Growing up, my fiancé Damien and I did not travel a lot. We were raised by parents who worked hard and paid their bills. They have taught us to be conservative with what was left for spending money. My only family vacation was flying to Oregon with my parents when I was 18. Damien’s only vacation was going to Florida with his grandparents when he was a teenager. For the past five years, the extent to our vacationing as a couple was staying overnight in a hotel about once a year. We have worked hard for so long paying our bills and living the simple life we were brought up in.
We felt that our honeymoon would be a perfect time for us to indulge and make lasting memories that were well deserved.
It was easy to decide what we wanted from an island vacation: sun, warm water, relaxation, and fun. Since we live on the East Coast, we thought that the Caribbean would be perfect being that the travel time was not far and all-inclusive seemed like it would help us save money. We both spoke with friends about that area and they thought it was perfect for us. After researching the weather in the Caribbean Islands, we realized that hurricane season was during the end of October (right when our trip would take place). We learned that some islands, however, were outside the hurricane belt (Aruba being one of them). We had heard a lot about Aruba being a wonderful honeymoon spot, so we made up out minds that that was our destination!
After many weeks of checking out sites to get hotel reviews, price quotes, and information on the island, we grew quite frustrated. We also read opinions about not doing all-inclusive and agreed on some of their points. Our excited feeling about Aruba was now replaced with uncertainty.
One night, I sat down and thought to myself how our honeymoon should be unforgettable. It should be filled with wonderful memories and we should have no regrets. It is once-in-a-lifetime! Something inside told me Hawaii. I got that butterfly feeling as I looked at pictures of the beautiful sunsets, surfers on giant waves and unbelievable scenery. After all, it is considered the most picturesque place on Earth. I excitedly ran over and told Damien. His eyes got wide as I showed him what I researched. It seemed like a dream vacation for us – perfect weather, warm island culture, great food and endless opportunities for romance, relaxation, and excitement. Right then and there we both knew where we were headed…paradise.
We did not spend that much time figuring out which Hawaiian island we wanted to visit. Maui, “The Magic Isle”, seemed like a perfect choice since it is a popular honeymoon spot and it is not too crowded. Plus, the scenery is diverse and the activities are endless. We then discussed how long we wanted our vacation to last. We agreed that one week in paradise would not be enough with all that we wanted to experience. We would leave two days after our wedding date so that we had some down time. We decided that we would stay 11 days and 10 nights. We would leave New Hampshire on October 26, 2010 and arrive home on November 6, 2010.
After reading about how much the island of Maui offered, we then researched the resorts. We ran into feeling overwhelmed because we felt good about so many places, which made it difficult to make a decision. We had to weigh the pros and cons of each. We eventually decided on the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa. The hotel attracted us being that the location is right on top of the legendary Black Rock where they perform ceremonial cliff dives each night. The resort’s grounds are beautiful and well kept with a gorgeous pool. The inside of the hotel is modern and clean and also offers restaurants. Hawaii does not offer all-inclusive, however the Sheraton resort had a daily complimentary breakfast package. We were so excited about everything that the Sheraton offered, so we took deep breaths and booked our stay with them!
After deciding on Maui, the length of time we wanted to stay, and our accommodations, we then sat down and talked about activities we wanted to do while there. We had lots of ideas and we thought it would be nice to have an organized plan for when we arrive. We had talked about a registry and how we already had most things that married couples needed. One of my friends who was also getting married had signed up for a registry on Traveler’s Joy. We went to her site and loved what we saw. It looked like such a fun and different idea. She had pictures of her and her fiancé and activities of what they wanted to do. We signed up as well and told everyone about it. They thought it was great. We looked into activities we wanted to do while in Maui, the cost of the activity, and then uploaded everything onto our site. It was so easy and made it personal for our guests to see where their gift was going. Most importantly, we knew we could afford going to Hawaii, but without Traveler’s Joy, we would have been unable to experience all that the island had to offer. Having the registry really made all our honeymoon dreams come true.
