Hawaii ranks among the most romantic places on earth for good reason. It has everything-stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, mesmerizing waves, exotic flowers, and gorgeous sunsets-that make a destination appealing to couples planning a wedding or honeymoon. Best of all, each of the five major Hawaiian islands has scores of romantic spots for picnics, photo-ops, or even "I do's." Here are ten of the most romantic places on Kauai.
When driving Highway 50 on Kauai west from Hanapepe to Waimea Canyon, don't miss a chance to stop at this scenic overlook (turn right on Waimea Canyon Drive at mile marker #23 and drive to the end near mile marker #18). Your reward is a vast panorama of the dagger-like green cliffs and deep gorges of the Kalalau Valley, the largest on the Na Pali Coast. Set at 4,000 feet elevation, the lookout is the perfect spot to snap seriously breathtaking souvenir photos.
One of the best spots to snorkel on Kauai is Tunnels Beach - both for the clear fish-filled water of the lagoon and the splendid views of the island's signature peak, Mount Makana (aka Bali Hai), you'll enjoy when you surface. It's easiest to enter from the wide sandy beach and snorkel the inner reef, but do keep an eye on the surf. In winter, when huge waves are breaking over the reef, there can be dangerous rip currents. If so, just enjoy the Bali Hai view.
Waioli Hui'ia Church
Dating to 1912, the charming, green-shingled Waioli Hui'ia Church, established by Christian missionaries and located in the picturesque hamlet of Hanalei on the North Shore of Kauai, has a distinctive look and lovely stained-glass windows. Designed in the American Gothic style, its belfry houses a Mission Bell that dates to 1843. It's possible to marry or renew your vows inside the church.
When in the must-see Kauai hamlet of Hanalei, grab some take-out sandwiches and head out onto Hanalei Pier for a panoramic view of Hanalei Bay and the dramatic ridges of the Na Pali Coast. Built in 1922 of concrete to replace an 1892 wooden version, it is a gathering spot for locals and was the principal filming area for the beach scenes in the 1957 film South Pacific.
This series of golden-sand beaches, spread along a one-mile stretch of coastline on the sunny South Shore of Kauai, is home to several of the island's top resorts, including the sprawling Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and the boutique Ko'a Kea Hotel and Resort. Some areas are great for swimming and snorkeling, others for surfing and boogie boarding. But the entire strand is perfect for a romantic sunset stroll.
The Na Pali Coast
If you're adventurous, you can hike Kauai's legendary Na Pali Coast along the Kalalau Trail from Ke'e Beach, which stretches along Kauai's Northwest coast. But the most romantic way to admire its majestic, rippled green geology is to sail past it on a catamaran at sunset, champagne in hand. Several companies, including Captain Andy's, offer sunset dinner cruises.
Limahuli Garden and Preserve
Backed by iconic Mount Makana (aka "Bali Hai") on Kauai's verdant North Shore, the Limahuli Garden and Preserve is a natural botanical garden set in a postcard-perfect valley. Its terraced gardens are filled with native plant species as well as taro and other crops that were important to the early Hawaiians. You can do a self-guided, hand-in-hand tour on a 3/4-mile loop from Tuesday to Saturday.
Waimea Canyon Lookout
There's no better spot to enjoy the spectacular view of Kauai's Waimea Canyon, which is nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," than from the main lookout in Waimea Canyon State Park. It's open during daylight hours, so if you're early birds, a morning visit will help you avoid the tour buses, or time your visit to an hour or so before sunset on a clear day when the canyon's ever-changing red, orange and green cliffs are at their most dramatic.
Set on 31 acres at the tip of rolling green Kilauea Point on the North Shore of Kauai, this historic white-and-red light station dates to 1913 and was a pivotal navigation aid for ships sailing on an Orient run. It's part of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, where thousands of migratory seabirds, such as red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds and albatross, rest, forage, or nest. Bring along a picnic basket and a pair of binoculars and enjoy the view.
The Coconut Coast at Sunrise
Kauai's palm-tree-studded (hence the Coconut Coast nickname) Eastern shore is the best place to watch the sunrise. Several resorts and condominium developments are located along this stretch, from Kapa'a to Lihue, and make a great base for early rising couples who want a dramatic backdrop for their morning run or walk.