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 ..one 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

Island-Hopping in Hawaii

Anniversary Escape, part 2 

“Island-Hopping in Hawaii”

After a relaxing weekend in Los Angeles (see “part 1”) we headed out on Sunday morning to catch our flight to the Big Island (an easy 5 ½ hour flight from LAX).

The Kailua-Kona airport is adorable, and you know right away that you have arrived in the islands 🙂  You deplane down some roll-up steps and walk across the tarmac to an open-air terminal with just one baggage carousel.  We had an easy ride on the shuttle to the car rental lot, with no lines at the counter, and we were in our Jeep in no time. The landscape surrounding the airport is really stark – it reminded me very much of arriving in Reykjavik (Iceland) – a barren moonscape of black lava rock. Our hotel was about 35 minutes away, along the one main highway leading northeast to Waimea.

pebbly beach and ocean surrounding the Fairmont Orchard hotel in Hawaii

The beautiful Fairmont Orchid is in the Mauna Lani development, on a small cove-style beach with historic fish ponds and lots of rugged lava rock. The hotel itself centers around a pool that was closed for renovation (a recurring theme on this trip, as it appears that September is a popular time to do maintenance and construction) so they were offering some discounts on spa treatments to make up for it. It really didn’t impact our quick one-night stay, but would have been a bummer if we were staying for the week.

We had a drink at the pool bar, and went out to explore for a little bit, then ate dinner at a casual brewpub in the Waikoloa development (Tropics Ale House), and called it an early night.

On Monday we were up and out by 6 am (still getting used to the multiple time changes!)  We checked out, stored our bags, and got on the road to Hilo. It is about a 2 ½ hour drive across the interior of the island, through a very foreign-looking landscape, to the wetter eastern side of the island. We started at Rainbow Falls, made a quick pass through Hilo, and continued on to Volcanoes National Park. You could easily spend a whole day in the park (especially if you wanted to see the lava flows at night) but we only had a few hours, so we stopped at the info station, and at a couple of the main overlooks, and then we drove the scenic Chain of Craters road down to the coast. This provided lots of great photo ops, and we were very glad that we had gotten an early start because we only encountered one tour bus along the way.

steam rising from a crator at the volcano park in Hawaii

a couple with a hawaiian waterfall in the background

Afterwards, we took a southern route back towards Waikoloa, stopping at the beautiful Punalu’u black sand beach (where we saw a whole bunch of turtles sunning themselves!) and at the popular Punalu’u Bakery (serving malasadas, plate lunches, sweet bread, and more) Total time on the road was about nine hours, and over 200 miles, and it was fabulous!

seaturtles on a black sand beach in Hawaii

black-sand-beach in Hawaii

We retrieved our bags from the Fairmont and checked into the nearby Marriott Waikoloa Beach for the rest of our time on the island. The resort was a little more casual than the Fairmont, and had more of a mix of business/leisure clientele, but it was lovely. There was some renovation going on in the lobby and the function rooms, but the pool, restaurants, spa, etc. were all open, and the staff could NOT have been nicer…everyone from the front desk to the valet and bell staff were top notch. Our room was garden view, but comfortable and spacious.

We had dinner reservations that evening at the Canoe House (to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday).  The restaurant is lovely, and the setting (right on the water, with stunning sunset views) is fabulous, but be prepared for sticker shock. You are definitely paying for the view and the atmosphere…not the portion sizes or attentive service. All in all, the birthday boy loved it, and that’s all that matters 🙂

Tuesday morning my husband had a full-day fishing charter, so I grabbed breakfast from the coffee shop and hit the pool.  There were romantic daybeds all around the perimeter that could be rented for $50/day (including two mai tais) but they were all already reserved. I would definitely have enjoyed that if I had planned ahead.  The Marriott’s small beach is a short (scenic) walk from the pool  – past lava rocks and fish ponds – and they have a water sports shack for kayaks, paddleboards, etc. I ate lunch at the open air restaurant, and then headed over to the nearby Mauna Lani Bay to do a site inspection and meet with the destination wedding staff. If you’re interested….it was fabulous.

mauna-lani-bay hotel in Hawaii

When Everett got back from fishing, we had cocktails at the hotel before heading over to the Lava Lava Beach Club for our dinner reservation. It’s a popular spot, and people were piling in there at sunset, but we got a decent table with a view, and I had a delicious coconut Mai Tai 🙂 The dinner menu was casual (burgers, salads and fish) but it was really all about the setting, and I’d go back there in a minute.

