Honeymoon Guide: Big Island

Continued (page 3 of 5)

WHERE TO STAY

SHERATON KEAUHOU BAY RESORT & SPA
78-128 Ehukai St.
Kailua-Kona
Tel: 808-930-4900, 866-716-8109

If you want to be close to the action in Kailua-Kona, this big hotel on a rocky lava point just south of downtown is the place. A once-faded 1970s resort, it has achieved a stunning comeback with a recent $70 million makeover. The 521 huge rooms have a clean, modern look and color schemes that echo the mountain and sea views. The white wedding chapel by the water is as romantic as can be. The gargantuan swimming pool spreads across the grounds, adorned with tropical gardens, gurgling waterfalls, hooded beach chairs for two and the longest water slide on the island. The 10 oceanfront suites are right at Keauhou Bay’s rocky edge, where a fleet of sunset-cruise, whale-watching, charter-fishing and dive boats dock. Manta rays attracted by the hotel lights feed just offshore at night, and you can snorkel among them. The Sheraton butts up against the Kona Country Club, with a fine golf course.

HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive
Waikoloa
Tel: 808-886-1234,888-488-3535
wedding information: weddings@hiltonwaikoloavillage.com

Even couples with five-minute attention spans won't run out of things to do at the Waikoloa. Not only does it have the coolest variety of swimming pools on the island (including one where you can swim with dolphins), it’s also got Anaehoomalu Bay (a 20-minute walk or a free shuttle ride away), the best spot on the coast for sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boating and water. Onshore are basketball courts, a tennis stadium, two championship golf courses, a seaside putting green, a fitness center, a huge spa, a mile-long "art walk," waterfalls, water slides, nine restaurants and a Polynesian luau and stage production. The 1,240 rooms are standard-issue, but the 57 suites are considerably more elegant and two to six times as spacious. The 62-acre resort covers so much ground that guests get around via trams and boats. Sprawling and action-packed? For sure. Intimate and family-free? Not so much.

FOUR SEASONS HUALALAI AT HISTORIC HA'UPULEHU
72-100 Kaupulehu Drive
Kohala Coast
Tel: 808-325-8000

Sleepy, secluded and ultraposh, the Four Seasons exudes the easy comfort and grace of Hawaii’s golden age. The 243 big bungalow-style rooms and suites—especially the ones with ocean views and open-air showers—make for a picture-perfect honeymoon hideaway; they’re so plush and comfortable you may not want to leave. But if you do feel like sipping lilikoi and lemon cocktails poolside, you have six pools to choose from, including a saltwater pond cut into the lava and filled with schools of tropical fish and eagle rays. The truly motivated can take advantage of the Jack Nicklaus golf course, the award-winning sports club, the tennis courts or the rock-climbing wall—and then power down with side-by-side lomi lomi massages in the couples massage hale.

KONA VILLAGE
Queen Kaahumanu Highway
Kohala Coast
Tel: 808-325-5555, 800-367-5290

Imagine a carefree Polynesian village inhabited by barefoot billionaires, along with some endangered green sea turtles. That's what you're likely to find at this exclusive, exceptionally laid-back beachside retreat. The 125 thatched-roof bungalows are perfect for couples who truly want to get away from it all. There’s no AC—the bungalows are cooled only by the trade winds and ceiling fans—or TV, and if you want to find a phone, you'll have to go to the office. Guests gladly give up their laptops for long afternoons with bamboo fishing poles, blissful naps in extra-wide hammocks slung between palm trees, moon-dappled canoe rides and dining by tiki torch. May and September are kid-free months.

HAPUNA BEACH PRINCE HOTEL
62-100 Kaunaoa Drive
Kohala Coast
Tel: 808-880-1111, 888-977-4623

Couples who crave the waves will be totally stoked at this luxurious 350-room resort fronting Hapuna Beach, the best bodysurfing and bodyboarding beach on the island. The rooms are large, with luxurious island contemporary decor and ocean views (especially expansive in the 36 oceanfront suites). The half-mile-long white stretch of sand gets small, frolic-friendly waves in the summer. In the winter, the surf gets big and gnarly—potentially deadly to play in but thrilling to see. Year-round you can find private spots along the broad swath of beach for sunset viewing and stargazing afterward. If you ever decide to wander in off the beach, the Prince has a world-class salon and spa, a famous golf course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, an ancient Hawaiian coastal trail to hike and six top-notch restaurants.

PALMS CLIFF HOUSE INN
28-3514 Mamalahoa Highway
Honomu
Tel: 808-963-6076, 866-963-6076

Perched atop a sea cliff on the wild windward side of the island, this elegant Victorian-style inn resembles the plantation homes of Hawaii’s 19th-century sugar barons. Couples seeking solitude will love the intimate scale of the place—just eight guest rooms, all with oceanfront lanais and sumptuous beds covered with pillows, bolsters and Italian lace sheets. After a gourmet breakfast on the wraparound lanai, take off to explore funky old Hilo town and watch rainbows in the mist at Akaka Falls. Or stick around for yoga classes and spa treatments.

KILAUEA LODGE
19-3948 Old Volcano Rd.
Volcano Village
Tel: 808-967-7366

Maybe an old YMCA camp isn’t where you want to spend your entire honeymoon, but as a base for expeditions to the volcano, this wooded 10-acre hideaway on the doorstep of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can’t be beat. The dozen rooms and pair of cottages are equal parts hokey-hula, Granny’s house and upscale country inn—they're all quite comfortable, and some even qualify as romantic. Evenings are cool in the high-mountain rain forest, which make the fireplaces in some units and the hot-tub pavilion mighty appealing. The friendly proprietor serves up gourmet meals in the outstanding on-site restaurant, which is worth a visit whether you’re staying the night or not.

WAIANUHEA
45-3503 Kahana Drive
Honokaa
Tel: 808-775-1118, 888-775-2577

Going off the grid usually implies some degree of sacrifice—but not at this self-sustaining and utterly luxurious B&B on a sprawling mountain estate on the cool green side of the island. Sun-tracking solar panels power the Tiffany lamps, DVD players and flat-screen TVs; and satellite dishes ensure CNN and high-speed Internet. Elegant yet playful, Waianuhea has been described as "de Kooning does Martha Stewart" and "Gaudí meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse." There are 55 shades of paint on the walls, polished laminate floors, glass balloons hanging from the ceiling, tiki torches and stone statuary around the grounds and plush beds with rain-forest views in all five guest rooms—plus gourmet breakfasts and afternoon wine tastings.

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