Which Hawaiian island has the best beaches for a ceremony?
What is the best time of day to have a ceremony?
Which Hawaiian island has the sunniest weather?
Which island has the best waterfalls?
Where can we get married in a private location?
Which Hawaiian island has the most laid-back island vibes?
How do I apply for a marriage license?
How do I choose the right photographer to capture my Hawaii elopement?
Choosing Which Island is Best for You
Browsing the internet and social media to discover the best island for you to elope can be a daunting task. All of the Hawaiian Islands are SO different from each other! Each island is unique with its own advantages and disadvantages. Below, we’ve outlined the positives and negatives from our own experiences living in Hawaii and exploring the Big Island, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai many times.
Elope on Big Island
The island of Hawaii, also called The Big Island is BIG. If you were to combine ALL of the other Hawaiian Islands into one puzzle piece and multiply that area by two, it still would not be as big of an area as the Big Island. It has 11 of the 13 world climate zones, which gives you the opportunity to see and experience so many different types of terrains in a single drive! There are no buildings on the island that are taller than the coconut trees, which gives all of the areas a “small town” feel.
Advantages of Eloping on the Big Island
+ Best black sand beaches in Hawaii! We know 11 of them!
+ With only 12% of Hawaii tourism visiting the Big Island, there are many secluded locations to escape the crowds!
+ The Waikoloa region of the island gets more sunshine than any other area in Hawaii.
+ Located on the southern tip of the island is one of the only green sand beaches in the entire world.
+ The Big Island has the most active volcano (Kilauea), largest volcano (Mauna Loa), and tallest volcano (Mauna Kea) on the planet!
Disadvantages of Eloping on the Big Island
– It may take far driving distances to reach the best locations. You must embrace a road-trip mentality!
– Many of our favorite locations to adventure involve hiking or driving 4X4 vehicles, which usually takes more effort to discover the most dramatic landscapes.
– There is not much nightlife. Nearly everyone on the island is asleep by 8:30pm!
Top 5 Experiences for Couples on the Big Island
Explore Volcano National Park
Forewarning: At this time, there is no lava flowing from the Kilauea volcano. However, Kailani Tours will take you to Fissure 8 and give you ample amount of time to explore the park and share all the massive changes the park has endured since the eruption. If you’d rather explore the park by yourself, we definitely recommend driving to the end of Chain of Craters Road to see some amazing lava rock sea cliffs and a massive sea arch! We also recommend camping in the park or staying in a cute little airbnb if you want to take more than one day to explore the park and surrounding areas.
Book a wildlife safari boat tour
If you are looking for an ocean excursion during the day, check out Jim and Alicia of See Through Sea. They are seriously amazing at what they do! They share their vast knowledge of the ocean and its amazing creatures as you cruise the Kona coast by boat. What we love about these tours is that it’s usually a small group of people (6 or less), which makes it a unique and more intimate experience.
Swim with the manta rays at night!
This is definitely a tour you have to experience on the Big Island. The Manta rays you will see in Kona are the second largest manta species in the world! These amazing creatures eat plankton, which are attracted to light from feeding stations. While you can observe Manta rays in different parts of the world, the unique part about this tour is being able to observe the Mantas at night with high tech flashlights! Check out Kona Honu Divers for an epic manta ray diving experience!
Eat at Lava Lava Beach Club
This is one of the few restaurants in Hawaii that you can actually eat and enjoy a happy hour drink right on the sand beside the ocean. It’s one of our favorite go-to restaurant recommendations because of the chill vibe and the live music every night! While the entrees are expensive, their happy hour is awesome! After you eat, take a stroll along the coast to see massive sea turtles basking on the sand. This is also one of our favorite places to catch the sunset. Whenever we have friends or family visiting us, we always come here! Here is a link to their restaurant menu.
Tour a coffee farm in Captain Cook!
