Chasing Waterfalls in Hawaii

Any honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but Molly and Matt wanted to make sure they really did everything: relaxing at the beach, snorkeling, hiking, waterfalls and local culture. I knew the perfect place: Hawaii. These islands are simply magical, and like most who visit them (myself included!), Matt and Molly can’t wait to go back!

Here’s their fabulous trip report:

Hi Ann!
We had the best time – thank you SO MUCH for all you did to help us plan! 

cliffs and sea coast of hawaii

All of the hotels were great!  It was really nice having the more family/big box feel of Sheraton transition to the more romantic feel of Koa Kea– best of both worlds!  The breakfast in the morning at Sheraton was AWESOME- thanks for your foresight in getting that included.

couple on a beach in hawaii

In Kona, we couldn’t do the manta ray snorkel at night because the waves were too intense- which means I guess we will just have to go back! Also, the summit was closed due to protestors (but has since reopened so we will definitely go back for that!).

honeymooners on a boat in hawaii

We did a Body Glove Sunset Historical tour which had great service with a hearty Hawaiian themed meal included.  We did some beach hopping and off-roading in the jeep which was really great to have. Overall we loved the Big Island.

hawaii jack harter doorless helicopter ride

In Kauai, we did the Jack Harter doorLESS helicopter ride– scariest but most beautiful experience of my life. 

I was completely unprepared and wasn’t expecting how tiny the helicopter would be.  It was also a pretty windy day with some bumps and turbulence. The pilot was knowledgeable and the operation was extremely well run.  Would definitely recommend for thrill-seekers- once in a lifetime experience. 

We also did the Dukes Waimea River Kayak with Secret Tour.

very tall waterfall in hawaii

It was great and we really appreciated having the tour guide to guide us through the muddy terrain to the stunning falls.

We probably could have done it on our own but it took out all the guesswork and the tour guide was very charismatic and informative. 

couple in a waterfall pool in hawaii

Otherwise, in Kauai, we did a lot of sightseeing, EATING and relaxing on the beach. 

sea turtle on a beach in Hawaii

We snorkeled right off the coast of Koa Kea- and saw beautiful tropical fish, a sea turtle, and a seal- so we bypassed by Napali Snorkel Tour (but will hopefully get to do that in the future!)

Overall we had an unreal time and it was a dream. 

Thank you for everything!  Our parents are now thinking of going to Hawaii so we will share your information with them if that is okay!

couple sitting on a log in a rainbow in hawaii

Mahalo :))
Molly & Matt

A Hui Hou, Hawaii

Hawaii has a mythical, mystical power over people. I can attest to it myself  —  I made what I thought would be my one “bucket list’ trip to the islands in 2014, went back again in 2016, and am headed there again in about two months (for what i am sure will not be my last trip. LOL) Honeymooners Joanna and Joe have clearly fallen under Hawaii’s spell too, based on the trip report below, and I am sure I’ll be helping them with some future visits 🙂

Hi Annie!

Hope you had a great weekend.  Just wanting to get back to you with feedback from our Hawaiian honeymoon!!  We truly couldn’t have had a better time & are so appreciative of all you did in putting together such a wonderful trip we’ll remember forever!

Kauai –

If we had to pick between the two islands, we were surprised, but we’d pick Kauai hands down.  We had the most amazing time here.   The natural beauty of the island was astonishing & we felt like there was a ton to see/do without having to travel too far.    All our flights were smooth, on time & very easy.  We felt like the time change really worked to our advantage.  We’d wake up early (sometimes 5:30/6:30) & use our mornings to explore the island and by midafternoon head back to the hotel to lounge by the pool before dinners.   The jeep rental was really a great suggestion.  We liked being higher up than a sedan & loved having the option to go roofless!   On Kauai, we got upgraded to a 4-Door, so we were off to a great start!

To say we loved the Koa Kea would be the understatement of the century.   Joe called the day we got home to inquire about booking for 2019 (HAHA can dream!)    The hotel was above & beyond expectation.  Our room was beautiful; top floor, oceanfront, corner room.  We had a neighbor to our right, but the lanai was extremely private.  We’d usually have a drink out there before dinner & catch the sunset.  We even saw a humpback whale breach right in front of our room.  Amazing!     Some might’ve complained, but we truly didn’t mind the weather.  In the mornings it was probably in the high 60s, but by the afternoon high 70s/low 80s.  We had a short rain each day, but it created some beautiful rainbows & didn’t keep us from doing a thing!

ocean sunset from the honeymoon balcony in Hawaii

Our first day we woke up, hopped in the jeep & almost accidentally arrived at Waimea Canyon.  We went up to the lookout & then hiked the canyon trail.  How beautiful!  We joked that even if we tried we wouldn’t gain weight because of all the activity we’d do each day.

