Honeymooners Eye Hawaii

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For the 1.5 million newlyweds from the U.S. who head off on a honeymoon each year, 13 percent of those couples find Hawaii to be the perfect blend between the sun, sand & scenery, high-end resort spreads and accessible adventure all in a place that looks nothing like home.

According to a 2007 survey conducted in the U.S. by The Knot—a web-based, one-stop wedding planning solution—Hawaii is the fourth most chosen honeymoon destination in the world and the third most desired when it comes to dream destinations for honeymoons. Nine out of 10 couples elect to fly no farther than six hours each way for their honeymoon and put price and value far below the priorities of accommodations and destination in making their decisions.

Once Hawaii pops up as paradise found, Maui gets the majority of interest—64 percent of Hawaii-bound honeymooners make it Maui, followed by Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island.

maui Maui is usually the top choice for its concentration of top-tier resorts in Kaanapali, a heavenly and walkable resort-flanked beach that rolls on unobstructed for three miles, and Wailea, a hamlet of high-end resorts and villas over a stunning piece of beachfront close to shopping and dining. From exploring the seaside town of Lahaina to visiting lavender farms to walking the rim of a foreboding volcano, Maui offers plenty of adventure and things to do besides sitting on the beach—for couples who want to venture out. According to The Knot study, the most sought-out experiences for Hawaii-bound honeymooners are simply having calm and relaxation, enjoying romantic surroundings and immersing in sun, surf and sand.

One of the most popular honeymoon spots on Maui is the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa. And there is good reason for this. Now part of the Waldorf=Astoria collection, the Grand Wailea opened in 1991 with 780 guestrooms and suites fronting 40 stunning acres of Wailea beach. Located 35 minutes from Kahului Airport and a 20-minute flight from Honolulu, the hotel recently completed at $50 million face-lift touching up the plantation-style decor all around.

While standard accommodations get a sizable 640 sq. ft. or more, the resort’s 52 luxury suites in the Napua Tower come with their own entrance and concierge and private lounge serving complimentary continental breakfast each morning and cocktails and hors d’oeuvre each evening. Six suite configurations here each have their own features and range in nightly rates from $1,400 to $5,500.

For supreme ocean views, the rooms located on the upper floors of the Wailea, Haleakala and Molokini wings of the hotel offer the best vantages with fully unobstructed ocean views. A deluxe ocean king room’s published rates are $1,050 per night.

Of the many elements that make the property stand out as a one-stop shop for honeymooners, are the five restaurants and cafes (including a floating seafood restaurant), nine pools, high-end shopping within walking distance and one of the best spas on the islands: Spa Grande. It offers rejuvenating water therapies, including a mineral soak, and several before- or after-therapy sea mud, seaweed and herbal soaks.

The Ku’uipo (Sweetheart) Package puts it all together for honeymooners. The 4-night package includes a duo 120-minute pampering experience at Spa Grande, a 4-course wine-paired dinner for two at Grand Wailea’s signature seafood restaurant, a romantic turndown with Hawaiian flower petals on the bed and in the tub on arrival night and a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine. The Ku’uipo Package starts at $1,776 for the four nights.

kauai Kauai introduces an entirely different experience for honeymooners. They won’t find large designer malls or tony celeb-chef restaurants. But they will find what they came this way for: lots of beauty, no crowds, untouched natural environments, lots to explore and all to be done at a snail’s pace. Only 10 percent of Kauai is accessible by road so active honeymooners can enjoy some of the most dramatic hikes of their lives. Three trails are musts. The 5-mile (roundtrip) Kukui Trail trail drops 2,000 ft. into spectacular Waimea Canyon for the shortest route to the canyon floor. There’s a large swimming hole at the bottom.

The Kuilau Ridge Trail is a 4.2-mile (roundtrip) hike with views of small waterfalls and a wealth of flora. (The trailhead is about a mile beyond the University of Hawaii Agricultural Experimental Station on Route 580). The Kalalau Trail is the original Hawaiian trail into Kalalau Valley, and offers excellent views of Na Pali Coast and Kee Beach. The trailhead can be found at Kee Beach where Highway 56 ends. Two miles inland is Hanakapiai Falls, which cascades 300 ft. to a pool below.