After seven and a half years of dating, we finally tied the knot on February 27, 2010. The wedding bill was on us, so it was important from day one of our engagement that we prioritized exactly what we most wanted to spend money on. We both agreed what we most wanted was an amazing honeymoon. In all those years together, we had done plenty of traveling through the States. Unfortunately, it was always with my dad and for work as we both worked for my father’s business. My father is a great traveling partner, however, they just weren’t the most romantic of getaways, to say the least. So we decided our honeymoon would be our first “real” vacation together and we were going to make sure it was the best time of our lives.
Choosing our destination was the fun part. We agreed that the perfect honeymoon destination required only three things: 1. Sunshine (we were leaving behind Seattle in winter, so this was a must); 2. Palm trees (none of those dang evergreens we are so used to); and 3. Fruity alcoholic beverages with umbrellas in them. After checking out a few international options, we decided to enjoy America’s very own oasis of Hawaii. As for which island to visit, we weren’t really sure. I had never been to Hawaii before and my husband had been only once when he was four years old. So I asked my best friend who has been to all the islands and she helped us out. She said that Kauai is for retired couples who don’t want to do anything adventurous. Oahu is for 21-year-olds who are on their first trip without their parents and want to drink a lot. And Maui is the romantic getaway that provides any outdoor adventure you can imagine, but still plenty of privacy when you want it. That settled it – Maui it was!
The very first thing we paid for when planning our wedding was our honeymoon airfare and resort fees. We were fortunate to find amazing airfare, costing us only $350 each roundtrip. It sounded too good to be true! And it turned out that it was. About three months before the wedding, we received notification that our flight had been cancelled and the flight they gave us in exchange was going to take us from Seattle to Salt Lake City, then from Salt Lake City to Maui. Why on earth we had to travel east before we could go west was beyond me, but I was not having it. This was our honeymoon and we were not going to start it out with a 10-hour plane ride when it should only be five. Therefore, I cancelled these flights and received a full refund about a month later. In the meantime, we booked new flights and these tickets cost us $450 each round trip, which is still an amazing deal for flying to Maui.
Paying for your own wedding and honeymoon takes a lot of careful budgeting. But lucky for my husband, his soon-to-be wife was a master bargain shopper. We were right on track with our budget and everything was going great. But still, it was a lot of money going out. That was when my best friend (who was engaged to be married three weeks after us) told me about Traveler’s Joy. She had just registered for her honeymoon and said we had to check it out. After one look, I knew this was the answer in having the honeymoon of our dreams! Traveler’s Joy is the perfect registry for couples in the 21st century. As is the case with a lot of engaged couples, my husband and I had lived on our own for years before getting married. We already had all the kitchen and living gadgets one would normally register for. How many dishes and towels can one household actually need? But a honeymoon registry is not only unique and helpful, it allows your friends and family to play a little part in your honeymoon. Every one of our guests who purchased a gift through Traveler’s Joy loved the experience and with those gifts, we were able to do everything we wanted on our honeymoon.
We had a lot of family in town for our wedding, so we ended up waiting four days before leaving for Maui. This ended up being an excellent choice as we were well rested for our vacation. Our Maui honeymoon was scheduled for March 3-11, 2010. We had a comfortable flight to Maui, and I was only miffed briefly when my husband, who was a tad nervous to fly, drank all of our little travel bottles of alcohol in his effort to relax. He passed out and snored loudly for a good portion of the flight. However, he was quickly forgiven when we landed. After all, who can stay mad in paradise?
We arrived at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Kaanapali Beach and we were not disappointed. It was everything we thought it would be. We had used a special travel site to reserve our room and paid a mere $170 a night for a $300 cottage. We decided we wouldn’t concern ourselves with a fancy honeymoon suite or a beachfront cottage and that the garden view cottage would do. But when the hotel found out we were honeymooners, they upgraded us to a nicer room in the tower. What a perk! We thought we should take a look at the cottage, just to see what we’d be missing, and we are so glad we did. The cottage was wonderful. We turned down the offer of the fancy tower room with a view of the beach. It turned out that the beach was 60 yards from our cottage door. Our garden view was of the lovely Kaanapali Golf Course which was literally right outside our back patio. The beach walk also began outside our front door and led down the stretch of Kaanapali to the neighboring hotels and restaurants. The cottage itself was modestly furnished, but the bed was unbelievable comfortable. To this day, my husband and I daydream of sleeping in this bed with the wooden blinds to the window above us open and allowing the cool island breeze and the soft sounds of the swaying palms to soothe us to sleep like a lullaby.
