A Contemplative Cove on Hawaii’s Big Island

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Hawaii’s largest island offers an extensive LGBT-friendly itinerary for adventure-seekers and romantics alike

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Exchanging vows on a white sandy lanai is the ideal scenario for most: torches underneath the moonlit palm trees, barefoot feet popping after you’re finally permitted to kiss your new spouse. Finding the right guide to set you forth on your wedding day or honeymoon could be costly, not to mention confusing in terms of cultural etiquette. Here are some tidbits on your sun-drenched Hawaiian honeymoon, with a resort that keeps your interest piqued and your hearts still at home.

Honeymooners seeking a Hawaiian escape have a tendency to overlook the hardest to miss. Touted as the island with multi-personalities, Hawaii, The Big Island offers a balance of tranquility and engagement, with equal parts history and adventure. It’s easy to see why excursionists travel back, and often: endless opportunities that leave you feeling as if you’re part of the Hawaiian ohana.


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FIRST IMPRESSION

Befuddled by the haze and black lava rock? Looks can be deceiving. A 40-minute drive to the resort-stricken north side of the island isn’t as scenic as you’d imagine. Don’t let this fool you. Driving across the other side, you’ll see The Big Island’s sunnier disposition. Rolling hills filled with wild Egyptian grass, koa trees and hāpu’u plants lead you to believe you’ve been plucked out of Hawaii and into parts of New Zealand, with lush greenery for the eyes to feast on. The mountain tops hold cooler temperatures, complete with snowy peaks to pique your interest. Anyone for skiing? It’s been done before, but tubing is a tad more realistic. Pull out a bout of spontaneity and take a rental car (four-wheel drive, preferably, as the roads are a bit jagged) uphill, snag some snow and have a snowball fight down by the beach.


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LGBT-FRIENDLY FACTOR

“King Kamehameha I of Hawaii had mahus dwell near his house because he considered them lucky, and in Tahiti every village had one mahu because it was thought to be fortunate for the village.”

Marriage equality has been the law in Hawaii since November 13, 2013. Amicable to their visitors, Hawaii gets tourists from every race, sexuality, personality and religious background. Non-judgmental and an LGBT-friendly spot, accommodations on The Big Island are more limited in terms of label-neighborhoods but why single yourself out when Hawaii is already set to serve you upon stepping off your plane?

Though you won’t hear it over your stay in The Big Island, “mahu” means homosexual in Hawaiian and can be considered a term of pride or even derogatory, depending on the context matter. It’s unlikely that you will receive anything other than a warm smile and an open invitation to join in on Hawaiian customs, as you’re consistently treated as a guest in their home. This shouldn’t be surprising, as King Kamehameha himself considered us good luck charms!

If you’re looking for a vacation that’s more geared toward the gay community, look into Waikiki, as there is more of a nightlife scene found on its shores.


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HELE MAI

When it comes to resorts, size isn’t everything but it will surely keep you occupied.

Hilton Waikoloa Village

Upon arrival at the Hilton’s Waikoloa Village, you will be at first a tad intimidated by the resort’s expansive options. “You truly won’t have to leave the resort,” I was told by our local driver upon arrival, but why wouldn’t you? The 1,350-acre resort accommodates honeymoon guests with customizable getaway options, ranging from the romantic to the unexpected. The hotel grounds appear to be taken directly from Disneyland, providing ample opportunities to explore. When was the last time you stayed in a hotel that immersed itself so seamlessly into a culture, rather than forgetting the land’s roots? Tropical gardens cascade along stone passages, man-made lagoons offer foolproof fun filled with paddleboards, quenching drink menus and exotic wildlife.

Romance is about spontaneity, whether that adventure is contained to the likes of your honeymoon suite or that atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea for a night of stargazing. Like any resort vacation, the experience is truly what you make of it. The guest rooms are capacious and luxe, including the usual amenities and lanais. Don’t be too surprised upon entry, as you’ll be treated to a bed sprinkled in florals along with a gift from the hotel, wishing you and your loved one a decadent future ahead with handmade treats from Big Island Candies. Your private terrace also overlooks the water, with prime opportunities to sit back and soak in the silence. Services include late night room service, a Wi-Fi lounge for the techies, car-rentals, laundry and dry cleaning service, concierge service, bike rentals and in-room massages.


