Honeymoon Hot Spot: Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii is here to stay when it comes to the most popular honeymoon destinations, and there are many reasons why: The Aloha State is packed with beautiful beaches, its sunsets are among the world’s most stunning, and romantic activities range from horseback riding, to snorkeling, to helicopter tours of its coastlines. Then, there are the plush resorts and—did we mention all those beaches?

Honeymoon Hot Spot: Honolulu, Hawaii | Weddings Illustrated

Image courtesy of The Modern Honolulu

For a well-rounded Hawaii honeymoon experience that combines relaxing beach days and exhilarating city and nightlife, we love the island of Oahu (it’s home to Hawaii’s famous North Shore and Banzai Pipeline surf spot)—and, more specifically, a stay in Honolulu, the state’s sun-soaked capital city. Keep reading to learn where to stay and what to do in Hawaii’s most exciting hub.

Where to Stay

Honeymoon Hot Spot: Honolulu, Hawaii | Weddings Illustrated

Image courtesy of The Modern Honolulu

There are dozens of hotels to choose from in Honolulu, but none rival The Modern Honolulu when it comes to style, food, and nightlife. The 353-room hotel sits on bustling Ala Moana Boulevard and overlooks Ala Wai Harbor’s picture-perfect marina from its rear. Sun-seeking guests gather for hours around its sleek and stylish swimming pool, sipping the hotel’s signature frozen coconut mojitos and snacking on everything from fish tacos to tuna tartare as they soak up rays. (Snag a pair of loungers or a day bed bright and early, as the pool deck tends to fill up quickly.)

For the ultimate in post-wedding relaxation, head to the hotel’s Lather Spa, which opened in October, for a skin-brightening facial or a romantic couple’s massage. The spa’s lobby is scented with fresh lemongrass and coconut and is where you’ll find dozens of Lather products to try out. The all-natural products range from light-as-air moisturizers to anti-wrinkle serums and are made with essential oils found around the world, as well as vitamins, antioxidants, and healthful fruits and herbs. Be sure to try out the custom Blending Bar before your service: A Lather Spa staffer will guide you through 15 natural essential oils with aromatherapy benefits to help create a custom-blended massage oil that will be used in your service. (You can also have the oils blended into unscented body products to take home when the honeymoon’s over.) For an authentically Hawaiian spa experience, book the Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi massage, which uses long, flowing strokes to melt away your stress.

Where to Eat

Honeymoon Hot Spot: Honolulu, Hawaii | Weddings Illustrated

Image courtesy of The Modern Honolulu

Honolulu’s food scene is blooming with must-try restaurants, including The Modern’s own Morimoto Waikiki (above). The Iron Chef’s Hawaii restaurant serves everything from sushi to hamachi tacos (a must, if you ask us), plus a number of tasty cocktails. Plenty of dishes are perfect for sharing, so order up all of your favorites. In the morning, grab breakfast at The Grove by The Modern’s pool or call up room service. Options like fluffy ricotta pancakes and fresh tropical juices will give you plenty of energy to hit the town (or the beach). If you feel like venturing off-site, for breakfast, head to Bills, an Australia-based restaurant chain with a retro-chic atmosphere and comfort-food items like hearty egg dishes and hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter. Midday, take a taxi or trolley ride downtown and grab lunch at Fresh Cafe, where you’ll find thin-crust pizzas, Kauai beef burgers, crunchy salads, and snacks like beer-battered avocado bites with white truffle aioli. Come dinner time, head to Mud Hen Water for chef Ed Kenney’s excellent take on homey Hawaiian food. Dishes comprise local ingredients, so the menu changes almost daily. Whatever’s on offer, you can rest assured it’ll be delicious.

What to Do

Honeymoon Hot Spot: Honolulu, Hawaii | Weddings Illustrated

Image via Instagram

When you feel like taking a break from sunbathing, hop in a taxi and head to the Honolulu Museum of Art. Admission is free when you show your Modern Honolulu guest room key card, and a visit to the museum will grant you access (for a fee) to Shangri La (above), the stunning oceanfront one-time residence of heiress Doris Duke and a treasure trove of Islamic art. If you left room in your suitcase for honeymoon purchases, head to the Royal Hawaiian Center, the Ala Moana Center, and Kalakaua Avenue (also known as Luxury Row), where you can find everything from Fendi to locals’ favorite boutiques. A highlight of Honolulu for art buffs, the warehouses, service shops, and other buildings in the city’s colorful Kaka’ako neighborhood are covered from top to bottom in colorful murals painted during the city’s Pow! Wow! Hawaii festival each February. Be sure to snap photos of your favorites, because they might be gone when next year’s Pow! Wow! rolls around. Of course, if you’re a history buff, take a tour of Pearl Harbor, which is just minutes from the hotel. And if you want to keep your reception vibes going by dancing the night away, look no farther than The Modern Honolulu. Its lounge, The Study, serves literary-themed cocktails and offers live music nightly, and its popular nightclub, Addiction, is a hot spot for stylish out-of-towners and in-the-know locals who flock there on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights for cocktails and nonstop dancing to guest DJs’ sets.

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