‘Fulfillment of joy’
On the roughly half-hour drive to Ko Olina from the airport, we made a quick stop at Pearl Harbor to visit the memorial and the USS Missouri, which is docked nearby. Together, they serve as bookends to World War II. It’s always humbling to visit the sunken USS Arizona to remember the 2,403 American lives lost on Dec. 7, 1941, and fascinating to then stand in the spot on the USS Missouri where Japan signed its surrender nearly four years later.
Then on to Ko Olina. Its name, which translates to “fulfillment of joy,” dates to when Hawaii’s royal family fished there. The development is clustered around four man-made lagoons ringed by white sand.
We had marveled at the location during a visit five years before, due in no small part to the magnificent Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Opened in 2011, it features one of the world’s largest private collections of Hawaiian artwork.
“Everything here tells the story of Hawaii,” said Manako Tanaka, who is the current “Aulani Ambassador,” a staff member who serves as a cultural envoy to the guests. Disney characters hang around the place, but, like the Mickey Mouse icons cleverly hidden in the wallpaper, require some effort to find — and the resort’s Hawaiian storytelling doesn’t revolve around a road trip with Goofy. Instead, as Tanaka described, it’s found in events such as an evening luau that traces how sugar interests cleared the land, and how Portuguese plantation workers introduced a funny little four-stringed instrument that the Hawaiians called a ukulele.