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 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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