11 Can't-Miss Experiences for Your Hawaiian Honeymoon
With eight main islands to choose from in the state of Hawaii, the experiences offered to honeymooning couples are seemingly infinite. But since your likely not planning a month-long post-nuptial vacation, it pays to narrow the field and prioritize how you want to spend your time—and money—during your stay. Are you beach bums looking to log as much time by the ocean as possible, or are you adventure-seekers after an itinerary packed with memorable excursions and activities? Do you want to get to know the local people and culture, or are you looking for a place to stay that offers all the amenities you could ever need?
Ultimately, what you fill your days with is often is determined not only by your interests, but also by which islands you visit: Oahu, for example, has a distinct mix of city and beach, so while you can learn to surf with the locals, it's also possible to shop and bar hop in a cosmopolitan setting. On Maui, couples can travel "Upcountry" to discover an evolving inland cowboy culture, or hit up the eastern shore by driving the Road to Hana. And then there's super luxe Lanai, which has that perfect mix of adventure and relaxation that every dream honeymoon requires.
If you're visiting more than one island, even better. You'll be able to do a little bit of everything. Because there are so many different activities available to honeymooners visiting the Aloha State, we took the liberty of rounding up a selection of can't-miss experiences every newlywed couple should consider. Consider this the ultimate excursion itinerary.
Play Cowboy for the Day
When you think of Hawaii, sunny beaches, surfable breaks, and board-short-wearing locals likely come to mind. What probably doesn't seem fitting are cowboys. But you'd be surprised: Maui's undiscovered countryside, known simply as "Upcountry," is famous for its Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolos, who, since the late 19th century, have wangled cattle on Maui's wide-open upland fields. Get a rare glimpse of this disappearing culture by booking the Four Seasons Resort Maui's Where the Cowboys Still Roam package, which includes a scenic helicopter flight over the West Maui Mountains before landing at the 820-acre Piiholo Ranch. There, you'll meet Peter Baldwin, a fifth-generation paniolo from one of the island's most notable families, followed by lunch prepared by Four Seasons Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst and a horseback ride with Peter or one of Piiholo Ranch's professional wranglers. This inside look at the island's rarified culture is matched only by the sweeping landscapes of verdant hillsides filled with grazing cattle.
Learn to Make Leis
One of the best ways to learn firsthand about Hawaiian culture is to "talk story" (a.k.a. hang and chat) with a cultural ambassador, like Silla Kaina from Maui's Montage Kapalua Bay. Spend a relaxing morning with the Honokahua native, who spins tales of nalu (Hawaiian for "the wave") that date back centuries. As you learn the ancient techniques of lei-making—weaving together orchid blooms and tia leaves—Kaina will share fascinating tales of the island's sugar and pineapple plantations (her grandfather owned a sugar farm on Kauai) and its history of colonization by the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chinese.
Drive the Road to Hana
Driving the approximately 65-mile Hana Highway—stretching from northern Maui to the tiny town of Hāna, on the island's rugged eastern shore—is a rite of passage for visitors to Hawaii. Even if you're not the road-tripping type, it's the perfect way to explore the island's diverse landscapes at your own leisure. Rent a car, pack plenty of sunblock, then make your way along the two-lane road for the roughly four-hour drive. (Pro tip: Download the GyPSy Guide app before you depart, which guides you there and back, calling out scenic lookouts, hidden beaches, roadside snack stands, and ancient Hawaiian tales.) Just don't expect to drive fast—you'll wind your way around so many switch-back turns that you'll lose count. But whether you tour the 26-acre Garden of Eden Arboretum or sink your toes into the black sandy beach of Waiʻānapanapa State Park, the places you stop along the road will be some of the most memorable of your time on Maui.
Experience a Small Town
If the Road to Hāna is about the journey, not the destination, then expect to be surprised by how worthwhile an overnight in Hāna will be at its premier resort, Travaasa Hana. There, guests can participate in traditional activities, like hula lessons, in addition to horseback trail rides (the town is home to a still-thriving ranching community). Few other destinations in Hawaii will leave you feeling wholly submerged in the traditional local culture—so take advantage of the slow pace of life and relax poolside or hike to the remarkable 400-foot-tall Waimoku Falls. Just be sure to reward yourselves with Ono fish tacos from Da Fish Shack near Travaasa Hana.
