Big Island Elopement Guide

Big Island Elopement Guide

Everything you need to know about planning your adventure elopement on the Big Island!

The Big Island of Hawaii is an incredible tropical paradise with 11 of the 13 climate zones in the entire world on this one island. As you drive around the island, you feel as if you’re visiting a different country every 50 miles! It’s has the tallest mountain in the world call Mauna Kea, the largest mountain in the world called Mauna Loa, and the most active volcano in the world call Kilauea. Every city on the island feels quant with no buildings taller than the nearest coconut tree! It’s one of the most requested islands to have a unique adventure elopement experience in Hawaii!

Your Big Island Elopement Checklist

Your Big Island Elopement Checklist

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Find Your Big island Elopement Photographer

We highly recommend finding a photographer first to make sure that he or she is available during the timeframe that you plan to elope in Hawaii. We recommend choosing a photographer that you feel relaxed and confident that you’ll be able to be your natural selves. Every photographer has a different approach to how they capture moments throughout the day, so we think that it’s a good idea to ask how the photographer will guide you throughout the entire experience.

Our photography style is documentary focused to create a safe space for you and your other half to share authentic moments on your wedding day. We create a balance of guiding you if we have a specific vision for a shot, and allowing you both to melt into a private moment or experience. Our goal is to make you feel as if you’re adventuring with good friends that happen to take epic photos as we explore together!

Choosing the Best Time of Year to Visit Big Island

We often have couples ask us the best time of year to visit Big Island. Honestly, we think that ANY month of the year is an incredible time to visit! The temperatures do not change very much through the year, and different regions of the island get slightly more rainfall in certain months.

What we love most about Hawaii are the numerous micro-climates throughout each island! There are areas that get 200 inches of rain each year and other regions that only get 10 inches of rain. We will always have a inclement weather backup plan to ensure that you’ll be able to have a smooth elopement experience!

Decide Where To Stay on Big Island

When choosing the area that you would like to stay, it’s very important to take into consideration the region that you are deciding to elope. Most of our couples do not book any accommodation until they have confirmed their elopement timeline that we have created for them. This will ensure that you will not need to drive across the island for your elopement!

We also recommend booking accommodation in two different parts of the island to experience two very unique areas. While the western side of the island has beautiful golden beaches, vibrant blue ocean conditions, and sunny weather; the eastern side of the island will have a completely different feel with towering waterfalls, tropical jungles, and dramatic coastlines.

Book other wedding services

We will provide a detailed island guide (over 100 pages!) immediately after booking with us! The elopement guide will have our recommendations from years of visiting each of the Hawaiian Islands. We’ve worked with many wedding vendors that we highly recommend, which helps speed up your research process and allows you to book whichever vendor that you connect with the most.

We do not recommend booking an all-in-one elopement package because it doesn’t allow you to have options. We’ll share recommendations for videographers, officiants, florists, hair + makeup artists, musicians, and specialty bakeries.

How to Find Your Wedding Attire

We love adventurous elopements because there is often a good amount of ideas to play with! Definitely keep that in mind when looking for a dress. Flowy skirts and dresses look amazing with our type of movement based photography style.

If you prefer a hiking elopement, the best idea is to pack your dress away in a backpack and change when we get to the ceremony spot. We recommend considering a lightweight gown style dress and avoid heavy materials like corsets with boning or huge amounts of tulle in a puffy skirt.

But more than anything else – it is most important that you feel absolutely beautiful, comfortable, and happy. There are no rules. Whatever you love, that best fits “you” and who you are will be perfect.

