The Best Hawaiian Islands to Visit on Your Honeymoon
Hawaii is an eternally appealing honeymoon destination for a number of reasons. First, it's within the United States, meaning you don't have to deal with exchanging money or learn how to say "yes, I'll take another cocktail" in a foreign language. And second, it's a far-flung, remote South Pacific paradise, with guaranteed "exotic honeymoon" vibes.
The islands of Hawaii are also home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the country: towering cliffsides, active volcanoes, lush green jungles, gorgeous white- and black-sand beaches, snowcapped mountains (that's right, there's snow in Hawaii!). But each island has its own unique appeal: Oahu is equal parts urban (Honolulu) and untouched (the North Shore). Maui is picture-perfect and manicured, which is why it's home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the state. Kauai offers remote, jungle-and-mountain lushness. The Big Island is raw and natural, with its white- and black-sand beaches and active volcanoes. And lastly, Lanai, essentially a private island that's perfect for couples who want to escape the crowds.
Where you go depends on your budget and how much time you have (don't try to do more than two islands during a 10-day honeymoon), but no matter which island(s) you choose, Hawaii promises once-in-a-lifetime memories. If you're ready to plan a post-nuptial retreat to one or more of these beautiful destinations, click through here for a guide to paradise. We're offering accommodation ideas, our favorite spots to grab a bite to eat, the must-see tourist attractions, and even a few day trip ideas. All that's left for you to do is to choose the Hawaiian islands you most want to visit. Trust us, that won't be easy.
The most populated island in Hawaii is home to Honolulu, the buzzing state capital, the laid-back North Shore (a surf haven), and the rural Leeward Cost, which has off-the-beaten-path beaches (and one super luxurious Four Seasons resort).
Oahu: Where to Stay
White sands meet towering skyscrapers on the shores of Waikiki Beach, Oahu's most iconic resort area. Here, you can spend a morning on the beach and an afternoon on the concrete sidewalks of downtown Honolulu. You'll find no shortage of places to stay: newcomer 'Alohilani has sky-high infinity pools and Morimoto restaurants; The Laylow, Autograph Collection, mixes mid-century modern design with present-day Hawaiian charms; while secluded Halekulani offers the chance to sip mai tais beneath an ancient kiawe tree at House Without a Key bar.
Oahu: Where to Eat
In recent years, downtown Honolulu has exploded with cool restaurants led by globally recognized, Hawaiian-born chefs. The Pig & the Lady, for example, is a Vietnamese spot is in the heart of Chinatown by Chef Andrew Le. On the vanguard of Hawaii's culinary scene, Chef Le melds Pacific ingredients with Asian influences for flavorful dishes like big eye ahi tataki in shoyu poke sauce and pork rage tagliatelle with Thai pesto. If go for lunch, make sure to get the soft serve for dessert.
Oahu: What to Do
Oahu has more golf courses than any other island—34 in total, all with stunning ocean and/or mountain views—so challenge each other to a round for an afternoon of fun. History buffs should visit the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Bishop Museum, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the country. Souvenir-seekers will want to make a beeline for the International Market Place, an open-air shopping center with a daily hula show at sunset, while scuba divers should plan an excursion to Hanauma Bay, which has an underwater nature preserve.
Oahu: Day Trip
If you're staying downtown, set aside a day to explore Oahu's rugged North Shore. If traffic is light, the scenic drive takes only 45 minutes; before you know it, you'll be wandering the famed surf town Haleiwa and watching experts rip the biggest, baddest waves in the world (especially during winter, which is peak surf season).
Though Maui is home to some of the best resorts in the world, predominantly on western Wailea Beach and northwestern Kaanapali Beach (once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty), there's so much more to the "Valley Isle" than just luxury hotels. The island has world-class golf courses, a lush state park in Iao Valley, cattle and horses farms, sugar and pineapple plantations, and the largest dormant volcano crater in the world, Haleakala, towering at 10,023 feet tall.
Maui: Where to Stay
If you're looking for chill vibes, try Hotel Wailea, an adults-only, all-suite resort that's Relais & Chateaux-designated (insider speak meaning "the food is insane"). At the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa it's okay to act like kids: The pool includes a tunnel slide, cascading waterfall, and grotto bar. The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is popular with honeymooners who prefer all things luxurious (get massages in the poolside cabanas). But if you really want to get away from it all, head to Maui's North Shore and book one of just 12 cottages at The Inn at Mama's Fish House, a romantic retreat on a secluded beach.
Maui: Where to Eat
Make an OpenTable reservation well in advance at Morimoto Maui at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort—the hand-rolled sushi, sashimi, and fresh local fish are to die for. Sure, you can get a burger back home, but Hāna Ranch Provisions serves organic meat on a brioche bun. Go for farm-fresh upcountry salads at Merriman's or local catch-of-the day at Mama's Fish House. And you can't skip Maui Brewing Co. Brewpub, where you can sample a dozen or so local brews on tap. (Not all at once, of course!)
