The morning after their September 2012 I do's in Montecito, California, SoCal residents Lydia and Nick, both marriage and family therapists, brunched with loved ones, then hopped a plane to the Big Island. "We'd visited as kids separately and absolutely loved it," Nick says. And because they wanted an escape an easy distance from Los Angeles, the Aloha State's largest cay -- with lush jungles, active volcanoes, and dreamy beaches -- called.
"We stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai the whole time and wouldn't have had it any other way. It was incredible!" Lydia says. "Our room was in a secluded area at the edge of the property, so it felt like our own paradise. And every night we went to sleep listening to the sound of the ocean."
Here, the twosome leaned in during dinner on the hotel's waterfront.
"We rented a car -- a maroon Mustang convertible -- for a few days, and one morning we drove to Kehena Beach,” says Nick. "It's in a cutout between two mountains, and you have to hike 15 minutes to get down to the black beach and dark blue water. The waves are rough, but it’s so beautiful."
Lydia's vibrant cover-up, shown here, was a must-have that let her go from shore to chic in a second.
Sea turtles crawled past the pair’s room every day, and one of their favorite afternoons was spent with local dolphins. "We chartered a private boat to go swim with wild dolphins," recalls Nick. "There were maybe 200, all zipping around and playing with us. It was amazing." Notes Lydia, "We even saw some little babies that looked like footballs jumping out of the water!" (dolphinjourneys.com)
"Every few days we'd get a couple's massage at the resort," Lydia says. "The spa was an oasis -- luxurious and tropical, like a garden -- and the treatment rooms were actually secluded outdoor huts. Nick always got deep-tissue massages, but I tried several different ones, like the traditional lomilomi, which involved stretching."
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