O'ahu and Disney's Aulani: traveling with 4 children in different age groups and abilities

 For me, growing up as a military family meant moving around a lot. My sister and I were born on the U.S territory island of Puerto Rico. After some time there, we were transferred to the Hawaiian island of O'ahu where my brother was born.
Although my mixed heritage is African-American and Mexican, I include Hawaii and Puerto Rico as part of my multicultural experience.
We left Hawaii and moved to California which I now call home with my husband and 4 children.
I love to travel and show my children the diverse cultures we share the world with and provide them with multicultural experiences.
We do many weekenders like local trips around California, Nevada and Arizona. When we have longer availability we hit New York and the Midwest.
Every couple of years or so we take longer vacations which include visits to the islands of Hawaii.
After spending a couple of vacations on the island of Maui, we decided it was time to visit O'ahu with my children and show them the island I spent time on and love so much.
I couldn't wait to go but traveling as a family of 6 is no easy feat. Add to it the fact that I have four children in different age groups and physical abilities. If not done right, you have the makings of a vacation fail.
*Side note: most of you know by now I write about different abilities because my oldest has special needs and is differently-abled so we need to take that into consideration. Also, abilities in this case also means sometimes the older children are able to do things the younger ones may want be able to do but can't (ie long hikes and jumping off cliffs)
Ya, right!
As a seasoned mama (read I learned the hard way) I try and mitigate any fights and tears while traveling by nipping it in the bud. Traveling with so many kids, personalities, likes and dislikes requires not only good planning, it requires family buy-in.
Here's my tips for traveling Hawai‘i with kids of different age ranges and abilities. 
1. Research
We had the children do some homework. They were required to look up O'ahu and write down some of the items, activities, and places they wanted to visit.
Here's their collective list:
a. snorkeling
b. fishing
c. Disney's Aulani (a given in my book)
d. Diamond Head (hiking)
e. surfing
f. beach (duh)
g. helicopter ride (not gonna happen)
h. see volcano/ lava
i. luau
j. trying new foods
k. Pearl Harbor
l. shopping
m. zip line
n. Dole Pineapple Plantation 
We took their list and found out which ones the all kids had in common and we were surprised they agreed on many of them.
2. Get organized
We then made appointments, bought required tickets and divided the activities into number of days we would be there.
Travel day- we arrived on O'ahu in the late evening so all we could do was check-in our hotel, eat and get to sleep to start off early the next day.
Full Day 1  snorkeling/ beach day
Beautiful weather and warm water made for the best day ever. Be sure to reapply sunscreen often.
We learned a great deal about Hawaii's water life and how to preserve it. Plasticware like straws are a big no-no!
Day 2  Pearl Harbor/ luau
Paying respects to the brave men and women who lost their life that fateful day when Pearl Harbor was bombed December 7, 1941
Spending quality time with the keiki at the luau
Day 3 Trying new foods/hike to Diamond Head/ shopping/exploring Waikiki
Fresh coconut!
An amazing view once we hiked up the extinct volcano of Diamond Head and climbed about 100 steps in the process. Start early before it get's too warm and crowded. Take plenty of water and rest stops. 
Day 4 Zip line and North Shore beaches
Amazing views! I had to really challenge myself but I'm so glad I did. Each kid was able to do this activity with the wonderful help of our tour guides. 

The "honu" (turtles) were magnificent, some larger than my kids. Swim with them but do not touch as they are protected species!
Day 5- Disney's Aulani
 “Aulani” means “messenger of a chief.” The whole resort is as magical as we imagined. 
We checked in early and started with a hosted breakfast at Aunty's Beach House for a wonderful buffet & character breakfast.
Beautiful views await you!
Welcome to Aulani from everyone's favorite mouse, Mickey Mouse!
Minnie came by to say Aloha at breakfast.
Shaka brudduh! Gabe loving it all!
After Breakfast, we changed into our swimsuits and hit the water and resort activities.
Water fun for all ages!
Whether it's waterslides, swimming or paddling, there is something for everyone.
Waterslides and lazy river got us hungry.
Snack time!
Mickey pretzels
You cannot come to the pineapple capital without eating a Dole Whip with pineapples from right here at the Dole Plantation!
So many family-fun activities. Moana was here as we made canoes and readied to race them.
When our room was ready, we cleaned up for dinner and evening activities. 
The suite was amazing. Full kitchen, washer/dryer, 3 bathrooms...I didn't want to leave. I was able to wash all our clothes (all 6 of us) before we packed for the airport. Can you believe I can home with all clean clothes? It was fantastic.
Day 6 Last full day Au'lani
My wahines listening to Hawaiian music.
Check out the Aulani daily schedule to make you don't miss anything.
Movie night on the lawn- Aladdin!
Follow their newsletter to catch the latest specials. This one is from Disney's Aulani's website if you're looking to go during the upcoming school break, O'ahu and Aulani sounds like a great deal if you can get there by December.
Heck, take us, we'll gladly go again!
Here's the special:
"Extend summer to December, for a whole lot less. Enjoy great savings on your Aulani Resort family vacation—with sensational offers when you book 4 nights or more during Aulani Mahalo Season—and keep summer sizzlin’!
    Make summer last until December with Aulani Mahalo Season! Stay 4 or more nights August 20 through December 21, 2017 and enjoy savings up to 30% while you keep the spirit of summer sizzlin’!

    Stay 5 or more consecutive nights and save:
    • 30% on Ocean View, Partial Ocean View and Poolside Gardens View Rooms
    • 25% on Standard and Island Gardens View Rooms
    Can't join us for 5 or more nights? You can still save!

    Stay 4 consecutive nights and save:
    • 25% on Ocean View, Partial Ocean View and Poolside Gardens View Rooms
    • 20% on Standard and Island Gardens View Rooms

    This offer is valid for most stays August 20 through December 21, 2017 (excluding November 20-23, 2017). Rooms must be booked by October 24, 2017."
    Disclosure: Hosted buffet breakfast at Aulani provided by Aulani PR
Day 7 Dole Pineapple Plantation /Travel day home
More Dole Whip!
What an amazing vacation! I re-fell in love with O'ahu. I am thankful I got to experience this time with my ohana (family) and show them my Hawaii! 

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