We absolutely love the coffee tour at Greenwell Farms if you are looking to learn more about the history of Kona coffee! Also, their coffee is just so good! Greenwell Farms originated in 1850, and is still a family-run business! Their coffee tours run from 9am-4pm and are about 45 minutes long jam packed with interesting information about the history, farming, and processing of coffee at Greenwell Farms.
Areas to Stay on Big Island
Kona-town has it all! If you’re looking to be nearby the conveniences of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, souvenir shops, farmers markets, or live music – this is the place for you! It’s the tourist hub of the island where the cruise ships dock and has a beautiful oceanside walking path down the famous Ali’i Drive. It’s definitely a nice and central base to go off and explore!
Surrounded by the famous Kona coffee farms, this area is known for seas of green and tropical climate. It’s cooler and wetter in this elevation of Hualalai volcano, which can be very comfortable after a long day in the hot Hawaii sun. One of our favorite restaurants and coffee shops on the island is Holuakoa Cafe, and is right in the center of town. There’s also a First Friday artwork with numerous live musicians, food trucks, and venders with lots of yummy samples!
Only thirty minutes south of Kona is a small town that is near one of the best bays on the island. Kealakekua Bay is most known for the best snorkeling on the island with occasional sightings of spinner dolphins and humpback whales. Time is a lot slower in these parts and many of the accommodations are high on the cliffs with expansive views of the bay! We highly recommend experiencing this older and authentic region, yet also nearby the conveniences in Kona-town!
This area is known as the Golden Coast of Hawaii with numerous and beautiful golden sand beaches, clear blue water, and the most sunny days on the island. Nearly all of the resorts are located in this region of the island, and has the only area for “luxury” shopping and restaurants. If you’re looking to stay in a resort, this is where you’ll want to stay!
We’re biased because we live here, but it’s our favorite place on the island! It’s a perfect elevation 2,500 feet, which keeps the temperatures low 60s at night and low 80s in the day – all year round! The small town is surrounded by vibrant green rolling hills, roaming horses, and hungry cows. It’s one of the only places within the islands that has a strong cowboy (Hawaiian Paniolo) culture, and there is actually a weekly rodeo that you can experience. Also, the town is only 15 minutes from the best Golden Coast beaches on the Big Island!
Both towns are on the northern tip, and might be the cutest on the island! With just over 1,000 people living in each, everyone is super friendly and is full of aloha. Hawi is near Pololu Valley and Honoka’a is beside Waipi’o Valley, which are both some of the most dramatic landscapes in Hawaii!
Hilo is actually the largest city on the island, and is the rainiest city in the United States! There are so many beautiful waterfalls nearby like Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls. The town isn’t very picturesque, but has a cool alternative feel. North of Hilo on the Hamakua Coast are some really cool Airbnb accommodations with ocean views high up on the oceanside bluffs!
When people left the Woodstock music festival and decided to leave everything behind and head to Hawaii, most of them probably found themselves in Pahoa, but never left. This is the most un-touristy area of the Big Island with dramatic jungle terrain, black sand beaches, full moon drum circles, and Wednesday night farmers market jam sessions at Jungle Roberts Kava Bar. The area has a really wild and exotic energy, and is the most inexpensive area to stay on the island.
A small village at 4,000 feet elevation and is nestled beside the most active volcano on the planet! There are numerous jungle airbnbs available, as well as the Volcano House in the famous Volcano National Park. The eco-system is very unique and has the most abundant native vegetation on the island!
Quick tip: We recommend that you book your accommodations both on the Western side of the island and Eastern side of the island. By doing this, you’ll be able to stay in each region for a few days and explore the surrounding areas. By taking shorter day trips each day, you’ll spend less time in your car and more time exploring!
Elope on Maui
The island of Maui is most often recommended as the #1 Hawaiian Island to visit. Similar to the Big Island, Maui has a vast variety of landscapes and activities to experience. Maui is known for its epic surf breaks, numerous luxury resorts, and fine dining restaurants with exciting nightlife to celebrate your wedding day! We also love this island because you’re able to see three other Hawaiian Islands from the shores of Maui!
Advantages of Eloping on Maui
+ Most options for cliffside elopement ceremonies and adventures.
