When we were planning our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to go somewhere easy to get to from California (where we live), and somewhere beachy, but where we also had the option to be adventurous and not just lounge by the pool. So we chose two islands in Hawaii – Kauai for our adventurous side, and Maui for some R&R.
One of the very best things we did in planning our wedding was setting up a honeymoon registry. We used the site Buy Our Honeymoon (don’t worry, that title doesn’t show up in the web address when you set up your site). How it works is that you set up items or experiences for your guests to buy you on a personalized website, and the money goes into your paypal account. In our case, instead of asking people to donate to our plane tickets or hotel rooms, we asked for specific experiences we wanted to have for (i.e.“Snorkeling tour in the Molokini Crater, Maui”), and items we would need to enjoy them (i.e. “snorkeling gear for two”). We included a great range of gifts, covering everything from drinks by the pool, to bigger ticket items like a zipline tour or luau show. With each listed gift, we included information about the restaurant, tour company, or place that we wanted to visit, and included a link to a website with more information if there was one. Then, while in Hawaii, we took pictures doing each activity we were gifted, and later included the pictures with our thank you notes. It really turned out to be a win-win situation – we got to have the honeymoon vacation that we never could have afforded on our own, and our guests got to give us a gift that they felt invested in and that they knew we would enjoy and remember forever.
Now for the vacation details! Two days after our wedding, we flew directly to Kauai, where we stayed at the Westin Princeville resort.
The views from our room
I absolutely loved this hotel. It is set up as suites and it’s really comfortable and private. It’s also right down the road from (and owned by the same company as) the St. Regis Priceville resort, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. If you go to Kauai, you must not miss brunch at the St. Regis (another gift from our registry!).
See what I mean? The view overlooking Hanalei Bay is incredible.
And you can surf there, too!
Kauai is known for being the most naturally preserved of the Hawaiian islands, and if you visit, I highly recommend you take the time to hike the Napali Coast, visit the Queen’s Baths, and take in the views of the taro fields in Hanalei.
The Napali Coast hike we did took about 3-4 hours round trip, and it was slippery and a bit treacherous, but really rewarding and the views were breathtaking.
The Queen’s Baths are natural pools in lava formations! Be careful though, there are certain times of the year when they are unsafe for swimming.
Make sure to try a taro smoothie in Hanalei!
Through our registry, we also received gifts of a zipline tour with Princeville Ranch Adventures, and a mountain tubing trip with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. Both were really thrilling and such fun activities to do together! Mountain tubing is essentially like taking a ride in an inner tube down a “lazy river” type maze of old irrigation lines and caves carved into the valleys of Kauai. Great views and the safety helmets and gloves you have to wear for mountain tubing make for hilarious pictures.
For the second half of our honeymoon, we took a short flight over to Maui, where we stayed at the Sheraton in Kaanapali. Maui is much more resort-centric than Kauai, and the Sheraton is perfect because it has a fantastic location on the main stretch of beach, and a poolside bar where you can watch the traditional cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock every night at sunset while enjoying your happy hour mai-tais.
The view from our room at the Sheraton on Maui
One experience that you cannot miss if you visit Maui is taking a Blue Water Rafting snorkeling tour to the Molokini Crater. It’s a smaller tour than most (around 15 people), and it includes an exhilarating ride on a blue water raft around the lava-cratered coast of Maui, and then snorkeling outside and inside the crater. It was the bluest and clearest water I’ve ever seen, and really exciting to be inside a real crater! The snorkeling was great too – lots of colorful fish, some sea turtles, and we got lucky and happened upon a pod of spinner dolphins, too!
Another must see is the Road to Hana. The drive is long, but the waterfalls are gorgeous and the black sand beach is so cool!
We also got to go parasailing with UFO thanks to a registry gift, and although I was scared at first, it was much more peaceful up there than I could have imagined.
Maui is also the place to get a spa treatment or a couple’s massage – put that one on your honeymoon registry for sure!
Finally, on our last night, we saw a luau show at the Old Lahaina Luau. I was worried that the luau would be cheesy like several others I had witnessed at hotels, but this one was completely different. It is run by a dance company, and feels much more authentic than others. It’s set right on the shore with a beautiful view of the ocean, and you sit on pillows on the ground at tables of eight. The food was unexpectedly tasty, and it’s open bar with all sorts of tropical cocktails as well. The dancing and the outfits were beautiful, and it was just a perfect way to end our trip.
My husband, getting “lei-ed”
I had such a wonderful experience with the honeymoon registry, and I would highly suggest it to anyone out there planning a wedding. The experiences we had on our honeymoon were the best wedding presents of all, and we are so thankful to all of our family and friends for giving us the vacation of our dreams!
Photos are by Ashley and Brian
Ms Gingham says: “It’s such a great idea to get honeymoon experiences as wedding gifts. Sure beats the old kitchen clock or blender! Thanks to Ashley and Brian for sharing their honeymoon with us.”
Click here to see Ashley and Brian’s San Francisco wedding story.