Honeymoon Hot Spot: Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations, and for good reason. The Hawaiian islands are the most isolated on earth (hello, romantic escape!); they’re exotic, but getting there doesn’t require a passport, currency exchange, or language lessons (read: hassle-free); and their natural scenery and beaches are among the world’s most beautiful (fire up your Instagram feed!).

Honeymoon Hot Spot: Maui, Hawaii (Image courtesy of Travaasa Hana) | Weddings Illustrated

Image via Travaasa Hana

The Aloha State comprises eight diverse main islands (plus hundreds of others that aren’t inhabited), which means you can spend your honeymoon hopping from one to the next taking in their unique features. Or, if you want to soak up the splendor of a single island, the option is yours. We did the latter on a recent visit to Maui, where we split our stay between the impeccably manicured resort enclave of Wailea, in the central part of Maui’s southern coast, and the laid-back hamlet of Hana, on the island’s easternmost point. The verdict? It’s a perfect urban-meets-Old Hawaii combination that will allow you to enjoy two vastly different sides of this island paradise. Keep reading to find out where to stay and eat, and what to see and do on your magical Maui honeymoon.

WAILEA

Where to Stay

Wailea Beach Villas, Maui, Hawaii, Destination Residences Hawaii, Hawaii Honeymoons | Weddings Illustrated

Image courtesy of Destination Residences Hawaii/Wailea Beach Villas

Wailea is home to several posh hotels, resorts, and villa rentals. But if you want all the creature comforts of home on your honeymoon, check in at Wailea Beach Villas, a gated 11-acre resort and member of Destination Residences Hawaii that offers posh and modern residence-like accommodations complete with generously sized open kitchens, spacious private balconies with Weber grills, handy utilities like washers and dryers (no overpacking necessary!), and a dedicated concierge team to help arrange your island activities. At check-in, you’ll be welcomed to your residence with homemade banana bread, plus $155 in gift certificates to top local restaurants and spas. You’ll also receive a complimentary Maika’i card to use while shopping for beach snacks and groceries at Foodland, the Maui-founded local favorite supermarket. (Tip: Don’t miss Foodland’s dozen varieties of fresh poke, a must-try local dish of fresh, raw fish and tongue-tingling sauces.) At Wailea Beach Villas, you’ll want to stop and smell the property’s myriad fragrant blooms en route to the pool each day, and greet sunrises and sunsets with a stroll along Wailea’s winding beachfront foot path. The villas are also situated within steps of the tony Shops at Wailea, where you can head to Gucci, Louis Vuitton, or Prada to pick up a little something chic to wear out on the town.

What to Do

Hawaiian Outrigger Experience on Maui, Hawaii | Weddings Illustrated

Photo via Hawaiian Outrigger Experience

Start your stay by paddling the way pioneering Polynesians once did with an early-morning Hawaiian Outrigger Experience on Wailea Beach, just outside the villas. Guide and native Hawaiian Kevin Hoke’s knowledge of Hawaii’s history is endless, and the gentle demeanor he delivers it with will leave with you a whole new appreciation for the Aloha State and the sea. With Kevin to help steer you in the right direction, you’ll learn traditional Hawaiian chants (oli) and scan the deep-blue waters for sea turtles and whales as Maui’s morning sun warms your face—and heart.

Haleakala Sunrise, Maui, Hawaii Honeymoon, Photo by Lindsay Day | Weddings Illustrated

Photo by Lindsay Day

Another early-morning adventure not to miss is a drive to the summit of Haleakala, Maui’s dormant volcano, to watch the sun rise above the horizon and clouds. It’s an early start—we suggest you set out from Wailea Beach Villas at 4:30 (and take plenty of blankets with you)—but the views are well worth it. On the drive back down the mountain, stop for farm-fresh omelettes and giant squares of crumbly coffee cake at Grandma’s, where you can dine on the deck and watch a stream of locals come and go.