ONO

Don’t be fooled by this title, as you’ll be begging to mangia even after your first course is complete. “Ono” means delicious and with the finest in sweet and savory, you’re sure to start embracing your inner-foodie.

Kamuela Provision Company
Try: Maui Onion Tower

Varied customer appraisal leaves you questioning whether or not pinching the penny is worth it for a meal. The Kamuela Provision Company is not only worth the penny but also worth another notch on your belt. Peppered taste buds with some of the best seafood offerings on the island, unforgettable oceanfront sunsets and a breezy lanai await you. Starting off with appetizers including lemongrass-poached shrimps, king crab legs, sweet potato gnocchi and Maui onion rings (with a to-die-for spicy aioli), you’re only just getting the party started. Try indulging in one of their specialty cocktails while anticipating the main course. Definitely ask what their specials are, as they change daily and usually feature a spiced up catch that isn’t on the menu. Decadent but not pretentious, the Kamuela Provision Company allows for great service and equally as winning menu options. Unwind after dinner with a stroll along the lanai, maybe sneaking a dip and catching a moonlit kiss with your sweetie under the clear-sky star light.

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Two Ladies Kitchen
Try: Strawberry Mochi

So you’ve never heard of mochi before? This traditional Japanese treat is a soft, hand-crafted, sweet that has the texture of marshmallow. The ladies at Two Ladies Kitchen (located on the Hilo side of the island) are famous for creating their strawberry mochi: a fresh strawberry inside a buttery tsubushi (mashed red-azuki bean) coating, with a mochi shell. The first bite is worth the caloric intake, but you’re on vacation, right? Sweet, juicy and inexpensive, why waste money on a chocolate volcano when you can taste an island treasure on your way back home from a day of sight-seeing?


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ADVENTURE-SEEKERS

 

Ziplining
When was the last time you’ve been off the beaten path? A place of renowned beauty, Kohala holds experiences enriched in culture, scenery and surprisingly sweet eats. Hidden deep within the rainforests, the Kohala Zipline Canopy Tour is an experience unlike any other. Swinging through the canopies of Kapaau, the environmentally conscious ziplining course has you leaving your fear of heights aside and succumbing to the desire of sight-seeing. Local experts ensure your safety, all while keeping your guts engaged from sheer laughter and enticement. The mauka forest, spanning river beds along the extinct volcano, Kohala, holds native kukui trees and blossoming eucalyptus which soon become your playground terrain. Your adrenaline rises with the height of the trees, along with a soaring grumbling in your stomach as the day moves forward. Lucky for you, the Lighthouse Deli is right down the street.

Featuring inventive ingredients that rival your local deli at home, the Lighthouse Deli has become a famed North Hawaiian spot to grab some midday grub. Because Hawaii has been limited in its eatery offerings, the team behind the modesty only have one thing on their mind while creating their menu: what they’re going to eat themselves. Not a bad idea, considering everyone seems to be crushing their organic sandwiches and on-tap beer offerings, whether they’re from out of town or working at a local jewelry shop. The deli also utilizes local farmers, seeking out organic produce to offer the best the city has to offer. My suggestion? Start kneading your appetite with a bit of the sweet and savory. Freshly baked brown sugar pretzels with spicy mustard not only puts the classic New York twists to shame, it redefines your cravings.

Canoeing
Recommended around end of February and early March, whale season hits the Kohala Coast. Paddle across the sheltered waters of Anaeho’omalu Bay, the culture-enriched instructors of Ocean Sports teach you techniques and form while you get to work on your team-building skills and core on a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe. While experiencing the adrenaline coursing through your body, you’ll be within a couple hundred feet of some of the world’s most naturalistic wonders. 

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TRANQUILITY

Buddha Point
The picturesque Buddha Point (located at the Hilton Waikoloa Village) holds the best gift you and your partner could possibly give one another: an enhanced state of well-being. Vinyasa Yoga is offered on Saturday at sunrise, all to influence the mind of each guest to enhance their visit. A peaceful head and heart create a balance that kicks off your vacation with that increased motivation to keep in tune with your body. What better way to get in touch with your senses? Decrease stress, renew enthusiasm and give your new courtship a jolt of positive energy under the morning light.

