Family vacations are the bomb; the adventures to be had, the family bonding and of course the occasional squabble when the stressors get to us. When we travel, one of our biggest expenses can be and often is, eating out. And, this Average Joe knows that first hand! I have five in my entourage.
Disney’s Aulani and of course, Hawaii in general, will certainly do their best to tempt you into breaking your vacation budget. And, if you’re not careful, all of those fruity drinks, orders of Dole Whip and coconut shrimp will add up fast! So, if you’re going to Aulani, here are a few places that we ate at and some tips that we employed to cut our food costs so that we could enjoy what the resort offered us. You can also read my post “Aulani and the Average Joe” for some additional notes on making and saving money to get yourself to this resort.
Within a Short Driving Distance
If you have a car at the resort, there is a large shopping plaza about 10 minutes away on H1, the main highway. Here you can find a collection of mainland restaurants, a fine looking movie theater and several anchor stores. I visited two:
Target and Costco – A great way to save on your Hawaiian vacation food costs is by simply going to the local Target or Costco which is only about a ten minute drive away. We bought food and prepared several meals in our room which helped tremendously. I am a fan of SPAM and ate it almost every day for breakfast.
You will notice an increased costs at the grocery store; I found food was about 30% more expensive than the mainland. But, if you buy local items, they are an excellent value. For example, I bought a Golden Pineapple, which are grown and sold primarily on the island, and it was less than $3.00. And, it was fabulous!
I wandered through the Costco doing a Mobee mission and I was astonished at some of the excellent prices on macadamia nuts and other items that are more Hawaiian based. If you want to get macadamia nuts, stop by here! And, you can never go wrong with a Costco hotdog and Coke combo!
Within Walking Distance of the Aulani
Directly across from the Aulani resort is a small strip plaza. You can easily walk from the resort to the plaza along the ample sidewalk and enjoy the numerous gift shops and a few restaurants. We hit two that stood out:
Monkeypod Restaurant – The Monkeypod has an excellent happy hour, live music, and a delightful setting. If you want something different than the Aulani’s resort’s food, simply walk across the street and enjoy this wonderful environment. If you enjoy drinking, but don’t want to pay the top dollar of the resort’s bars, this is the place to go.
Island Country Market – In the plaza, the Island Country Market is your go to place for dry goods, beer, liquor and hot foods. Their prices are certainly higher than Target’s, but if you do not have a car, your options for shopping in this situation are very limited. But, you will find plenty to keep your crew fed here.
The market has a fine looking kitchen and hot bar. Their hot foods looked excellent and I actually wanted to eat here, but, did not have the opportunity. I did buy one of their SPAM musubis and thought it was excellent. It was only $1.99 and was about the size of a tennis ball.
Food Trucks – The food truck culture seems have blossomed on the island and we dined at two of them. These purveyors of delectable goodies seem to be everywhere on the island, yet, they are difficult to find as they are often tucked into parking lot corners or under trees off of the roadways. But, once you find the first one, you will be on the prowl for these mobile dining pleasures. Here are two that we enjoyed:
Big Wave Shrimp Truck – Wandering up to the North Shore, we came across a cluster of food trucks outside of the historic town of Haleiwa. The Big Wave Shrimp Truck is parked under a cluster of trees and has ample picnic bench seating. Here we tried garlic shrimp. Two scoops of sticky rice, a salad and ample large shrimp. An generous meal for $13.00; I got mine spicy and sat under the tree enjoying life. I highly recommend this stop.
Leonard’s Bakery– The Portuguese have left an indelible mark on the foods of Hawaii, and one of their specialties they have shared are their malasadas; fried bread dough coated in sugar and cinnamon. For an extra treat get them stuffed with chocolate. Leonard’s has a food truck parked in the Waikele Shopping Center where a line of people (at 4pm in the afternoon!) awaited their orders. I cannot imagine the crowd in the morning. A box of these is less the $20.00, but a treat well worth getting. The Waikele Shopping Center is about 20 minutes from the resort.
Disney’s Aulani Restaurants
Dining at Disney World is always on my list of to do things. I love it all; from the food carts selling turkey legs to the Top of the World five star dining. Disney’s Aulani also offers dining for all budgets and here are my thoughts:
‘AMA ‘AMA – This is the resort’s signature restaurant. We ate here for Ms. Angie’s birthday and we found it to be exquisite. We both ordered steaks, a salad, appetizer, wine, and found our bill to be about $300.00 with tip. I highly recommend this restaurant where you can sit in the open air, look out over the ocean and enjoy fabulous service. Try the poki, a fascinating take on sushi.
Wailana Pool Bar – A good spot for a beer; enjoy the sounds of the pool, the warm air blowing through the resort. We ate here the first night and we were not overly impressed with our fish tacos. However, everything else was good. The girls liked their chicken strips, which are served with a generous portion of French fries. I later got an order of coconut shrimp and they were delicious.
Papalua Shaved Ice – This was one of my favorite stops. Four dollars buys a refreshingly delicious snack that everyone will enjoy. I did notice the staff was a little lite on the flavoring, I recommend asking for a little extra.
Little ‘Opihi’s – Located down by the beach, this spot has the coveted Dole Whips! Pineapple flavored ice cream which is by far the best tasting ice cream I have ever tried! I have been traveling to Disney World since it opened and for some reason, have never tried one of these unbelievably great tasting delights. Once you get to Aulani, if you have not had a Dole Whip before, promise me you will try one.
There is so much to offer at this resort and of course beyond its borders that no one person can cover it all. So, I encourage you to get out, see as much as the island you can, and have a wonderful time!
And, make sure you send me a picture of you and a Dole Whip! I don’t know why I don’t have one…
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Ibotta – Cutting and clipping coupons is now a thing of the past. Ibotta make rebates as simple as buy, snap a picture, and submit the rebate. I have earned hundredsof dollars in rebates from Ibotta and all rebates are paid through Paypal. If you use my referral code, qffkbsh we will both get a referral bonus. Think of it as a free $10.00 from me to you!! If you want to read my review of Ibotta, follow this link.
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