Looking for the perfect honeymoon destination? As we discovered last month, there are many incredible reasons Hawaii repeatedly tops the list of most romantic holiday and honeymoon experiences. White sand beaches, poolside cocktails, massages amongst palm trees and an ‘Island-time’ relaxed attitude make Hawaii as dreamy IRL as it was in all my honeymoon fantasies.
Exactly a month ago, we set off across the Pacific to begin our long-awaited honeymoon in Hawaii. I’m desperate to share with you everything we did, and everything you can do to plan the perfect Hawaii honeymoon, and being cooped up at home, unable to walk for a month (this has no relation to the honeymoon or Hawaii!) is the ideal opportunity to do so.
While we took the Hawaiian islands in order of Oahu (Waikiki/Honolulu), Maui, Kauai and finally The Big Island, I’m reversing the order because The Big Island was our favourite, and based on conversations with friends and family since about their experiences visiting the Hawaiian Islands, it is the island most frequently left out, and I can’t let this tragedy go on any longer.
Perhaps I’m biased, because Big Island of Hawaii bears so many similarities to New Zealand that at times it felt like we were back on our own Pacific Island, but as you can objectively see from our own Hawaii honeymoon experience, it is truly spectacular.
We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai which also needs to be seen to be believed – it was home to the best pools, wildlife, sunsets and spa of any resort we visited on our honeymoon in Hawaii, but it was also the staff that made us feel so at home, yet so far removed from anything like ‘home’. How did we choose..? It helps that the it is the best resort on Hawaii Island (and #3 of all of Hawaii), was just named Best Luxury Hotel Worldwide by Luxury Travel Advisor, but it was the Instagram that won it over for me (no surprises there, right?)
It goes without saying that the Four Seasons Resort is five-star, but it’s also the only place I’ve ever been able to have an outdoor lava shower (that’s a shower made of lava rock, rather than being showered in molten lava). We were greeted with leis and Mai tais on arrival, taken on a golf-cart tour of the resort, and then enjoyed Champagne in our room – and that’s just the first half hour.
By the time we arrived on Big Island, I really just wanted to relax, which we easily could have at the resort – but Blair had other ideas for us… He was right (don’t say I said so) – while we could have easily spent a week within the 15 metres between our room and the Palm Grove adults pool with pina coladas, we would have missed out on the amazing experiences and adventures we had around the Island.
Volcanoes on Big Island
Flying into in Kona, you soon realise there’s something very different about the landscape. I recognised the lava rock rippled terrain from hiking Rangitoto Island in Auckland, though the Volcanic lava on Hawaii is actually black, with the exception of the red hot lava flowing! Yes, for years now, Hawaii’s most active Kilauea Volcano has been spilling lava over a cliff and into the ocean. There are five active volcanoes in Hawaii – the Big Island’s Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Hualalai and, still underwater but growing, Loihi and Maui’s Haleakalā, but Kilauea is one of the most active in the world. Hawaii island itself, the biggest in Hawaii already, actually continues to grow as the lava settles forming “lava deltas”.
I should note here, that it’s tapu/taboo to toast marshmallows on lava, so we refrained from doing so…
Instead, we asked the Four Seasons Resort to organise a rental car for us, and we drove to the Halema’uma’u crater to watch as the sun set from Jaggar museum, revealing the glow of lava and plumes of smoke.
Tip: no-one warns you that it might actually be cold atop a Volcano, so we were dressed severely inappropriately… the Big Island is home to all but two of Earth’s 13 climate zones.
You can actually also walk to the lava flow (about seven miles) but the rangers discourage doing so and warn about twisted ankles, dehydration and disoriented visitors in the coastal lava plains – so without the abiliity to toast marshmallows it didn’t seem worth it. Next time, we’ll take a helicopter or boat tour.
Big Island Hawaii Nature
We planned to get out bright and early the next day to see the sun set from the summit of Mauna Kea, but our body clocks had other ideas, so we instead drove around the Island from the white sand beaches of Kailua Kona area to the Avatar worthy coastlines and cascading waterfalls of the East Coast.
A short hike took us into lush native jungle and bush and Hawaii’s most famous waterfall – Akaka Falls, a 442-foot cascade.
Back to the Four Seasons
It seems the Big Island’s turtles agree that Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is the place to stay on Hawaii Big Island, as without fail, we found them napping daily on the beach. They come up as early as sunrise, and leave after sunset, basking in their shells in the Hualalai heat and casting a glance at observers from time to time.
After a couple of days of Big Island adventure, we took to a few of the (7!) pools between trips to the resort’s spa (where I even went to the gym!). The resort is very luxurious, but not at all pretentious, it retains the friendly, island-feel for which Hawaii is so loved. At dinner, we’d chat to our servers for at least half the meal, we got to know the Kiwi bartender at the Palm Grove pool (no surprise there) and the spa staff also got to know me fairly well (there’s this incredible, secret, relaxing Waiea garden just beyond the spa with a waterfall and reflexology walk).
Honestly, I challenge anyone to come here and not have the most relaxing and luxurious few days of their life, and what else is a honeymoon for?
The beaches themselves are fairly rough, so we snorkelled in the resort’s “King’s Pool” aquarium style pool carved out of lava rock and home to 4,000 fish and an eagle ray, before getting comfortable at the adults only Palm Grove Pool (you can’t go wrong with a swim-up bar).
On our last day, I booked a luxe facial at the Hualalai Spa, where a wonderfully caring and friendly lady, who shares the same name as my sister (Judy) helped to undo the damage I’d invariably done through more than two weeks of sunbathing, snorkelling and having too little sleep.
Big Island Food
Most of our refuelling was done at the Four Seasons Resort, as the breakfast was too good to stray far from, and it was such a beautiful spot to watch the sunset from in the evenings. Our favourite restaurant was Ulu Ocean Grill, home to both breakfast in the morning, and a modern Japanese style grill at night.
Around the island we also found fresh fruit and coconut, and abundant shave ice. We also had lunch at the Volcanoes National Park Volcano House, though that was definitely nothing to write home about!
I’d be amiss here if I didn’t share some of the incredible food we had here, and I love taking photos of colourful breakfast buffets too. Every morning, I would have a smoked salmon and asparagus omelette, followed by waffles with fresh berries and maple syrup (and sometimes pastries too…)