We hardly slept the night before our flight to Maui due to last minute packing and just plain excitement. Our parents dropped us off at the airport and we said our good-byes. We got in line to get our tickets and were told that our flight to Chicago had been cancelled because of storms. I gulped and thought to myself, this is not a good start to our perfect honeymoon. We tried to stay positive and Damien called and figured out a way of changing our flight path so we could arrive to Maui as planned. Our flights were long, but smooth. When we looked below us and saw Maui we could not believe that a huge rainbow was directly over the runway. I knew it was a sign of good luck that our trip would be everything we ever imagined.
When we got off of our plane, we were a little confused about the unusual weather. It was hot, but the clouds were thick, the sky was gray and the wind was very strong. It did not look like a typical Hawaiian postcard, but we were so excited to be on our honeymoon that we did not care.
We found our Jeep rental in the parking lot of the airport and off we went to the Sheraton. When we pulled up to the lobby area, we were politely greeted with “Aloha” and welcomed with shell necklaces. It was so amazing. We felt like movie stars. While we walked through the halls to our room we felt the warm wind on our faces and smelled fresh flowers. We stopped to see views below of the beautiful beach, Pacific waters and neighboring islands. The dark sky did not matter. When we arrived to our room we walked in and could not have been more pleased. Our view was out of this world. We stepped onto the balcony and looked below at the black rock and people snorkeling. We could not wait to enjoy all that Maui had to offer.
The next day, Damien and I woke up and nervously opened the curtains to our balcony. We saw our postcard! We looked up to a bright blue sky, crystal waters below, palm trees swaying in the wind, and the biggest rainbow we had ever seen – this time it was directly over our balcony. We were so lucky and could not have been happier. That day we walked the grounds of the resort and took so many pictures. We drove the coast of the peaceful tropical village of Lahaina in West Maui, which is one of the prettiest communities in all of Hawaii. We could not believe the beauty around us. We drove miles and miles and every turn made us feel like the luckiest married couple on the planet. We kept driving and ended up at the Ahihi-Kinau National Area Reserve, which is located on the southern coast. The reserve is a well-protected reef system that sits on an old lava flow. While there we enjoyed the natural beauty around us. That night we saw the Cirque Polynesia show on the shores of the Kaanapali Coast, under the stars. The show told us about the tale of two worlds coming together, set amongst the village of Polynesia. It was amazing to see the dances and songs of the South Pacific.
Since Damien and I traveled thousands of miles to reach Maui, we wanted to be able to visit a neighboring island and go four-wheeling. We thought it would be an adventure to take a ferry to the island of Lanai, which is named “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island”. It is only nine miles from Maui, yet a world away. The terrain there is rough, but tranquil. Lanai offers 400 miles of roads to explore. When we arrived at the harbor, we were able to take a bus to the rental company. Once we got our rugged Jeep, we had breakfast at one of the only two restaurants on the island. It was so interesting how secluded the island was compared to Maui. Once we hit the trails we were amazed at how much land was on such a small island. We headed northeast from Lanai City on a rocky road to explore the isolation of Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach). It takes about 30 minutes to get to the beach after a very bumpy ride. The stretch of beach has wrecked many ships because of the rocky channel. The shipwreck that we saw was from an oil tanker from the 1940s. Standing on the beach gave us a dreamlike feeling and sense of awe. We decided to hike over the rocks and we found the Kukui Point ancient petroglyphs, which were carvings on red rocks. It was interesting to be able to view these historical drawings. Further into our exploration we discovered the Garden of the Gods, which are beautiful and unique rock formations that were formed by thousands of years of erosion. Ancient Hawaiian legend believes that the rocks and boulders were dropped from the sky by the gods tending their gardens. This area was mostly dry and really windy, making the rock formations even more eerie. After passing through the Garden and driving down a rugged four-mile trail we reached the most breathtaking spot we had seen so far, Polihua Beach. Unbelievable cliffs and beautiful views of the island of Molokai surround the beach.
