Guest Author - Kara Williams
Thinking about a honeymoon in Hawaii, but not sure which island to choose? Before you narrow your focus to just one, consider two or more. It's not unusual for travelers who have already endured a long overseas plane trip to make the most of their vacation with a multi-island stay. You might, say, book a room on Maui for a few nights, then puddle-jump over to Kauai. Or explore Oahu and then the Big Island. If you're planning a honeymoon of a week or more, this might just be the ticket to really getting a feel for how varied the Hawaiian Islands are.
Here's a rundown of the six main islands to help you make your final selection:
Oahu is home to the state's capital city, Honolulu. Waikiki Beach is the island's best-known tourist area, with a two-mile strip of white-sand beach and a brand-new Beach Walk with retailers, restaurants and hotels. Here, watch the surfers take to the waves, the same way pioneers of the sport, like Duke Kahanamoku, did in the early 1900's. In the winter, waves reach up to 30 feet on Oahu´'s North Shore. The lush, green Waimea Falls State Park is also on the north side of the island.
Active fun: Hiking up Diamond Head, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.
Where I'd stay: There are dozens of high-rise hotels in Honolulu, including the Outrigger, Sheraton and Hyatt brands. I like the look and sound of the Aqua Resorts in Waikiki: the boutique accommodations are hip and stylish, while the Aqua Lite accommodations are convenient and affordable.
Kauai is called The Garden Isle because of its lush, green vegetation. Attractions here include Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and the Fern Grotto, an unusual cave formation that you reach by boat. To the north, you'll find Hanalei Bay and the Princeville Resort, perched on a cliff; to the east, the major tourist towns of Kapaa, Wailua and Lihue; and to the south, Poipu and its many white-sand beaches and luxury hotels.
Active fun: Hiking part of the Na Pali trail, kayaking or canoeing the Wailua River.
Where I'd stay: The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa on Poipu Beach for its luxurious elegance and its location on the sunniest side of the island.
The Big Island is all about lava -- you can't miss the black-sand beaches and volcanic rock alongside the roads. If you stay on the Big Island, a drive through Volcanoes National Park is a must. Wear rugged shoes to hike over the hardened lava, and stop by the visitors' center to get an update on lava flow -- yes, you can actually see molten lava flowing. You can also drive to the top of Mauna Kea; go after nightfall to see the amazing array of twinkling stars.
Active fun: Golf the courses on the Kohala Coast, take a helicopter tour over erupting volcanoes.
Where I'd stay: The Mauna Lani Resort on the Kohala Coast. It's one of the island's most upscale properties, and I dig the idea behind "Lava Love" spa package for couples, which includes a private lava sauna, Watsu lava pool experience and lava flow body treatment for two.
Maui is chock full of natural beauty and fun activities. The great humpback whales pass by the island as part of their annual migratory trip, so if you travel here between December and March, be sure to book a whale-watching tour. The old whaling port of Lahaina, with its shops, boutiques and historic sites, is a nice place to spend the day. The Road to Hana is not for the faint of heart -- it is a winding, 52-mile drive through amazing, breathtaking scenery you may see only once in lifetime. But do plan to spend the entire day making the trip and enjoying the stops and sights along the way.
Active fun: Bike ride down the Haleakala Crater, snorkeling off of Molokini.
Where I'd stay: The Grand Wailea Resort & Spa, because of its location on a pristine, white-sand beach with a lovely paved walking path connecting a number of Wailea resorts, not to mention its top-notch spa, accommodations and massive swimming pool.
Lanai was for years known as the Pineapple Island. The entire island was once home to the Dole pineapple plantation, but is now phasing in tourism, with two major resorts. Now, the smallest isle in Hawaii is considered the Most Exclusive Island. No crowds, no traffic. Just you and your sweetie kicking back on a tropical island.
Active fun: Snorkeling or scuba diving at Hulopoe Bay, taking a 4x4 jeep ride along the Munro Trail.
Where I'd stay: Both of the five-star resorts on the island, the Lodge at Koele (in the "highlands") or the Manele Bay Hotel (oceanfront), get my vote.
Molokai touts itself as real Hawaii and the Friendly Isle. Rural and peaceful, this island has no traffic lights. I've read it's like going back in time 50 years in time. All that sounds ideal for a getaway-from-it-all type of vacation.
Active fun: Hike, bike or ride horseback in this ultra-natural playground.
Where I'd stay: Since the Lodge & Beach Village at Molokai Ranch closed, the closest thing to a resort on Molokai is the Hotel Molokai, which has a honeymoon suite.
No matter which island or islands you choose, you're sure to have an amazing Hawaiian honeymoon filled with wonderful memories. After all, the Hawaiian Islands' sunny skies, swaying palm trees, gorgeous sunsets, glorious beaches can only inspire romance.