I can’t believe I’m writing my final Hawaii honeymoon blog, it’s starting to feel real that the holiday’s over, and I’ve already got my heart set on our next vacay. I’ve written at length about Maui, Kauai and Big Island already, but it was this post I struggled to start for some reason. Perhaps because once this article is complete, the honeymoon too is complete, and I may have to stop looking back longingly at Hawaii.
Our Hawaii honeymoon begun and ended on Oahu, the perfect bookend to the trip of a lifetime (though I know it’s not the only trip I’ll be taking there in this lifetime!).
Hawaii was everything I’d ever dreamed of, from start to finish, it was absolute bliss. We flew into Oahu on 8 September, and reluctantly left on the 23rd suitably relaxed (and with a tan).
We started our honeymoon downtown at Vive Hotel Waikiki – a fairly new boutique hotel that’s convenient and affordable, with a chic, urban vibe. We arrived in the morning, where we were kindly offered breakfast and a super-early check in. We brunched in the huge lobby: bright and fresh, full of plush sofas, board-games and free tea and coffee all day, before setting off for the 100m walk to the beach just an hour after landing. Well, after leaving rainy Auckland, why wouldn’t you? It was as divine as every postcard I’d seen, all perfect white sand beaches, oceanfront fine dining, incredible local, fresh flavours and surfers everywher. Even being in the centre of Waikiki felt like the most relaxing and romantic place on earth, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
A minute’s walk from Honolulu’s most famous beach area, and equal-distant to all of the city’s essential shopping (Waikiki Beach Walk, Royal Hawaiian Center and Alamoana to get started) Vive Hotel was conveniently located, while being much cheaper than most of the inner-city’s hotels. Staff were friendly, and our sub-penthouse room had a stunning view over the Pacific, if you’re looking for a super-affordable Waikiki option, Vive Hotel is a perfect choice.
It would’ve been easy to laze around between swim-up bars and Waikiki’s many restaurants, but thankfully before our trip we’d signed up for a couple’s surf lesson. Gone Surfing Hawaii specialises in both private and semi-private lessons, but wanting not to embarrass ourselves in front of too many people, we opted for private. We needn’t have worried, we were up on our feet on the first wave (which I attribute entirely to our teachers!) and didn’t stop for two hours. It was exhilarating. exhausting and awesome. By the second hour, we could barely paddle, so our teachers dragged us back out to the waves – talk about service! Honestly, I’d never go to Waikiki without a surf lesson, and would force friends to book with Gone Surfing – it was pretty up there with favourite moments of the honeymoon, and there was a lot to contend with!
As if we hadn’t got enough exercise (I swear we relaxed after this) the next day
we I decided to hike Diamond Head. Due to the heat during the day, we I thought it was worth getting up early – actually I thought it was worth getting there in time for the sunrise.
It was – (Blair may not be entirely convinced…) the Diamond Head hike trail is one of the best walks we’ve done overseas. It’s totally do-able for people of pretty average fitness (not like the Koko head we did later… read on).
Both offer breathtaking 360 degree views of Waikiki and beyond once you reach the top, each only taking around 20-30 minutes (though Koko is a lot more intense!).
For Diamond Head, we actually set off from Vive Hotel in Waikiki itself, which added another 30 minutes each way (and made it an early start for sunrise), but you can just as easily drive to the base. It’s definitely worth doing – Diamond Head Crater also holds the record for the longest recorded land views in the world!
Whichever trail you head for, don’t forget a couple of dollars for the (compulsory) donation.
Surfing, hiking, swimming, walking… yes, I know honeymoons are meant to be more about R & R. We did also go for a beautiful harbour cruise, watch the sunset and drink copious amounts of Champagne – I promise.
For our return to Waikiki, we stayed at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort, exactly a block from where we stayed previously, and right on the beach. So close, in fact that I watched surfers from the balcony. They were much better than Blair and I…
I also really wanted to do the Koko Head Trail. The views of Diamond Head had been incredible, but also I’d been eating and drinking twice my normal amount for a couple of weeks now… I didn’t want to return home twice my normal size.
The Koko Head trail wasn’t exactly fun, but it was jaw-droppingly beautiful, and a pretty cool challenge to tick off the bucket list – climbing (literally at times) 1050 steps to the top. Koko trail is an old railroad tram, so it is literally a straight line up the hill up a railway created to haul cargo and supplies up to the top during World War II.
After parking in the Koko Head District Park parking lot, there’s an easily identifiable trail that leads to the start of the climb up the mountainside and it doesn’t take long til we began to see the incredible views.
Just as we were getting used to the stairs, we reached a small section that is like a large ladder laid across a larger hole – which becomes a bridge – with at least a 40 ft drop below. It’s not technically hard to cross (I did on my hands on knees), but doesn’t feel comfortable if you have a fear of heights. We took our time, though Blair did have an advantage being over 6 ft with much longer legs.
P.S. Blair is a pretty good ‘Insta-husband’… but not this good!
After what felt like 10,000 stairs, we took a long break at the top. Seriously though, for that view (and that muscle burn) it was worth it.
You’ll be pleased to know that immediately after our return to Waikiki (in peak hour traffic – oops) we were booked in for a massage at the Hyatt Regency’s in-house spa, Na Hoola.
Believe me when I say our legs were burning incredibly by this time, and Na Hoola Spa at Hyatt Regency Waikiki was heaven on earth!
Our couples’ massage was truly divine, complete with hot stones on our aching muscles. Incredibly relaxing, while also feeling like it was doing our bodies some good – hot stones are believed to better open the body’s energy pathways. According to our local Hawaiian therapist, the heat and energy from the stones penetrate deep into the muscles to achieve a soothing and therapeutic experience. When used with specific techniques, the stones allow the therapist to release tight muscle restrictions more efficiently and with less discomfort to the client.
Completely exhausted and relaxed, we returned to the comfort of our room, though I regret bypassing the pools and jacuzzi – as I’m sure that would’ve been the final candle on the cake.
Eventually, it was time for our final night in paradise. One of the huge benefits to Oahu, given its denser population and popularity, is of course the eating. Whether it’s a secluded candlelit dinner you’re after, or you’re happy vying for a spot at the beachside resorts come sunset, you’re spoiled for choice. The Hyatt Regency is ideally located for all of Waikiki’s restaurants and bars too, so with all the choice in the world, naturally we went back to the tried and true, visiting Tiki’s Grill & Bar and Duke’s twice each, and returning to House Without a Key at the Halekulani Hotel, where I’d dined a year earlier.
While sunset at each of them are as magical as each other, we found it easier to get a table at Tiki’s (plus, red velvet waffles!)
I wish it could’ve lasted forever, but we had to return to real life. However… you don’t (just yet!), if you loved learning about Waikiki, read onto Big Island, Maui and Kauai, and let me know if you have any questions.