Almost every morning when we woke up we’d walk down the road to Little Fish Coffee for breakfast.    Their acai bowls were amazing & we really enjoyed the morning walks.  We decided to do 2 ‘nicer’ dinners on each island.  While on Kauai, we did one dinner at Red Salt, the restaurant on the grounds.  It was excellent.  We very easily made a reservation the day before we went & couldn’t have been more relaxed.  We did a night at the bar with sushi too! (a little pricy, but tasty.)  The lobby/bar/restaurant area in the hotel was just gorgeous!  From the moment we arrived we were treated with nothing shy of 5-star service.   Everyone at the hotel was amazing.   With a quick call, the valet would have our car pulled up with fresh towels in the back seat.  Super easy!

Wednesday night the hotel offers free Mai Tai’s at the pool at 5, so we were sure to cash in on that offer.  They were excellent & we got a great sunset that night.    As I mentioned before, we’d tend to hit the pool in the afternoon, but never had a problem finding 2 chairs for ourselves.  Pool attendants would come right over with fresh towels.  The hotel was so quiet & relaxing.  We loved it!

new bride enjoying a waterfall on her hawaiian honeymoon

The helicopter tour of the island was a serious bucket list check.  We will remember it forever & the pictures we got are amazing.  Anyone who comes to Kauai shouldn’t miss the opportunity to do it.   We were truly able to appreciate the beauty of the Na’Pali coast & all the landscapes the island offers.  We are so happy to have done that.   Our kayak & hike to Wailea Falls was a great day too.  I don’t think we could’ve been any luckier with the weather.  If this was planned any other day of our trip we might not have been able to go because of the rains.   The day we went we had a blast.

The kayak was fun & the hike was filled with trails that had us in mud to our knees.  We loved it!   We also did a day where we drove out to Hanalei, explored some beaches along the way and then hiked into the Na’Pali coast.  What a surreal experience.  We still can’t get over the beauty.  We loved Hanalei – it was such a cute little town & worth the ~hour drive.  This side of the island had much more rain.  We tried to explore the entire island & believe that was our furthest destination.   Our last night on Kauai we had dinner at the Boat House in Koloa.  We took a free shuttle that ran on tips, 15 mins down the road.  The dinner was excellent and the restaurant was beautiful.  That night we didn’t get a clear sunset, but we still couldn’t have been happier with the experience.   It was a nice way to celebrate.  We truly didn’t have a bad meal our entire trip!  Some of the other places we ate while here included…  Right off the plane, a stop to Times Market for Poke Bowls (we went back), lunch at The Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei, a night of Pizza from Pizzeta in Koloa (they delivered right to the hotel), a food truck in Lihue across from Sunshine Helicopter & fish tacos from Pacos Tacos.  (We’re big fish fans!)  They were all superb.

view of a cove from a honeymoon helicopter ride aerial view of the hawaiian beach from helicopter ride on honeymoon

At 1pm that Saturday, our phones went off with the flood advisory.  We felt extremely lucky to get out of Kauai an hour later before the storm really hit.  The next day they got 27 inches of rain in 24 hours.  If our trip planned for Kauai the second week we never would’ve had the same experience here.  Our 5 days on Kauai we above and beyond all expectation.  We talk about it daily how much we want to go back – Amazing, amazing, amazing!!


Our flight over to Maui was quick & easy.  No issues & we were grateful to miss the storming in Kauai!  The weather in Maui was amazing every day – 82/83 everyday, all day, no rain.  We had some amazing sunsets!  Again, we loved having the jeep & really put the miles on.   It might be because we came off a high of being at the Koa Kea, but we didn’t love the Hyatt Regency.   The hotel was really dated, not as clean & anytime we walked around the grounds we were heckled to sit in a presentation to buy into their time shares.  (Sometimes aggressively) Housekeeping didn’t turn the beds over, the sheets were just pulled up from the day before.    Anything probably would be, but the Hyatt was more stressful than our time on Kauai… from arriving, dealing with hotel staff, parking, getting towels, etc.   We had the free breakfast & went the first morning, but then didn’t end up going back.  The line for a table was long, the buffet wasn’t great & there were tons of people.  The hotel felt a bit like a vacation factory.   Luckily, we really enjoyed exploring both islands so didn’t spend a ton of time at the resort.  We tried to see as much of the island as possible.   Going back to Maui we’d probably pick to stay in Paia or Wailea.    It seemed to be about an hour drive to a lot of our destinations & the traffic here was much heavier.    Regardless – we had an amazing time!  Our first day we explored the North East side of the island & did some wild driving (practice for Hana!)  We snagged some great banana bread alongside the road & tried to soak up as much of the culture as possible.  We found a beach we loved just a short drive from the hotel – Ka’anapali Beach – beautiful, quite & convenient!

