Real Honeymoon: Maui

This week’s Real Honeymoon features one of the happiest couples I know, Desa and Jared. With tropical relaxation as their number one honeymoon priority, they decided to make the (relatively) easy trip from California to Maui where they avoided the typical touristy activities and just enjoyed the beautiful island for what it is. Desa and Jared also really know what’s up when it comes to great food, so you won’t want to miss their list of awesome Maui restaurant recommendations toward the end of this post. Read all about their wonderfully relaxing Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Maui, HI May 27 through June 5, 2014.

maui honeymoon     maui

How long was your trip?

9 nights.

maui sunset

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination?

Jared and I are pretty good at waiting. We waited over ten years to get married and another eight months before we took our official honeymoon. I am very happy we did not try to plan a big trip after our August 2013 wedding, but my level of anticipation grew as the months went on and I could not decide where I wanted to go. I suggested Belize, St. Maarten, Japan… Jared wanted to go to Hawaii. I pulled up itineraries for Ireland, New Zealand, and the Tahitian Islands. But Jared wanted to go to Hawaii. Everyone goes to Hawaii, Jared. How about something new?! Also, I couldn’t shake that memory of the one time I went to Hawaii (Oahu) and got chased down the street by the 300 lb pepper spray wielding Samoan transvestite named Passion – not the honeymooniest image.

Jared’s sales pitch: tropical, uncomplicated, good food and drink (something other than rum).

The months went on and I ended up working through a long, mentally exhausting trial. So, when it was time to book the trip, EASY was the name of the game. Hawaii! And it was perfect. Good work, Jared.

maui     maui

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The level of relaxation. We slept in every day, then wandered down to the cabana by the ocean with our bottle of sparkling wine, guava juice, and bowl of ahi poke, and floated back and forth between the ocean and the lounge chairs. Maui let us revel in sun-soaked lazy hours, until we felt free enough to ignore every tourist guidebook and “must-see” recommendation.

Yep, these guys look relaxed alright

Yep, these guys look relaxed alright

Instead of hopping aboard an overrun snorkel tour boat, we self-explored around our beach with gear found in our condo, learning later that Black Rock just south of our cabana is one of the top five snorkel spots on the West side of Maui. Instead of a luau, we treated ourselves to decadent dinners of elevated island fare.

turtle

Instead of the early morning trek up the Haleakala volcano, we cruised up north for an easy walk down to the Nakalele Blowhole with its picturesque heart-shaped rock.

heart rock maui

One day we took a short trip to the Upcountry (central Maui) for a day cheese-tasting at a goat farm, exploring the deserted Enchanting Floral Gardens, and dinner at the Hali’imaile General Store for one of the best dinners I have had in my life.

surfing goat maui

Knowing Jared and I could always come back to Maui if there was anything we wished we would have tried was very liberating. It allowed us to focus on each other instead of our itinerary.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would book a hotel on the East side of the island for the last two nights of the trip. That way we could explore the Road to Hana without the daunting task of driving the long winding road twice in a day, which we opted to forego this trip.

Iphone May 2014 172

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Real Honeymoon: Sonoma, Kauai & South Korea

Not only does the multi-leg itinerary make this honeymoon incredibly unique, but it’s also the first one that I’ve ever come across that involves both sets of in-laws! Read all about Jane and Sean’s one-of-a-kind honeymoon in wine country, Kauai, and South Korea below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We had three legs to our honeymoon (Sonoma, Kauai, and South Korea), and we left the very next day after our wedding [May 11, 2014]. It was ambitious on our end, but we wanted to maximize the number of hours we had on actually enjoying our first destination rather than spending the precious time on a plane. Needless to say, we were two very, very, very tired (and hungover…) passengers on our flight [from Chicago] to California.

Healdsburg Honeymoon

Wine Country!

Kauai Honeymoon

Kauai!

South Korea Honeymoon

South Korea!

How long was your trip?

We spent three nights in Sonoma, six nights in Kauai, and five nights in South Korea.

hawaii honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

My in-laws have always wanted to visit Northern California (specifically, wine country) so we thought, “let’s go there first and invite them along!” So, we spent the first leg of our honeymoon with them in beautiful Sonoma (specifically, the adorable town of Healdsburg). If anyone is planning a trip to wine country, I would highly recommend staying at Hotel Healdsburg. Perfect location, exceptional hotel staff, and intimate (without being too quiet) ambience.

Healdsburg honeymoon

We live in Chicago so our Norcal destination was “on the way” to the second destination of our honeymoon (Kauai) which segmented the overall flight time. Kauai was an easy pick for us because that is our favorite of the Hawaiian islands. We’d both been there separately as kids so we were excited to explore the beautiful island together as adults. And, of course, Kauai did not disappoint!

Kauai honeymoon

As for the last and final leg of our honeymoon, we chose South Korea as Sean had never been there before and because every husband should see where his wife was born/raised! My parents joined us for this leg of the trip and they planned out the entire itinerary for our stay there. Since the majority of my extended family still reside in South Korea, my parents also planned a second wedding reception while we were there so that extended families who couldn’t make it to our Chicago wedding could attend. :)

south korea honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Risking the fear of sounding too corny and mushy, the best part of our honeymoon was that we were ON our honeymoon. We were both bitten by the travel bug at an early age so we’ve both (together and separately) had significant travel logs under our belts. But, there is something so special and charming about being on your first trip as husband and wife. Even the most mundane activities such as enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning from the balcony of your hotel is novel and sweet. However, If I had to pick a single activity of our honeymoon that stood out the most, I’d have to say it was the 17-mile kayak tour along the Napali coast. Absolutely breath-taking.

napali coast

Kauai

kauai

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Real Honeymoon: Hawaii

My sister’s friends Ashley and David really knew their priorities when it came to planning their honeymoon: tropical weather and absolute relaxation.  They got what they wanted by honeymooning on the Big Island of Hawaii, and it sounds like they were blown away by everything that their resort had to offer.  Read all about their amazing Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned on the big island of Hawaii from October 28th- November 7th [2013]. We stayed on the Kohala coast which is about 25 min from Kona International Airport.

Hawaii Honeymoon

How long was your trip?

We were on our trip for 10 amazing nights
.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Originally when we began discussing our honeymoon we were dead set on going to Spain. After telling several of our friends and family about our desire to travel abroad they suggested that we think about the amount of travel time that is involved in going to Europe as well as what level of relaxation we were trying to accomplish on our trip. We knew that we wanted to spend as much quality time together as possible, and that we did in fact only want to relax. We had to be honest with ourselves and know that we are the go-go-go type, and if we went to Europe we would be on our feet all day trying to see every single thing we could. That is when the discussion of Hawaii began.

Hawaii honeymoon

I was initially hesitant and thought maybe Hawaii wasn’t exotic or unique enough for our honeymoon. I expressed these feelings to one of my close friends, and my bridesmaid Melanie, who had gone to Hawaii on her honeymoon. She shared with me that she too was hesitant about Hawaii as a honeymoon destination, but that it wound up being her most favorite vacation of her life. That reassured me, and shortly thereafter David and I booked our trip to Hawaii. We knew that it would be the perfect locale: tropical weather, beautiful landscapes, and a place that would offer us the opportunity to decompress and relax after all of the wedding craziness.


The best part about our honeymoon was…

Oh my goodness, I do not know how I can possibly choose. I really loved almost everything about our trip, but if I had to choose my favorite aspect it would be the resort where we stayed and the amenities that were offered. We stayed at the Fairmont Orchid. It is the most gorgeous property I have ever seen. The resort is located in a secluded part of the Kohala Coast which offers a lot of privacy. From the moment you walk into the hotel and are greeted with a Kekui nut Lei you instantly feel like you are in paradise.

Hawaii honeymoon

The lobby opens up to a view of expansive lawns with gorgeous flowers, a beautiful pool, and the ocean. The staff at the Orchid are incredible, everyone is so kind and helpful. The staff really goes out of their way to make sure that you have a perfect trip. The rooms are beautiful, the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, turn down service is offered every night, and they leave water bottles on your night stands.

