Which Hawaiian Islands to Visit for Honeymoon

The seclusion is alluring as Hawaii is the most isolated chain of islands in the world. You can easily picture walking down a white sand beach with your loved one while feeling the soft kiss of sea spray. The water is electric blue, the palm trees wave in the wind and there's the faint strum of a ukulele on the breeze. Hawaii is an idyllic location for the perfect honeymoon.

But it's easy to get overwhelmed with the choice of Hawaii. The chain is made up of eight different islands. Four of those islands -- Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai -- are where you'll find the majority of Hawaii's 10 million annual visitors. It's also where you'll find all the comforts and catering tourist infrastructure. 

Natural wonders that you can't see anywhere else in the world are waiting to be discovered on each island, and each of the islands has its own unique personality. Picking the right island can make for an absolutely unforgettable honeymoon. That's why you should familiarize yourself with the fruits of each isle and choose the one that suits your personality best.

First, A Thought Experiment

New CoupleA simple thought experiment can help you pick the right island. Just sit comfortably, close your eyes and picture your ideal honeymoon on Hawaii. You can do this thought experiment even if you haven't been to the islands before. 

Really sink your teeth into the imagery. What do you see? Do you see pampering resorts and spas? Do you see towering waterfalls earned at the end of a long hike? Or do you see seclusion on a beach? Keep this image in mind as you read through each of the islands below. With this image, the right island should jump out at you.

Hawaii "The Big Island"

For those who want all of Hawaii's natural wonder.

The Big IslandThe easternmost island is the largest of the Hawaiian chain. It also shares the name of the state and is usually referred to as The Big Island. It's a well-earned nickname as Hawaii continues to grow with free-flowing lava that pours into the ocean to expand the young island by 40 acres per year. The Big Island is also the only place that you can see rivers of lava in the state at Volcanoes National Park.

Everything is big on the Big Island. The central volcano, Mauna Kea, is the largest mountain on earth if you measure from the ocean floor. Its peak stands 13,803 feet above the Pacific Ocean and is often snow-capped in the winter. Yes, Hawaiians ski and sled, and you can often find locals shoveling snow into truck beds for the kids after a fresh snowfall.

Mauna Kea also serves an important role when it comes to climate. The Big Island is incredibly unique as it is home to 10 of the world's 14 different climate zones. You'll find snow, deserts, rainforest and everything in between on the long, slow slopes of Mauna Kea. The massive mountain also cuts the island in half with two very different landscapes to the east and the west.

On the eastern slopes of Mauna Kea, you'll find rainforests and waterfalls. Hilo is the big city of the wetter east side. Kona, which translates to "leeward" or the side of the island less likely to see a storm, is the metropolis of the dry and hot west coast where you'll find endless fields of volcanic rock. And, in just a short drive, you can watch the world around you change dramatically in Hawaii.

Hawaii is relatively young, so the ocean hasn't had time to batter its volcanic rocks into sandy beaches. That's why you'll find the majority of the island's white sand on the older west side near Kona. But Hawaii also has a rare green sand beach, a mini-Na Pali Coast on the north shore and fields of coffee on the western slopes of the mountain.

You'll have to drive quite a bit to take it all in, but Hawaii offers up a little piece of every other island. It's for those energetic, go-getter types that want to sample everything the state has to offer and don’t mind changing hotels along the way.

Maui "The Valley Isle"

A world-famous romantic escape where small cities blend in with nature.

SnorkelingYou'll be overwhelmed by the size and scope of Maui's massive dormant volcano when you fly into the Valley Isle. The very top, where you'll find Haleakala Crater National Park, is usually shrouded in clouds, so it looks as if the multi-colored land simply slopes up into infinity as if it's a ramp to heaven. And you can take advantage of that ramp by joining a tour to the top where they let you coast on bicycles back down the long, slow slope after a hike full of geological wonders inside the crater.

That massive volcano sits right in the middle of Maui's eastern island. Just take a look at a map. Maui looks as if it is two islands that have been fused in the middle. The larger eastern island is where you'll find the Road to Hana wrapping around the eastern edge of the massive Haleakalā. The smaller western island is home to former whaling stations that have turned into pleasant, resort-filled towns perfect for a honeymoon.

Maui has some of the best beaches in the state covering the shores of both "islands." It's a picture-perfect setting that will allow you to flood your social media feeds with envious stills. But the romance of Maui is known all over the world. With nearly 10 million annual visitors to the state, you'll likely be sharing those romantic settings with wedding parties and other honeymooners.

Road to HanaMaui is home to three natural wonders that you won't find anywhere else. The Haleakalā Crater, the Molokini Crater and the Road to Hana. Each of these attractions will take an entire day to explore, but you can check them off your Hawaii bucket list during your honeymoon. They are also the kinds of attractions that everyone talks about, so you'll be a hit around the water cooler when you finally return to work.

The resort towns of the smaller west "island" are perfect for five-star pampering. You can hike the crater, snorkel Molokini or drive the Road to Hana only to return to a romantic spa setting for recuperation. And, since each of the resort towns is a former whaling station, they are perfect for whale watching between January and March. The humpback whales may be honeymooning, as well, because they flock to Hawaii to breed in the warm, protected waters.

Maui is a laid-back mix of small cities, pampering resorts and nature. It's for those who want convenient amenities but don't want to deal with the hectic nature of Honolulu.

Oahu "The Gathering Place"

Hawaii's big city -- Honolulu -- set against historical sites and natural attractions.

