When I got married a few years ago, we had a teensy ceremony without guests or a reception so we could instead spend our hard-earned dough on a honeymoon versus one hugely overpriced day. Don’t get me wrong. I love a nice big, gorgeous wedding. I was the editor-in-chief of a wedding magazine for many years and my roots run deep. But for my husband and I, our happy place is Maui and all we wanted was to get hitched, jump on a plane and hang someplace relaxing and super easy for two sunshiny weeks. The destination was a no-brainer—but choosing a resort? Not so much. So, we decided that a few days at four different hotels was not crazy, but kind of cool. This way we could roam the island of Maui to experience a variety of options, and if you’re a diehard hotel addict yourself, well then, you get it.
Here’s where we stayed—all unique hotel choices sure to suit your own taste, budget and travel style.
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas Ka’anapali
You know, sometimes you just want your own kitchen. Even if that’s just to make breakfasts simpler and less caloric (i.e., heavy hotel buffets), or to have cold Bikini Blonde lagers in the fridge when you return from the beach or grill up some mahi mahi on one of the shared outdoor BBQs. This all-villa resort features guest rooms with pleasant décor and those incredible Westin Heavenly Beds. Our villa had a beach view right on North Ka’anapali beach. If you like the idea of staying in your own condo, but with all the usual amenities of a resort, this is a great choice. We loved our seaside boardwalk strolls that snake through restaurants, tiki bars and shops all located in this very walkable area. Black Rock beach is where you’ll want to rent snorkel gear for a simple toddle right off from the sand and into your own lagoon aquarium. Watch the cliff divers here, too, or try it yourself if you dare.
Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Often ranked as one of the best hotels in the U.S. and the world, this luxury property is paradise just a short ferry ride away from Maui to the tiny island of Lanai. Splurgey? Sure, but if it’s a bucket list kind of honeymoon you’re after then, well, come to mama. The resort’s low-rise buildings on the coastline seem beautifully buried in lush botanical gardens with koi ponds and tropical birds, creating the dreamy atmosphere you can expect, and guest rooms with chic, modern Hawaiian decor. Sit at the bar one evening at Nobu Lanai for world-class sushi and celeb-spotting, and tackle 18 holes at Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course with Hawaiian music gently playing in your golf cart. Definitely jump in a Jeep rental arranged by the hotel for some rugged off-road exploring to Shipwreck beach. And who cares how cliché a sunset sail is? Just do it. In all that romantic golden glow on the sea with a glass of bubbly in your hand and the breeze at your back, you’ll remember why you got married. Sigh…
Wailea Beach Resort–Marriott, Maui
We’re back in Maui, but this time on upscale Wailea beach. This lovely resort has made a clear, friendly division between the families that stay there and honeymooners like us. That works well for everyone. Separate pool areas and locations far enough apart that no frustrated sighs and stares from grownups need ruin any shrieking children’s fun. Speaking of pools, treat yourselves to renting a private floating cabana for the day, located over the adults-only infinity pool that faces out over the Pacific. Mai Tais, nice music, a great novel and some needed shade are the essentials for spending a lazy day. Just slip off your lounger into the cooling pool whenever the mood hits. And if you have pooh-poohed checking out a luau as just ‘too touristy,” give the resort’s Te Au Moana luau a chance to change your mind with its talented team of musicians, dancers and delicious Island cuisine like Kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon and more.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
This five-star resort situated on the rugged Kapalua coast is very special with its on-staff cultural advisors, environmental programs and nearby spiritual sacred grounds. Start the day with a meditative walk on a labyrinth perched on a cliff or get in a round at the world-class Plantation Course, which hosts the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. The spa is worth a visit, especially with its soul-soothing offerings of ancient Hawaiian treatments, plus dinner at the Banyan Tree is essential. At some point, be sure and relax in the open-air lobby lounge sipping a cocktail while you oversee the pool action from above, then stroll through the boutiques, stopping to pick up an Archipelago Botanicals scented candle named after the resort itself. Make note if you’re planning your own honeymoon, this resort is host hotel for some events you may want to enjoy, like the Kapalua Food and Wine Festival.
Hero image courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua