Hawaii, with its coterie of enchanting islands, opened up to visitors on Oct. 15. A panoply of its best hotels prepared to greet honeymooners with characteristic aloha spirit, re-opening with classic Hawaiian flair. While the two-week quarantine rules remain in effect, tourists can forego them by taking a COVID-19 test before arrival, then follow up with a second test, during their trip, if required.
Note: United Airlines, one of the leading carriers to the islands, has instituted a same-day, pre-flight rapid test in collaboration with San Francisco International Airport. Customers can take the test at the airport (results in 15 minutes) or at a conveniently located drive through facility, located at United’s San Francisco Maintenance Center (advance reservations needed and results may take 24-48 hours). United has been approved by the Hawaii Department of Health as a trusted testing and travel partner and was the first U.S. carrier to announce plans to make COVID tests available to customers.
Now that reality had been dealt with, let’s dream a little dream of hula, tropical cocktails, flower leis, surfboards and cobalt seas.
When you go, these retreats await you with a ukulele’s serenade and an outrigger canoe ride of Hawaiian love and kindness.
Unique, mystical, huge and varied, The Big Island looks like another planet from the sky. It isn’t at first glance what you expect. A world of black lava, home to five volcanoes, it was (and remains) sacred to the Hawaiian people. As your plane lands, you’ll note the green oases, resorts that dot the coast amid the lava fields. Foremost among the havens, Fairmont Orchid revels in its seaside location, legendarily a healing energy vortex, then and now. Luxurious and committed to plunging guests into Hawaiian culture, the hotel treats attentive travelers to a bevy of new adventures. From snorkeling among sea turtles to hiking a volcano, including picnicking beside a waterfall or relaxing to a couples massages in private oceanfront cabana, options abound. Book the oceanfront suite for its views. A current special offers the second night free.
Gastronomy loving couples trust Relais & Chateaux for food and wine-centric holidays. As Hawaii’s only member, Hotel Wailea, composed of only 72 (elegantly oversized) villas, occupies prime real estate on Maui’s southern coast. For adults-only, Hotel Wailea knows how to jumpstart your life together. Dine in a private, open air treehouse, while the sun plummets like a fiery ball into the sea. As you celebrate the sunset, a private chef serves you a seven-course epicurean meal with wine pairings. Surfers, take part in a “Surf Safari,” set up by your own able concierge. You’ll visit a slew of top sites, have a surf lesson, then partake of a gourmet lunch, before you make your way back to the hotel in a replica 1957 Porsche, map in hand.
You’ve always wanted to snog in the shadows of Diamond Head, Oahu’s best-known landmark. You blame that on a true love of Elvis movies, and a slight crush on Jack Lord and the entire cast of vintage “Hawaii 5-O.” Now’s your chance, as one of Oahu’s newest hotel concepts offers Waikiki’s most exclusive oceanfront experiences. Espacio has nine levels, and only nine suites — each occupying the entire floor. With ocean-view balconies, equipped with Jacuzzis, spa-like bathrooms, complete with private dry saunas and BVlGARI products, the suites also pamper with a customized snack and beverage stocked kitchen. Butlers stand at the ready to help make memories — think private gourmet dinners on secret beaches or at the hotel’s eye-popping, rooftop pool. Note: couples who reserve and prepay in advance save 15% off, and those who book a minimum of five nights receive two complimentary spa treatments and a bottle of Caymus Cabernet wine with their stay.
Burrowed into 40 acres of luscious Ka’anapali Beach oceanfront, this full-service resort anchors lovers in an ideal location for exploring the versatile island’s mélange of gifts: volcanoes, waterfalls, waves and black, red and white sand beaches. Splurge with the presidential suite, a cavernous 2,307 square-foot dream, which boasts seven lanais (the Hawaiian word for terrace), each with jaw dropping views. Newlyweds booking this suite can request bespoke activities, such as hula lessons, en-suite spa treatments, mixology classes, personalized bathtub rituals and more.
Kauai, long heralded as the Garden Island, shines as green as an emerald with its plethora of forests and verdant mountain ranges, a carpetscape of flora that covers 97 percent of the island. Don’t miss the heart-stopping Na Pali cliffs that soar 4,000-feet-high or Waimea Canyon, which has the biggest gorge in the Pacific. When it’s time to relax, enjoy Kukui’ula, the only private club community on Kauai. Lording over the southern coast, it offers an assortment of tony accommodations, from cottages to mansions. Golfers can tee off at its Tom Weiskopf- designed 18-hole golf course and sunbathers won’t want to miss the inviting pools and (man-made) beach.
Travelers entranced by bygone Hawaii should plan their honeymoon for Lanai, once a former pineapple plantation, known as the Pineapple Island. So unpopulated and small, it has only one town, no stoplights and just a handful of residents, it evokes that sleepy tropical paradise you thought was gone forever. Secluded (read: ideal during the pandemic), it features pristine beaches and untrammeled hiking trails and just a couple of hotels. It’s finest, Four Seasons Resort Lanai, inspired by Hawaiian history, lies oceanside, with a Zen style that melds into the landscape. Choose the oceanfront studio suite to immerse in the resort’s affable aloha good. What to do? Expect a sunset cruise with bubbly, horseback riding on the trails, scuba diving (it’s a haven of wrecks and marine life) and a private helicopter ride above bedazzling blues.
Just two blocks from the beach, in the former whaling town of Lahaina, this intimate, boutique bed and breakfast-style lodge takes advantage of Maui’s profuse, fragrant gardens to offer honeymooners a quieter getaway. Near the historic district’s shops and all the enticements of the sea, the inn is the sister property of of Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel and its shared amenities. Adult-only, with plantation-style architecture and just 18 rooms, Plantation Inn offers suites with verandas, which overlook a luxurious tiled pool. Enjoy Gerard’s, its renowned French restaurant, as well as complimentary cultural activities at the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, such as hula, ukulele and weaving lessons.