Travel expert Ann Petronio designs the perfect itinerary for this honeymoon favorite.By Stacey Marcus
A decade ago Ann Petronio left her advertising and marketing career to follow her passion and explore the world of travel. After enjoying an apprenticeship at a storefront in Rhode Island, she launched Annie’s Escapes, a custom travel planning business. “I wanted to help couples and families plan custom trips that fit their interests, needs and budget,” she says.
Honeymooners are a special group to the travel planner. “It is usually the first point in a couple’s life when they need some help putting together a customized trip. They want to ensure that the trip goes off without a hitch and that it is truly the experience they want it to be,” says Petronio, who travels to Europe and the Caribbean at least once a year to check out new resorts. She also reads trade publications and works with trusted suppliers and partners around the world to deliver the most up-to-date travel information to her clients.
Although every client has his or her own dream trip, when pressed to pick a dream honeymoon, Petronio chose Hawaii and visits to Oahu, Maui and Kauai as her top choice.
On Oahu, she suggests staying at the Royal Hawaiian Resort, a historic Waikiki landmark with lots of charm and character. While you’re in Honolulu, she says there is a lot to see and do. “You can easily spend most of a day at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona. Use another afternoon to rent a car and head up to the North Shore—watch the surfers, have lunch at the gorgeous Turtle Bay resort, stop for a shave ice in Haleiwa and stick around to watch the sun go down at Sunset Beach,” she suggests.
With the rest of your free time, you can take a stand-up paddleboard lesson on Waikiki Beach, go for a hike up Diamond Head, indulge in a hole-in-the-wall food tour or go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. If you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot, she suggests making reservations at sunset at the Halekulani Hotel’s House Without a Key restaurant.
Next stop, our expert says, is a quick (less than an hour) non-stop flight to Maui. “While you’re on the island, you will need a car or jeep so you can get out and explore all that Maui has to offer. Spend a farm-to-table day in Upcountry Maui, visiting the botanical gardens, taking a farm tour in Kula and doing some sampling at the Surfing Goat Dairy and the Ocean Vodka distillery. Spend another full day doing the Road to Hana—but rather than driving it yourself, we can arrange a small group tour that takes you one way by car/driver, with stops for waterfalls, scenic overlooks and a picnic, and then has you return via helicopter for exciting aerial views of the coast. Plan an early morning trip to see the sun rise at Haleakala and then (if you’re feeling adventurous) you can add an exhilarating bike ride down from the volcano and treat yourselves to breakfast in Makawao or Paia afterwards,” says Petronio.
Other activities of note are simply hitting the beach, playing a round of golf, strolling through the historic whaling town of Lahaina, enjoying a traditional luau (the Feast at Lele is most romantic), snorkel with green sea turtles off Maluaka Beach or indulge in a fantastic meal, like a sunset dinner at Mama’s Fish House, followed by a drive up to Kapalua.
After another quick non-stop flight, this time to Kauai, hop in another jeep and head over to the St. Regis Princeville Resort.
While you’re in Kauai, if you can tear yourselves away from your resort, Petronio says you can sail and snorkel along the Na Pali coast (which has dramatic views and fantastic whale watching opportunities in the winter months), go for a hike in Waimea Canyon (or see it from above with an exhilarating helicopter tour), spend an afternoon zip-lining through the rainforest and visit charming little local towns, like Hanalei and Hanapepe. On the south coast, plan a romantic dinner at Red Salt (at the Koa Kea); in the north, have a delicious post-beach dinner at the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant and Fish Market.
For a romantic splurge, reserve a window table at the Kauai Grill (right at your hotel). For a more casual evening, assemble a picnic meal from one of the local farmers markets and make your way to Polihale Beach for a sunset dinner and some stargazing.
Finally, at the end of your Hawaiian honeymoon, you’ll check out and head to Lihue Airport for your overnight flight back home. Aloha!