How to Apply for a Marriage License on Big Island

Now that you’ve chosen to elope on Big Island, you’ve found your photographer, booked your accommodation, and confirmed the place that you want to elope, it’s now time to apply for your marriage license! Below is your To-Do List:

  1. Here is the list to find a marriage agent on Big Island.

  2. You must show your driver’s license to show proof that you’re over 18 years old.

  3. Click on this link to fill out the marriage application.

  4. The application fee is $60 with a $5 administration fee.

  5. We suggest setting up an appointment a few days before your elopement date.

Best Places to Stay For Your Big Island Elopement

Best Places to Stay For Your Big Island Elopement

Our Top 5 Unique Accommodations on Big Island

Dreamy Tropical Treehouse in Volcano

This treehouse in the middle of the lush rainforest of the Big Island is the romantic getaway you’ve been dreaming of for your honeymoon. This accommodation is built from bamboo, has gorgeous minimalist design touches, and the gorgeous windows inside give you the feeling that you’re immersed in nature. The best part about this treehouse is that you’re only 10 minutes away from Volcanoes National Park!

Amazing Tiny Home on a Lava Field

Located at the edge of the island in Kalapana, this is by far one of our favorite accommodations on the Big Island. We’ve stayed here twice because we love it so much. The style and design of this tiny home are simplistic, yet cleverly artistic and functional (even for a family of four!) The two separate structures that are connected by a gorgeous deck make it feel spacier than a tiny home but still provides for such a unique and intimate accommodation. Our favorite part of this tiny home was eating, reading, and playing cards on the expansive deck. The perfect amount of breeze passed through to keep us cool despite being in the middle of a lava field. We 10/10 recommend this location if you are eloping on this side of the island.

Tropical Retreat on Organic Mango Farm

Located in Captain Cook, you have immediate access to Kealakekua Bay (one of our favorite snorkeling spots on the island) when staying at this tropical retreat. This accommodation is really neat in that it blends indoor, outdoor living while being surrounded by the lush tropical flora of this area of the island. Although most of the space is open-air, the bedroom and kitchen are enclosed. The aesthetic and design of the space is a mix of modern and Indonesian style.

Eco Friendly Tiny Home in Kona

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Kona but with cooler temperatures, this tiny home would be a great fit! Located up Kaloko Drive, you will find cooler temps and more lush scenery around. This tiny is located on a three-acre property alongside other units (in case you bring some family and friends along). The natural wood interior creates such a cozy feel atmosphere inside. They also provide a community area for fires and grilling out.

Hawi Garden Cottage

We love that this spacious and modern cottage still has the tropical Hawaii charm and is nestled just minutes from Hawi town. This Airbnb is perfect if you are having a sunrise elopement near Pololu Valley! This accommodation is everything you need with one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, laundry, and a large lanai to eat all of your meals and spend your morning reading a good book!

Best Activities on Big Island for your elopement

Best Activities on Big Island for your elopement

Top 5 Activities on Big Island

Book a Private Helicopter Tour

Paradise Helicopters on the Big Island offers exclusive charters for couples who want to adventure on their wedding day! Honestly, there are so many incredible landscapes to explore all through this island, and flying in a private charter makes it possible to see all of them in one day! Imagine seeing waterfalls, valleys, volcanoes, coastlines, black, green, and white sand beaches in your tour! Paradise Helicopter can land on a coffee farm or ranch for you to experience a private tour of the place. You could go paddleboarding or zip-lining through the rainforest. If you want a nice lunch, they can descend to one of their private landings and set up a luxury picnic overlooking waterfalls and the incredible valleys.

Zip Line Through the Jungle

Kohala Zipline has two different tours to choose from Kohala Canopy Adventure Tour and the Kohala Zip and Dip. The major difference between these two tours is the amount of time you spend on the tour. The Kohala Canopy Adventure Tour lasts about 3 hours, and you spend that time ziplining all throughout the forest. With the Kohala Zip and Dip Tour, it is a more extensive 8-hour experience that takes you to a hidden waterfall that you can swim in!

Mountain Bike Through the Hills of Waimea

This tour is unique because there aren’t a plethora of places to mountain bike on the islands! Anna’s Ranch is a National Historic Site and ranch with over 110 acres and beautiful green, rolling hills all around you. Located right in Waimea, you will have incredible views of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai. Another cool aspect of this tour is that you will learn some cultural history and a brief overview of Anna’s legacy here on the Big Island of Kohala mountain.