Another perk of our garden cottage was the number of lizards it had outside. My husband, who is still a boy at heart, wanted nothing more than to see some island geckos. Our back patio provided a couple of these. I would leave him alone for two minutes, and return to find him kneeling on the porch, playing with some lizard or another. Unfortunately, he liked them more than they liked him. He invited one in and we named him Waylon. The little guy promptly dropped his tail in his efforts to escape. But that did not deter my lizard-loving husband. A couple nights later, he found a little baby gecko and we decided he was Waylon’s son and appropriately named him Shooter. We caught a couple photos before he scurried away.
Meanwhile, while we received the sunshine we so desired, we were also greeted with a daily rain shower. This provided a little comedy for us. It rains daily in Maui, sometimes more than once. But it’s usually a light sprinkle and it’s warm. We thought it always seemed to come at the perfect time. Just as we were getting a little too hot in the sun, a nice cooling mist would descend upon us. Then before you could exclaim, “Dang, it’s raining,” the mist would go away and the sun would shine brightly again. Being from Seattle, we aren’t afraid of getting a little wet. So you can imagine our laughter when the first raindrop fell and every tourist on the beach packed up to go inside while we just sat getting drizzled on and smiled. Seattle’s rain is not warm. This was truly paradise.
After spending nine months planning a wedding, we were exhausted. The last thing we wanted was a honeymoon that was go-go-go with no downtime. So we decided to limit our activities and spread them out so we had a day of relaxation in between. Conveniently located right outside the lobby of the resort was an activities office. We worked with a very friendly and helpful activities coordinator there who was able to give us an honest assessment of the activities they offered and never pressured us into anything. We booked all our activities there – snorkeling at Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, a fishing charter, two luaus, and a magic show/dinner. The prices for all of them were extremely reasonable, and we loved each one. It was definitely worth every penny.
Our first activity was the snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater. This was the one thing we really wanted to do in Maui. We even registered for snorkeling gear on Traveler’s Joy, and the gear we purchased was flawless! The one negative about this activity was that we had to wake up at 4 AM to get down to the boat by sunrise. I don’t do 4 AM very well. In fact, I don’t do it at all. But I sucked it up and off we went.
We were given coffee and breakfast on the boat, a definite plus, and by the time we reached the crater, we were ready to go. The snorkeling at the crater is amazing. The water is unbelievably clear and you can see everything .Though you are told not to feed the fish, many people have and for this reason the fish swarm all around you hoping for a snack. We then took the catamaran from the crater to a place called Turtle Town with the hope of swimming with sea turtles, and this did not disappoint either. The turtles were everywhere and we swam alongside one taking pictures for quite a stretch. Of course, a trip to Maui in March would not be complete without seeing some humpback whales, and we had several sightings while on the catamaran. This did not compare, however, with the school of dolphins that came to play right alongside our boat. There were about 20 of them, and they flipped and dove for our amusement for a good fifteen minutes. All in all, it was a perfect snorkeling excursion.
Now I love my husband and I love everything about him, but he is a fisherman. And if there is one thing I truly detest, it’s fishing, which I find completely boring. I don’t even eat fish, so there is no point in it for me. But Adam’s dream was to go on a Hawaiian fishing charter. So when he asked if I’d mind him taking a five-hour morning charter, all I heard was Spa Day. So off he went on a boat and off I went to the spa at the neighboring Sheraton. The one and only downside to our resort was that it had no spa. But the Sheraton was only a short jaunt on the beach walk, and when the sun is shining and the palms are swaying, it’s no big deal at all. I had been fighting a small cold the first couple of days of our trip, so a massage was out of the question. A good massage will release any virus in your system and leave you feeling awful for a week. This was not an option. But I did enjoy a lovely pedicure (with some absolutely delicious mango exfoliating scrub) and great conversation. The pedicurist was a local gal and had lived on the island for 20 years. She recounted her tale of the tsunami that hadn’t quite hit but had threatened Maui the week before. Actually it was due to strike on our wedding day, so there were shirts all over town that said, “I Survived the Tsunami: Feb 27, 2010.”
