1. Lots of couples say they’re taking their honeymoon in Hawaii, referring to the state that’s home to the islands of Oahu, Maui or Kauai they are most likely visiting. However, why not consider taking your honeymoon on Hawaii? This magically diverse wonderland most commonly known as The Big Island is absolutely perfect for couples seeking more than just a week of lounging on the beach sipping Mai Tais. Oh, you can certainly do that if you wanted to, but you’d be missing out on a truly one-of-a-kind honeymoon adventure.
2. The Big Island is indeed big and broken into different areas we could certainly describe in detail, but let’s keep things simple. The resorts and white sandy beaches are generally located on the northwest, drier part of the island in Kailua-Kona or Kohala. The lush, canyon-filled areas reminiscent of other islands is in the northeast and east along with the town of Hilo. The active Kilauea volcano and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is in the southeast and the colossal mountain volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are in the center like the humps of a camel.
3. If you have a full week, we recommend staying four days at a resort and three elsewhere exploring the island.
4. Buy the guidebook Hawaii The Big Island Revealed (or at least the app). We guarantee it’ll be the best $14 you spend on the entire trip. Its unbiased reviews and meticulously detailed driving tours point you in the direction of information, sights and activities you’d never experience without it. In fact, this list is peppered with tips I took advantage of during my own honeymoon to the Big Island in March 2011. I recommended the whole guidebook series to numerous friends who always thank me afterwards for the tip. It’s like no other guidebook around. I wish author Andrew Doughty would tackle more places than just Hawaii.
5. For weddings, be mindful that the Big Island resort area on the west side gets windy, especially in the afternoon. Finding a sheltered spot or having the ceremony in the morning is a good idea.
6. Renting a convertible may NOT be the best choice on the Big Island. Excessive wind in Kohala and chilly temperatures around the volcano mean you might end up with the top up anyway.
7. The Jeep Wrangler is a very popular rental car in Hawaii because of its convertible roof and four-wheel drive, but can be problematic. The soft convertible roof is difficult to raise and lower, and is very easy to break into. You may end up with a hard top model, though. This more secure version features two small roof panels over the driver and passenger that once removed need to be stored somewhere in the cabin.
8. “Bring some binoculars,” said my husband James Riswick. Thank goodness we had. We were sitting at our hotel (the Hilton Waikola Village) when a family of humpback whales started playing and jumping in the distance. Everyone else was straining to see them, but we had no problem because of the binoculars. They came in handy at the volcano, too.
9. Bringing a small LED flashlight with you can come in handy on night beach strolls or in the lava tubes of Volcanoes National Park. Plus, there’s a reason telescopes have been built on the Big Island – it is one of the darkest places in the world at night, especially away from built-up areas like Kona.
10. You never know when taking a quick hike down a cliff to a black sand beach may strike your fancy, so keep comfortable, grippy shoes in your rental car. Having to turn back because you only have flip-flops is a bummer.
11. Bring a refillable water bottle. This is useful at the beach, but even more so when visiting Volcanoes National Park as you’re apt to do a lot of walking in the heat and water is a must.
12. Contact lens wearers should bring drops when visiting the Volcano as well.