Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox
Home > Ports > Hawaii > Honolulu
Beyond the Sea: Port Mini-Breaks
Families | Couples | Seniors
Honolulu: Couples

Why You Need to Spend Three Days Here: Swaying palms, brilliant sunsets, colorful flowers, golden beaches, waterfalls and a big, bright tropical moon. It's Hawaii, where all those romantic images come to real life! Need we say more?

Tip: If you're planning to do a lot of sightseeing, you may want to consider purchasing a Power Pass card, good for one, two, three or five days. The card entitles you to free admission and special offers at a number of Honolulu's most popular attractions.

Show and Tell: Horse-drawn carriage ride through Waikiki with Honolulu Horse and Carriage; dinner cruise off Waikiki aboard Navatek I or Star of Honolulu; sunset cocktails at the Halekulani's House Without a Key with live music and hula by Kanoe Miller (weekdays) or Debbie Nakanelua (weekends), two former Miss Hawaiis; snuggling on the lawn at a Waikiki Shell concert; tandem ocean kayaking off Kailua and Lanikai Beaches with Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks or Twogood Kayaks & Canoes; afternoon tea at the Banyan Veranda, Sheraton Moana Surfrider; fine dining at Alan Wong's, Chef Mavro, La Mer, Hoku's, Padovani's, Michel's, Hau Tree Lanai, Hy's, Nick's Fishmarket, Sarento's Top of the I, Aaron's, Mariposa, Chai's Island Bistro, Sansei, Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, Indigo, Ruth's Chris, Morton's or 3660 on the Rise, to name a few.

Amazing Freebies Worth Pursuing: Sharing a great view of Honolulu Harbor from the observation deck at the 10-story Aloha Tower; hiking on Tantalus, to Manoa Falls or along the Maunawili Trail; watching University of Hawaii-Manoa architecture students build incredible sandcastles at Kailua Beach in mid-February, then building your own; browsing at a craft fair at Ala Moana Beach Park or Thomas Square; strolling through Kapiolani Park.

Home Away from Home
Being pampered is part of being romanced, and the Halekulani in Waikiki has set the bar high in Hawaii. Consider the Vera Wang Suite, an elegant, 2,135-square-foot retreat designed by the renowned fashion and jewelry designer herself. It comes with exclusive use of a private pool cabana and butler service. Other items of note: La Mer, where tuxedo-clad servers present gourmet French cuisine, is the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Hawaii; the "For You, Everything" program provides complimentary tickets to Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Contemporary Museum and Honolulu Symphony concerts; and upon arrival, all guests receive a tray of island fruits and luscious chocolates, handmade on the premises.

Located in Kahala, Oahu's most prestigious residential area, the AAA Five Diamond Kahala Hotel & Resort also entices lovers. Dine in private cabanas at Cabanas; engage in an interactive session with the hotel's six resident bottlenose dolphins; and reserve the couple suite at the Spa Suites so you and your amour can enjoy treatments at the same time (each Spa Suite is a private space that includes a changing area, shower, infinity-edge bath and an outside relaxing area).

The Waikiki Joy is a few blocks from the beach, but couples may not mind this at all. In addition to being in a pretty, intimate setting, each of this hotel's 94 rooms has a Jacuzzi bathtub and top-of-the-line Bose stereo system. There's a karaoke studio on site so you can serenade your Romeo or Juliet till the wee hours of the morning. Pick some romantic movies at Blockbuster and watch them in the privacy of your room (the hotel rents VCRs and DVD players). Wake up with a complimentary Continental breakfast every morning of your stay.

Day One: Beach Hop
You can't vacation in Honolulu without spending time at the beach, so why not make a whole day of it? Begin with breakfast in Waikiki. Either bring coffee and pastries to your favorite sun-warmed strand of sand or settle at a prime table at the oceanfront Hau Tree Lanai (New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel), Surf Lanai Restaurant(The Royal Hawaiian), Duke's (Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach) or the Shore Bird (Outrigger Reef on the Beach).

After breakfast, take a leisurely drive to Waimanalo Beach Park. Swim, sun, snorkel and then share a picnic lunch. The massive mixed plate from Keneke's can easily feed both of you; afterward, go back to Keneke's and treat yourselves to rainbow shave ices with ice cream. From Waimanalo, cruise to Kailua Beach. Rent a kayak or sailboard from Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks and spend a few hours playing in the waves before savoring the ocean view and a take-out supper from Buzz's Original Steak House across the street.

Day Two: A Day for Indulgences
Wake up late to brunch in bed -- fresh fruit; Belgian waffles with macadamia nuts, whipped cream and plenty of coconut syrup; three-egg omelettes stuffed with the works; steak and hash browns -- whatever your hearts desire. From there, head for the spa ... both of you! Guys, this isn't sissy stuff. Even the most macho of you won't pooh-pooh the magic of a massage once you've had one. All the big hotels in Waikiki offer world-class spa facilities and treatments.

For instance, at Mandara Spa at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, the decadent Exploration in Chocolate begins with a side-by-side massage in a deluxe twin spa suite (you'll each have your own therapist). After the massage, the therapists apply a body scrub made of sugar, macadamia nuts, macadamia nut oil and unsweeted dark chocolate that's good enough to eat. You'll then be left alone for over an hour to play with the remaining chocolate macadamia nut scrub. Listen to music, soak in the private Jacuzzi tub on the lanai, sip tea -- it's the ultimate quiet time a deux.

Return to your hotel room for a nap (or not), and then you'll be ready for a Five-Star dinner cruise aboard the Star of Honolulu. It's an experience you'll find is aptly named; the service, food and view are all top-notch.

Day Three: Live the Magic
You're on a romantic getaway in Hawaii, so make the most of it! Wear a fresh flower lei all day -- both of you! The vendors in Chinatown have the best selections and prices, and you'll also love browsing together in shops that are filled with exotic wares, from gorgeous silk cheongsams to jade and cloisonne jewelry to strange herbal concoctions said to cure everything from colds to constipation. Wandering through the open markets is a real adventure; catching your eye are rows of fresh fish on ice, brightly colored produce, and piping hot shoyu chicken and chunks of char siu.

Next, board TheBus to Ala Moana Center where you can part for an hour to select a made-in-Hawaii gift for your sweetheart (check out Martin & MacArthur, Hawaiian Quilt Collection, The Islands' Best and Hilo Hattie). Meet at Makai Market where you can open your special surprise while you nibble on a treat -- will it be a malasada (Portuguese doughnut), muffin, haupia (coconut pudding), sweet rice cake, butter mochi, gin doi (Chinese doughnut) or fresh baked chocolate chip cookie? Then head back to Waikiki.

By now, it'll be late afternoon -- the perfect time for a stroll on the beach. Kick off your shoes, hold hands and as the sun sets, kiss every time you come to a palm tree. Be ready: They're everywhere!

--by Honolulu-based Cheryl Tsutsumi, who writes "Hawaii's Backyard," a weekly column for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. She's also written seven books about Hawaii, the most recent of which, "Hanauma Bay: Hawaii's Coastal Treasure", was just released by Island Heritage Publishing.
For more details, go to our mini-break toolbox
About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.