Taking the Kids to Oahu Beyond Waikiki
Aerial view of the Aulani coastline
No, not a spa named after turtles -- a spa for turtles.
We are just off the leeward coast of
We look down 20 feet in the clear water to see three of the huge turtles getting their "treatments." Afterward, one deigns to snorkel with us. "The best was my son tugging my foot and I turned around and there was a sea turtle three feet from me," says an excited
But meeting up with the turtles isn't even the piece de resistance of this early-morning trip. Before the turtles made their appearance, we swam with about 30 wild spinner dolphins, as they raced around our boat. There are very few places in the world where you can do this, I learned later. The Hawaiian spinner dolphins feed at night and return to this area close to
We are warned not to touch them and advised to get into "the dolphin zone."
"Just relax and take in the experience," our guides urge us, asking us to be mindful of how our environmental carelessness can harm these magnificent creatures. We are so close we hear their high-pitched "conversation." They seem oblivious to our presence.
"This is the best place for experiencing the ocean," observes Cullins. "But nobody comes to this part of
That may change a year from now when
The name Aulani means " a messenger of a chief" and was chosen to position the resort --
If this place -- 359 rooms (with additional two-bedroom
But I prefer the tranquility here -- kids splashing in the big pool and in the lagoons with their parents at the
You are closer here too to the North Shore with its quaint surfing town
But once the
Airy, expansive Aunty's Beach House will be kids central, offering supervised programs where kids can learn more about Hawaiian culture. (Rain will fall -- yet another special effect before movies are shown.) A separate teen area will be adjacent to the 18,000-foot spa where, yes, there will be teen treatments.
Great care has been taken to interpret Hawaiian culture. There will be local storytellers, a live taro field and even lamps in the rooms that are fashioned to look like the poi pounders used to make the taro into poi, a staple of the traditional Hawaiian diet. On the water rides, you will think you are passing lava rocks. Canoes will "dump" water on the littlest visitors in a water playground. Spa treatments will feature local salt scrubs, lomi lomi Hawaiian massage and more. One restaurant
Special excursions are planned so families can experience
Or at least
Mix, who traces his Hawaiian ancestry back more than 1,000 years, encourages tourists to "talk story" with any Hawaiian they might meet -- the woman cleaning your room, the waitress at the restaurant, folks on the beach. "I've seen many doors open like that," he promises. "It comes when you least expect it."
"You can get as much of
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It's vacation and the teens are awake and ready to roll before 8 a.m.! The 22-year-old White has come down to Grand Cayman, his parents and sister in tow, to inaugurate Skate Cayman an 11-week summer program
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(c) 2009 EILEEN OGINTZ DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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