Where to honeymoon in Hawaii – O’ahu and the Big Island
Hawaii is everything this honeymooning couple wanted and more - fabulous scenery, delicious food and great beaches made for the perfect honeymoon in Hawaii
I often think about the day I sat atop a mountain watching the sun go down with my husband and feeling so happy and relaxed. It was our honeymoon and it was almost the end to a perfect day – we just had stargazing planned later. It was one of the best moments of my life.
My husband has always wanted to go to Hawaii and when he suggested going there as part of our honeymoon I was more than happy to oblige. I had visions of beautiful beaches, breathtaking views and delicious local dishes; I wasn’t disappointed.
Made up of eight islands Hawaii is about 2,000 miles from the U.S mainland and is the only state in the Tropics. Our first job was to decide which islands to travel to for our honeymoon in Hawaii and after reading up on the state we settled on O’ahu and the Big Island.
The island of O'ahu
Sometimes called ‘The Gathering Place’, O’ahu is the third largest Hawaiian Island. We picked this island for its 227 miles of coastline, famous for its beautiful beaches and world-class surfing – my husband has always thought of himself as a bit of a surfer dude!
To see as much of the island as possible we rented a car – a convertible Mustang no less! When driving from destination to destination we were able to stop off at any viewpoint or beach that took our fancy. I’d recommend always taking the scenic route, every trip we took around the island involved stunning scenery and gorgeous views.
We stayed at Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head, which was away from the main hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Our room had views of the sea and of the volcanic tuff Diamond Head, and was steps away from Kaimana Beach.
What to see and do on honeymoon in Hawaii
Diamond Head State Monument. Hike to the top of the diamond Head trail which leads to the edge of a 300,000-year-old crater and culminates in stunning panoramic views of O'ahu, the famous Diamond Head Lighthouse, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. On a clear day, you can also the nearby island of Molokai. Be warned, it's quite a trek – make sure you wear sensible shoes and bring plenty of water.
Hanauma Bay. Formed within a volcano cone and known as the ‘curved bay’ is a perfect spot for snorkelling with over 300 Hawaiin fish species. If snorkelling is not your thing it is also a gorgeous beach and offers a pristine marine ecosystem, complete with a marine education centre.
Waikiki Beach. One of the most recognisable beaches in the world. With its calm waters, this is a great spot to take your first surf lesson. Or, if you are like me, relax in the sun and watch the world go by. The Duke Kahanamoku Statue, located on Waikiki Beach, has become an iconic symbol of Waikiki and the surf culture of Oahu.
Halona Blowhole. Take a scenic drive along the coast and park up at the lookout point to see this natural wonder in action. Formed thousands of years ago from volcanic eruptions the blowhole spurts out water as high as 30 feet. The bigger the waves the better!
Aloha Tower. Located on the Honolulu harbour, this tower was a welcome beacon for visitors travelling by sea. Visit the observation deck located on the 10th floor.
Makapu’u lighthouse trail. This is a gorgeous easy access route with magnificent views out to sea which in the right months (December to May) are perfect for whale spotting.
North Shore. Oahu’s North Shore is a Mecca for surfers from across the world, especially in the winter months. In summer the gentler waters are better for beginners. In the winter (November to February) the North Shore is host to surfing competitions including the Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing. Stretching for seven miles, the beaches are perfect for a stroll or a sunbathe.
Where to eat and drink on honeymoon in Hawaii
Eggs n’ Things. Great for breakfast. Get there early if you don’t fancy queuing. With every combination of omelette, pancake or waffle available there will be something for everyone!
Matsumoto Shave Ice. Hawaii is known for its famous dessert shave ice. Make sure you go to the original home of shave ice – Matsumoto in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore. This family-run establishment has been making shave ice since 1951. Be prepared to queue - at least you’ll have enough time to decide on which flavour combination you are going to try.
