to read Marty Wentzel's Five Fave Hawaii Honeymoon Resorts
Traditionally, the phrase "Oahu honeymoon" conjures up images of couples watching the sunset, swimming in warm ocean waters, strolling the beach hand-in-hand and kicking back with tropical drinks. But if a honeymoon is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime trip, why not make it even more memorable? According to those in the know, agents should challenge themselves to create inspired Oahu itineraries that are not only romantic but also cutting-edge — the kinds of trips that make cookie-cutter honeymoons seem half-baked.
Agents should urge clients to look beyond the hotel pool.
"Part of the trick is to convince your clients that the dollar shouldn’t dictate the itinerary," said Nicole Fitzpatrick of Carefree Vacations-Carmel Mountain in San Diego. "I help couples look at the experience first, not the cost. I urge them to venture beyond the hotel pool and try things they wouldn’t have thought of themselves. And, I recommend they prebook tours and activities so everything will be all set ahead of time."
Increasingly, couples are looking for an "experience" on Oahu, said Susan Tongg O’Donnell of Aloha Wedding Planners.
"Many couples have been dreaming of coming to Hawaii for a long time, so it’s important to help them match the dream to reality," said O’Donnell. "For those who are seeking adventure, there are fun things like sky diving, Jet Skiing, windsurfing, horseback riding and scuba diving. Many of these can be prebooked. For couples who are coming to the islands for the first time, we find that they are eager to learn as much as they can about the place and its people. We encourage them to visit the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace to learn about the island’s history and the Polynesian Cultural Center for a better understanding of the culture."
O’Donnell suggested that agents get a copy of The Oahu Concierge to share with their clients who are nightlife lovers.
"This monthly publication keeps industry professionals updated on who is playing music at which location, new dining options and other ‘in’ activities," said O’Donnell. "It helps us monitor all the creative options for things to do around town. Many of the groups and venues it lists are places that the locals hang out at as well."
Part of Oahu’s allure for honeymooners comes from its distinctive activities, things that couples can’t do anywhere else, said Noelani Schilling-Wheeler, Oahu Visitors Bureau’s senior director of sales and marketing. For starters, they can take lessons from surfing legends Clyde Aikau or Dane Kealoha, ocean kayak across aquamarine seas on the windward side of Oahu, savor Hawaii Regional Cuisine at its source and enjoy live award-winning Hawaiian entertainment around Waikiki.
For additional one-of-a-kind activities, Schilling-Wheeler suggests booking clients on a cultural tour with Hina Adventures or paddle surfing off Magic Island. Clients can also create a watercolor of Diamond Head with Pineapple Painting Tours, scuba dive around one of the famous shipwrecks off Waikiki, swim with dolphins on the leeward side of the island, try the shark cage experience on the North Shore or see Oahu’s most beautiful and well-known landmarks on an Island Seaplane flight — the only seaplane in Hawaii — complete with a water take-off and landing. They can go on a shopping spree for Hawaii-made aloha shirts by day, and they can go ballroom dancing in Waikiki by night.
"Oahu is a honeymoon destination for active couples, where they can enjoy both the excitement of a bustling city and the natural beauty of a tropical paradise," said Schilling-Wheeler.
If couples are reconsidering honeymooning abroad due to the weakening dollar, agents should remind them that while a dollar is worth a dollar in Hawaii, it is still an exotic destination, added Schilling-Wheeler.
"Couples are looking for romance travel packages that offer value-added incentives, such as extra room nights, dining and activity credits," she said, noting that Oahu provides all of those incentives in spades. Visitors coming to Oahu can also take advantage of free authentic cultural experiences such as lei making, hula dancing, ukulele playing and learning about the Hawaiian language.
For couples on a budget, agents should provide details on Oahu’s scenic outdoor activities that are available at little to no cost, said Schilling-Wheeler. Clients can go hiking to waterfalls along glorious mountain trails. They can snorkel in pristine waters among multicolored tropical fish. For $10, they can catch waves on a Waikiki canoe ride. And, on weekends in Waikiki, they can cuddle under the stars while watching a movie on a 30-foot screen during the free Sunset on the Beach program. Any night of the week, visitors can enjoy free hula shows and Hawaiian music at a number of hotel venues, and there are countless opportunities to attend one of Oahu’s many festivals and events, held almost every weekend of the year.
As Schilling-Wheeler put it, "The best thing about honeymooning on Oahu is that couples can combine any or all of the above for a truly unique and memorable trip."