Waikiki has long been a honeymooners' paradise, a place where couples come to unwind and celebrate, to while away hours on the hotel room lanai and to watch the sun rise and set over the softened slope of Diamond Head crater.
However, most of the couples who flock to the hotels that line the famous white sand beaches come for more than the view. Waikiki offers a lovers' retreat located not only steps from the ocean, but also from restaurants, sunset cruises, shops and outdoor adventures, which are sure to keep the heart pounding.
The best place to start your honeymoon is the hotel spa, where side-by-side massages help you to step away from any lingering wedding day stress. Try the lomi lomi massage, a Hawaiian healing tradition in which the rhythmic application of pressure and hot oils strip tension from your body and leave you feeling healthy, relaxed and focused on the moment.
That focus will help you make the most of the rest of your trip, whether you spend it on land or in the water. Chances are, you'll see a bit of both.
Gentle waves lap the shores of Waikiki, beckoning even the most cautious of swimmers into the water and lulling sunbathers to sleep. But the first things you will notice about these beaches are the long boards. Beginner waves break off the shore, making Waikiki home to surfboard rental stands and surf schools—the perfect place to paddle out together and see who can catch the first wave.
If that sounds like it requires too much balance, paddle out in an outrigger canoe instead. The double-hulled craft provides stability and a rushing wave ride back to shore, as well as an introduction to a popular local sport with Polynesian roots.
You can also sign on for a mai tai cruise, where you can relax aboard a catamaran and share tropical cocktails as the sun sets and the Waikiki lights carve out the skyline.
Waikiki by Land
Back on land, visit the restaurant and hotel bars for live music—everything from jazz to slack key guitar or dance music. The streets are bustling with the most activity you'll find on the Islands. High-end shops share Kalakaua Avenue with trinket carts and street vendors, and restaurant menus posted on the sidewalks invite you in for cuisine that melds European, Asian and Island influences.
You can spread a blanket on the beach and lie under the stars watching a movie, or catch a show at one of the performing arts centers in Waikiki. Friday nights mean fireworks, and the first Friday of each month brings art openings in the galleries that populate Chinatown.
You might not want to stay out too late before snorkeling in the popular Hanauma Bay, where an early morning arrival will net you the most privacy. The crescent-shaped bay offers shelter to colorful pods of fish, as well as sea turtles and other marine life. Simply rent two masks and flipper sets and glide through the water together, pointing out the creatures you see along the way.
If you head up the coast from Hanauma Bay, visit the overlook to Halona Beach, where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolled in the surf in From Here to Eternity, a scene that became one of the most famous romantic interludes ever filmed in Hawaii.
The drive up the coast to the North Shore winds through rugged cliffs and beach parks, surf spots and residential areas. The roadside stands in Kahuku offer a local favorite, garlic shrimp scampi to be eaten from paper plates with scoops of rice.
The North Shore provides something the beaches in Waikiki cannot— privacy. You should be able to find an unpopulated spot to lay your blanket on one of the beaches, but keep in mind that the surf and currents can be strong here, and the shoreline can be rocky.
Be sure to set aside time to hike Diamond Head. A hike to the top takes between one and two hours round-trip—a journey that ends with a view of the island's entire leeward side, including Waikiki and the hotel from which you can see the landmark each morning. It is the only landscape that likely will top the early morning vista seen from your lanai, the coveted moments when sunrise paints Diamond Head.