lava-lava beach club restaurant sign painted on surf boards in Hawaii

Wednesday we were up and out early (again) for a day of fishing. I had agreed to accompany Everett for one out of his two days, and I apparently chose the right day!  The weather was picture-perfect, we got to enjoy the sunrise as we headed out of the harbor, and Everett caught an 800 lb blue marlin!

fishing rods on a boat with mountains and a sunset in Hawaii

Back at the hotel that evening, we grabbed some celebratory frozen drinks and went for a swim. It was so relaxing to lounge in the pool listening the Marriott’s luau happening nearby. For dinner that evening, we took the fishing mate’s recommendation and went to Sansei Sushi at the nearby Queens Shops. It was absolutely fantastic!! Wish we had discovered it earlier in the week, as we would have eaten there more than once.

Thursday morning we checked out and did some shopping at the Kings and Queens Marketplace shops, all of which are within walking distance of the hotel, which is super convenient.  We picked up some souvenirs and gifts, and then headed to the airport for our flight to Maui.  Check-in at the cute little airport was really quick, and waiting at the open air gates is very relaxing 🙂 The Hawaiian Air flight was only 30 minutes…barely enough time to settle into your seat!

When we arrived in Maui, we picked up another Jeep and drove about 50 minutes to our hotel. Like the others before, the Hyatt Regency Maui was undergoing some renovations, and there were some services that were impacted (a couple of restaurants were closed). Overall, it was a much bigger and busier resort than the others we stayed in on this trip. The main lobby area has retail shops, eye-catching water features, and even some penguins on exhibit! The grounds are lushly-landscaped, with flamingos and swans roaming about. The clientele was a mix of families and honeymooners, and there were lots of younger couples around the pool and the bars. We enjoyed a deluxe ocean view room on the sixth floor, with views over the grounds to the ocean beyond, and we saw some great sunsets from there!

hyatt-selfie the front garden with lake and pathway of the Hyatt beachfront hotel in Hawaii

The resort is very conveniently-located on Kaanapali Beach, and we strolled down to Whalers Village for dinner most evenings. That first night we ate at Leilani’s on the Beach and, because we had early reservations, they were offering a special prix fixe menu (appetizer, entree and dessert for $29pp) We watched the sunset, walked back, and went to bed early.


Friday morning we were up and out by 6:30 am for our full day on the Road to Hana.  We picked up breakfast and bottled water in one of the lobby shops, and brought some towels from the hotel in case we decided to swim anywhere along the way. By far the best decision we made was to plan ahead and buy the GyPsy Guide app that synced up with our GPS and walked us through the whole route, with tips, directions, commentary, and history. We loved it!! It was a long day (9+ hours) and we skipped a lot of the stops, but we saw some breathtaking scenery, enjoyed some cool local snacks, and had fun exploring on our own. The drive was narrow and twisty, but totally manageable. Not nearly as scary as I had feared.  I would definitely recommend a stop at the Nahiku Marketplace for coconut chips and smoothies!

lush green mountains and blue sea on the road-to-hana in Hawaii

waterfall surrounded by lush greenery in Hawaii

Dinner that night was at the Hula Grill, which we loved. It’s in Whalers Village, so we were able to walk there, and we grabbed last-minute reservations on Open Table. It’s worth noting that for this one, and for Leilani’s, if you make reservations you eat in the fine dining part of the restaurant, and if you walk up you can eat in the more casual area. We loved the (more expensive) fine dining menu, and were happy to have reservations and not have to wait for a table. It had a very romantic atmosphere, with tiki torches and live music, and a great “locavore” menu.

Saturday morning we arranged a private paddle board lesson with Paddle On Maui, which departed from Polo Beach in Wailea (about 45 minutes from our hotel).  They do an early morning (7 am) paddle and a later (9:30 am) departure, which is what we booked. Peg was a fabulous instructor, and was very patient with two complete beginners 🙂 We both eventually managed to balance and stand up — it was a gorgeous morning on the water, and it was well worth the time and effort. They do offer other tours as well (kayaking, photo sessions, SUP yoga) and will even do vow renewals on paddleboards!


Peg recommended that we have lunch at the nearby Five Palms at the Mana Kai, which was a great suggestion. The hotel is a casual little condo-style resort on a pretty stretch of beach, with great views, and the open air restaurant is just steps from the sand. We enjoyed our fish tacos, and a couple of local beers!

