Honeymoon diary: Hawaii
It was Emily Blunt who first conjured up images of a honeymoon in Hawaii. I was interviewing the actress for the Observer, the newspaper I work for, in rain-soaked London during the early days of her marriage to The Office star John Krasinski. She told me of a place they’d visited that was adventurous yet romantic; bathed in sunshine and swathed in green. It felt a long way from home. It seemed a good place to be in love. Eight months later, Rhys and I were making the epic journey halfway across the world to the garden isle of Kauai.
It seems rude not to touch down at the capital of Honolulu on Oahu, home to Pearl Harbour, and the most visited of the Hawaiian islands. We flew 18 hours via LA (a perfect excuse to go business class) and it would kill Rhys, a keen surfer, not to see one of the most famous breaks in the world: Waikiki.
At the ‘pink palace’, the candy floss-coloured Royal Hawaiian hotel, we look out to sea. The waves are perfect for a beginner surfer like me so we paddle in and I manage to stand up against Waikiki’s backdrop of skyscrapers and palm trees. By day three we’re ready to explore dry land, so we catch a 10-minute bus to Diamond Head – a volcanic crater – and climb its winding trail.
From here to eternity
We also venture to Sandy Bay, where brave locals bodysurf terrifying waves, then meander to Halona Cove, the spot where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr share that unforgettable kiss in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity.
Hoping to be enchanted, we take the scenic road trip to the island’s North Shore. It’s a 12-mile stretch of country and coast that locals prefer to keep a mystery, with one hotel and a single village, Hale’iwa, dotted with surf boutiques and hippy art galleries. We check in to Ke Iki Beach (pictured), and walk from our flora and fauna print-filled bungalow at sunset, along a stretch of the seven-mile miracle – a series of world-class waves. We stop at the Banzai Pipeline, Hawaii’s wildest break and watch the hardcore surfers tackle barrels on dark, brooding waves.
A week into the honeymoon, we take the 30-minute flight to the island of our dreams. Is Kauai what we expected? Totally. I feel like I’m on the set of Jurassic Park (hang on, I am) and the St. Regis Princeville, our home for the next few days, is the ultimate luxury. I eat breakfast on the terrace, marvelling at those grey mountains, while Rhys goes surfing. I enjoy a Lomi Lomi massage, which starts with a Hawaiian chant (from the therapist, not me), then soak up the sun in the poolside jacuzzi.
Over the next two days, we drive 15 minutes to the so-called end of the road, where we hike two miles on the Kalalau Trail, up the almost mythical Na Pali Coast. We dip our toes in and out of the white sand on half a dozen beaches (our favourite is Ke’e, pictured) and stop at Tahiti Nui, the tiki bar featured in The Descendants, starring George Clooney (scenes were also shot at the St. Regis). We listen to a ukelele band and share the gigantic Da Hui, a pineapple and Kalua pork pizza – possibly the best we’ve ever had.
We're sad to leave, but a helicopter tour (bluehawaiian.com) on the way to the south coast makes up for it. We fly over the jungle and into the Waimea Canyon, and even hover through a rainbow. Our new base, 30 minutes from the airport, is the oceanfront boutique Ko’a Kea resort in the ever-sunny Po’ipu. We hit the sack early in anticipation of an 8am boat trip to watch humpback whales (capt-andys.com). It’s like an episode of Blue Planet; a mother and baby come within 100 metres and we watch them flip one, then two tails. No one mentions the ‘S’ word (sharks). But we’ve heard there are a few…
On the final night of our adventure, we raise a toast to Hawaii at Keoki’s over a celebratory hula pie – a thick biscuit base topped with ice-cream, melted chocolate, and whipped cream. As we dive in with two spoons (wedding diet officially over), our fellow punters ask if we’re on honeymoon. Apparently we look sun-kissed, in love or, in the words of one American,“too cute”. <em>American Airlines flies to Honolulu and Kauai via Los Angeles from £660 return including taxes. Flights from Oahu to Kauai from $64 one-way with Hawaiian Airlines. Ke Iki Beach Bungalows, from $145 per night. The St. Regis Princeville from $1100 per night. Ko’a Kea from $369 per night.</em>