By: Dena Roché
Everywhere you go in Hawaii greetings of “Aloha” ring, but in Hawaiian culture Aloha isn’t simply a way of saying hello, it’s a lifestyle that offers wisdom for newly married couples.
Cultural Director Lily Dudoit of the Sheraton Kona tells me that Aloha stands for being modest, united in harmony, being pleasant, humble, teachable and patient. Not bad pillars for newlyweds to embrace as they start married life together in paradise.
Hawaii is diverse, and each island offers special experiences for all kinds of couples. If you want to visit all the major islands, allow plenty of time, lest your honeymoon goes from relaxing romance to travel hopping stress.
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali beach – Maui
If you’re looking for romance, and you’d better be on your honeymoon, Maui is your destination. Quiet breezes, beautiful beaches and ocean sunsets define the island that Conde Nast Traveler has called the best in the world over 15 times.
Enjoy this tropical paradise with a suite at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach. This lush resort features a white sand beach, five pools, golf and a Heavenly Spa. The property affords views of Lana’I and Moloka’I.
Maui is known for its Road to Hana, a twisty 68-mile stretch featuring 59 bridges, jaw-dropping waterfalls and bamboo forests before arriving at the Seven Sacred Pools in Kipahulu where you can take a relaxing dip. Another iconic must-do for many is a visit to Haleakala National Park, the world’s largest dormant volcano. Early risers will love the sunrise from the summit. Adventurous types can partake in zipline courses, horseback rides, or snorkeling or diving at spots throughout the island. Guests at the Westin can join a catamaran sail directly from the resort’s beach. The trip is a must do during the winter months when it is whale season. At the nearby Sheraton Maui the daily cliff diving ceremony, which honors the legend of the last chief of Maui, Kahekili, who proved his spiritual strength by leaping from Black Rock into the ocean, is an ideal way to spend a sunset happy hour. Or for the true romantics, the Westin can arrange a private dining experience in a cabana overlooking the beach. The four-course meal with champagne and wine paired with a stunning sunset can’t be beat for a honeymoon memory.
St. Regis Princeville – Kauai
Kauai isn’t called the Garden Isle for nothing. Mother nature has blessed the oldest Hawaiian island with greenery, tropical foliage, rivers, mountains, waterfalls and the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, a 3,000 foot deep canyon that is a must see. A popular activity is to begin a sunrise or sunset bike tour at the rim and glide down 12-miles of winding road. Since so much of the island’s interior can’t be seen by car, try other methods like a kayak paddle up the Wailua River to see the landscape featured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or an ATV tour through unspoiled thick vegetation, rugged terrain and breathtaking landscapes.
While the island exudes a decidedly laid-back, hippie vibe in its tiny towns, for your honeymoon it’s time for casual elegance and sophistication at the St. Regis Princeville. On the north side of the island, it’s the ideal place to simply relax and enjoy time together at the 5,000 square foot infinity pool, or the beach fronting Hanalei Bay. The waters are protected by the Anini reef so they’re calm and the snorkeling is amazing. Stand-up paddle boarding, diving and sailing are also available. Enjoy a couples Ali-I Lavender Butter Pohaku massage in the Halele’a Spa couples suites. The treatment uses basalt river stone and a lavender butter made on Maui to melt away knots. After the service relax in the co-ed couple’s lounge before heading to a romantic dinner at Kauai Grill, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant that Zagat calls the best dining on the island.
A Whole New World
Sheraton Kona _ The Big Island
The Big Island is all about roots and new beginnings. The youngest of all the islands, it’s known for volcanoes, and the best way to see God shaping the world is from the air on a tour with Paradise Helicopters. The three-hour flight takes you over all five of the island’s volcanoes, affording sights of simmering lava tubes pitching smoke in the sky, calderas, smooth and jagged lava rocks and red hot flowing lava. From the air you’ll get a true sense of the diversity of this island, which boasts 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones, and see black sand beaches, lush valleys with walls peaking over 2,000 feet, and waterfall after waterfall.
To experience lava rock up close, stay at the Sheraton Kona which sits on 22-acres peppered with black lava rock on historic Keauhou Bay, the birthplace of King Kamehameha III. The recently renovated resort sets itself apart by bringing the Hawaiian culture to its guests. Daily cultural tours provide insight into Hawaiian history, and resort activities ranging from hula lessons to lei making lets travelers interact with the culture. Exclusive to the property is the opportunity to sail the bay on a guided tour in a Kini Kini Sailing Canoe. Book the Kiele Suite featuring an expansive lanai to soak in the swaying palm trees, crashing waves and other-worldly rocks. In the waters directly in front of the property there is a unique opportunity to snorkel at night with Manta Rays. These gentle giants, whose wing span can reach 18-feet, are playful creatures that love to interact with snorkelers. With no teeth, barbs or stingers there’s nothing to fear when one decides to shimmy up your belly as they make graceful flips in the water.
Coffee lovers might turn their noses up at Starbucks after days waking up to the famous Kona coffee. Kona’s high elevation, volcanic soil and cloud cover create this unique coffee bean. Most coffee plantations, like Kona Coffee, Greenwell Farms and Living History Farm offer tours.
The Royal Hawaiian _ Waikiki Beach
With a direct flight from Phoenix to Oahu, starting married life with a stay on the famous Waikiki Beach is easy, and the place to do it is at the Grande Dame of hotels, The Royal Hawaiian. The iconic pink hotel has been the place for luxury since 1927 and makes a great base for lolling on the beach, snorkeling, sailing or climbing Diamondhead.
But first things first; after a long day of flying, refresh at the spa at the Westin Maona Surfrider, the oldest hotel on the beach, and the property that ushered in Hawaii as a tourist mecca. Relax together in a spa suite enjoying the new lomi lomi facial designed to rehydrate and massage away jet lag. Cap the day with a romantic cabana dinner back at the Royal Hawaiian’s Azure restaurant, drinking in the sunset while enjoying farm-to-table cuisine, or head to the property’s luau show, the only one featuring this classic Hawaiian entertainment paired with a sit-down dinner.
Tying the Knot in Hawaii
While Hawaii is a great spot to relax after the hustle of the wedding, it also makes an ideal locale for the wedding itself. A big plus for brides is that there are no legal or language barriers to work through to tie the knot.
For many brides, planning a destination wedding incorporating the local culture into the ceremony is a must. At the Sheraton Kona, couples can add traditions like having the service conducted by a Hawaiian Kuha (minister), a Hawaiian chant to accompany the bride down the aisle, or a Hawaiian blessing during the service. Weddings are done in the onsite chapel or at many outdoor locations around the property. A popular service at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa is the Hawaiian Ceremony, which features a traditional lei exchange and blowing of conch shells during the ceremony. Newlyweds also like to do this as a renewal of the vows they just took and a remembrance of their honeymoon.
For couples looking for a more traditional ceremony, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa’s Ali’I Package offers a private heart-shaped lawn at the pinnacle of the famous Pu‘u Keka‘a cliff (Black Rock) to say I do and serves up the wedding night in the presidential suite. The Maona Surfrider on Oahu has the only private beachfront in the state of Hawaii that can serve alcohol, making it an ideal locale for ceremony or reception. At the Royal Hawaiian, brides can tie the knot in the Coconut Grove, which was featured in “Mad Men” and then have their reception in the Monarch Room which is known as The Carnegie Hall of the Pacific, having played host to legendary Hawaii entertainers since the 1920s. For the quintessential Hawaiian postcard wedding, the St. Regis Princeville is the only hotel on Kauai that can perform ceremonies at the most prime viewing point overlooking Hanalei Bay.