Maui Wine, Hawaii Winery Tour | Weddings Illustrated

Image via Maui Wine

If you and your new Mr./Mrs. share a love of libations, set aside a day to experience what locals call Maui’s “liquid ag” offerings. Drop the top on your Jeep rental and make the scenic, winding drive to Maui Wine for a tour of its historic grounds and a tasting—including delicious pineapple wine—in its inviting tasting room. From there, head upcountry to Hali’imaile Distilling, which was established in 2010 and makes Pau Maui Vodka, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, and, most recently, Paniolo Blended Whiskey. Your tour through the neat-as-a-pin distilling facility will wrap up in its gift shop and tasting room, where you’ll be able to sample everything from crisp, clean vodka to rich and warm infused whiskeys. Bring your whiskey buzz back down to earth with a stroll across the street for lunch at Hali’imaile General Store, where you can refuel with a feast of chef/owner Bev Gannon’s crab pizza, coconut fish curry, fresh poke, and spongy pineapple upside down cake. (Warning: There’s no on-site nap facility.)  Finally, make your way to Maui Brewing Company in Kihei for a tour of founder Garrett Marrero’s sparkling facility. Afterward, scout out a spot on the brewery’s packed patio, crack open a frosty can of Bikini Blonde, and compare notes with the new friends you’re bound to make while savoring every sip.

HANA

Where to Stay

Travaasa Hana, Maui Hawaii, Hawaii Honeymoons | Weddings Illustrated

Image via Travaasa Hana

In Hana, you won’t find clusters of oceanfront condos or highrise hotels, and that’s the best part about it. Instead, Travaasa Hana is the town’s only luxury resort, and it’s all you’ll want. The resort’s Ocean Bungalows practically blend into the lush landscape and are elegantly simple inside, with polished blonde wood floors and minimal decor lest it distract you from the spectacular ocean views. Private balconies are outfitted with day beds and, in some cases, private Jacuzzis, and in-room amenities include coffeemakers (for brewing mugs of Travaasa’s own blend) and spacious spa tubs. Some things you won’t find—or miss—include air-conditioning and televisions. And why bother turning on a TV anyway when you can head to Travaasa’s spa for a hypnotic Lomilomi massage, sip killer Mai Tais at the bar, linger over a long dinner on the lanai at The Preserve Kitchen + Bar, or soak up stunning ocean views while floating in the resort’s picture-perfect swimming pool?

What to Do

Waiʻānapanapa State Park, Maui Hawaii, Photo by Lindsay Day | Weddings Illustrated

Photo by Lindsay Day

Much of the magic of Hana comes from the drive there itself. From Wailea, it’s a 2.5-hour trip along the famous Hana Highway, whose narrow twists and turns are flanked by vast views of the Pacific and waterfalls, flowering canopies, lush green forests, and hiking trails. Lots of online resources are dedicated to the best stops to make along the highway, but our favorites included the black-sand beach and inky waters of of Waiʻānapanapa State Park (above), and a pit stop at Coconut Glen’s for a cup of toasted-coconut and liliko’i (passion fruit) ice creams.

Red Sand Beach, Hana Maui Hawaii, Photo by Lindsay Day | Weddings Illustrated

Photo by Lindsay Day

Once you’ve arrived at Travaasa, treat it as your home base for exploring this side of Maui. From the resort, you can drive to and explore another side of Haleakala National Park, hike through a bamboo forest, and explore a nearby red sand beach (above), which, happily, is still somewhat of a secret. (Although Travaasa’s staff are loath to dole out directions, it’s easy to spot the somewhat steady flow of curious explorers who pass by Travaasa’s grounds en route to the cliffside path that leads to it.) To catch an unparalleled sunrise, wake up early and make the short uphill trek to Fagan’s Cross, where you can gaze out over all of Hana.

Hana Gold Cacao Plantation, Maui Hawaii Honeymoon, Photo by Lindsay Day | Weddings Illustrated

Photo by Lindsay Day

Maui is a grower’s paradise, and a tour of the nearby Hana Gold cacao plantation will take you through the branch-to-bar process of producing delicious chocolate bars. The best part? You’ll get to sample some of Hana Gold’s offerings when your tour concludes. If the itch to explore still isn’t fully satisfied, make the five-minute walk from Travaasa to its stables and take a trail ride on horseback along the coast, test your balance while stand-up paddleboarding, or give a glider a try for amazing aerial views of the island. When it’s time to hang up your adventure hat for the evening, head to Hana Ranch Restaurant for a fresh fish sandwich or beef burger—all served in heaping portions that’ll help restore your energy for the next day’s unforgettable discoveries.

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