That afternoon we strolled through Lahaina, which is a fun and funky little town (feels a little bit like Key West). We bought some souvenirs for the kids, and Everett had his first shave ice 🙂 We had dinner at Lahaina Pizza, and it was delicious. The restaurant was very crowded right at sunset, so it would be a good idea to go before 5:30 or after 7:00, but the deep dish pies were yummy and quite reasonable (for Maui).

Sunday was our last full day on Maui, and we planned a thorough exploration of Upcountry! We started with breakfast at a funky cafe in the surfer-town of Paia (Everett’s first acai bowl, lol), and then we headed inland through Makawao towards Haleakala. We wound our way through the hairpin turns leading up the mountain, marveling at the bikers speeding past us downhill (I’m really glad we didn’t do that tour!)  The weather at the top was too cloudy/rainy to see much (it’s better to be there at sunrise) but we were happy to have experienced the drive.

The first stop after that was the Alii Kula Lavender Farm, a peaceful oasis of sights, smells and even tastes (be sure to try the lavender coffee!)  We wandered the garden paths and enjoyed the views, and I was excited to see that they have a wedding gazebo for those who want something a little different than the usual beachfront ceremony. The farm would make for an amazing photo backdrop!

Suitably relaxed, we set off for some winetasting at Tedeschi Vineyards (and purchased a few bottles to bring home.)  We popped into the nearby ‘Ulupalakua Ranch Store to check out some of their tasty treats, and then made our way to the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. We just missed the last tour (bummer!) so it would have been smart to have checked that timing in advance, but they have a take-out window and we did NOT miss out on sampling some of their specialty cheeses!  The last stop in our Upcountry Adventure was the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery, home of Ocean Organic Vodka and Deep Island Hawaiian Rum. We did a tour and tasting, picked up a little “sample” to bring home (along with some inspiring recipes), and wandered the scenic grounds (which are ALSO available for weddings and events).

Anne on a bench amoung the flowers on a lavender farm in Hawaii

sea-spirits signs in Hawaii

When we eventually wound our way back down to Kaanapali, we picked up our bags from the Hyatt and moved over to our final hotel, the Royal Lahaina, which is about a mile down the beach. Older, smaller, more casual and more traditional than the flashy Hyatt, the Royal Lahaina was a lovely low-key way to end our trip. We had a deluxe oceanfront room with the most amazing views – it felt like we were right ON the water, on a boat – and the stretch of beach out front was arguably the best we saw the entire trip.

royal-lahaina hotel room view looking from the room out to the balcony and the ocean sunset in Hawaii royal-lahaina-beach

It’s hard to believe that we had any appetite after a full day of tasting Maui’s finest local products, but we had a dinner reservation at Duke’s Beach House, and we wanted to make the most of our final evening. Dinner was yummy, the service was attentive, and the beachfront setting (at the Honua Kai resort) was beautiful.

Monday morning we slept in, packed up, and drove back to Paia to do some window-shopping at the cute little boutiques and shops. We watched the surfers at Ho’Okipa Beach Park, and then enjoyed a decadent lunch at Mama’s Fish House. Mama’s is always the most-recommended restaurant on Maui, and I now know why. The beachfront setting is gorgeous, the interior is interesting and eclectic, the history is tangible (there are old photos and letters from celebrities on the walls) and the service is impeccable. Our meal was to-die-for, and I didn’t even care when the bill came.


After lunch, it was time to face the inevitable. We drove back to the airport, returned the Jeep, and boarded our overnight flight back home 🙁

If anything, this trip made me love Hawaii even MORE than I did before, because I got to see so much of the interior of the islands, beyond the beaches. For my husband, who was making his first visit to Hawaii, I think his main takeaway might be that it was SO worth the long flight. We’re already talking about when and how to go back. The next trip has to include Kauai and Oahu, so that he can see Pearl Harbor!

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

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow…

My clients are the best! I love that they take the time to send me such detailed feedback (and photos) after their trips, along with tips for other clients who might be considering a similar “escape”.  Check out this helpful trip report from Joely and Jim, who enjoyed a romantic honeymoon in Hawaii.