The food at the resort is fabulous as well. There is casual dining at Hale Kai Restaurant,  fine dining at Brown’s Beach House, amazing breakfast at The Orchid Court, and quick and easy snacks and sandwiches at Brown’s Deli (we loved the staff at the deli and visited them every day). We ate at all of the aforementioned places and were never disappointed. Some of our favorite items were the vegetable quiche at the deli, the burger at HaleKai, and the crab crusted Kompachi at Brown’s. Brown’s is one of the premiere restaurants on the island of Hawaii, and it overlooks the ocean. I recommend making a reservation at sunset, it was magical.

The resort offers a plethora of options for daytime activities. We spent so much time at the pool, and rented a cabana a few times which was so awesome! The cost of renting a cabana is minimal and it provides you with a day of comfort, optional shade, and snacks. I would have rented a cabana every day if David would have let me. David loved the activity pass that he purchased for $75.00 which included unlimited rentals of stand up paddle boards, boogie boards, kayaks, rafts, and snorkel gear for our entire stay. I loved using his paddle board and even did some yoga on the water. The snorkeling was awesome as the water is very calm on the Kohala Coast, and the resort has a private lagoon. We snorkeled a lot and I wish we would have done it even more. We saw thousands of fish, and several sea turtles every day.

Hawaii honeymoon

Another gem at the Fairmont Orchid is their spa. The Spa Without Walls is an oasis of relaxation. The spa is located outside in a private location of the resort. Your services are performed in private huts, or you can opt to have your service in an oceanfront cabana. We had an ocean front couple’s massage that was gifted to us by David’s parents. The experience of being mere feet from the ocean, at sunset, getting the most fantastic massage I have ever had with the love of my life was just perfect! The spa has wonderful amenities for before and after your service, and we loved enjoying a cup of tea together after our service.

hawaii honeymoon

I could really go on for days about how perfect our time at the Fairmont Orchid was. I think any couple traveling to Hawaii must stay at this resort.

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Even Honeymoon Bloggers Get the Flu

Winter has officially arrived in San Francisco, and so has flu season.  The virus got me good this week, so I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to write a good supplemental post.

But never fear, I’ll be back in action on Monday with an excellent Real Honeymoon from Hawaii.  So with that in mind I’m just sharing a photo that my sister took this week at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of two palm trees and a hammock smiling:

smiling palm trees

Stay warm and healthy out there!

Where to Stay During Your Honeymoon in Kauai

I published a post last week about where to stay during an Italian honeymoon, and this week I’m going to focus on one of the most popular islands for honeymooners: Kauai!

honeymoon in kauai

If you decide to honeymoon in Kauai, I’d recommend staying in more than one hotel so you can check out different parts of the island, or just so you can maybe splurge a little at one hotel and then find a more reasonable place to stay throughout the rest of your trip.

Below is a list of hotels that that Real Honeymooners who’ve contributed to the blog would recommend:

Happy travel planning, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Real Honeymoon: Kauai

After their beautiful wedding in Lake Tahoe, Matt and Amy chose to honeymoon in Kauai where they knew they’d be able to relax and still find tons of fun things to do.  They also kept things interesting by staying in hotels in three different parts of the island.  Read all about their amazing honeymoon in Kauai, and make sure to check out their great restaurants and activities tips at the end:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Kauai in Early August [2013].

sunset

How long was your trip?

We were there for 10 days.

hike

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We both wanted a place where we could relax and unwind after the wedding festivities. Somewhere warm, with beaches, and warm water. The place also needed to offer areas to explore and a plethora of outdoor activities. We also wanted it to be a place neither of us had visited before, so it could be a new experience together.

bay

The best part about our honeymoon was…

You mean aside from spending 10 days in paradise with the one you love, relaxing and soaking up the tropical sun? The best part was not having to stick to a schedule. Our days were just about perfect. First, enjoy some morning coffee and breakfast, then embark on activity for some adventure and exercise. Then beach time, then a great dinner.

