A Hawaiian honeymoon has all the storybook ingredients to make couples swoon: sherbet-colored sunsets, songbird serenades and palm-tree hammocks shimmying in the trade winds. But the island of Maui has more than a few surprises up its aloha-shirted sleeve, with something unique to offer every type of couple, be you food lovers, thrill-seekers or traditional lovebugs.
Maui for decadent foodies
First there are all the local aphrodisiacs: you’ll want to try oyster shooters at the Honokowai Fish Market near Kaʻanapali, dragon fruit plucked straight from the lush forests off the fabled Hana Highway or a dark chocolate bar provocatively scented with Aliʻi Kula lavender grown on the cool slopes of Haleakalā.
Take your Maui foodie experience upcountry to the island’s own winery at ʻUlupalakua Ranch, where you can sip on sweet vintages made from Maui-grown grapes and pineapples. There, you can toast to the island and your commitment to each other amid blooming jacaranda trees and sweeping views.
After that, any foodie couple worth their lava salt will definitely want to try the island’s uniquely sweet onions, a direct result of Maui’s rich-red volcanic soil. After all, nothing says ’I love you’ more than still wanting to kiss your main squeeze even after you both have onion breath, right? So pile as many as you can on top of an ʻUlupalakua beef burger with a side of Maui potato chips (we’re talking the real deal, not the 'Maui-style' imitations you see in your hometown grocery store). Finish your meal with a kiss and a Mauicello (think limoncello, but made with Maui-grown lemons and local sugar), and you’ll have an only-in-Maui foodie experience fit for the lovebird gods.
For a knockout special occasion meal (after all, it is your honeymoon), splurge on an evening at Lahaina Grill. Regarded as one of Maui’s best restaurants, Lahaina Grill is renowned for its use of fresh local ingredients, which are given innovative twists and presented in stunning style. Seafood standouts include the Maui onion seared ahi with vanilla-been jasmine rice, and Big Island prawns in roasted Kula corn salsa. Top off your romantic evening with the swoon-worthy triple berry pie.
Maui for free-spirited adventurers
Your time in Maui can easily be tailored for maximum heart-fluttering thrills. Take Haleakalā, for example. Pair up with a local tour operator, such as Haleakalā Bike Company, to embark on one of the planet’s longest all-downhill bike tours. You’ll start at the top, where you’ll watch the sunrise amid a lunar-like landscape before being driven to down to the park entrance to start your ride. As the day dawns spectacularly over the entire Hawaiian island, you’ll go through several eco-systems while coasting down steep volcanic slopes. As you and your honey pedal side-by-side, be on the lookout for the otherworldly Haleakalā silversword plant, along with the nene bird – the rarest goose in the world.
If that’s too earth-bound for you, take your love to new heights during a tandem parasail ride with West Maui Parasail, which allows you to soar with your sweetie above the waves, perhaps catching a glimpse of a leaping spinner dolphin beneath you (note that parasailing isn’t available during whale-watching season, when motor boats may scare the whales from shore). While in the air, or even from land, you may notice the green outlines of nearby islands Lanai and Molokai emerging from the water. If it takes your fancy, you can pick up the inter-island ferry at Lahaina Harbor to experience either of these two islands first-hand.
Somewhere between earth, sea and sky, you can zoom your way down the mountains while shouting your love from above the treetops on a zip-line adventure. If you go with the Piiholo Ranch Zipline, you and your better half can ride the side-by-side ziplines over lush valleys and gulches while taking in breathtaking ocean and mountain views.
Maui for hopeless romantics
Perhaps, however, you’re more the type of couple to steal kisses beneath a poolside lanai while sipping mai tais and playing footsie. If so, Maui has much to indulge your classic romantic fantasies. Like all Hawaiian islands, you’ll find plenty of spas offering steamy treatments for two, but be on the lookout for Maui surprises on the spa menu, including scrubs made from Maui coconuts or locally-made papaya enzymes that leave your skin feeling fresh and imminently touchable.
Feeling all loose and limber, you’ll be primed and ready for a horseback tour with Piiholo Ranch. You’ll ride with real paniolo (cowboys) across the open range of this cattle ranch, which has been worked by the same family for six generations. Stunning views take in mountains, valleys and pastures, and stretch from Haleakala volcano to the sparkling Pacific Ocean below.
When evening starts settling in, the trade winds begin dying down and Maui’s waters become calmer. Cue the curtain for the island’s legendary sunsets. Head to the harbor in the historic town of Lahaina where among the sunset-sail outfitters you can choose whatever floats your boat, from catamaran to luxury yacht. As the sun slips below the horizon and sparks off the famous green flash, you can feed each other nibbles of fruit and clink glasses overflowing with rum punch.
Of course, nothing is more hopelessly romantic than dancing, even if you can’t get all the moves exactly right. Deck yourself in plumeria leis and arrange for a private hula lesson or join in a group class. Many Wailea and Kaʻanapali hotels offer classes on-site where you can learn to shake those hips to the sounds of the slack-key guitar, a skill you can bring with you back home.
This article was published in May 2013 and republished in May 2014.