Water fun

The Aulani Disney Resort in Hawaii

In August 2022, my husband’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and took the entire family to Hawaii to celebrate. While this was a huge milestone to be celebrating, we were also celebrating the end of a hard year (or two), life, family, and love. Because all of the adults had been to Oahu previously, we didn’t feel the need to run around the island trying to get everything in. We had a nice balance of relaxing at the Aulani Disney Resort, while visiting sights around Oahu.

Travel and Relaxation

We had an 11 hour direct flight from Newark to Honolulu and it actually went by relatively quickly. While my in-laws had glorious first class seats that allowed you to lay down, the eight of us in the back watched movies, colored pictures, and ate a ton of snacks. Some of us slept. You would never know that there were five kids ages 5-13 sitting where we were… that’s how good they were! Nevertheless, it was a long day of travel and everyone was done by the time we checked into the hotel. My family of four was in bed by 5pm!

Surprisingly, everyone woke up close to 4am, which is a huge win considering we were on a six hour time difference. Our first full day in Hawaii we devoted to staying on the resort and relaxing. 

Infinity pool at the Aulani Disney Resort

The Aulani Disney resort was the best thing for everybody. Not only did it cater to the kids, but to the adults as well. There were six pools, a lazy river, two slides (meant for adults and kids), a spa, and a peaceful lagoon on the Ko Olina beach that was just perfect. There were plenty of restaurants on site, as well as many delicious options that were walkable from the resort.

We had a beautiful one bedroom with a kitchen and seating area. The living room not only had a pull out sofa, but also a pull out twin bed so the kids could have their own space. We also had 1.5 bathrooms. It really made the trip so much more comfortable having all of that room to spread out!

Character Sightings

I have never seen a resort so lively so early in the morning! Since there are so many mainland USA visitors, everyone here wakes up super early. We had to wait in line for breakfast at 6:50am, but we got a nice table outside where we were visited by Mickey & Minnie Mouse and Chip & Dale. 

Family at the Aulani Disney Resort

We had several Moana sightings that my five year old was absolutely enthralled with. She had to go and meet her every time there was an opportunity. And even though my eight year old won’t admit it, I know she enjoyed seeing her as well. 

Beachy Drinks and Food

Pina coladas, cucumber fritzes, and mai tais were staples for the adults while we relaxed at the pool. The waiter soon learned to just keep the drinks coming!

The Beach

It’s rare when I let my young kids play in the ocean without me holding onto to them. They’re pretty strong swimmers, but the big waves scare me with kids. The lagoon at the resort allowed the kids to play on their own without fear coming from my end regarding waves and rip tides. The water was calm, clear, warm, and just beautiful. I often started my days by taking a run at sunrise and was taken aback by the beauty of it all.  

Beautiful view on my run at the Aulani Disney Resort

Of course we took many day trips throughout the island. We spent some days at Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, the North Shore, Waimea Falls, and tried many local poke bowls!

One of the things that I loved about this trip is that we had such a nice balance between relaxing at the fun resort and exploring the island. Not only did the kids love all of the amenities that the Aulani Disney Resort had to offer, but the adults desperately needed some down time to relax in Hawaii as well. This was a spectacular trip that we will always remember!

Family fun at Aulani Disney Resort

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boating to ischia

Boating To Ischia

One of the perks of living in Pozzuoli is that we have the opportunity to rent boats and check out the local islands. We did just this with a group of friends from nearby Arco Felice, so we all could spend a day on the sea. Weather-wise, it was a perfect day to spend boating around the islands… clear skies and very hot. We were so excited to be boating to Ischia on our own timeline, armed with a lot of snacks and drinks!

Relaxing at Sea

Captain Jon drove us out of the dock in Baia, and we headed out to clearer water with less boat traffic. The further we went out, the more serene the environment became… away from the gritty streets, jumbled traffic, and Naples’ beaters.

Soon the wind was flowing through our hair, as we passed hundreds of mussel traps floating in the water. We then passed the small island of Procida, with its magnificent castle looming over the bay. We also passed the colorful small marina of Corricella. And, we passed the beautiful coastline of Monte de Procida.

Within no time, we arrived at the Ischia port to fill up the gas tanks.

Soon after, we boated to another side of the island to swim, drink, and just relax. The water was unbelievably clear and we could see everything.

At this point, our stomachs were grumbling, so we went to an area that had a few restaurants just for people pulling up to shore. We feasted on fresh seafood, linguine, and of course wine.

Ischia at the main port

Fuzzy (but definitely good) Memories

Things got a little fuzzy from this point on. Could it have been the numerous bottles of beer, wine, and limoncello that we just HAD to chug from the bottle? Perhaps.

I like to think of it being the dehydrating effects of too much sun and no water.

Boating to Ischia and traveling to the different islands on our own schedule was such a spectacular experience. And it was easy to do!

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water fun in dubrovnik

Visiting the “Pearl of the Adriatic”

Old City Walls in Dubrovnik. Visiting the "Pearl of the Adriatic"

The Dalmatian Coast, where Dubrovnik, Croatia lies is one of the most gorgeous areas we have seen. With its steep cliffs, clear water, and various islands, it’s no wonder the Dalmatian Coast has become popular with tourists. The UNESCO World Heritage Site added Dubrovnik in 1979. After our visit, we understood why it’s called the “Pearl of the Adriatic.”

Historical Significance

Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame is the magnificent city walls that encompass what is known as “Old Town”. They were built starting in the 13th century as a defense against attacks. The walls are an impressive site from afar, but actually walking along them was a pretty fantastic experience.

The orange rooftops dotted the city below, and we could smell the enticing aromas from homes and restaurants. We also had amazing views looking out to the Adriatic Sea. The Old Town and its walls get extremely crowded, not only from tourists staying there, but from the many cruises that come into the port. Therefore, I suggest getting there as early as you can to beat the crowds and the heat!

Afterwards, we rode a cable car up to Mount Srd in order to see a bird’s eye view of the city.

We also took some time to walk around the city, have lunch, and visit War Photo Limited, which is the war photography museum. Here, they have a permanent display called “The End of Yugoslavia”, which covered the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

Staying Active on the Water

The next day we went kayaking in the sea. Leaving from just outside the city walls, we kayaked around the island of Lokrum. We fought a strong wind and choppy sea, but we pushed on through!

Our guides led us to a cave where we stopped for a snack, swam in the sea, and snorkeled. We loved seeing Dubrovnik from this perspective and thoroughly enjoyed our 7.5 km kayak trip.

Where to Stay in Dubrovnik

Our hotel was in the Lapad region of Dubrovnik, just a short bus ride or long stroll to the Old Town. It had a private beach situated on small cliffs on a mountainside.

It was funny seeing the lounge chairs resting on rocks instead of sand, but it worked out pretty well. The water was so clear that you could see all the way to the bottom, close to 150 feet. There were many entry points into the sea, but we decided to have some fun and jump off the nearby rocks. Jon and I must have jumped into the sea about 20 times.

There was a nice long path along the coast, that led to many restaurants and other points to get into the sea.

We wish we were able to stay longer in “the Pearl of the Adriatic,” but isn’t that always the case? We would have loved to explore some of the surrounding islands more, but we just ran out of time. I guess we’ll just have to plan another trip back!

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