We saw a lot in the one day that we spent on the island of Lanai, but it was definitely worth it. We were able to cover most all of the must-see sights while there. Most importantly, it was a privilege to be able to learn and see the beauty of another Hawaiian island. Although we had a blast on our adventure, we were ready for adventures in Maui!
We were able to get enough rest for our next activity on Maui – parasailing! This was new to the both of us. I was very nervous before getting on the boat and almost did not want to do it. After watching a few couples, I realized how fun it looked and I am so glad I did not let my fear get in the way. Damien and I flew tandem at 600 feet (38 stories) in the air along the Lahaina coastline and we were able to see views of the islands of Lanai and Molokai. It was thrilling, yet romantic.
Our next adventure was a ferry ride to Molokini, which is Hawaii's only Island Marine Sanctuary. Molokini is a small volcanic cone located a few miles off of the shores of Maui. While there, we went snorkeling for the first time. The water was superior and very clear. We were able to see coral reef, many beautiful fish and even a dolphin that was swimming alongside our ferry. It was like entering a different world of serenity. We were so amazed at the diversity of the ocean paradise that surrounded us. This experience was really wonderful and a lifelong memory.
As our island adventure was coming to an end, we had done so much but still had activities we wanted to experience. A must-see thing we had to do was drive the Road to Hana. Even though it is a dangerous 68-mile stretch with about 600 curves and 54 bridges, it is world famous because of views of gigantic waterfalls, black sand beaches and lush rainforest landscapes. We left in the morning and were thankful we did since it took a whole day to experience all of the beauty. One amazing spot was seeing the blowhole at Waianapanapa State Park. The blowhole is actually a lava tube. We were able to see the water go through the hole and it "erupted" similar to a geyser. It was quite the sight to see! We could not believe the size of the waves along the road. They were the biggest we had ever seen.
Meanwhile, a funny thing happened as we were driving. We had our windows down in the jeep and suddenly a huge wave actually splashed into our jeep from the ocean. Damien got completely drenched. The wave seemed to come out of nowhere. It was scary at the time, but hilarious to look back on since nobody got hurt.
As we finished our trip to Hana we were able to stop at the Ka’eleku Caverns or Hana Lava Tube. It was nice to be able to stretch our legs and do some hiking underground. One of the most majestic scenery was when we viewed Wailua Falls, which is an 80-foot tiered waterfall. In ancient times, warriors would leap from the top of the falls to prove their bravery. We were so happy to be able to get real close to the falls and have our picture taken.
Our last Hawaiian adventure was seeing the sunrise atop Haleakala Crater, which is a passive shield volcano. It is taller than Mount Everest by about 675 feet, considering that 19,680 feet of the volcano is hidden under the ocean. We had to wake up very early in the morning, go on a long drive, and withstand cold temperatures at a high elevation of 10,023 feet, but it was well worth the effort. It felt like we were on top of the world since we were above the clouds. It was an unforgettable experience seeing the sunrise and a wonderful end to our incredible trip as husband and wife.
Our flight and hotel totaled $4,900 and we spent $2,400 for our jeep rentals, food and entertainment while in Hawaii. Though Hawaii was expensive, Traveler’s Joy allowed us to experience more then just the resort. Traveler’s Joy made it possible to explore many new adventures that we could not had afforded with our own funds. The registry allowed us to be more cautious of what we wanted to spend with our own money. Our many gifts from family and friends made our trip even more special. The memories from our honeymoon are very important to us and we have no regrets. Traveler’s Joy contributed hugely to making it possible for this dream trip to become a reality.
I think it is important in life to make choices based on your gut instinct and to listen to your heart and that’s how we made decisions with our wedding and honeymoon planning. Whenever we think of our honeymoon we smile and cannot wait to go back. We would highly recommend visiting Hawaii, everything about the island was absolute perfection. The Sheraton was a wonderful resort for all ages to stay at and we would go there again. The staff was professional and made us feel welcome from the moment we arrived. We have absolutely no complaints. We were able to have fun and experience the unimaginable and we sincerely thank Traveler’s Joy for making our dream honeymoon come true.