Our story is less than traditional. Phil and I spent two years apart in the beginning of our relationship, due to his commitment with the United States Air Force and my commitment to Teach For America. We got engaged in July 2009, were legally married (at a courthouse) in April 2010, and then, after Phil's six-month deployment overseas, celebrated our “big wedding” surrounded by family and friends in July 2011.
So, when selecting a location for our August 2011 honeymoon, we decided to take the “traditional” honeymoon route and travel to Hawaii. Phil had spent some time on Oahu on a business trip in 2010 and knew that I would love the island as much as he did. Of course, he was right! He planned the entire trip.
We stayed in multiple places on Oahu. Phil used airbnb.com to find an affordable apartment right on Waikiki beach (at the Rare Waikiki Grand Treasure), and we spent four nights there. A close friend of mine had recently lived on Oahu and worked at the Royal Hawaiian, so she and some of our other friends treated us to one luxurious night at the classic, "fantastically-pink" hotel. Finally, inspired by Phil's favorite movie, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", we spent our last weekend in a beautiful private ocean villa at Turtle Bay Resort.
During our time in Waikiki, we took a catamaran cruise, hiked Diamond Head, watched sunrises and sunsets on the beach, and tasted an incredible variety of food. We rented a convertible, so we took some excursions away from Waikiki beach, as well. We snorkeled at Hanauma Bay, spent a day on the gorgeous, isolated beaches of Bellows Air Force Base, visited one of the Kona Brewing Company's restaurants, and toured the Dole Plantation on the original Pineapple Express train. A highlight of the week was our Segway tour through the neighborhoods, beaches, and historical sites of Kailua. Our tour guide was fun and knowledgeable, and we loved speeding around on those big toys!
Our weekend in the northern part of the island was equally wonderful. At Turtle Bay, we played a round of golf, took a horseback ride through the forest and beaches surrounding the resort, and enjoyed an incredibly relaxing seaside couples massage that was literally on the beach.
We left the resort to explore the Waimea Botanical Garden, where we swam under the famous “Lost” waterfall, and traveled into the town of Haleiwa to enjoy some of Matsumoto's famous Shave Ice. (It exceeded its delicious reputation!) One of the coolest things we did on the North Shore was taking a stand-up paddle board lesson. We spent a sunny afternoon on Turtle Bay's beach practicing how to maneuver ourselves around on the giant surfboards, and even learned how to catch some waves!
Even with all of the pre-planned adventures we had, some of my favorite moments from our honeymoon were just driving around in that car with the top down, exploring the island and being continuously amazed at the mountains and landscapes of Oahu. I had never seen land that looked like that. It truly was awe-inspiring.
We would absolutely and enthusiastically recommend Oahu as the perfect honeymoon destination (and in fact, have already tried to talk our friends into taking their honeymoons there!). The total trip cost $5,000, but thanks to Traveler's Joy, almost everything was paid for ahead of time in the form of gifts. And yes, the airfare is expensive. We tried to fly Space Available through the military but were unable to, and had to buy last-minute tickets on commercial flights. This was the most expensive part of the trip, so we would recommend including airfare on the honeymoon registry!
Hawaii is far away, and it is expensive, but our week there was the best week of our lives. It was adventure-filled, romantic, and delicious! We can't wait to go back there someday.