Take a Polaris UTV Tour
The exclusive island of Lānaʻi is one the best places in Hawaii to unwind. Once the largest pineapple plantation in the world (managed by the Dole Family up until 1992), the approximately 140 square-mile island is now owned by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison. With just two resorts on the island, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the yet-to-open Four Seasons Resort Lanai Lodge at Koele, it's hard to find a more exclusive enclave in the islands of Hawaii. And there's no better way to explore its wide-open landscapes than on a heart-pumping tour in a state-of-the-art Polaris UTV. The 90-minute ride will take you to scenic coastal lookouts and remote rocky outcrops that feature hieroglyphics from prehistoric populations.
Snorkel at Sunrise
You can't visit the islands of Hawaii and not submerge yourselves in its aquatic life. Get beyond the shoreline corals of your resort and book an outer reef excursion with Kai Kanani. The top-notch operator offers a Sunrise Deluxe Snorkel Tour, which is worth the five a.m. wake-up to be the first people out at Molokini, a tiny isle famed for its ring of pristine coral and clear visibility. Once you're back on-board, expect a hot breakfast (plus mimosas and Bloody Mary's), plus a visit to "Turtle Town," where you can spot giant green sea turtles.
Get an Alfresco Massage
You love a Swedish massage, but he's a deep tissue guy, you can still get the best of both worlds by booking side-by-side treatments at the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Maui. Opt for a treatment within one of the traditional open-air hale haus (thatched-roof treatment huts) overlooking Wailea Beach. If you want to keep the salubrious vibes going, the resort offers a Wellness Your Way program, which includes consultations with holistic health experts who will craft a personalized itinerary of spa treatments, fitness activities, and specialty dining menus that make it easy to maintain your pre-wedding habits during the honeymoon.
Cruise by Catamaran at Sunset
For a truly unforgettable journey, save your sunset cruise for the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, where you can expect to be the only ones taking in the rugged uplands of Hulopoe Bay and snapping pics in front of the 80-foot-tall Pu'u Pehe, or "Sweetheart Rock," so-called for the tragic love story between a young warrior from Lanai and a Maui princess. It's the perfect precursor to dinner at Nobu Lanai, where you can't go wrong with an order of miso cod and uni sashimi tacos.
Book a Mixology Dinner
As if it's not memorable enough to indulge in a multi-course tasting menu on your honeymoon, Andaz Maui's Kaʻana Kitchen takes the concept one step further with its "Bitters & Bites" dinners. The interactive three-course meal, which takes place in a stunning open-air dining room, focuses on mixology pairings using the spirit of your choosing. Expect handcrafted cocktails that meld perfectly with the island flavors of dishes like grilled romaine salad with lightly seared ahi tuna, topped with dehydrated strawberries and a calamansi-lime vinaigrette.
Take a Surf Lesson
Water-loving couples can hang ten with the locals on the legendary waves of Oahu by booking an offshore surfing class with The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club and Clips Hawaii. It's perfect for both beginners who are just testing the waters and intermediates looking to brush up on their skills. Expect exclusive, hands-on instruction with never more than three other students per excursion.
Visit a Brewery Local
Hawaiian beer may sound like an oxymoron, but the island of Maui is home to a number of craft breweries that make handcrafted ales and lagers, brewed with that definitive aloha spirit. Visit a flagship like Maui Brewing Co., the island's largest brewery, for a 45-minute guided tour of the brewhouse, cellar, and more before a flight at the Kihei Tasting Room (don't miss the Bikini Blonde Lager). Alternatively, you can stop by for some brews and a delicious dinner of ahi poke tacos, kale salad with fried quinoa, and brewmaster pizza, made with Kukui spicy sausage, pepperoni, roasted bell peppers, olives, and red sauce.