Go Horseback Riding in Kohala

Paniolo Adventures offers tours ranging from the morning, afternoon, and even into the sunset. Located up Kohala Mountain Road, you will experience an enjoyable ride at 3,000 elevations with cooler temperatures. Their tours range from beginner to advanced levels of comfortability, so you can choose which ride will be best suited for you.

Stargaze up on Mauna Kea

If you don’t want to go on a full stargazing tour, you do have the option of renting a 4×4 vehicle to get to the summit of Mauna Kea to watch the sunset from above the clouds. Make sure to pack layers and blankets for your adventure because it definitely gets cold! Once you’ve watched the sunset, you can make your way down to the visitors center where they offer a free stargazing program on some days of the week. This would also be a perfect way to end your night with stargazing shots! 


Best Beaches on Big Island For Your Elopement Ceremony

Best Beaches on Big Island For Your Elopement Ceremony

Top 5 Beaches to get married on Big Island

Mauna Kea Beach

The Mauna Kea Beach is one of the most famous beaches on the island, and actually has the very first Big Island hotel. At the time when it opened in 1965, it was named one of the top 3 resorts in the entire world! The crescent bay has beautiful golden sand with bright blue water. There are coconut trees that line the beach which creates a tropical paradise vibe! We recommend arriving to this location before any other tourists arrive and having a sunrise ceremony with a beach all to yourselves!

Makaiwa Bay Beach

Makaiwa Bay Beach is a slice of heaven along the Kohala Golden Coast. This location usually has perfect sunny weather, which only gets 9 inches of rain in the entire year! The beach is great for a sunset ceremony and perfect for getting “trash the dress” photos because the water is protected by the reef. You can then enjoy your elopement dinner celebrating at Napua Restaurant beside the beach.

Kikaua Point Beach

Kikaua Point Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches that is close to Kailua-Kona. It’s just north of the airport in a region called Kukio, which is where the Four Seasons Resort is located. This beach is known for pods of spinner dolphins frequently visiting and humpback whales cruising along the bay during peak season from January to March. Kikaua Point is perfect for couples that are looking for a large amount of coconut trees in their photographs.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is located in one of the most isolated locations on the Big Island, but it’s worth the drive! The beach has jetblack volcanic sand with many large sea turtles relaxing beside the ocean. We love this location because the pond beside the beach has thousands of lily pads and bright pink lotus flowers. We recommend choosing to get married during the sunrise time frame because this beach can be very busy in the afternoon and sunset. Definitely check out all of the unique Airbnb locations near Volcano National Park!

Honoli’i Beach

If you’re staying in Hilo, this is a great option for a jungle ceremony location! The bay is located north of the city along the coast where the Honoli’i Stream meets the ocean. There are tropical bluff cliffs that line the mouth of the river and the waves are typically large! This is a popular surf location if you’re interested in riding some waves after your wedding ceremony!

The Best Hikes on Big Island for an adventure elopement

The Best Hikes on Big Island for an adventure elopement

Top 5 Hikes on Big Island

Mauna Loa Trail

Hiking on Mauna Loa volcano is an experience that is truly out of this world! There are two different access points to choose from. If you’re interested in a multi-day experience, we recommend starting on the east side of the island in Volcano National Park and hiking your first day to Red Hill Cabin. You’ll be able to sleep the night in the cabin and then hike the following day to the top. The summit is 13,677 feet with a six-mile wide caldera! There’s a cabin that you can stay in that is first-come, first served. Another opportunity to see the summit is to start at the Mauna Loa Observatory and hike to the summit within just a few hours.

Kilauea Iki Trail

Kilauea Iki Trail in Volcano National Park is another hike that makes you feel as if you were walking on Mars. We love that this hike is so diverse! You will start out walking along the rim of a large crater within a fern jungle forest. The trail is well maintained and so many birds are peacefully chirping through the trees. Once you begin the descent down into the crater, you’ll then see a landscape that is out of this world! There’s steam flowing from vents in the lava rock and ohi’a trees growing out of the small cracks in the ground. Some of the lava rock formations have purple, red, and magenta hues. It’s truly one of our favorite hikes on the island!

Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a Cone Trail

This hike is very unique to the Big Island and is within a short drive of Kailua-Kona. It’s the largest cinder cone on the entire island and the vegetation is absolutely stunning! The furrows help retain moisture and promote plant growth, which is why the cinder cone has a vibrant lime green color! When standing at the top of the hill, you’ll be able to have unobstructed views of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hualalai, and the Kona Coast. The view from the top is incredible! We recommend bringing lots of water because it’s an 8-mile round trip hike to the top and back to the parking area. We highly recommend it!

Kalopa State Recreation Area

Kalopa State Recreation Area is a hidden gem located on the Hamakua Coast near the town of Honoka’a. The park is located at 2,000 feet elevation, which keeps the temperatures cool throughout the entire day. There are many rare plants and trees that are native to the island. We really enjoy walking along the nature trail which is a 0.7-mile loop throughout the incredible forest.

Muliwai Trail to Waimanu Valley

The trail to Waimanu Valley is one of our favorites in all of Hawaii! It’s a very challenging climb that starts out with a 1,200-feet ascent to the top of a plateau. From there, you will cross twelve gulches, and finally, you descend another 1,200 feet into Waimanu Valley. We have seen hikers complete this in a day, but we highly recommend getting camping permits and spending at least two nights in the valley. Only experienced hikers in good physical condition should attempt this hike because it’s minimally maintained and is truly one of the most challenging hikes in Hawaii. We highly recommend it if you’re looking to go off the beaten path and experience one of the most beautiful landscapes in Hawaii! 

Best places to enjoy dinner to celebrate your elopement

Best places to enjoy dinner to celebrate your elopement

Top 5 Dining experiences to on your wedding day

Hire A Private Chef to Cook at Your Airbnb

We love the idea of hiring a private chef to prepare a meal for you at your accommodation! This dinner experience is ideal for couples that absolutely love the place they booked, and would prefer to go back to their cozy Airbnb and have a private chef prepare your wedding dinner for you. Noah Hester is the chef and brains behind Puako Provisions. This catering service mixes Southern hospitality with the aloha spirit. Noah was recently named one of the top ‘Best Chefs’ in America, so you know the cuisine that he serves is going to be top-notch!

Luxury Picnic on the Beach

I can’t imagine anything more perfect than a beach picnic after a full morning of adventuring! Hawaii Island Picnics and Provisions (also known as HIPP) is a boutique catering and experience company that crafts beautifully crafted gatherings. They can provide grazing boards and tables, platters, luxury picnics, and curated gift baskets. This would be so perfect for a picnic lunch on the beach!

Private Beach Dinner Under the Stars

This is a popular option for couples that prefer to get married at sunset and want to enjoy a private meal beside the ocean. We have worked with restaurants and resorts that offer a “Dinner Under the Stars” private dining option with a table surrounded by tiki torches in a secluded location on the property. You will be able to discuss meal options with the restaurant manager so that you can pre-order all of the courses that you would like to enjoy for dinner! The Fairmont Orchid has an amazing option for a private dinner right next to the ocean!

Order Room Service on Your Oceanfront Balcony

Ordering room service at a resort in Maui is actually an excellent option for a romantic private dinner on your hotel room balcony. Many of the meal options are similar to the fine dining restaurants available at your hotel property. This is a wonderful option if you prefer to have your elopement photographer capture dinner moments in a private and comfortable location. The hotel staff will be able to set up a dinner table on your balcony with proper linens, wine or champagne, and all of the delicious courses that you decide to order! 

Private Dinner at Brown's Beach House

Brown’s Beach House is a AAA Full Diamond restaurant that is known for its delicious cuisine that highlights simple flavors, locally grown produce, and amazing fresh seafood. Brown’s Beach House is located along the Kohala Coast at the Fairmont Orchid. We recommend asking the restaurant manager to set up a private dinner away from other guests in the restaurant. This will allow us the opportunity to capture the special moments of your dinner celebration, while also giving you space and privacy during your meal.