The Gathering PlaceThe ancient Hawaiians called Oahu "The Gathering Place" and it's a fitting nickname. Nearly 10 million people visit the Hawaiian islands annually from all over the world, and many of their flights connect in Honolulu. And the city is an unforgettable sight. It's hard to imagine how they fit such massive buildings onto such a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

You might be surprised by the sheer size of Honolulu when you land in the state's largest international airport. But it's the city that gives Oahu its defining feature. Oahu is the perfect honeymoon location for those who are seeking big-city amenities, five-star resorts, and an active nightlife.

In fact, you may be disappointed with the nightlife on the other islands. Everything seems to close down early to allow the outdoorsy types to recuperate for another day of adventure starting at dawn. But Honolulu is an international city where you'll meet people from all over the world in bars that stay open deep into the night. In fact, you'll find the state's only bars and clubs that are allowed to stay open until 4:00 a.m. 

Waikiki BeachOahu is known for Waikiki Beach which was made famous by "The Duke." Hawaii, and perhaps Waikiki Beach itself, was the birthplace of surfing and The Duke was responsible for making the sport famous worldwide. You'll find his statue and restaurant on the busy beach which is lined with towering resorts.

A short drive south takes you to the somber Pearl Harbor Monument, but a drive north through the hectic traffic of Honolulu will take you past historical sites to the quieter north shore. You'll see sugar plantations and the famous non-operational Dole pineapple plantation which are reminders of Hawaii's history of exploitation before reaching the northern side of the island. You'll find the state's best shave ice, some of the world's best surfing and exhilarating ocean cliff jump on the north shore.

Oahu is for those seeking a big city atmosphere with day trips to historical sites and natural wonders. And Oahu could not be any more different than our next island. 

Kauai "The Garden Isle"

The wettest and lushest Hawaiian Island where you'll find unforgettable natural wonders.

The Garden IsleKauai sits right next to Oahu on the map, but they couldn't be any farther apart. The Garden Isle's local government has outlawed the construction of any building taller than a palm tree, so a three-story building is rare on Kauai. It's a sleepy island where restaurants and bars close early while the locals get up to the sound of feral roosters in the morning.

The Garden Isle is also known as Chicken Island. Hurricane Iniki slammed into Kauai back in September of 1992. It destroyed the Elvis’s Coco Palms Resort and set free many of the caged chickens on the island. The farm bird has thrived. Now the island is littered with wild chickens that may surround you when you eat outside. You'll also hear the roosters when the sun comes up.

Kauai is easy. It's for those who love nature, seek seclusion and like to go to bed tired every night. There is a myriad of outdoor adventures awaiting you on the Garden Isle that'll test your mettle and have you to bed early. After a good night's sleep, you'll welcome the sound of the roosters in the morning. 

Wailua There's no need for any nightlife on Kauai when you have the Na Pali Coast, Mount Waialeale, the Wailua River, Waimea Canyon, Queen's Bath, Hanalei Bay, Polihale Beach, Alakai Swamp, Kalalau Valley, and The Blue Hole. All-day hikes will take you into the heart of the island, to 1,600-foot waterfalls and onto daring ocean cliffs. But, if you really want to challenge yourself, you can take the 11-mile one-way Kalalau Trail to the jewel valley of the Na Pali Coast. You'll go up-and-over the coast's famous cathedral cliffs and traverse "Crawler's Ledge" before spending the night with other hardened hikers in the most beautiful valley in the world complete with a natural waterfall "shower."

Mount Waialeale, the island's central dormant volcano, is the rainiest place on earth. The rain carves its way to the ocean to forge the state's only navigable rivers making Kauai the only island where you can freshwater kayak. You can also join a tour to the top of the island where you'll be outfitted with an inner tube to float back down to the coast inside decades-old stone irrigation canals.

The Garden Isle is old. The waves have had plenty of time to batter the volcanic rocks of its coast into white sand beaches. With a little effort, you and your loved one shouldn't have any trouble finding a secluded beach spot, especially if you venture out to Polihale Beach.

Kauai is for those who love the outdoors and want to feel the isolation of nature, but you'll have to sacrifice just a little bit of convenience.

Molokai & Lanai 

Truly isolated islands with no resorts or stoplights.

Molokai & Lanai There are two lesser-known Hawaiian islands that have no tourist infrastructure and are usually left to the locals. But that doesn't mean you can't visit for a wonderfully isolated honeymoon. The flights to these islands may be more expensive, but you'll truly leave the world behind on Molokai and Lanai. You'll likely have to rent a condo or even someone's house to enjoy these islands, but you'll have no problem finding romantic isolation in a tropical paradise. But these islands are usually reserved for the most experienced Hawaiian adventurers as you may find a bit of tourist resistance from the locals.

Molokai and Lanai are for the truly adventurous seeking solitude.


ConclusionHawaii is made up of six different accessible islands that each have unique attributes. The Big Island is for the go-getters who want to see it all including snow and lava. Maui is the not-so-secret romantic destination where resort towns blend seamlessly into nature. Oahu is where you’ll find the big city of Honolulu, international crowds and invigorating nightlife. Kauai is the Garden Isle. The sleepy island is packed with natural wonders while offering up seclusion, but nothing can compare to the isolation found on the local islands of Molokai and Lanai.

Weddings are also popular on the islands. You’ll find Oahu to be the most accessible and affordable island with Honolulu international airport and infrastructure. Weddings are incredibly popular on Maui with its array of coastal resort towns. You’ll have a variety of wedding landscapes to choose from on The Big Island while nuptials are very popular on Kauai’s consistently dry and clear south coast. Then it’s easy to start your honeymoon there. You simply stay while everyone else reluctantly goes home.