For our first ‘nicer’ dinner here we ate at Mama’s Fish House in Paia.  My cousin recommended it months before going, so I made a reservation a while back.  It’s a good thing because they didn’t have dinner availability for over a month out.  It was absolutely, amazing – perfect for a special occasion dinner.  The view, food, service & ambiance were outstanding.    On Maui we tended to eat a little more commercially because it was convenient.

We absolutely loved our Kayak with Sea Turtles.   It ended up that Joe & I were the only ones in our group, so our guide Mikey was able to give us a lot of attention.  We saw some amazing sea creatures – sea turtles, manta ray, (a pregnant momma) sharks (little scary 😊), an octopus, eels and some wild fish.  Such an awesome experience we are so glad we got to do!    While on that end of the island we drove down & checked out the lava flows (worth the 10 mins down the road).  While here we also got a food truck lunch (JAWZ – Amazing tacos!) where the woman gave us a recommendation for a beach off the beaten path – Oneuli Beach.  Beautiful black sand & virtually ours – it was so quiet.

beautiful ocean sunset on a Hawaiian honeymoon

We knew in advance we wanted to drive the Road to Hana. On our first day exploring we ran into someone who recommended getting an app called GPSy.  It was the best $6.99 we spent the whole trip.  The app guided us along the way calling out key stopping points, bathrooms, best food stops & invaluable historic information about the towns we were driving through.  We were so glad to have it.  The drive took us about 12 hours.  Having the notice to start early was key.  We left the hotel around 7am & got back about 7pm.  It was a long day, but we are so glad we did it!  We ended up driving past Hana to Haleakala National Park where we did another hike to a waterfall that was just beautiful through a bamboo forest.  Surreal!   We saw the Pools of O’hea, black sand beaches & tons of amazing waterfalls.

For our last night in Maui & our second special dinner we decided to end with a luau.  The Hyatt recommended going to theirs, but after checking it out we didn’t think it was our speed.  We did a little research & found one called The Feast at Lele about 10 minutes away right on the beach.   It was $300 for the two of us with unlimited drinks, 4 Polynesian courses, with our own waiter, private table & an amazing show.  There were about 150 other people dining.  We couldn’t have had a better time.  The idea of a 500-person buffet at some of the other locations didn’t entice us quite as much.  We felt like this was such a special way to end our honeymoon.  (4 thumbs up!)

We are so, so grateful to have had such an amazing time in such a beautiful place.  We’ve made memories we’ll remember & cherish forever.  We’ve both now caught a little bit of a travel bug!!   If you’d like, we’d be happy to share pictures of our trip!   If we can provide any more detail or information on any part of our time away, don’t hesitate to let us know!  We’re an open book & any information we can provide to help in further planning we’re happy to share.

Thank you so, so much Annie!

Joanna & Joe

From Napa to the Napali Coast

From here on the East Coast, the flights to Hawaii can be daunting, and clients often ask about breaking up the trip with a stop in California along the way. Honeymooners Kaitlyn and Joe did just that, with a few days of winetasting in Napa as an “aperitif” before the main event —  their adventurous honeymoon on the Big Island and Kauai.

Hi Ann,

Sorry I am just getting back to you, but we have been busy getting settled back in.

We had an awesome time on the honeymoon!  Thank you so much for all of your help planning it.  Everything went as planned and we didn’t have any issues.  Our favorite hotel room was definitely the Andaz Napa.  We got upgraded to an Andaz Large Loft room.  While in Napa, we did winery tours of Robert Mondavi, Castello di Amaroso, and Cakebread Cellars.  Castello di Amaroso is a little touristy, but was definitely worth seeing.  We want to go back to Napa at some point so we can spend a few more days checking out the other wineries.  Downtown Napa where the hotel was located, was also very cool.  We would enjoy exploring that area a little more as well.