Kohala Spa and Fitness Center
Even if you aren’t staying at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, drop by for the Kohala Spa and Fitness Center, one of the best spas on the Kohala Coast, with 25,000 square feet of treatment rooms, saunas, whirlpools, and a host of treatments, including acupuncture and Eastern medicine practices—there’s even an astrologer on staff!

Recommended Treatment
The Lomi Lomi: A rhythmic full-body massage, traditional but equally as effective for all the muscle groups. The therapist incorporated the use of fingers, hands, forearms and elbows, adjusting the pressure depending on your body’s needs. The aromatic scents of Kukui Nut Oil enhance your senses and opens the mind for an indulgence of silence.

 

PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR: Antiquated fun, romance, tranquility, adventure.

 

DAYS TO STAY: It’s near impossible to see the Big Island in two weeks, let alone one. My suggestion? Locate the pivotal points of the island to best represent why you’re vacationing. If you’re here to wind down from the perpetual push of the metropolitan lifestyle, match your calendar accordingly.

KEEP IN MIND: The Southern coast is far different and referred to as the “granola” side of the island. Here you’ll find more forests, naturists and beaches, less resorts and less tourism.

 

WHAT’S IN OUR CARRY-ON:

Coach Bleeker Legacy Weekend Tote ($598): Start off by choosing the right carry-on bag that won’t be easily distressed. Throw in your laptop to get some extra work done while out of the office, or load up on your weekly shows you’ve been missing on your DVR. Coach’s Bleeker Legacy Tote is so spacious you can even fit in an extra outfit or pair of shoes, just in case the airlines leave you hanging at baggage claim.

Too Faced Tanning Bed in a Tube ($28) and Primed & Poreless Bronze Tint Face Primer ($30): A vegan-friendly face moisturizer that gives a snow-white complexion a slight golden-tint while protecting it from harmful UV rays. Mix with your moisturizer for maximum results and promote healthy skin. If you’re looking for a leaner appearance, try out Too Faced’s Tanning Bed in a Tube underneath your sunscreen, which will have you looking bronze in no time, without the streaks and without the heavy scents of your local drugstore brand potions.

Paul Mitchell Wild Ginger Beach Spray ($15.26):Even if your hair isn’t naturally as wavy, this lightly scented spray will create a care-free, tousled look that will prep your hair for the beach.

Sabon Gentleman Body Scrub ($30): Exfoliation prior to baking in Hawaiian rays is key. Get your skin squeaky clean and off to the right start by removing the grime and dirt with Sabon’s Gentleman Body Scrub. Obviously not ideal to put into your carry-on, rather keep in mind prior to the trip. Paraben-free, this scrub may be labeled for the gents but ladies, I assure you the light, summery scents of patchouli and citrus will tickle your senses just as well. Enriched with sea salts, almond oil, Omega 3, 6 and 9 and Vitamin E, it’ll take on even the dullest of skin to rejuvenate and bring youth to your complexion.

 

WHAT TO BRING BACK:

  1. Memories
  2. Big Island Candies: The perfect marriage of decadence and style comes in these chocolate covered custom-made candies that are famous on the island. Try their chocolate covered brownies, they’re almost too good to be real.
  3. Maui Splash: Vibrant hints of sweet pineapple that won’t give you a tootache, this light bodied wine also features an after-taste of passion fruit and mango. It’s packaging may be questionable, but the taste is perfect for the summer palate and pairs well with fresh fruit and cheese plates. Also the perfect send-off wedding gift from a tropical destination wedding.
  4. Kona Coffee: Homegrown gourmet coffee like you’ve never tasted. Get that tropical buzz from your kitchen coffee maker with these top-grade, rare beans that provide that morning kick you’ll swear by upon first sip. Make sure it says 100 percent, otherwise it’s an imitation brand that doesn’t pack quite the same punch.

 

Photo: Jonathan Bender; starbulletin.com

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