Aloha and Amour in Hawaii

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Aloha and Amour in Hawaii
Hawaii’s natural beauty is intoxicating, and the lull of the tide, the swaying of the palm trees, and the warmth of the tropical sun provide the perfect romantic backdrop to a couple’s vacation.
By Andrea Rip, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Stephanie Perry
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    Historic Romance, Hawaiian-Style
    Visitors' first love affair is often with the islands themselves. Honolulu is captivating: Learn the stories behind the statue of King Kamehameha I, who united the islands, and Kawaiahao Church, the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.” Visits to stately Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum transport sightseers to romantic old Hawaii. Alternatively, try swaying with the Hawaii Hula Company after learning the significance of the movements. At night, couples may dine on kalua pig while taking part in a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie.
    Photo by Stephanie Perry
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    Hawaii with the Top Down
    Renting a car combines the romance of a road trip with Hawaii’s irresistible atmosphere—and grants whimsy and freedom to couples. Remarkable views of Honolulu reward drivers who thread up the switchbacks of Round Top and Tantalus drives to Pu'u Ualaka'a State Park; a green lawn at the top invites couples to share a picnic, or simply to lie back and watch the clouds before hitting the road. 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 Kauai will delight travelers. Pause to take in the grandeur of Waimea Canyon, sip a brew at the Kauai Coffee Company, and feel the magic of Hanalei Bay at the end of the day.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Heart-Racing Adventure
    Romance isn’t the only thing that makes hearts race on Hawaii: The islands offer ample adventure. Paradise Air offers ultralight hang-gliding tours so daring couples can circle each other over Oahu. Renting a double kayak from Kailua Beach Adventures challenges pairs to stay afloat—and in sync!—as they paddle along Oahu’s Lanikai Beach. On Maui, rent bikes from the Haleakala Bike Company, watch the sunrise from the head of the Haleakala volcano, and contemplate anew the phrase, “light my fire.” And there’s no rendezvous more enchanting than the Kalalau Trail along Kauai’s Napali Coast, with its endless views over land and ocean and its brilliant starry displays for couples camping on the trail at night.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Sing It from the Mountaintops
    Couples can retreat into a different world for the day by exploring Hawaii’s mountains. The meandering, rain-forested trails of the Koo’lau Mountains are a quick drive from Honolulu—the Pali Puka trail exposes hikers to a narrow ridge with a remarkable view over Oahu's windward side that inspires sighs from even the most seasoned hikers. Wanderers on the Big Island will connect with Pele, the volcano goddess, who expresses her longing for the young chief Lohiau by heaving up lava and adding new real estate to the island. On Kauai, a trip to the Waimea Canyon allows couples to daydream together in technicolor by taking in the canyon’s saturated greens, reds, and oranges from viewpoints scattered throughout the trail.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Engaging Beach Strolls
    With sand between your toes and frothy waves running over your tired feet, enjoying a long walk on the beach with your beau is about as romantic as life can get. Many hotels make it easy on couples thanks to their convenient waterfront location, but Hapuna Beach on the Big Island and Honokahua Bay on Maui are two other pacific coves that inspire hand-holding and quiet whispers. For complete intimacy, Lumahai Beach—fitted into the bay near Hanalei on Kauai—is difficult to find, but its remote coast and soft sand have been the scene of more than one knee bent into the sand for a proposal.
    Photo by Amirah Mari
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    Romantic Resorts
    It's true that resorts do sometimes peddle tired themes of romance as their business model. But many of Hawaii’s properties really do meet the desires of the diverse couples who come for weddings, honeymoons, or a simple getaway. The Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa, whisks guests to old Hawaii in the middle of Waikiki. Koa Kea Hotel & Resort on Kauai offers a chance to unwind, Hawaiian-style, at its spa, where treatments emphasize the beneficial properties of local red clay, awapuhi root, and seaweed. And for couples hoping to learn as much about Hawaiian culture as their relationship, the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui offers Hawaiian language lessons and traditional canoe excursions.
    Photo by Stuart Westmorland/age fotostock
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    An Abundance of Bouquets
    Hawaii’s flora is immediately captivating. From the sweet-smelling plumeria tucked behind the ears of women in the airport, to the wild orchids that grow in Volcanoes National Park and the resplendent ipu kula (cup of gold) flower found along trails and driveways, the islands bloom. Nowhere is it more appropriate to “stop and smell the flowers” than on Kauai, “The Garden Island.” At Princeville Botanical Gardens, visitors can enjoy delightful fragrances and tastes as they sample chocolate, honey, and fruit from the gardens—all while learning that flowers are far more than a few pretty petals: They're also useful for dining, health, and wellness.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Kiss the Day: Morning Views and Tea for Two
    The Hawaiian word lanai means veranda or patio. True to its name, the island of Lanai hosts guests looking simply to relax and enjoy the view. Across the island, early risers are greeted with open spaces and tranquil morning light. Couples who wake up with the sun can take to long stretches of deserted coastline, visit Puu Pehe (Sweetheart Rock) and learn the legend of the lovers who gave the spot its name, or watch the sun rise over the neighboring island of Maui—all before dropping into the Great Hall at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, the Lodge at Koele for an intimate tea service. As the day unfolds, you can take advantage of the couples’ sailing trips, spa treatments, and private dining.
    Photo by Sherry Ott
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    Love Food
    There’s no shortage of intimate dining options on Hawaii, where restaurants are tuned in to the relationship between romance and food. If you view seafood as an aphrodisiac, then Uncle Bo's Pupu Bar & Grill in Honolulu should be your first stop of the evening: Order the Thai clams, and keep a lychee martini in your hand. Continue sampling the fruits of the sea at the nearby Doraku Sushi—try the “God of Fire” roll, stuffed with spicy tuna and topped with tuna, jalapeño, masago, and aioli. For partners seeking a relaxing—rather than stimulating—meal, try Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui: Its fresh fare and ambiance are inspired by the days of Maui’s historic sugarcane plantations.
    Photo by Andrea Rip
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    Sweet Treats with Your Lover
    Romance doesn't have to be fine wine and finicky appetizers, and Hawaii knows how to keep things sweet and relaxed. Tropical fruits, including papaya, coconut, and lychee, tumble out of stalls at local farmers’ markets. Oahu’s famous Matsumoto's Shave Ice has been peddling its syrupy treats for more than 50 years. On the Big Island, guests of the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Visitor Center are invited to dip into chocolate-covered samples, and purchase the nuts as a return gift. For a sweet blending of cultures, sample a malasada. This doughnut treat arrived with Portuguese immigrants in 1878, and Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu has had diners licking sugar off their lips almost since then.
    Photo by Andrea Rip