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Aloha and Amour in Hawai'i

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Aloha and Amour in Hawai'i
The islands' natural beauty is intoxicating, and the lull of the tide, the swaying of the palm trees and the warmth of the tropical sun provide a perfect romantic backdrop.
By Amanda Castleman, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Heart-Racing Adventure
    Romance isn’t the only thing that stirs the blood in Hawai'i: The islands are jam-packed with adrenalin-spiking experiences. Paradise Air offers ultralight hang-gliding tours so daring lovers can circle each other over O'ahu. On Maui, rent bikes and watch the sunrise from the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakalā, then zoom down 21 switchbacks to sea level! And there’s no rendezvous more enchanting than the Kalalau Trail along the Nāpali Coast with its endless views, not to mention the dazzling array of stars for couples that camp.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Sing It from the Mountaintops
    Lovebirds can retreat into a different world by exploring the peaks of Hawai'i. Wanderers on the Big Island can connect with Pele, the volcano goddess, who expresses her longing for her lost lover, young chief Lohi'au, by heaving up lava. Look into her home: the fiery crater of Mount Kīlauea in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. On Kaua'i, a trip to the Waimea Canyon allows couples to daydream together in technicolor while gazing at the lush jungle interspersed with scarlet earth and rocky crags. And where better to propose than Diamond Head, the volcanic ash cone overlooking Waikīkī? A 0.8-mile climb leads to its summit, where calcite crystals glitter in the crater and gorgeous views unfurl of the coastline.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Engaging Beach Strolls
    Kick off your shoes and let the waves lap your toes, as you wander along sandy coves with your beau. Many hotels make it easy, thanks to their waterfront locations, but the remote "Forbidden Island" of Ni'ihau and Honokōha Bay on Maui also inspire hand-holding and quiet whispers. For even more intimacy, walk the longest stretch of beach in Hawai'i: the 12.5-mile sweep of spectacular sands at Polihale.
    Photo by Amirah Mari
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    Romantic Resorts
    Hotels often overdo the whole "love in a tropical paradise" angle. But many walk the walk, catering to the desires of the diverse couples who visit for weddings, honeymoons or a simple getaway. The Moana Surfrider whisks guests to old Hawai'i in Waikīkī, while the nearby Surfjack caters to the retro-loving beach-blanket-bingo crowd with its 1960s stylings. For a more bijou experience, rent one of the cottages at the world-renowned inn and restaurant Mama’s Fish House on Maui's north shore.
    Photo by Mariko Reed/The Surfjack
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    Hawai'i with the Top Down
    Renting a car combines the romance of the road with the irresistible atmosphere of Hawai'i—and grants whimsy and freedom to couples. Remarkable views reward drivers who thread up the switchbacks of O'ahu's Round Top and Tantalus drives... or cruise the North Shore coastline, where surfers brave some of the world's biggest waves in winter. On Maui, the historic Hana Highway winds past waterfalls and over bridges; just past Hana, stop to soak in the 'Ohe'o pools. And a road trip anywhere on "The Garden Island" of Kaua'i will delight travelers. Pause to take in the grandeur of Waimea Canyon, where scarlet earth meets verdant valleys and rugged volcanic crags.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    An Abundance of Bouquets
    The islands teem with captivating flowers, from the wild orchids blooming in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and the resplendent ipu kula (cup of gold) found along trails and driveways. Learn how to thread a lei with the Hawaii Hula Company or a class at the flower bar of the new Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
    Photo by Amanda Castleman
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    Historic Romance, Hawaiian-Style
    Visitors often swoon over the islands themselves. Feel the love in Honolulu, home to Kawaiahao Church, the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific,” and Pearl Harbor. Long before the 1941 surprise attack, this area was called "The Island of Attraction" and rituals helped infertile couples conceive children there. Visits to stately Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum also transport sightseers to romantic old Hawai'i. Alternatively, try serenading your sweetheart with a world-class instrument from Kamaka Ukulele or swaying with the Hawaii Hula Company after learning the significance of the art's graceful movements.
    Photo by Stephanie Perry
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    Far from the Madding Crowd
    Lana'i attracts travelers looking simply to relax and enjoy the views, away from all the hubbub. Once a Dole pineapple plantation, the island's now owned by one of the world's richest men, Oracle founder Larry Ellison... well, 97% of it, at least! Couples who wake up with the sun can amble long stretches of deserted coastline, visit Pu'u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) and learn the legend behind its name. Then gallop among the red hills and rustling ironwoods with the Stables at Koele, which remain open while the Four Seasons Lodge undergoes renovation. Instead, book a room at "the other" resort—yes, Lana'i is so mellow, it has just two—its sister property on Hulopoe Bay.
    Photo by Amanda Castleman
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    Love Food
    Intimate dining options abound on Hawai'i, where restaurants tune into the relationship between romance and food. On O'ahu, start at Honolulu's last great tiki bar, La Mariana Sailing Club, for cocktails. Then move on to Chinatown for an elegant meal at Senia or The Pig and the Lady. Finish with the dessert tree, a tower of delectable small bites, under the Beachhouse at the Moana's ancient banyan. Meanwhile visitors to Kaua'i can soak up the dreamy views and spectacular sunsets at the Beach House Restaurant, which serves honey-foam-topped mai tais alongside dishes like Thai-inspired coconut crab cakes.
    Photo by the Moana Surfrider
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    Sweet Treats with Your Lover
    Romance doesn't have to be fine wine and finicky appetizers; Hawai'i knows how to keep things sweet and relaxed. Tropical fruits—including papaya, coconut and lychee—tumble out of stalls at local farmers’ markets. Cool down at Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, which has five outlets around Maui, or head upcountry to try a guava "malasada" (Portuguese donut) from T. Komoda Store & Bakery on Maui. The Big Island's Eating House 1849 also serves up good ones, dusted with cinnamon. Visitors to O'ahu can sugar-load with the iconic Hawaiian dessert "haupia" (coconut-milk flan) at the Highway Inn or a hula pie (macadamia but ice cream on a chocolate cookie crust) at Duke's Waikiki.
    Photo by Andrea Rip