beautiful Hawaiian beach for a perfect honeymoon

The Big Island was our favorite part of the honeymoon.  The Waikoloa Marriott was nice, but the rooms could use some renovation.  When we checked in, I asked about getting a room upgrade because we were on our honeymoon, but they said they were all sold out.  When they brought us to the Garden View room, it was on the first floor and the balcony walked out to a main pathway.  I went back to the check-in desk and asked if they had anything off the ground level.  They were able to put us in a corner room on the second floor.  It was much better than the original room we had a view of the pool and partial ocean.  The highlight on the Big Island was the doors-off helicopter tour we took out of Hilo to see the volcano and waterfalls.  We booked it through  We also drove around a lot and got to see all of the different parts of the Big Island.


aerial view of waterfall in Hawaii

The Kauai Marriott was the nicest resort out of any of the hotels we stayed at.  I would love to stay here again.  The grounds were beautiful and pristine.  We were upgraded to a partial ocean view room on the top floor upon check-in.  While on Kauai, we did a boat tour of the Napali coast through, saw the Waimea Canyon, hiked on the Kalalau trail, and did some shopping.  We didn’t have the best weather while we were there, which is probably why we liked the Big Island better.  Everyone we talked to said it was the worst weather they had seen on Kauai in the last 10 years, but we still had a great time.

Villucci 1

rocky beach waves in hawaii

Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime and was everything we thought it would be.  Thank you again for all of your help putting it together!

Joe and Kaitlyn

Hawaii: Not Another Beach Vacation

When it comes to beachy vacations, I can be hard to impress. It’s not my fault, really. I grew up on the water, spent summers working as a lifeguard, and am lucky enough to live in the “Ocean State”, with the ability to go swimming, boating and kayaking whenever I want.  I’ve been all over the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida and the thought of just chilling on a beach on vacation really doesn’t excite me anymore. While I send lots of clients to tropical destinations every year, my own personal vacations have tended to be in Europe.

For these (misguided) reasons, and because of the long flights from the East Coast, I had never visited Hawaii. Fortunately, that changed last month, when I was invited to attend the Hawaii Travel Exchange.  Along with about 70 other hand-picked travel agents from across the country, I was invited to come to Maui and Kauai, to tour hotels, meet with local hospitality professionals, and – most importantly – sample the tours and activities that bring travelers back to these islands year after year.

Hawaii beach

I stayed in some gorgeous hotels, I ate some amazing meals, I snorkeled with sea turtles, I sailed along the untamed Napali Coast, I kayaked down a river where they filmed “Indiana Jones” movies, I took in the jaw-dropping beauty of Waimea Canyon,  I learned to make a mean Mai Tai, I drove a golf cart through a rain shower and under a rainbow, I watched an albatross guard his nest, I photographed a monk seal catching her breath on a beach of lava rocks, I sampled Hawaiian shave ice for the first time, I saw dolphins and whales, and the one thing I did NOT do, was to lay in a lounge chair on a beach.  After a week in Hawaii, all I can say is that I am hooked. I can’t wait to go back!

Hawaii sailing

Yes, the flights are very long. And, yes, the time difference knocked me out for the first day. But for three very important reasons, Hawaii has cemented a place at the top of my favorites list.

Natural beauty – It’s hard to compete with the manicured beauty of Maui, with its golf courses, beachfront promenades and views over Molokai, but the unspoiled scenery in Kauai is even more impressive. Soaring mountains, lush green rainforest, tumbling waterfalls, and private little stretches of beach. I loved both islands, but now I really need to see the crashing waves on the north shore of Oahu and the volcanic landscapes on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii Princeville

Aloha spirit – Every person we encountered, from the bus driver who lulled us with folk stories about the Menehune and the Hawaiian goddess Pele, to the musician who taught us a mini-lesson on how to play the ukulele, absolutely loved his/her island. They wanted nothing more than to share that love with us, and to teach us about their culture. You can’t help but enjoy a place where the people are so genuinely glad to host visitors. (Are you listening, Parisians?)

Courtyard Coconut Beach sunrise

Ease – Maybe I’m getting old, but I feel like I’ve done my share of navigating strange countries, figuring out foreign money, and deciphering signs in Spanish, French, Italian or Icelandic (try that some time!)  Hawaii is the good old USA. No passport needed. No worries about driving on the wrong side of the road. And no need to convert money (or electricity). The islands feel familiar, and yet exotic at the same time, and it’s a combination that really works.


I’m generally not a person who wants to re-visit the same places more than once (with the exception of Italy, but I think that’s totally justifiable) – so it definitely says something that I’m already struggling with how and when to get back to Hawaii. Should I take my college-aged kids this summer, and let them enjoy adrenaline-fueled activities like ziplining, surfing, and helicopter tours? Or should I hold off for another year or two and go back with just my husband, for a romantic 25th anniversary “escape”?

Maybe both!

Hawaii selfie

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)