Romantic Spots in Hawaii for Valentine’s Day and Beyond

Hawaii and romance go hand in hand. This tropical paradise is where countless weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries take place every year. And for good reason. There’s just something inherently romantic about the atmosphere here—the scenery of jungle and waterfall laced mountains, the fragrant flowers that fill the evening air, waves lapping on the shore and harmonious Hawaiian music. There’s no shortage of places to go and things to do to help capture that feeling of romance. So whether it’s Valentine’s Day holiday or your own special event, here’s some of my favorite places and things for a romantic vacation in Hawaii.

The Town of Volcano, Big Island

When you first see the town of Volcano on a map, you figure they must spend all their time biting their nails over the active volcano crater less than two miles away. In fact, since they’re upslope of the crater, they’re safer from lava flows than Hilo or even the Kohala Resort area 50 miles away, as far as the geologists are concerned. It’s ironic that this dreamy little community, set in a misty, lush fern-filled forest, can be so snug living on an active volcano. And it’s the environment here that also makes it a a dreamlike place to spend a few days. From the first time I visited this unique town, it felt custom made for a honeymoon or anniversary getaway. (Or a recreation of the movie Gorillas in the Mist.) There are some amazing places to stay in the area, many that are small bungalows nestled in the jungle. It’s also amazingly over-represented when it comes to upscale restaurants, so you don’t have to feel isolated from good dining here.

A Sunset Cruise

You gotta play to your strengths, and Hawaii’s greatest asset is the ocean. Boat tours come in a variety of flavors, but when you’re looking for a romantic boat ride, the bigger the better. Sailing catamarans and large power catamarans are your best bet as these boats are built to cut through the water and minimize the rocking and rolling of the ocean. You can find sunset and cocktail cruises on all the major islands, but it’s Maui and Big Island where they really shine. The usually calm waters off the Kona Coast and between the offshore islands off of Maui make for great conditions for romantic cruises. Plus, these waters are on the west shores of the islands and therefore primed for amazing sunset views. While we recommend the bigger vessels for these cruises for the stability they bring, a private sunset sailing cruise is the ultimate romantic way to wrap up a day. If you’ve got the funds, the freedom and relative privacy that a private charter brings is pretty hard to top.

Dinner on the Beach

Believe it or not, dinner on the beach is getting harder and harder to find across Hawaii. At least, it’s hard to find a restaurant that has a venue right on the beach where you can dine. There are few exceptions to this, most notably Lava Lava Beach Club which is found on both Kaua‘i and Big Island. Big Island’s location is the preferred spot since it’s on the west, leeward shore and therefore better situated to take in the sunset and avoid the breezes. (Windblown sand will ruin a dinner just as thoroughly as a rainstorm.) The Kaua‘i location does get some extra points for being even closer to the ocean and having tables right in the beach sand, but the windward, east-facing location means weather might not be as cooperative. Some resorts will also help setup a beachside dinner, but be prepared to shell out a decent amount for their trouble. Probably the best (and most romantic) way to set up dinner on the beach is to do a little prep work and get take out. My guides give all kinds of advice and recommendations on the beaches across Hawaii. Find the food you’d like and look for the nearest beaches to that restaurant. You might need to scout a bit to find your ideal spot (beach parks will have picnic tables, but a cooler can work as makeshift table at the more secluded ones—just don’t forget a tablecloth), but once you find the ideal spot and food you’ll be ready to make the memory of a lifetime. 

Visit a Secluded Waterfall

What is it about waterfalls that makes us hopeless romantics universally drawn to them? It just one of those things that is easier to accept than to question. And we got choke waterfalls across Hawaii. (That’s local slang for a lot.) Most well known waterfalls tend to see a lot of people throughout the day, with many part of state parks that make getting up close difficult. The trick to at least feeling like you have a secluded waterfall to yourself is timing. Maui and its Hana Highway is the one of the best examples in all Hawaii for viewing waterfalls. A lot of people drive the road everyday, and the most visible ones that you can actually get up close to won’t feel secluded. The way to avoid the crowds is to get there either before or after they do. This means either driving in the dark (not recommended) or staying a few nights closer to where the waterfalls are. For Maui, this means staying in Hana or the surrounding area, and it’s something I can’t recommend enough. Hana doesn’t hit you, it seeps into you. Living on Maui, I had driven through Hana many times and thought I knew it well. But it wasn’t until the first time I spent a week in Hana that I truly connected with it. The peace that Hana exudes can only penetrate when you’re here at leisure, not on a mission. Today, Hana is one of our favorite places to go to get away from the hellacious rigors of guidebook writing. (You have no idea how hard it was to write that last sentence with a straight face.) It’s in these early morning hours, or the last hour before sunset that you’re most likely to find a waterfall and you’re the only ones there.

It’s easy to dream up romantic excursions across Hawaii, but when it comes to finding them it’s good to have a guide. That’s where we come in. Our guidebooks, smartphone apps and GPS driving tours are second to none in revealing the best the islands have to offer. All the spots and recommendations found here are brought to life in vivid detail in our guides, so you can find what best fits your ideal getaway. We make believable guides so you can have an unbelievable vacation.



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