Disney Aulani’s Rainbow Reef Rocks!

blankIf you stay at Aulani, Disney’s new resort and spa at Ko Olina, Oahu, you should not miss the opportunity to do a little snorkeling.

No, not outside in the lagoon–although you can rent masks and do just that–but inside the resort itself. Yep, Aulani’s 3,000 square foot artificial lagoon provides guests with a fish viewing experience unmatched in the Hawaiian islands!


I’ve been lucky enough to snorkel at some amazing places in Hawaii, but none have provided the opportunity to see so many native Hawaiian fish in one place as offered by Aulani’s Rainbow Reef.

Here’s what’s offered:

  • 1300 fish including 40 different types such as Angel Fish, Yellow Tangs, Butterflyfish and more.
  • Shallow (from 2′ shallows to 8′ at its deepest) enough for kids (or chickens of the sea)
  • Calm lagoon–no waves or currents to worry about.
  • Two life guards, including one in the water at all times.
  • Tank-bred fish–which means they love swimming with you!
  • No predators to worry about!
  • A viewing platform for those that don’t want to get wet!

Sure, you won’t see a dolphin, sea turtle or octopus in the Rainbow Reef, but if you’re looking for a fun, safe way for the entire family to experience Hawaii’s native tropical fish, it’s hard to beat!

I could say more, but I’ll let this video convince you of why you should check out Disney Aulani’s Rainbow Reef:

(Email readers, click here to watch the Rainbow Reef snorkeing video)

What You Need to Know:

  • The lagoon is open from 8 am until 5 pm.
  • No more than 30 people are allowed in the lagoon at any one time.
  • Open to all ages, provided you can swim unassisted.
  • Pricing is $20 adults / $15 children for 30 minutes or “length of stay” for $39 and $29
  • Viewing from the cave is free.
  • Check with Rainbow Reef staff for special fish feeding times.


    1. Great question, John. Visitors are welcome to bring their cameras. Andy shot this video with our small waterproof camera. With the fish getting that close to snorkelers, you’re able to get great shots.

  1. How cool!! Then Grandma and the too little keiki can watch the rest of the family. What a neat and fun idea! So many fish! I love that.
    Good post Andy! :>)

  2. Can we just walk into the Hotel, as interested “visitors” and see this attraction? Do you HAVE to be a paying “Guest?”

    1. Danny — I would imagine you could walk in from the lobby (not from the beach as you need a room key for entry) and explore Aulani’s grounds. Guests must show their room card and get a wrist band in order to use any of the water park facilities, but I don’t see why you couldn’t look at the viewing window of rainbow reef.

  3. Great video!
    This looks great for my kids (5 and 7) who may be a little small for the real thing…

    Do you know if the included Snorkel gear includes a lifejacket as well?


    1. Ken – it’s a great place to “get your feet wet” (so to speak) with snorkeling. Yes, a life jacket is included in the snorkel gear equipment. Actually, wearing a life jacket in Rainbow Reef is mandatory.

      1. Thanks Sheila for the quick reply! (we will be at Aulani in 2 weeks!)

        I read somewhere on another blog that if you rent the Rainbow Reef Snorkel equipment for the “Length of Stay”, you can actually use this equipment and take it to the beach/ocean to use there as well – ?
        Anyone know if this is true?

  4. We just got back from Aulani. The resort was amazing! We bought length of stay passes for Rainbow Reef and were excited. However, the water was much too cold for our three teens and us. They very graciously refunded our money.

  5. Hi,

    My wife and I will be staying at Aulani for a few days in September. I just got a new GoPro camera and am looking forward to taking some good underwater videos. I have 2 questions. First will they let you have a handle attached to your camera so that you can hold it out away from you (sort of like a “selfie stick?

    Second, would it help the pictures to have a red or pink filter for the camera?


    1. Hi Bill, not sure about the selfie stick, but I don’t see why not. The water is not deep enough for you to need any color filters on your camera. Have fun!

      1. Thanks for the very quick reply. This will be our first trip to Hawaii. Do you have any recommendations for a good sight seeing tour of Oahu. I think we are also going to try parasailing one day (although we are both in our mid 60’s) πŸ™‚

          1. Thanks for these links. We will have a rental car so we may just take off and look around on our own. I was in the Navy so I know we will want to see the WWII museums.

    2. Bill – you might also want to check directly with Aulani to determine their current policy on selfie sticks in the Rainbow Reef.

  6. We visited Aulani and loved it! We purchased the unlimited Rainbow Reef package for all five of us. We were all stunned that the water was so cold! We could not even get in. Our three teenagers were so disappointed. We were very kindly reimbursed.

    1. Hi Susan,

      A couple of years ago we took the grandkids to Discovery Cove which is associated with Sea World in Orlando. I found the water to be cold there too but we got used to it and were able to have really great time. I guess they have to keep the water cold for the fish.

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