This past summer my family stayed at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. We love the water so we decided to book a catamaran excursion. You can book this in advance through the resort’s website or you can book through the tour desk at Aulani once you are there (if there is still availability).
DIStracted Tip: We knew that we really wanted to do this, so we booked in advance. Currently, the excursion is offered on Mondays and Wednesdays, so if you know this is a “must-do,” call or book online.
Our excursion began at 12:45pm, by meeting in the resort lobby. The catamaran experience is hosted by an Adventures by Disney guide. Our guide met us there. He brought along enough towels for everyone on the excursion. You will need to bring some essentials – swimsuits, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or visor and a camera if you want to capture some amazing pictures. The excursion is a collaboration between Adventures by Disney and Hawaii Nautical.
Transportation was included so once our group was together, we headed out to board a couple shuttle buses to head to the harbor. There were about 30 people on our excursion, a mix of all ages. The minimum age is 4. Our guide came along on our shuttle bus and he was a lot of fun. He was willing to answer any and all questions about Hawaii, not just about our adventure ahead. He was very knowledgable. He also told us that the catamaran we would be sailing on has room for 80 people. Since there was just 30 of us, we would have tons of room!
The ride to the harbor took about 20 minutes. Upon arrival, everyone was asked to take their shoes (or sandals or flip-flops) off before boarding. We placed them into a very large trunk on the dock that was locked after everyone had boarded. Our shoes would be waiting for us when we returned. The catamaran had a crew of three, a captain and two crew members. All were friendly and accommodating. Before casting off, all of us were asked to gather for a few safety instructions. Once that was out of the way, we were off!
The crew prepared a lunch for us and there were also beverages available – non-alcoholic as well as a few frosty beverages. We set sail to the north. It was not the time of year for whales, so we knew we wouldn’t see them. If you are there from December to April, you may see humpback whales. But we saw plenty of other things. Pods of spinner dolphins started swimming alongside of us! It was so exciting! I think they knew they were “onstage” because they did not disappoint. They were all around us so everyone had plenty of time to see them and get some pictures. We also saw a few sea turtles and we hadn’t even gotten into the water yet.
All of us had some lunch (and perhaps a drink) while we sailed along. Our guide and crew pointed out interesting sites along the way. They also shared some Hawaiian history. As we got closer to a good spot for snorkeling, the crew gave us instructions about using the snorkel gear that they provided to us. We also had a ‘ukelele player onboard to entertain us along the way. He was also knowledgable about the islands and it was interesting to talk with him.
Our guide went into the water with us along with a crew member to help point out some of the marine life. The catamaran made it very easy to get into and out of the water. This was important for me since I had knee replacement surgery just two months prior. We had a good hour of snorkeling time and the water was warm and inviting.
Once back onboard, beverages were available and plenty of places to sit and relax for a leisurely sail back to the harbor. There was enough seating both in the sun and in the shade. The ocean was very calm and the sail back was lovely.
Before we disembarked, we were each given a pin as a keepsake. Once off the catamaran, our shoes (or sandals or flip-flops) were lined up on the dock waiting to be reclaimed. It was a wonderful afternoon and I highly recommend it!