Hawaii is always one of our top honeymoon destinations year after year, and it is our top domestic destination of all time. If you have never been to Hawaii, trip planning can be overwhelming. Merely narrowing down the right island for you can seem impossible. Every island has tons to do, great resorts, yummy eateries, and beautiful beaches. Hawaii is truly an embarrassment of riches! Each is fantastic and unique in its way. Of course, this doesn't mean that you should throw a dart at a map to pick your destination. Consequently, there is a perfect choice for you individually. And my Essential Hawaii Honeymoon Guide will direct you to the right choice for you.
There are four main islands:
Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, and two smaller islands: Lanai and Molokai.
Oahu (The Gathering Place)
Oahu is perfect for couples that like to keep busy.
Oahu is known as 'The Gathering Place' because 80% of Hawaii's residents live here, and the majority of tourists choose it for their vacations. Oahu really can feel like 2 different islands in 1. Honolulu is eclectic, offering a mix of cultures and activities. You can spend your days sunning yourself on Waikiki Beach, and your evenings partying the night away in a nightclub. But head to the North Shore, and suddenly you are surrounded by pristine beaches, authentic restaurants, and small family-run B&B's.
Hanauma Bay & Nature Preserve
Polynesian Cultural Center
Jessie's Must-Try Oahu Restaurants:
La Mer at hotel Halekulani
Sushi Sho at Ritz Carleton Residences
Azure at the Royal Hawaiian Resort
Maui (The Valley Isle or The Honeymoon Isle)
Maui is perfect for couples that want a laidback, luxury trip.
Maui is known as the Honeymoon Isle because it is a trendy honeymoon spot (obviously). Maui is similar to Oahu in that it has both a big city vibe as well as smaller, more remote areas. For this reason, Maui is an excellent choice for anyone that has never been to Hawaii because it will give you a good overview of what Hawaii has to offer.
Head West or South if you want luxury resorts and lovely beaches. Potential resort areas to choose from are: Kaanapali, Wailea, or Kapalua. Do you want to escape the crowds? Then head to the Haleakala or Hana. These undiscovered gems will have you feeling like you are the only two people in the world. Maui is vast and diverse, read our Find the Perfect Region of Maui for You.
Sunrise Bike Ride at Haleakala
Snorkeling at Molokini
Jessie's Must-Try Maui Restaurants:
Mama's Fish House
The Plantation House
Kauai (The Garden Isle)
Kauai is perfect for people who want to honeymoon in a secluded garden paradise.
Kauai is the oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian Islands. Also, it is less developed than Maui and Oahu. In my opinion, Kauai is the most beautiful of the islands. Lush valleys, verdant mountains, and untouched beaches, Kauai is a nature lovers dream. Multiple movie producers have chosen Kauai as the backdrop for their films. Yes, you will find many stunning resorts and beautiful beaches. But for the most part, Kauai remains unspoiled, garden paradise.
Boat tour of Napali Coast
Hike the Kalalau Trail
Sunrise Helicopter Tour of the Island
Jessie's Must-Try Kauai Restaurants:
Eating House 1849
Merriman's Fish House
The Beach House
The Big Island (The Orchid Isle)
The Big Island is perfect for couples who seek adventure.
The Big Island is, as the name would suggest, is the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. You could fit all the other Hawaiian Islands inside the Big Island, and still have room to spare. The two main parts of the Big Island are Kona and Hilo. If you want to explore both, I would recommend moving hotels. Hilo and Kona are at least 4 hours apart by car, which makes for a long day. Big Island has something for everyone. From snow-covered mountains to white-sand beaches and every different climate in between, you will find a piece of the Big Island to love. It's also home to Hawaii's only active volcano. (As you have seen on the news, the volcano has been extraordinarily active lately, but it is calming down).
The Big Island Highlights:
Volcano National Park
Swimming with the Manta Rays
Stargazing at Mauna Kea
Snorkeling at Kealakekua Bay
Jessie's Must-Try Big Island Restaurants:
Island Lava Java
Jackie Ray's Ohana Grill
Lanai and Molokai
Lanai and Molokai are bonus islands. Both are small are receive very few tourists every year. If you have explored the larger Hawaiian Islands and looking for something different for your next trip, Lanai or Molokai might be a perfect choice for you. Both islands are off the coast of Maui and therefore make for an excellent day trip option. Lanai is known for its natural, rugged beauty. If you desire a culturally authentic trip, Molokai is where you want to go. It is the most "Hawaiian" of the islands.
With so many incredible choices, how do you and should you choose only one? Hopping from 1 island to another is doable. Hawaiian Airlines offers direct flights to the larger islands multiple times a day, every day. The trips are quick (plan on 45 minutes to an hour) and relatively inexpensive (about $100-200 a person). Lanai and Molokai are just a quick ferry ride from Maui. Therefore, you can go from island to island relatively quickly and cheaply, but does that mean you should? In my opinion, whether or not you should do an itinerary with multiple stops depends on how many nights you have. At a bare minimum, you don't want to go under three nights at each stop! I prefer to do five nights on each island.
Five nights ensures that you have time to explore at leisure. You do not want to come home from your trip more tired than before you left.
All of the islands are fantastic. Here are my Quick Recommendations for the island that might be best for specific types of trips.
Best Island for Luxury Honeymoons: Maui
Best Island for History and Culture: Oahu
Best Island for Hiking and Getting Back to Nature: Kauai
Best Island for Adventure: Big Island
Which Hawaiian Island is your favorite? I lived on Waikiki Beach for a little while, but my favorite is Kauai.