Destination Weddings: Hawaii
Get married in the islands, and have the ultimate honeymoon too! The secret to cutting costs is to do the legwork yourself.
If you want to leave the relatives at the Kona Tiki and seek out a more intimate location for the two of you, contact the Hawaii Island Bed and Breakfast Association (P.O. Box 1890, Honokaa, HI 96727, stayhawaii.com), which offers a range of options starting as low as $45 a night.
The sun-kissed shores of Kihei in south Maui offer honeymooners a tropical vacation at rates that won't break the bank. In the summer (June-September), you can get a one-bedroom unit at Kihei Kai for as low as $85 ($85 to $95 in the low season, mid-April to mid-December, and $95 to $105 in the high season, mid-December to mid-April). Inside, each unit includes a fully equipped kitchen, and outside there's a sandy cove that's great for swimming. Located on the north end of Kihei, just minutes from restaurants, shopping, and a four-mile string of white sand beaches, these spacious chambers are large enough to sleep four if you have relatives coming to your wedding and also have wide lanais, televisions, phones, and air-conditioning (61 N. Kihei Rd., Kihei, HI 96753, 877/778-7717, maui.net/kiheikai).
The lush garden isle of Kauai, with its rim of white sand beaches circling the island, variety of ocean activities, and tropical jungle landscape, offers affordable accommodations at centrally located Garden Island Inn, an intimate hotel surrounded by tropical flowers and banana and papaya trees. Just ten minutes from the airport and within easy driving distance to all the attractions on Kauai, this hotel is a great location for honeymooners who want to get out and experience the island. Most rooms have a refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, air-conditioning, television, phone, and ocean view, and prices start at $75-$125 double (3445 Wilcox Rd., Lihue, HI 96766, 800/648-0154, gardenislandinn.com).
If you have relatives coming for the wedding who are more interested in saving money than having tropical surroundings, two low-cost motels close-by are the Tip Top Motel (3173 Akahi St., Lihue, HI 96766, 808/245-2333), where all rooms are $50 double, and Motel Lani (P.O. Box 1836, Lihue, HI 96766, 808/245-2965), where rooms start at $38.
Whatever your dreams are, and no matter how tight your budget is, Hawaii can make those dreams come true. A little pre-planning, plus a little legwork, will pay off in a memorable but affordable wedding and honeymoon.
SPECTACULAR WEDDING SITES FOR FREE
If you envision your Hawaiian wedding on a long white sand beach with emerald-green water offshore, the spot for you is Hapuna State Beach, near Kawaihae, on the Big Island, and the cost for use of the beach is absolutely nothing. Or if you want your wedding on Kauai, one of the most spectacular settings is Hanalei County Beach Park, where the juxtaposition of the steep, verdant Bali Hai cliffs against the creamy white sand and azure water causes first-time visitors to gasp in awe. The cost for using this dramatic beachfront for your wedding is zero.
Or if your heart is set on a Maui wedding, the sound of the crashing waves and singing birds can be the background to a dawn ceremony in the tropical jungle of Hana's Waianapanapa State Park. Cost for the site: free. However, you must fill out the paperwork for the permits first. To use a state park or state beach park, contact the District Office of the State Divisions of Parks on the island where you plan to have the ceremony and request a special-use permit for a wedding ceremony: Oahu, P.O. Box 621, Honolulu, HI 96809, 808/587-0300; Big Island, P.O. Box 936, Hilo, HI 96721, 808/974-6200; Maui, 54 S. High St., Suite 101, Wailuku, HI 96793; 808/984-8109; Kauai, 3060 Eiwa St., Suite 306, Lihue, HI 96766; 808/274-3444.
If you desire a county beach park and you plan to use it just for a ceremony, you may not need a permit. However, if you would like to use a park facility (like a pavilion), then you will need a permit. Most permits require a custodial deposit, which will be refunded if you clean up the site after you are done. For more information on use of county parks, contact: City and County of Honolulu (the entire island of Oahu): 650 S. King St., First Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808/523-4527; Big Island of Hawaii: 25 Aupuni St., Hilo, HI 96720, 808/961-8311; Maui: 1580-C Kaahumanu Ave., Wailuku, HI 96793, 808/270-7389; Kauai: 4444 Rice St., Lihue, HI 96766, 808/241-6660.
Jeanette Foster is a Hawaii resident (of 25 years) and co-author of numerous best-selling guidebooks to the islands.