An absolute must for Maui, of course, is a luau. We ended up going to two. The first was at our own hotel, the Royal Lahaina Resort, because we received an amazing deal for it since we were staying there. It was a beautiful setting with an oceanfront view and the stage was pretty. The food was solid, the entertainment was fun, and all in all, it was an enjoyable experience. We liked the vendors they had selling Hawaiian goods. We spent entirely too much on shell necklaces, but they were cute. The second luau was the Old Lahaina Luau, voted best luau on the island. I must say that it definitely was. The atmosphere here was simply amazing. The food was spectacular and the drinks were bottomless. The lava flow was my personal favorite, which featured plenty of alcohol and plenty of fruit.
This was the one and only time in Maui that we got lei’d. Apparently, though, it used to be common to be lei’d in Hawaii. Someone then realized it would be better use of the flowers if they charged for this service. So you can now purchase and schedule your leis. But what’s the fun in that? Anyway, we could check getting lei’d off our list, so we were happy. Prior to the luau, we were able to walk around and observe different vendors making their wares, stringing necklaces or carving idols. And, much to my husband’s delight, there was an underground pig roast and we were able to watch them dig up the pig. It was quite a site. The entertainment was beautiful and featured a strictly Hawaiian performance that told the history of the islands. It was an amazing night and if anyone does just one luau on Maui, the Old Lahaina Luau is the one to visit.
With all this activity, we did have a lot of down time as well. We enjoyed walking on the beach to the Whaler’s Village a couple hotels down. The Hula Grill is a great restaurant there and we recommend sitting outside. There you can actually get a table in the sand where you are surrounded by tiki torches, live Hawaiian music, and a beautiful view of the ocean. And the food was great, too. Actually, the food was great everywhere we went, though the problem with Maui is that everything is quite expensive.
However, with all these adventures, all the good food, the amazing drinks and the amazing entertainment, the absolute best night of the trip we ended up spending a mere few pennies. Kaanapali Beach is a beautiful beach, with reddish-gold sand and a breathtaking view of Lanai and Molokai. During the day, families can be found building sandcastles and couples can be seen sunbathing. But in the evening, the beach completely clears. Why this happens is a mystery to us, as it is the most beautiful time of day on this gorgeous beach. We decided to have a simple picnic on the beach and watch the sunset. We did not expect to be the only ones out there, but that was the scene. Pizza Hut in Lahaina was having a special, so we picked up a pie and walked the 30 feet from our cottage to the sand. We brought along a bottle of rum, a couple of Hawaiian cigars, and plopped ourselves on the beach. The sunset was unbelievable. There were brilliant shades of orange and red, and then even purple – nothing like we had ever seen before. We ate our pizza, drank our rum, smoked our cigars, and watched as the humpbacked whales surfaced around the island of Lanai. A cruise ship departed from Lahaina and made it’s way out to the Pacific with its lights aglow against the shimmering ocean waters. And then, when the sun went down, the stars appeared in their full glory. We laid down in the sand and exchanged our own vows, private, silly and intimate vows that illustrated the true vision we had for our marriage. It was absolutely the most amazing night of our honeymoon – maybe even the best night of our lives.
Before our honeymoon, my husband and I made a list of all the things we wanted to experience. Some of the things listed were typical like snorkeling and visiting a luau, and some things where silly like climbing a coconut tree or swimming with a shark. But I’m happy to say we accomplished nearly the entire list. We ate a real coconut (and drank the milk), we got lei’d, we drank umbrella drinks, and we relaxed. But most importantly, we had the honeymoon of our dreams. While it was a bit pricey, ultimately $4,000 including airfare, hotel, rental car, food and activities, it was worth every penny. We would definitely recommend honeymooning in Maui to everyone. It was adventurous, romantic, relaxing, and beautiful. What more could one ask for?
Thank you, Traveler's Joy!