Duke's. Named after surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku, this restaurant has a fun atmosphere and is a great place to come with a group of friends. Try Hawaiian favourites such as poke or locally caught fish with macadamia nuts. if desserts are your thing be sure to try the hula pie.
Barefoot Beach Cafe. Another great spot for breakfast! An oceanfront casual restaurant overlooking Queen’s Surf Beach, offering up pancakes, delicious smoothies and a BBQ on Friday nights.
Mai Tai Bar. Head to the beachside bar at the gloriously pink Royal Hawaiian Resort, sit back and relax as you sip their signature cocktail, the Mai Tai.
Roy’s. Eat local seafood at Roy’s in Waikiki. Expect bold Asian flavours, classic European techniques, and the freshest local ingredients to create what they call, "Hawaii Inspired Euro-Asian Cuisine".
Staying on the Big Island
The largest of the Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island boasts lush rainforests, black sand beaches and two active volcanoes within the volcano national park.
We stayed at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. As it was our honeymoon our room was upgraded and we had a beautiful room overlooking the ocean. The beach was beautiful with just a few people dotted here and there. We spent most of the days sight-seeing and would come back to the beach late in the afternoon, where we'd see sea turtles swimming past and numerous colourful fish swimming round our feet. We again rented a car to see as much of the island as possible.
What to see and do on Big Island
Waipio Valley. Begin at the lookout point to take in the stunning view of the valley and the high-reaching cliffs, then venture towards the valley via the access road. From here, we only took a short hike as much of it is quite difficult and some of the route crosses private land, which you need permission for. But it was enough as you can see the waterfalls from the access road as well as breath-taking views of the valley. Be warned, the road is extremely steep and is difficult to come back up on, especially in the heat. Only experienced drivers are advised to drive down here so if you do want to reach as far as the black sand beach book with a tour.
Akaka Falls. Here you can see two different waterfalls on an easy, short hike through lush rainforest filled with wild orchids and bamboo.
Koai’e. An Ancient Hawaiian village, set in a stunning location by the ocean, where you’ll find a variety of partially restored sites.
While on the Island we took part in two guided tours we booked these with Hawaii Forest and Trail. The guides were fantastic and entertaining while giving us a knowledgeable account of the history and geography of the local area. The Volcano Tour took us to a black sand beach, where we saw turtles, into a cave formed by lava and up to Hualalai Volcano.
Maunakea. This was by far my favourite thing to do during our entire time in Hawaii and I have memories that I will always treasure. This tour took us to the top of Mauna Kea, which at 14,000 ft above sea level is the highest point in the Pacific, to watch the sunset. After this, we travelled to 9,000ft to stargaze while sipping hot chocolate. This was a truly magical experience but one that gets very cold very quickly – bring warm clothes and thick socks!
Just like O’ahu, the whole island is beautiful, and I’d recommend always taking the scenic route to keep an eye out for viewpoints and stops offs on your journey. We saw so many fantastic places that I could go on for days and days!
Where to eat and drink on Big Island
Tex Drive-In. We were told we just had to try a malasada so on one of our trips out we stopped at Tex Drive In to sample one. These are Portuguese fried doughnuts that made their way to Hawaii when Portuguese labourers came to work in the sugar plantations. Here you can watch these ‘world famous’ treats being made.
Kona Brewery. A widely popular craft beer around the world, the father and son team of KonaBrewery began in 1994. Enjoy a refreshing beer in the taproom right next to the brewery. You can also take a tour of the brewery.
Scandinavian Shave Ice. Located in the heart of Kailua Village since 1991, Scandis serves up huge shave ice with ice cream or frozen yoghurt in the middle and drizzled with coconut milk or condensed milk.
Kohala Burger and Taco. We stopped off at this small and unassuming burger and taco bar on the recommendation of our guide book and we weren't disappointed. The shop was busy and had a retro, surfer feel to it. We ordered the fish tacos which were amazing and something I still crave now.
Fast forward five years and I still think about this holiday often. We now have two beautiful children and I dream of the day we can go back and explore further with them.