+ Known to have the most and best beaches in Hawaii.
+ Haleakala summit gives you the opportunity to say your vows above the clouds.
+ The Road to Hana has the most accessible waterfalls to explore in all the islands.
+ The red sand beach is a special gem unlike anywhere else in Hawaii.
Disadvantages of Eloping on Maui
– Maui is extremely popular to visit which makes it challenging to visit special locations without seeing other tourists.
– Highest pricing for rental cars, accommodations, and restaurants in all of Hawaii.
– Traffic, traffic, traffic!
Top 5 Experiences for Couples on Maui
Watch sunrise/sunset on top of Haleakala
Whether you choose to watch sunrise or sunset, visiting Haleakala is a must! However, if you do want to watch the sunrise on top of Haleakala, you need to make a reservation here. You can make reservations up to 60 days in advance. They also sell last minute tickets two days beforehand online if you can’t get them ahead of time! Check out Hannah and Kyle’s sunrise session. If you don’t make it in time, don’t worry! Just head up the mountain for sunset! It truly is just as magical. Scroll through to the end of Meredith and Chris’ full day adventurous elopement to see their photos at sunset.
Find waterfalls on the Road to Hana
We recommend driving the famous Road to Hana early in the morning. You’ll be able to visit all of the waterfalls along the way without any parking issues, explore the black sand beach all to yourself, and drive back the other side of the island with minimal traffic issues. Check out Denver and Sydney’s Road to Hana adventure session to see a preview of what’s to come. This is one of the most popular options for a full day adventure! Also, if you are planning to visit Haleakala National Park summit, we recommend getting your parking permit in advance! Check the website HERE for permit info.
Take a Sunset Catamaran Cruise
One of my favorite memories from when I used to visit Maui with my family was taking a sunset catamaran cruise where we’d sip mai tai’s, listen to Hawaiian tunes, and enjoy the coast by boat. Check out Alii Nui Maui for a “one of a kind, luxury sailing catamaran with a reputation for providing the ultimate in service and amenities.”
Drink pineapple wine up in Maui’s upcountry
Have you ever tried pineapple wine? Neither had Ryan and I before we visited Maui Waui! This is one of my favorite areas of Maui because of the cooler temps, laid back pace of life, and definitely because of the wine! The tasting room has a gorgeous look and this is honestly such a fun activity for couples who want a different feel of Maui for one of their vacation days. After you fill up on your share of pineapple wine, head across the street to Ulupalakua Ranch Store for a delicious venison burger!
Snorkel at the Molokini Crater
The Molokini Crater is special because it is one of only three volcanic calderas in the world. It’s located just a few miles from Maui, and it is Hawaii’s only marine sanctuary. The reef is vibrant and there is always a ton of fish to see while you’re snorkeling! Check out Trilogy Excursions for their epic tours to this spot!
Areas to Stay around Maui
This includes the towns of Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili, Kahana, and Kapalua. Wherever you choose to stay in West Maui, you are going to be close to restaurants, grocery stores, beautiful beaches, and nightlife! There’s also a monthly artist market under the Banyan Tree in the center of town. If you are keen on being in a lively area of Maui, this is definitely where you want to stay!
South Maui consists of Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, and Makena. Kihei is a decent sized beach town with plenty of condo rental and budget hotel options and is consistently drier and sunnier than other regions of Maui. Wailea is more of an upscale, privately planned resort community whereas Makena is more a sleepy town at the road region in South Maui. These beaches are less crowded than the ones in West Maui; however, they still tend to get busy, especially Makena Beach.
Upcountry Maui consists of Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula. If you stay in upcountry Maui, the vibe will be more peaceful and serene than South and West Maui. Think botanical gardens, high elevation views and artsy, country vibes. You won’t find chain restaurants or big resorts. Everything shuts down pretty early in this region. You will find more accommodation options for cottages/condos or Airbnb’s here that focus on privacy and relaxation. There are some awesome local restaurants, coffee shops, and art galleries here!
