The first time I really learned about Hawaii was the first time I saw Lilo & Stitch. I was 9 years old and Hawaii looked like a magical island in the middle of the ocean where people wear hula skirts, volcanos erupt with lava, and luaus happen every night. I had never met anyone who had told me they’d been to Hawaii until Justin mentioned his trip there one day early in our dating years. I said something like “WHAT?!” and then begged him to tell me all about it! Unfortunately he was in second grade when he went to Maui with his parents, so he didn’t remember much of his first time in Hawaii, but little did we know that we would be returning to that island TOGETHER on our honeymoon just a few years later!!
Going to Hawaii for your honeymoon is like something from your wildest dreams. The Hawaiian islands are truly heaven on Earth. Few other places host so much natural beauty, untouched and just waiting for you to soak in. Life is a little slower here on the islands. The sun makes you lazy, the sea breeze cools your face and the cocktails soothe your soul. The flowers around every corner remind you that you’re living in paradise and the shade of the swaying palm trees takes you to another planet. You might as well be on one with how removed you feel from reality. Hawaii is truly the most surreal and heavenly place I’ve ever been and I feel SO lucky to have experienced it with Justin for our honeymoon.
We explored the islands of Oahu and Maui over the course of 11 days and it was perfect!! Even though we were only in Oahu for a few days before checking into our resort in Maui for the week, we saw so much and went on so many adventures all over the island!!! I LOVE Oahu and I could write a book about all my favorite spots here. Instead, I’ll show you pictures and tell you why I love it along the way!! Here’s a peek at what we did in Oahu!!!
Our plane landed at Honolulu International Airport and we hopped in our rental car and drove the 25 minutes or so to our bungalow on the eastern side of the island! We stayed in Kaneohe, which is warm, rainy, and nestled in the shadow of green ridged mountains. It’s pretty much what you would picture Hawaii looking like if you were thinking of Jurassic Park Hawaii. A rainforest jungle full of tropical plants and the weather to match!! It’s BEAUTIFUL.
Our Airbnb was just too cute!! If you’ve ever heard me talk about my travels you know how much I love Airbnb and this Hawaiian bungalow truly exceeded our expectations. It was so cute and cozy and perfect for two newlyweds!!
The view!! We had a jungle in the backyard! Believe it or not, we were just 5 minutes from the ocean!
Once we got cleaned up and recovered from our 10 hour flight from DC, we headed downtown to Waikiki!! But not without a few pit stops along the way to take in the views!
Justin chasing a chicken!! There are SO many on the islands!!!
Our little Nissan Versa! It was a fun ride!
We stopped at Pali Lookout just off the highway on our way to Waikiki and it was beautiful!!! And windy! Haha!!
Waikiki is what DC would be if it were on an island. Shops, restaurants, traffic…. but so many fun things to see and do!! One thing DC doesn’t have is a gorgeous beachfront with Diamondhead in the background!!! AHHH!
We went to Duke’s for mai tais because that’s the thing you do when you go to Waikiki. They were amazing.
And here’s Justin looking a little too eager about our pulled pork nachos…
The next morning I woke up before dawn Hawaii time because Oahu is 6 hours behind!!! I wasn’t going to MAKE us get up for the sunrise, but since we were already awake…. we drove the 10 minutes to Kailua Beach to witness the sun come up over the ocean and it was literally a glimpse of heaven.
Then we headed for breakfast at Moke’s and Justin had his first Loco Moco!!!! YUM.
Then we hopped back in the car and headed off to surprise #1. Because I had been to Oahu before, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to take Justin to do. So we headed about 25 minutes north…
The neighborhood where we stayed!! Those mountains covered in clouds… I would never tire of this view!!!!
When we pulled up to Kualoa Ranch Justin had no idea what it was. So that made the behind the scenes movie tour for films like Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Windtalkers, Fifty First Dates, etc. THAT much more exciting!!!! He had no clue!!!
He also didn’t know we’d be riding ATV’s through the valley! It was amazing.
The pavilion for the Geosphere ride in Jurassic World!!!
Seriously, coolest thing ever!!!! Then we headed off to our next adventure… hiking Diamondhead to see the view of the oceanfront city of Waikiki below!!
Then we headed the hour or so over to the western side of the island where my favorite place on EARTH lies. We apparently didn’t take any pictures here but that’s probably because we were too preoccupied enjoying the best cocktail known to man, the S.O.S. from Longboard’s at the beachfront of Ko’olina Lagoons. I waited a YEAR to take this picture and figure out what’s in this drink so I can replicate it at home!! AMAZING!!!
The next morning we headed to the North Shore for a second surprise that Justin had no clue about….
Guys. We swam with sharks.
We were in a cage. But it was terrifying. In fact, I cried when I saw the first shark in the water because I was overwhelmed with panic. Through tears and shaking I made sure everyone knew I still wanted to get in the cage. So naturally, they all made me go first. Just wait until you see the video. I was frozen with fear. But it was EXHILERATING.
Selfie with a shark!! (After I had gotten back on the boat and calmed down from my adventure with the terrifying sea creatures.)
HAHA. This cracks me up. The look of SHEER TERROR.
There we are!!!! And there they are!!!!! Our video footage is better but just believe me when I say 1) those cage bars are WAY too far apart to protect anyone and 2) the sharks were HUGE and there were at least a dozen of them circling the cage. AH.
Then we explored North Shore for a bit and I decided this is one of my favorite parts of the island. But every part of the island is my favorite part of the island, so saying that means nothing at this point, but it is seriously the coolest place ever. North Shore (and the drive to it) are like the countryside of Hawaii. Beautiful rolling hills, a laidback beachy town and plenty of delicious food!!!
After lunch and some shopping in Haleiwa we went to one last official excursion… Pearl Harbor! Because you can’t come to Oahu as an American and not visit the Arizona Memorial.
We had so many other memories made that we didn’t capture on camera but I think that’s the beauty of being on your honeymoon… some memories are just meant for the two of us to share!! But I’m so glad we have these photos to remember our time in Oahu by!!! I miss all the green mountains and the beautiful beaches and heading into Waikiki for an evening downtown… but I know we’ll be back soon!!!!
Next up… MAUI!!!!