thing, we really didn’t have a plan for our entire stay in Oahu so everything was on a last minute.
The 90-minute movie tour is all about the movies filmed at the ranch. Our tour guide took us to all the places where movies were filmed like Jurrasic Park, 50 First Dates, and a lot more, including TV series like Lost, Hawaii Five-O, Amazing Race and a lot more!
From Kualoa Ranch, you’ll see a very nice view of the Chinama’s Hat or Mokoli’i. We didn’t get a chance to go on the island but we just took some pictures by Kualoa Regional Park if you want a closer look of the island or you can also take pictures from the ranch. While waiting for the tour
Before going back to our hotel, we went to Blowhole Lookout. It’s almost an hour drive from Kualoa Ranch. It was a pretty drive and my daughter was able to nap. The lookout is a nice view overlooking the Pacific Ocean
After taking pictures at the Blowhole Lookout, we dropped by at some food trucks on the way back to the hotel.
Fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village
By the time we got back to our hotel, it’s almost time for the fireworks show! Hilton Hawaiian Village do this every Fridays at 7:45pm (September – May), and every Fridays at 8pm on Summer (June-August). My daughter didn’t really like the fireworks, she got scared and she was just hugging me the whole time. The fireworks last for about 10 minutes. After the fireworks, we just called it a day. We were exhausted.
Roadtrip around the island
I woke up early to check for some tours, unfortunately, most tours starts early too and we don’t have much time to get ready since my daughter was too tired from the previous day and she was still sleeping. We decided to rent a car through Costco Travel – Rental Cars. We rented a Chevrolet Camaro convertible, just because! Well, we wanted to be fancy and enjoy the hawaiian breeze while driving. The car rental was about $120. The only thing we didn’t realize is the size of the trunk! It is tiny and a baby stroller won’t fit so it was just sitting in the back seat right next to my daughter’s car seat. We brought her car seat so we don’t have to rent one.
We started our day with breakfast from McDonald’s. We were surprised they have spam, rice and egg for breakfast! I mean for a Filipino like us, that’s really exciting! And that means we don’t have to spend too much for breakfast.
Before heading out for a road trip, we decided to go to Ala Moana Center. We wanted to buy some snacks and check out the mall pretty much. We went to the food court and tried some Musubi, which is basically spam and rice wrapped in nori. It’s a popular snack in Hawaii. It’s cheap and it’s filling! We also bought some bread from Brug Bakery. We started heading out around 10 a.m.
First stop – Ko’Olina Lagoon 4
This is close by Disney Aulani. This is a kid-friendly spot because there’s no waves. The lagoons in Ko’Olina are not busy compared with Waikiki Beach. It’s a great spot for families. My daughter had so much fun here. She was also playing with other kids. There’s no lifeguard here so you have to keep an eye on your little ones. Don’t forget to bring a beach mat or foldable chairs, and of course, snacks! For more information about the lagoons, click here.
Second stop – North Shore
We wanted to try Matsumoto Shave Ice and Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. We heard so many great things. Unfortunately, both places were busy when we got there. We wanted to stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck first for late lunch but it was busy and there’s no parking space. There’s still a couple of shrimp truck close by. We tried Big Wave Shrimp. We had the spicy garlic shrimp and it was good! The shrimp was fresh!
After our late lunch, we went to Matsumoto Shave Ice but it was so busy! There’s a long line! We’re not willing to stand in line for a long time especially with a cranky and tired toddler with us. My daughter was already feeling tired with being on the road almost the whole day. There’s another shave ice place close by Matsumoto called Malia’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. Personally, I’m not fond of shaved ice. I’ve tried so many and nothing beats Filipino halo-halo. It still tasted good and refreshing but it’s not really my thing.
Third and Final stop – Dole Pineapple Farm
This stop was not planned at all. We were supposed to be heading back to our hotel from North Shore and we passed by Dole Farm. We had to make a U-turn to check if they’re still open. Luckily, they are! We just bought a ticket for the Pineapple Express Train Tour, which is 20-minute long. We arrived there at 4:30pm but we waited 30min in line. The farm closes at 5:30pm. For more information on tours, click here. The pineapple in Hawaii is really good! It’s sweet!
After the tour, we decided to go back to our hotel but we were hungry so we decided that on the way, we will grab a bite at a Filipino restaurant. We decided to drive by Waipahu because we heard there’s a lot of Filipino restaurants there. We ended up going to Jollibee in a Seafood City store. There’s a lot of Filipinos there especially Ilokanos. In fact, we stopped at a street barbecue place and when I asked about their chicken bbq, they started talking to me in Ilokano. I’m Ilokano but I was surprised they talked to me in Ilokano right away.