North Maui consists of Paia and Haiku. If you are a nature lover or a surfer, you are going to love this area of the island! You will find cool breezes, rolling pastures, and tropical scenery all around you. Again, you won’t find any major resorts or chain hotels in this area. Similar to upcountry Maui, you’ll find more private cottages, Airbnbs and condo rentals here.
East Maui consists of Keanae, Hana, Kipahulu. This is the most remote region in Maui because it can take hours of driving to these locations. Have you ever heard of the Road to Hana (you know, that crazy, windy but breathtakingly beautiful road that is a MUST when you’re in Maui)?! Well, after driving this road, most people turn around or drive back to their resorts on other parts of Maui. However, we recommend staying here and enjoying a remote, peaceful, and totally immersed small town experience. Hana offers great options for outdoor camping, rugged cabins, cozy B&Bs and even a stunning resort called Travaasa.
This consists of Wailuku, Waiehu, Waihee, Waikapu, and Kahului. Kahului is the town you will fly into if you are coming from the mainland. These are all beautiful locations because you’re near the epic Iao Valley (one of our favorite spots on Maui!). Wailuku is an especially cute local town with cozy coffee shops and local stores all around. If you’re looking for the most inexpensive accommodation option, this is the area that we recommend browsing. Wailuku also has the majority of Maui’s hostels.
Elope on Oahu
The island of Oahu is famous for having many Hollywood movies filmed there such as Jurassic Park at Kualoa Ranch! Oahu is most known for its incredible mountain ranges that tower across the entire island. There’s no other island that you’re able to drive beside huge mountain rock faces on one side, while having the crashing waves beside you on the other. Also, the North Shore is one of the most famous regions in the world for professional surfing, and the city of Honolulu at the south end of the island is the largest in Hawaii.
Advantages of Eloping on Oahu
+ Most variety of accessible hiking trails in all of the islands.
+ Very short driving distances to visit a variety of unique landscapes.
+ Nearly every location on the island has an incredible mountain view!
+ The Kaneohe Sandbar is very special to Hawaii with epic views of Kualoa Ranch.
+ Honolulu has the best nightlife for celebrating your wedding day!
Disadvantages of Eloping on Oahu
– Few accommodation options outside of the tourist district (a majority of the vacation rental properties are now illegal).
– 50% of Hawaii tourists visit Oahu, which makes it more of a challenge to discover secluded locations.
– The city of Honolulu has the worst traffic in the United States
Quick Tip: We recommend having your elopement during sunrise! This will give you the best opportunity to have your ceremony in a location with minimal people around. For this reason, sunrise is our favorite time to capture an elopement ceremony. It’s usually a more quiet and intimate time to share your vows before the rest of the island is even awake!
Our Top Experiences for Couples on Oahu
Kayak to Kaneohe Sandbar
If you’re an active couple and keen for an all day adventure, we recommend kayaking to the Kaneohe Sandbar. You can launch from Heeia Pier or State Park right off of Kamehameha Highway. Check out Kailua Beach Adventures to snag a rental for the day or week! It is about a mile from this launching spot to the sandbar. Make sure to go early, bring snacks, sunscreen and water for your day’s adventure. If you are not wanting to be as active, you can always rent a boat to take you there, as well! Check out this blog post of Alex and Amber during our adventure session after their sunrise ceremony.
Go free diving with sharks
This has always been a dream of mine to do at some point! However, we have had past clients, as well as close friends describe this adventure as “once in a lifetime.” What I truly love about One Ocean Diving is that you are diving with professionally trained Safety Divers & Biologists. This company supports the idea of “collaborative pelagic research, conservation, education and getting you in the water with marine animals.” This team really loves the animals, and are all equipped with the knowledge to help you have the best experience possible.