So my idea of fun is doing lots of relaxing activities, drinking fabulous drinks, eating fabulous food, and getting spa treatments! I know I sound like a primadonna, but what can I say! I’m not much into athletic type of activities or long tours, etc. I just wanna chill, eat, drink and be merry. So that being said, my honeymoon was skewed towards that!
Here is my synopsis:
Honolulu: We had a nice time there and enjoyed our hotel right on the ocean. The restaurants and housekeeping were very good at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach. We only spent 3 days there and used it to adjust to the time change for the most part. There was tons of shopping right next to the hotel. We tried to do Pearl Harbor and caught a taxi there but it was a 4 hour wait to see the Arizona memorial so we just walked around briefly and left without seeing the Arizona (which is the main attraction there). My favorite activity in Honolulu was the Hole in the Wall Food Tour by Hawaii Food Tours. This is a great activity for foodies or people that aren’t looking to be very active. Two tour guides take you around the parts of Honolulu where locals eat and let you sample tons of Hawaiian specialty foods. The point is to get away from where tourists are and get a real look at Hawaiian food. So we sampled the best Manapua (delicious Hawaiian calzone type things)! Ate delicious local desserts, etc. The tour guide even made us a special cocktail while we were in China town. This should be booked a month in advance if anyone wants to do it. Hawaii Food Tours also has an evening tour where you go to 1-2 sit down restaurants. 

Then we went to Kauai. In Kauai we rented a mustang convertible which was fun! The weather was overcast the whole time which was a slight bummer but I still loved Kauai. The Sheraton we ended up staying at was very nice, right on swimmable ocean, and had a pretty pool that was recently renovated. The restaurant on site was great too. They had an awesome breakfast buffet and great dinner meals as well. We did ziplining in Kauai which was definitely a fun time! I’m glad I tried that and I would recommend it. The one mistake we made was booking all of our activities on the north side of the island but we were staying on the south side so it got exhausting with all the back and forth driving. My favorite part of my honeymoon was here in Kauai when we had dinner at the St. Regis Princeville Resort at the Makana Terrace restaurant (I think that is what it’s called). The view at dinner was absolutely AMAZING!!! The hotel is built into the side of a mountain and overlooks the bay and other mountains. Two rainbows were in the sky and it was just the most peaceful, beautiful scene I’ve ever been in. The restaurant is very expensive (side of lobster mash potatoes was $18) but I felt it was money well spent since it was our honeymoon. Tip: This resort is part of Sheraton’s network so I heard that if you stay at the Sheraton, you can use the St. Regis pool facilities as well. The resort is gorgeous and the design of their pool is beautiful too, so it would have been fun to spend the day at the pool there. We also did the Napali Coast tour. I definitely recommend people do it by boat (versus kayak or motorized kayak). Waters can be rough. The view was gorgeous again and we stopped to snorkel. They served lunch and breakfast on board, as well as alcoholic drinks. It was nice to get out on a boat and see the beautiful caves along the Napali Coast cliffs. I don’t like to get in salt water so I just stayed on the boat while everyone snorkeled and that was just fine with me. Very relaxing I’d say! 

We then flew to Wailea, Maui. We stayed at the Marriot. It was a nice hotel, but the food wasn’t that great there. I thought the adults pool was relaxing. We were within walking distance to the Shops at Wailea and several restaurants so we didn’t necessarily need a car there. I loved eating at Longhi’s where they served pizza bread before dinner arrived. So delicious. I loved the boardwalk in front of our hotel here. It stretched through the Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, and beach. It was a great place to take walks or go for a run. In Maui we visited the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm. It was very cute and quaint. They make their own award-winning goat cheeses. So we pulled up, got a charcuterie and ate it under a covered area. It was relaxing and the food was fresh. Goats were roaming around. Enjoyed that! We also did the Old Lahaina Luau which we enjoyed. It was a very gourmet experience and they offered wine and beer pairings with each course. I thought that was cool! Every one of their 4 courses focused on a specific Pacific region: Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, etc. The show was great as well and we had great seats because we booked early (like a month in advance). We also did a sunset cruise out of Lahaina. It wasn’t really that great but hard to complain when you’re on a boat in Hawaii right?! Again, we booked two activities in Lahaina but we were staying in Wailea so I’d suggest people not do that. It’s a lot of driving back and forth and a little tiring. We also did the Road to Hana which is beautiful as you know but I suggest people wear sneakers because hiking to the waterfalls is muddy! Flip flops are not the best for that.   Next time I’m in Maui I definitely want to stay at the Grand Wailea. That hotel looked out of this world! 

So there you have it. I know it’s a bit discombobulated but I hope it helps! I think next time we stay two weeks we’d just do two islands so that we can have enough time to relax and do and see all that we want to on those islands.
Thanks for your help!

Joely and Jim


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)