We decided to call it a day and went back to our hotel and just hang out by the pool since it’s our last night at Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa
In the morning, we waited for our friend to pick us up and drop us off at Disney Aulani. If you use Uber, it will cost about $60 from Waikiki to Aulani.
This is probably the highlight of our trip. Our daughter had the best time here, not surprising! Disney Aulani is perfect for families and for everybody, of course! They have fun activities for the kids the whole day and not to mention their pools and water features are gorgeous! They also have their private lagoon if you feel like the pools are crowded, because they can get crowded on busy days.
Around the resort, you’ll see Disney characters like Moana and you can take pictures. You can get the photo pass so you can just download your pictures online.
You probably don’t need to go out of the resort because they also have restaurants here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a breakfast buffet, which was already fully booked for 6 months when we got there. It’s a fun breakfast buffet because you’ll see Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, etc… They will go to your table so you can take pictures with them. At breakfast, they also have fun activities for kids like dancing and singing with the Disney characters.
Tip: Breakfast buffet needs to be booked at least 6 months in advance. However, you can be on a wait list. For wait list, just go to the buffet restaurant at 6am and leave your name and your number. We were lucky for the 2 days we were there. We were on a waitlist and got called in just 45minutes. You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to experience their breakfast buffet.
The restaurants are open to public. You don’t have to stay there so you can dine. In fact, you can even take pictures in the resort but you can’t use their pools, of course! We just stayed at the resort the whole day so we can experience everything the resort has to offer and the next day we have to go somewhere with family friends.
Tip: If you are traveling with a 3yo and older, Disney Aulani has a complimentary Kid’s Club called Aunty’s Beach House. You can leave your kids here all day. They are a licensed day care in the State of Hawaii. You can only leave your kids here if they are completely potty trained. Our daughter is not potty trained yet so we just did some activities ourselves. They have activities for kids at Aunty’s Beach House for the whole day! Kids won’t get bored here while adults can go enjoy some adult activities.
Breakfast Buffet at Disney Aulani
Since we don’t have a reservation and it’s fully booked, I went to the restaurant before 6am to be on a waitlist. Luckily, they called us within 45min! The buffet was great. They have good and healthy food. The fun part is the Disney characters coming to your table to take pictures. Kids love them! We all love them!
Memorial Day at Pearl Harbor
A family friend picked us up from Disney Aulani to go to some places we haven’t been. Since it’s Memorial Day, we decided to go to Pearl Harbor. We went around on a tour at the harbor, it was free. I honestly had goosebumps and I was emotional watching the videos of what had happened
Lunch at Tantalus Lookout
From the Pearl Harbor, we bought food from Jollibee, of course! And we went to Tantalus Lookout to enjoy our food and the view. This is where you can see a nice view of the Diamond Head volcano cone and Waikiki skyline.
This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Oahu. It’s not surprising because it’s really beautiful! We’re so lucky to experience it! The water is prestine and it’s just a perfect place to relax with family and friends. We were there late in the afternoon so there’s not a lot of people. Maybe it gets busy during the day. Before you head down to the bay, if it’s your first time there, you are required to watch a video presentation about Hanauma Bay. There’s a shuttle that goes up and down the hill but we chose to walk going down and rode a shuttle going back up. When we went there, we were warned of jellyfish because it was full moon the night before, and that’s when jellyfish comes out. We’re lucky we didn’t experience any jellyfish! It was a fun day and we just went back to our hotel to enjoy our last night at Disney Aulani.
Last day in Hawaii
It was bitter-sweet! Hawaii is so beautiful and we really enjoyed it! We started our day with another breakfast buffet at Disney Aulani. Again, we were on waitlist but it was quick when they called us that a table is ready!
My daughter didn’t want to leave the hotel. In fact, she was crying when she saw the bellman getting all of our luggage out of our room. From the hotel, we were picked up by Speedi Shuttle going to HNL airport.
It was a fun last minute trip. We didn’t get to do a lot of adult stuff like kayaking and snorkeling because we have our daughter with us. She’s too young for those activities. This trip was challenging with her because she was so cranky most of the time. She did great flying to and from Hawaii but going around Oahu was a different thing. I’m guessing maybe she was already so tired or maybe it’s also the time difference. Hawaii is 3 hours behind from Los Angeles.
Booking through Costco Travel had been a great experience! The hotel choices are great and I will post another blog with my review of Hilton Hawaiian Village and Disney Aulani. Again, this was a last minute trip so the price for our trip was really expensive and all of ours tours were not planned.
If you’re going on a last minute trip to Oahu, this can be a useful guide for you. There’s a lot more to to do in Oahu with your family and friends. I hope this blog post will help you in the future! Until next time!
Note: This blog post is not sponsored by any brands mentioned here.