Try your turn at surfing at Waikiki Beach
Have you ever wanted to try surfing in Hawaii, but are really intimidated by big waves? I get it! I’ve been there before, too! This is why we love recommending Waikiki Beach for the best place to try surfing for the first time. These waves are known to be smaller, slower, and way easier to learn how to surf! Plus, most people around you are just learning how to surf, as well! We recommend CHOOSE A SURF SHACK COMPANY TO LINK
Take a tour of Kualoa Ranch
Ka’a’awa Valley is where over 50 Hollywood films were made! You can go on a movie tour all throughout Kualoa Ranch and learn all about the movies that were filmed there (including Jurassic Park). They also have other tours where you can go horseback riding, ATVing, or go on a jungle jeep expedition. Browse their site to see what tour fits you two best!
Get a coffee and watch surfers at sunset beach
One of the most popular places on the North Shore to grab your bulletproof coffee is the Sunrise Shack! After you filled up on coffee and an acai bowl, go check out surfers at Sunset Beach on the North Shore. If you want to see some of the biggest waves in the world, definitely visit during the winter months!
Areas to Stay on Oahu
The largest city in Hawaii with over 350,000 residents! Honolulu is most famous for Waikiki Beach, Diamondhead Mountain in the distance, and the electrifying energy throughout the city. It’s one of the only areas in Hawaii with anything open later than 10pm. There are luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, night clubs, and a lot of live music. It’s best for travelers that thrive in big city environments!
Turtle Bay Resort is an absolutely stunning luxury resort along the best beaches in Hawaii. The property is positioned on a large point with nearly all ocean views! The famous North Shore of Oahu is most known for competitive pro surfers, delicious food trucks, and numerous golden sand beaches with crystal clear blue water. Also, definitely check out Shark’s Cove for snorkeling!
Elope on Kauai
The island of Kauai truly makes you feel as if all time has stopped. The moment that you step foot on the ground, all of your worries and travel frustrations immediately begin to slip away. Similar to the Big Island, the buildings are no taller than the surrounding coconut trees, and each town has a special and unique charm. No other island gives me a sense of complete isolated paradise like Kauai. With numerous hidden beaches, epic hiking trails, and tons of yummy food trucks, this island is truly a tropical dream.
Advantages of Eloping on Kauai
+ Many of our favorite secluded beaches are on Kauai.
+ Within the center of the island is the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”!
+ Most dramatic landscapes in Hawaii.
+ The Napali Coast has one of the highest-rated hiking trails in the world.
+ Numerous cute towns to stroll, grab a coffee, or try the food trucks.
Disadvantages of Eloping on Kauai
– Extremely small island that you can drive around in just two days
– There’s a high chance that it will rain – so embrace it!
– Not as many options for resort or luxury accommodation
Quick Tip: Ha’ena State Park has a new permitting system that requires you to pay for a permit just to park for the day. We recommend going to this website to reserve a spot as soon as possible! This is an AMAZING region of the island that you definitely do not want to miss!
Our Top Experiences for Couples on Kauai
Visiting Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Exploring Waimea Canyon should be on your top list of things to do while visiting Kauai. If you have a lot of time in Kauai, we love the option of camping in Kokee Sate Park and exploring the canyon for at least two days. While you can easily drive around the park all within one day, there are a lot of fun hikes where you can access various vantage points around the canyon. We think it’s worth exploring as much as you can! Check out this blog post to browse photos of our adventure elopement with Marie and Devan’s in Waimea Canyon.
Explore the Na Pali Coast
You can’t go wrong with exploring the Na Pali coast — whether it’s by helicopter, a boat, or hiking! For the more active couple, we highly recommend planning a camping trip to Kalalau Valley! We would recommend at least two days in the valley if you can swing it! This hike is about 22 miles round trip, and it gives you some of the most stunning coastal views in the world. Getting to Kalalau Valley is like nothing Ryan and I have ever experienced in our lives. If you do plan to hike it, make sure to apply for a permit and constantly check the weather for the days you plan to go. You don’t want to be stuck in the valley when it’s flash flooding. Check here to register to hike the Kalalau Trail. If you don’t want to hike the entire trail, we recommend a day hike to get to some stunning viewpoints within the first few miles. If you’d rather enjoy the Na Pali Coast without as much activity, experiencing it by taking a helicopter ride is our next best recommendation! Check out Mauna Loa Helicopters to see this incredible coast from the sky and with the doors off! A less expensive opinion is seeing the Na Pali Coast by boat. Check out Blue Ocean Adventures for an epic experience on the water! You really don’t want to miss this!
