Are you looking for a romantic getaway that’s big, bold and beautiful? If you want to take things up a notch, and go way beyond the typical honeymoon, anniversary or couple’s getaway, you need to make a beeline for Hawaii Island. Here’s why:
First off, yes, there is a reason Hawaii Island is known by many as the ‘Big Island’. It’s bigger than all the other neighbouring islands that make up the Hawaii Islands combined, but it has the least dense population. That means less crowded beaches, roads and sightseeing await. It also means huge variety when it comes to what you’ll see. Hawaii Island has all but four of the world’s defined ecosystems. You can go from rainforest to alpine plains in less than an hour.
Weather you can’t beat
No one likes a tropical getaway when the sun doesn’t shine, so if you want sunshine in spades, Hawaii Island’s Kohala Coast is for you. Kona and Holualoa sit perched on the Western side, blessed with plenty of sunshine year round. The Eastern side is where you’ll find the rain – Hilo is one of the world’s wettest cities – and the best base for exploring the Volcanoes National Park, but luckily there’s plenty of diversions on the Western side to keep you away from the rain. Book your plane ticket from Auckland all the way through to Kona Airport with Hawaiian Airlines, and you’ll hop off in Honolulu, before heading on a quick 40 minute flight over to the island, without having to pay any additional baggage fees – you’ll get the same generous international quota of 2 x 34kg bags, even for the inter-island transfer, so you can pack clothing for all the different adventures waiting for you.
Fire and ice
If you’re a couple that love a dramatic plot line, or a good dose of adrenalin, hop aboard a helicopter tour – the volcanoes on Hawaii Island are not currently erupting but there’s still plenty of action to see when you can get up close. Hover above smoldering craters, circle round waterfalls and valleys aboard a Blue Hawaiian helicopter ride. The pilot dips through smoke, cloud and mist to get you the best birds eye view – Top Gun wannabes can go for the ‘co-pilot’ experience and help make radio calls from the front seat.
Wonders of the deep
What could possibly be more romantic than a paddle under a full moon? How about a night time snorkel with giant manta rays? Ok it’s not traditional romance, but witnessing the graceful twirls of a manta ray right in front of your snorkel is a moment you and your special someone will remember forever. In the peaceful waters of Keauhou Bay, in Kona, manta rays spend their evenings swimming around looking for dinner – boats of all sizes put out LED lights to draw in the plankton that make up their supper. Anelakai Adventures does things a little differently, launching outrigger canoe with drop down lights. On a good night, there’s only a few minutes of paddling away from the jetty before we stow our oars, drop the LED lights down into the water and hop in. We hang onto tubes strung between the hulls of the canoe and wait for the show to start. Many of the big tour operators launch floating platforms, but with just six people per canoe, we’re happily hanging on to the edge of the canoe peering down into the shallows. The stars are bright, the water is clear and the mantas frolic in one night time show we’ll never forget.
If there’s one trip to splurge on an open top hire car, this is it. Grab a head scarf and some big sunglasses, pull back the roof on an iconic Jeep Wrangler or a Mustang and feel the wind in your hair as you cruise along Hawaii Island’s well maintained and hardly used highways. On the trip from the airport up to the Waikoloa Resort area you’ll cut straight through lava fields, with the black pitted rock rising up and out in undulating waves all the way to the sea on your left and the mountains on your right. As you pull into Waikoloa, peer up at the palm tree lined road. This is heaven.
Leave your worries at the door when you walk into the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. Spread out across sprawling grounds, the rooms have recently been renovated to include USB charging ports, chic floor boards and luxe King-size beds that go down a treat. The infinity pool, the kids pool and the waterfall pool cluster together in front of the Hawai‘i Calls restaurant, which means freshly made cocktails are never far away, but there’s also the poolside bar for icy granitas and snacks. The cabanas are hot property, but worth every penny, with two drinks vouchers, comfy day beds and unlimited towels for $50USD a day – put your name down to hire one as soon as you arrive to make sure you don’t miss out. Settle in for a day by the pool, with happy hour kicking in at 4pm and the sun not setting until 7pm, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth of pool time.
The best looking history lesson
On Hawaii Island you don’t need to go to a museum to get a history lesson, you just need a boat. Sea Paradise sailing tours take you along the Kona coast on a 45 foot trimaran, with drinks, snacks and staff with good jokes to keep you company until you arrive at Kealakekua Bay. This is the spot where Captain Cook is said to have perished, with a stark white obelisk marking the spot just ashore from some of the best reefs around. Grab your snorkel and set out for a closer look, just don’t forget about the fish and coral below you – and don’t forget to look up at the towering cliffs. Legend has it these are the site of ancient Hawaiian burial sites. It’s a spot steeped in history. Hop back aboard for a history lesson and chilled out sail home – complete with chocolate chip cookies.
Long walks on the beach might be the height of romance for some, but let’s be more practical and grab a day bed. Lava Lava Beach Club is the perfect spot to soak up sunset. Feel the sand between your as the sun sips low on the ocean right in from of the Lava Lava Beach Club. Only a few minutes walk along the sand from the Marriott, Lava Lava has long been known for its live music sundowners, and serious ocean front location. Grab some pupus (Hawaii for nibbles) and some Mai Tais or even a bottle of bubbles and settle in for the show. If you’re down near Kona, grab an outside table at Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai– the kona coffee rubbed ribeye and a jumbo key lime pie go down a treat with the sunset.
Ready to hit the road? Pack your bags and book your tickets with Hawaiian Airlines – don’t forgot to book your inter-island ticket when you purchase your international fare. There are flights several times a week from Auckland – add on Extra Comfort seating for at least five inches extra leg room, extra amenities, power outlets, charging ports and priority boarding. From Honolulu to Kona there are flights almost every half hour 5am-11pm every day. The daylight flights are our pick as you’ll get a stunning view of the runway, located right in the heart of a volcano field.
Add the flair back into your next romantic getaway with a trip to Hawaii Island – check out these great deals for the Hawaiian Islands.
Lisa Perkovic was the guest of Hawaii Tourism and Hawaiian Airlines