Maui: What to Do
One of Maui's prime activities is whale-watching; you can regularly spot humpback whales breaking the ocean surface from January to April. Escape the noisy boats and crowds by booking a private excursion with Hawaiian Paddle Sports. Couples can choose to get up-close-and-personal with these marine mammals by kayak, outrigger canoe, or stand up paddleboard. Digital photography is included with every whale-watching tour, so no need to pack a waterproof camera.
Maui: Day Trip
Some call the "Road to Hana," the drive from western Maui to Hana—a quaint, isolated town on the island's eastern end—a little touristy and a lot scary. True, you may hit some traffic and will have to wind around hairpin turns, but it's one of the best ways to see the "real Hawaii." You'll pass dense rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and photo-worthy black-sand beaches like Pa'iloa, plus secluded white-sand ones like Hamoa Beach. If you want to extend the day trip, consider an overnight at Travaasa Hana, an all-inclusive wellness retreat overlooking Hana Bay.
Kauai is exactly the kind of untouched, land-before-time paradise you envision when you think of Hawaii. That's largely because it's one of the least touristed islands (it's hard to build big resort developments on mountain landscapes). But don't worry, you can still check all the necessary beach honeymoon boxes—snorkeling, cocktailing, and beach-strolling—plus unique activities like horseback riding.
Kauai: Where to Stay
Kauai's most popular and most luxurious resort, the St. Regis Princeville Resort, is tucked away in a secluded cove on the North Shore. With its gorgeous rooms, unobstructed ocean or mountain views, and epic infinity pool, you'll be tempted to stay put. But it's worth your while to drive a few miles to the charming town of Hanalei, home to contemporary art galleries and farm-fresh restaurants. If the St. Regis isn't in your budget, try The Palmwood, a no-less-Insta-worthy bed and breakfast. The secluded five-acre estate, surrounded by the lush Moloa'a hills, feels as far away from home as you can get.
Kauai: Where to Eat
Kauai's North Shore is a local's haven, so get off the beaten track and leave the resort for meals. Bar Acuda, in Hanalei, uses the freshest, regional ingredients for small-plate dishes like ahi tuna poké and roasted ali'i mushrooms. The place is run by chef Jim Moffat, who made a name for himself in San Francisco, and his reputation precedes him; reserve a table in advance or prepare to saddle up at the bar as you wait (no matter, the wine list is top-notch). The next morning, head to Chef Moffat's open-air café, Hanalei Bread Company, which has tons of gluten- and dairy-free options in addition to delicious iced coffee.
Kauai: What to Do
Take in the spectacular Napali Coast from Ke'e Beach, sometimes called "the beach at the end of the road," since it's literally the dead-end of route 560, the main North Shore artery. You'll feel like the only two people on the planet as you lounge on the sand and snorkel coral reefs (the water is calmest during summer). You also can't miss "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific," a.k.a Waimea Canyon, which you can explore from various lookouts or on one of the many hiking trails.
Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is home to the majority of the world's climate zones, meaning it's a place of spectacular contrasts: beaches, volcanoes, snowcapped mountains, forests, and even a desert can all be discovered in just a few short days.
Hawaii Island: Where to Stay
The Big Island has a few choice resorts: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel opened in 1965 as Hawaii Island's first resort (don't worry it has all of today's mod-cons). Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is fresh off a renovation and has two championship golf courses. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, meanwhile, delivers over-the-top luxury in an exclusive setting on the Kona-Kohala Coast.
Hawaii Island: Where to Eat
After a meal of smoky sashimi, miso chili yaki udon, and salty fish fried rice, you'll rave about Moon and Turtle, in the quaint town of Hilo. Bamboo, in Hawaii, is one of the island's oldest and most beloved restaurants; it serves affordable, Pacific Rim-inspired plates and plenty of aloha spirit. Kohala Coast's Napua offers a more contemporary take on Hawaiian classics, like a revamp of squid luau using octopus.
Hawaii Island: What to Do
You can't visit Hawaii without a trip to Volcanoes National Park, on the southern half of the island. The best way to see two of the world's most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, is by helicopter. (That way, you can spot both eruption points on Kīlauea.) Otherwise, set out on one of the many hiking trails or book a bike tour through Nui Pohaku. Other worthwhile activities include an ATV tour of Waipiʻo Valley and waterfall repelling in Hilo with Kulaniapia Adventures.
Hawaii's "Secluded Island" was once solely used as a Dole Company pineapple plantation. Now, it's home to two world-class Four Seasons resorts (one of which is currently closed for renovations), making this the ultimate private-island-style experience.
Lanai: Where to Stay and What to Do
The Four Seasons Resort Lanai is set on the island's southeastern shore. Come here last on your honeymoon journey, because this resort is all about relaxation: Book an ocean-side couples massage, a five-course private-dining experience, or a gourmet picnic on a beach to cap off the perfect trip.