Paddle board up Wailua River
This is a fun activity if you want a chill activity to do with your significant other or if you’re vacationing with your family. It’s awesome because it’s an activity that even your least active family members can do. You can book a paddle board from two hours to a full day! It’s a perfect relaxing activity after a few days of full-on hiking adventures. We went with Kauai SUP and had an awesome time!
Watching sunset at Tunnels Beach
This is one of my favorite beaches in Kauai to watch the sunset. There’s something about being able to see the mountain ridges (sometimes even waterfalls) right next to the ocean that is purely magical. Also, if you happen to get to Tunnels earlier in the day, you should definitely bring your snorkeling gear! Because the ocean is usually calm in this area, it makes for awesome snorkeling conditions!
Learn to play the ukulele
Grab a drink from the local market and join a group of people all wanting to learn the basics of playing the ukulele. The lesson is an hour long, and you get to learn several basic chords that will allow you to eventually play over 300 songs. This is an awesome activity for a rainy afternoon or evening on the North Shore of Kauai. Check out the Airbnb experience here!
Places to Stay on Kauai
Poipu and Koloa (South Coast)
Kauai’s south shore is defined by Poipu and it’s beautiful beaches. This is one of Kauai’s most popular tourist areas because of the weather, nice beaches, several resorts, and a large selection of condos. This is where you can find the amazing Shipwreck beach, too! Just north of Poipu is Koloa, a small, old sugarcane town dating back to the plantation era that now hosts a variety of tourist shops and yummy food trucks. Aloha Roastery is our favorite spot to grab coffee and the fish taco truck is our absolutely favorite in Hawaii!
Kilauea (North-East Coast)
This area of the island is tropical and where you will find authentic Hawaiian home rentals on Airbnb. We recommend this area to stay if you’re trying to escape from the tourists and live among the locals. There are several beautiful beaches in the area and the Kilauea Lighthouse is a beautiful location with epic views of the dramatic cliffs. This area is also near many conveniences in the North Shore, yet far enough to feel like you’re staying in an authentic Hawaiian neighborhood.
Hanalei and Princeville
Hanalei and Princeville are two of the most stunning and most touristic areas to stay on the island. Hanalei Bay is one of the most famous areas in all of Hawaii and the dramatic green mountains in the backdrop are absolutely stunning. There are restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, and souvenir shopping areas. Princeville has the St. Regis Resort and higher end condos to rent on Airbnb. The famous Napali Coast Kalalau Trail is also nearby for an epic day-hike!
Kapaa (East Coast)
This is a really neat town that has a nice balance of local life mixed with tourism. It’s also one of the best areas to stay because Kapaa is between the location highlights on the North Shore and location highlights on the South Shore. It has an alternative + hippy vibe that you feel as you explore around the town. Some of the best restaurants, food trucks, bars, and organic grocery stores are in Kapaa. Also, the most affordable oceanfront accommodation is mostly going to be found in this region. Check out Java Kai for great coffee!
Lihue (East Coast)
Everyone who visits Kauai must go through Lihue because this city has the airport! There are not too many island highlights to see in this area, but it’s nice to be located in a very central region of the island to go on day trips. We would only recommend staying in this area if you’re looking into resort accommodation such as the Marriott Kauai Beach Club. We really enjoyed our time staying at this property and the beach, bay, and surrounding mountains are stunning. It’s also a perfect spot for beginner surfing!
Waimea (West Coast)
The Western side of Kauai is the most desolate with minimal accommodation options and has the most concentration of local Hawaiians. There are several super cute towns in this region that you’ll pass in the blink of an eye! It’s also the gateway to one of the most incredible landscapes in all of Hawaii – Waimea Canyon State Park. The air is dry, the dirt is red, and you’ll most often see sunny days while staying in this region. Polihale State Park is nearby with a 7 mile golden sand beach and mind-blowing sea cliffs!
