my now husband and i have just returned from Hawaii where we got married on Oahu and then honeymooned in Maui. It was the most perfect time and the best decision we have ever made so i just wanted to say thank you to everyone on here who has either replied directly to questions we have asked, or have posted information that has helped us plan our trip. I will also post on the Maui forum but for now, just a few things from our stay on Oahu.
First of all, our wedding day was the most amazing day of our lives. We live in the UK and neither of us have been to Hawaii before so choosing Hawaii was a big decision but it was the best decision ever! We used Weddings of Hawaii to organise the day for us - they'd been recommended by friends and they were absolutely brilliant.
We got married in the morning at Waimanalo beach where the weather was far better than it had been a couple of days before, having gone to check the location out and got rained on! The beach is stunning and there was barely anyone else around (apart from our 4 guests!). Our limo took us all for lunch at Orchids at the Halekulani which was worth every penny for the quality of the food we ate. We then had a private sunset cruise on a small boat (diamond head cruises) for 2 hours that evening, and the crew on the boat were fantastic helping to keep us topped up with drinks constantly, even though it was BYO. Having been in Waikiki for 5 days by this point we realised we were very lucky with the weather, with sunshine almost the whole day.
I'd spent months researching where to go, where to stay and where to eat on Oahu - not to come up with an hour by hour itinerary but just to have plenty of options for the 8 days we were there, bearing in mind our guests had also not been to Hawaii before and we wanted to make sure the trip was a great holiday for them too! In the end, as we arrived Memorial Weekend and then had a bit of wedding admin to do, we didn't get to see much outside of Waikiki. We had a car for 1 day where we drove around the island, but this happened to be the only day in our stay in Oahu that rained - for most of the day. Still, we stopped at lots of beaches and made a note of them for our next visit. We loved Waikiki so much and we were so excited to be there and relax after the last few months that we were happy staying local.
We absolutely loved Waikiki. It's not everyone's favourite place but it has certainly become one of ours. We love sun, we love beaches, we love bars and restaurants with good views, and we also love city breaks and good shopping, so this ticked every box for us. Next time we will take less clothes and bigger suitcases ready for the clothes and souvenirs we buy! Yes it is expensive, but we were prepared for that and didn't eat out that much. Yes Waikiki beach is probably also busy compared to other beaches some people may have been to, but i live on a beach on the south coast of England and believe me, it was no more crowded than you get here on a busy weekend in August, and at least in Waikiki the weather and the water are always warm!
If you want less crowded beaches, get out of Waikiki. We walked down to Ala Moana and spent a few hours on the beach there and it was so quiet. Even walking back past the Hawaiian Hilton towards Waikiki the beaches were less crowded there. The beaches we saw on our drive round the island were almost deserted - but then, it had been raining!
We didn't eat out a lot in an attempt to keep costs down, especially for our guests. However, Orchids was fantastic for lunch. We also spent a lot of time enjoying (pretty expensive and very touristy but absolutely worth it- well i am a tourist after all) food and drinks at Dukes. Their cocktails were delicious (the Lahaina burst has a lot to answer for!) and the food menu at the bar was perfect for us. As for their hula pie - wow! I have never seen portion sizes like it (sharing between 2 it was still too much) and it was delicious. We also ate upstairs at the Hula grill which was also really good. The Steak Shack is also a must for anyone wanting a decent amount of food for a decent price - go sit on the beach with your steak - where else can you do that?!
There are so many things that we didn't get to do - i wish we could have seen the other beaches in the sunshine and had another couple of days to travel round. There were other restaurants i would have liked to have tried. We also didn't see Pearl Harbor or get up Diamond Head. We did a bit of paddle boarding (in our wedding outfits!) having hired boards from the Fort DeRussy beach park - which was great fun and got us some amazing photos! But i wish i'd attempted some surfing (although not in my wedding dress!). I wish i'd eaten more poke - i'm not a huge fish fan but i did eventually try it in Maui and now i'm gutted i didn't discover it earlier - although probably better for my bank balance that i didn't! However, all these things will just be on the list for next time and give us a great excuse to return - not that we need an excuse, we already plan to be back for our 5 year wedding anniversary.
HNL airport was a bit of a shock to the system after a week of relaxation – we hadn’t already checked in online and couldn’t work out what we were supposed to do – mainly because we had to fight a huge line of people waiting to go through security which blocked most doors to the airport! We got through the line to check in, only to be told we have to come back to put our suitcases through the screening, to then go back to check in, and then join the line for security, which took a loooong time. I’m glad we arrived early!
The only other thing I can say is how special the aloha spirit felt and what a special place the islands and people really are. 5 years can't come quick enough!