beach

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

We split our time between the north and south sides of the island. In the North, we stayed in Princeville, which was absolutely gorgeous. The frequent, very quick rain spells kept everything lush and green and also provided some a quick refuge from the hot tropical sun. A five minute drive down the hill and over a one lane bridge took us straight into Hanalei, where we spent fair amount of time. Hanalei Bay and the town of Hanalei proved to be a perfect match for everything we enjoyed. On the south side of the island, we stayed in sunny Poipu. Poipu was dry, had more strip malls and had more of a large resort feel to it. We decided that we really enjoyed Princeville more and would have spent more time there.

princeville

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Real Honeymoon: Kauai & Tahiti

What do you do when you want a relaxing honeymoon in Tahiti but your significant other wants an exciting honeymoon in Hawaii?  Compromise and do both!  Yes, that’s right.  Katie and Adam decided to honeymoon in Kauai AND Tahiti.  Is that the ultimate multi-moon or what?  Read all about this amazing honeymoon and check out their incredible photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Kauai, Moorea, and Bora Bora in July [2013] (immediately after our wedding). There is only one flight a week from Hawaii to Tahiti, so you have to plan around that.

Kauai Honeymoon

How long was your trip?

2 weeks

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

My husband loves activities! We wanted to do a mix of adventure (Kauai) and relaxation (Tahiti).

Bora Bora Honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Bora Bora! We literally wanted to move to the island! We stayed at the Four Seasons and took advantage of every second there. Favorite parts: the breakfast buffet, daily happy hour (which you can enjoy while watching the sunset), paddle boarding around the hotel, a 3 hour snorkel tour we did with Christof, and dinner at La Villa Mahana. Pretty much everything!

Bora Bora Honeymoon

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

We would skip Moorea and head straight to Bora Bora. Not because we didn’t enjoy it, but because it was a pain traveling there for just one night.

How much planning did you do in advance?

A decent amount for Kauai. My husband bought a book on the island and sought out reccs from friends who had been there. We made restaurant reservations in advance, which was key, since the hotel (and island) were pretty full! For Bora Bora, the one reservation we made far in advance (6+ months out) was dinner at Villa Mahana. (There is only one seating each night, and 8 tables, so this is a must!)

Kauai Honeymoon

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Real Honeymoon: Hawaii

When people submit their honeymoons to the blog, I almost exclusively hear things from the brides’ perspective.  So when Steph asked her husband Matthew to chime in on the honeymoon advice as well, I was pretty excited.  (Don’t be shy, guys!  You can send me your honeymoons, too!)  It sounded like Matthew did a lot of the planning for their hawaiian honeymoon, so I’m really glad that he was able to share his enthusiasm about their trip as well.  Read all about their honeymoon on the big island of Hawaii below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Steph: The Big Island in Hawaii.

Matthew: Hawaii:  The “Big Island” [May/June 2012]

Hawaii honeymoon

How long was your trip?

10 days.

Hawaii honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

S: We knew we wanted something tropical, and we really wrestled with how far away we wanted to travel.  We definitely wanted to relax, experience something new, and really treat ourselves, but we knew that the amount of time we could take off would be limited.  Knowing that we were taking time off before the wedding, we settled on traveling to somewhere closer to California but still exotic.  We threw around Mexico, but I (Stephanie) has a bad history of food poisoning and the like when traveling there, so we ruled it out.  Growing up in North Carolina, Matthew had never been to Hawaii because of the distance, and I (Stephanie) had only ever been to Maui, so we landed on the islands.  Matthew really spearheaded and executed all the planning, the accommodations, the research — you name it, Matthew was on top of it!

The best part about our honeymoon was…

S: sitting down to a late dinner at Hualalai, enjoying incredible food and wine but most of all recounting all our favorite parts from the wedding weekend and all our future plans ahead.

M: Going on dates with the love of my life for 9 straight nights :)

Hawaii honeymoon

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

S: how long we were there!  I could have done at least 2 more days.