Elope on Lanai
Advantages of Eloping on Lanai
+ Hulopo’e Beach is one of our favorites in all of the islands.
+ Visiting Lanai is like staying in Hawaii 50 years ago.
+ It’s easy to find locations that offer complete privacy.
+ The island gets very minimal rain throughout the year, so you have a high chance to experience a sunny vacation.
+ The landscape is extremely unique with dramatic red rock cliffs and unique rock formations beside the vivid blue ocean.
Disadvantages of Eloping on Lanai
– Limited accommodation and rental car options that are very expensive
– The island is very small and can be explored in just 1-2 days
– There are very few dining options.
Our Top Experiences for Couples on Lanai
Watching the sunrise from Sweetheart Rock
If you’re staying at the Four Seasons, all you have to do is walk across the beach to get to Puu Pehe (aka Sweetheart Rock) for sunrise. What I love about waking up to watch the sunrise is that there are always less people around during the early hours of the morning. We recommend hiking all the way to the top for the best sunrise views! Make sure to bring a coffee with you to enjoy at the top!
Snorkeling in Hulopo’e Bay
This bay has some of the best snorkeling we’ve seen on the islands! On the left hand side of this bay, it is particularly beautiful. Because this is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches, it can get crowded during the middle of the day. We suggest snorkeling in the early morning hours because people from Maui tours come to snorkel here during the middle of the day.
Golf at the Manele Course
This signature designed golf course by Jack Nicklaus is located right above Hulopo’e Bay. One of the most incredible aspects of this golf course are the stunning views of the ocean while you play! Golfers of all ages and abilities have free access to the putting greens and driving range. We highly recommend this course for any experienced golfers out there! For any of the ladies who are not into golfing, you can enjoy the spa services at the Four Seasons or relax below at Hulopo’e Beach.
Explore the Garden of the Gods
If you’re drawn to unique geological features and colorful rock formations, you should definitely check out Keahiakawelo when you’re visiting Lanai. It’s about a 45 minute drive from Lanai City. You need a 4×4 Jeep to access the unpaved road, or you could hike in. Not only are the colors and rock formations really unique, but from this location, you can also see the islands of Maui and Molokai. Another advantage of this activity is that it’s free!
Rent a 4×4 Jeep to Ramble the Island
We recommend renting a 4×4 while you’re on the island (at least for 1-2 days). Renting a car in Lanai is more expensive than any other island. If you’re staying at the Four Seasons, you don’t necessarily need to rent a car. There are shuttles that can take you up to Lanai City and to the airport. However, if you’re craving a little bit more of an adventure that is off the beaten track, we’d recommend renting a 4×4 to access some of the unpaved roads. Two more isolated beaches to visit on your adventure day are Polihua Beach and Kaiolohia also known as Shipwreck Beach.
Places to Stay on Lanai
When you step foot onto the island of Lanai for the first time, most likely you’ll be completely shocked! Thousands of pine trees were planted throughout the center of the island in the late 1800s and it feels as if you’re walking through the Pacific Northwest. Also, the elevation is higher, so the climate is cooler than along the coast. We recommend staying in an Airbnb, Four Seasons Sensei Lanai, or Hotel Lanai. The city has only a few thousand residents, there are no stop lights, and the only gas station on the island.
The newly renovated Four Seasons Resort Lanai is one of the most beautiful resorts in all of Hawaii! All of the rooms have an ocean view and there are several luxury restaurants on the property. This resort is extremely expensive, but the experience and guest service here is unparalleled to any other resort throughout the islands.
Steps to Plan Your Elopement in Hawaii
After you have chosen the island that best suits the Hawaii elopement of your dreams, it’s time to get down to the logistics. The next major steps in your elopement planning process are applying for your marriage license and finding your dream photographer! After that, your photographer will take the lead on guiding you in finding the exact location and experience you want for your elopement day!
