Brightly colored fish, mythic Menehune, and volcanoes with slides
By Katrina Brown Hunt on Mar 5, 2014
Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa
On the most accessible of the Hawaiian islands, it’s hard to upstage the natural wonders. But the most swim-friendly resorts on Oahu offer infinity pools that brush up against the beach, tidal-pool-themed water playgrounds and, no surprise, water slides careening from a faux volcano. Here are four hotels where families can find a sensational poolside paradise:
Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa: Ko Olina
With three spectacular areas for splashing, Disney’s luxurious Hawaiian resort has a claim on the most elaborate swim area of Oahu. A recent expansion added the brand new infinity-edge, oceanfront pool Ka Maka Grotto, whose misty atmosphere is accentuated with glittering lights after dark. Named for the Hawaiian word meaning “mischievous water,” the most kid-friendly pool area is Waikolohe Valley, with its two slides—the heart-racing Volcanic Vertical and mellower Tubestone Curl, both of which feed out of the man-made Pu‘u Kilo mountain. Kids 5 and under flock to the tidal-pool-themed Keiki Cove playground and its rainbow water jets and hidden Menehune, the islands’ mythic “little people.” The whole family, meanwhile, can go snorkeling in the resort’s private lagoon, Rainbow Reef (which has an admission fee of $15 a day for kids ages 10 and up, and $10 for kids ages 9 and under).
(MORE: Find kid-friendly things to do on Oahu.)
Hilton Hawaiian Village: Honolulu
It’s hard to be unimpressed by the idyllic, five-acre saltwater lagoon at this huge resort: the Duke Kahanamoku, named after the local Olympic swimmer and surfing legend, offers plenty of room for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. But this 22-acre Hilton resort in Honolulu also has four pools, including the 5,000-square-foot family-friendly Paradise Pool, which boasts waterfalls and the longest slide in Waikiki, not to mention the 10,000-square-foot Super Pool, which connects to a shallow kids’ pool. The resort also offers classic perks such as free snorkeling lessons for young swimmers, lei-making classes, hula lessons, and live penguins and flamingos.
(MORE: View a family trip plan: 5 days on Oahu with kids.)
Sheraton Waikiki: Waikiki
Aside from its acclaimed Edge of Waikiki infinity pool (for ages 16 and up), this Sheraton resort features the beachfront Helumoa Playground, with two fresh water swimming pools, a kids’ splash area and 70-foot water slide. The nearly 1,700-room resort also offers plenty of fun daily events from ukulele lessons to candy-lei-making and even turtle meet-and-greets. (Insider tip: guests at the neighboring Royal Hawaiian Resort also get access to the Halima Playground.)
Halekaluni Hotel: Waikiki
This stylish, 450-room hotel overlooking Waikiki Beach may not offer a splash-’em-up water playground, but its heated, freshwater pool is a crowd-pleasing work of art: the 3,800-square-foot pool has a jaw-dropping mosaic of a Cattleya orchid on its floor, made with 1.2 million pieces of imported South African glass tiles. Teens will also appreciate the poolside perks of cold towels, magazines, and a selection of CDs.
Katrina Brown Hunt contributed this to www.MiniTime.com.