M:  Completely agree with Steph!  When your co-workers have their heads down on their own projects, especially during the summer, what’s one week versus two?  (Or three?).  You only get one honeymoon, so fight for your time off!  People understand.  As long as it’s within your budget, take advantage of this once in a lifetime trip and take a few more days off :)

IMG_0245

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Real Honeymoon: Kauai

I’ve written several times before that my consultant friends really lived it up during their honeymoons (e.g. Seoul/Maldives Honeymoon & Hong Kong/Maldives/Tokyo Honeymoon), and Lauren and Chris are certainly no exception.  Because both of them travel so much for work, the biggest priority for their honeymoon was to slow down and just take it easy.  Read all about their incredibly relaxing Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned in mid-to-late June [2013] in Princeville, Hawaii which is locaed on the island of Kauai. We stayed at the St. Regis there for the entire trip.

St. Regis Kauai

How long was your trip?

Two glorious weeks.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We debated back and forth on this, because ultimately we vacation for “free” whenever we go anywhere so cost is less of an issue for our vacation planning. We are both consultants, so we have accumulated a lot of points over the years towards flights/hotels. We got married on the West Coast in Napa, California, so we debated going to Phuket or Bora Bora, but ultimately determined that neither of us felt like spending any MORE time in an airplane than we had to. We love Maui, so we figured why not try a different island!

Kauai

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Doing absolutely nothing for two weeks. We both have so much stress in our careers that we enjoyed the opportunity to do a whole lot of nothing. We really enjoyed the nightly champagne sabering in the St. Regis lobby, all of the amazing sunsets we saw at Hanalei Bay and a couple of the island restaurants (Bar Acuda and Mediterranean Gourmet). We spent 3 hours every day sitting at the pool bar hanging out with the bartenders and ordering lunch in “courses” only to be washed down with delicious Mai Tai’s and K’apaa Margaritas. We also went snorkeling and kayaking almost every day, which is so easy because its on your own schedule and does not have to be planned.

Champagne

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I’d do more research on the room type at the hotel and pre-request. There are a couple of great websites that tell you the pros/cons of each floor/section of hotels. We had an amazing suite overlooking the bay, but I think ultimately would have been happier with a smaller room that had a balcony. We really love to sit outside at night.

How much planning did you do in advance?

None. We don’t often “plan” our vacations other than booking airfare and hotel. We really love to have no formal schedule when we aren’t at work.

Kauai

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Real Honeymoon: Kauai & Maui

This week’s real honeymoon blog post features another California couple who took advantage of the West Coast’s proximity to Hawaii.  Jessie and Jon really nailed the perfect balance between beach/relaxation time and doing exciting activities during their trip.  Read their fun recommendations and check out the beautiful photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We left one day after our wedding and spent 10 days in Hawaii…..six nights in Kauai and four nights in Maui! [July 2011]

Four Seasons Maui

How long was your trip?

Our trip was 10 days! Wish it was more :)

Kauai

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

My husband and I discussed where we wanted to go….we both wanted a place that was fun, chill and beautiful! Since I planned a majority of our wedding, my husband was happy to plan our honeymoon. I had been to Hawaii before and thought it was a beautiful place that would let us just chill and enjoy being married without to much travel or stress :)

Kauai

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Staying at the Four Seasons in Maui….and just being able to enjoy being husband and wife! It was the first time in a long time that I allowed myself to just chill!

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Really nothing…we had a great time, the service, the side trips we planned, our days just relaxing at the pool…. everything was just “us” and gave us the time to enjoy one another’s company instead of getting caught up in the day to day obligations!!!

Hawaii

How much planning did you do in advance?

My husband did most of the planning….which was very difficult for my OCD tendencies! But he did an amazing job planning awesome activities as well as massages! Here are some of the best activities we did:

Helicopter Tour: Jack Harter Helicopters
We went on a helicopter tour, which was amazing. About 70% ok Kauai is only accessible by air, so this definitely gave us a chance to look at some of the amazing views of the waterfalls, beaches, etc that would not have otherwise been able to see.

Helicopter tour

ATV Tour:
This was by far one of the best, most fun activities we did. Amazing, kind, nice guides! Really fun drive, got to see where movies were filmed, provided lunch! Just awesome :)

Catamaran Tour:
This was really fun! Beautiful views, got to go snorkeling, saw dolphins, provided breakfast and lunch! One word of advice, if either one of you or your fiance get motion sickness I would recommend taking something before, a couple people got sick on the boat….mostly kids though!

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