Plan Out The Rest of Your Elopement Budget
Here are some different aspects to consider when figuring out your elopement budget. If you are flying in from the mainland or another country, first consider the expenses regarding your vacation. Then, think about what aspects of your elopement you want to spend the most money on.
Expenses to Consider For Your Vacation:
Expenses to Consider For Your Elopement:
Hair and Makeup
Wedding Permit (For a beach ceremony)
Decide if You Want to Invite Guests
You can choose to invite guests to join you for your elopement. Some things to consider when inviting guests is their accommodation, your ceremony location, and where you hope to celebrate with them afterward. For beach ceremonies, you would not be allowed to have a flower arch or chairs on the beach during the ceremony. Many of our couples in the past have chosen to have their ceremony at a restaurant, resort, or their Airbnb accommodation if they have more than 10-15 guests. Also, a beach wedding permit will not allow you to have more than 25 people.
If you choose to have us capture your ceremony and reception celebration with your guests, then we recommend booking an adventure session the day after your actual wedding day, so that you can spend your time with your friends and family. We’ve also had many couples choose to go on a sunrise adventure session on their wedding day, and then go back to their accommodation to get ready for their wedding ceremony and reception. What is most important is that YOU decide how you want to experience one of the BEST days of your lives!
Choosing What Month to Elope
We get this question asked all the time, and the best answer is ANY MONTH! Honestly, the weather in Hawaii is not very different throughout the year. The summer months are usually more dry, with a very small chance of a hurricane storm or inclement weather lasting a few days. The winter months are cooler by only a few degrees, and there’s a slightly higher chance of rain.
What we always explain to our couples is that each Hawaiian Island has a wetter climate (Eastern side) and a drier climate (Western side). We’re constantly browsing our weather apps to make a decision if our elopements or adventure sessions are going to be heavily affected by inclement weather. We then discuss with our couples if they would like to change to our backup location on the dry side of the island.
If you’re interested in visiting Hawaii during a month with the least amount of tourism, we suggest visiting during the “shoulder” season months which is usually between mid-April to mid-June or mid-September to mid-November. These months usually have the least amount of families visiting the islands, and the prices for accommodations and rental cars are lowest.
How to apply for a marriage license in Hawaii
Now that you’ve chosen the best Hawaiian island to elope, it’s time to apply for your marriage license! Below are the essentials:
Both you and your other half must visit a marriage license agent in person. All of the main Hawaiian islands have locations that you can set up an appointment and HERE is the list!
You must provide proof that you are 18+ years old with your valid driver’s license or passport.
You must complete the application online. Follow this link.
You must pay the $60 application fee and $5 administration fee.
The marriage certificate is valid for only 30 days, so we suggest setting up an appointment several days before your wedding.
EASY RIGHT?! THAT’S IT!
Choosing a Hawaii elopement photographer
We always tell our couples when we get on the phone with them for the first time that they should choose a photographer that they feel completely comfortable with and confident that they will be able to be their most authentic selves. There are so many incredible photographers across the Hawaiian Islands, and each of them has a different approach to how they capture moments throughout the day.
We first recommend discovering the Hawaii photographers that you gravitate toward by browsing through their work. Visit their company website, blogs, sample galleries, and social media posts to get a feel of the consistent colors, tones, and contrast that you see in their images.
Once you get a good feel of the quality of their work and you gravitate towards their photographs, we recommend reading their “About Me” description page and getting a sense of who they are as a person. This is very important.
If you feel a connection with them as a person, we suggest diving into their testimonies and reading what past couples have said about them. We recommend checking out their profiles on The Knot, Wedding Wire, and Google Reviews. This will give you insight into their strengths, and areas that they might need to improve.
THAT’S IT! Once you think that you’ve found the absolute perfect photographer to capture your big day, reach out to them! Most photographers prefer that you fill out their contact form on their website to inquire. This is one of the most important days in your entire life, so have fun. We are so STOKED for you!!