Love is free

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The title of this post is no doubt a mind-scrambler for the guys who are scurrying to find Valentine's Day dinner reservations at a hoity-toity restaurant or working with a jeweler to craft that perfect bauble to make her swoon — but it's true: Love Is Free. The natural features of this island paradise make it that much easier to set the stage for romance — they impress no matter the size of your billfold. All it will cost you is the gas to get to these destinations:

Romantic Views

Puu Ualakaa State Wayside Park, commonly known as Tantalus.

Tantalus. Swerving Round Top Drive delivers you to this mountain top park with spectacular views of Southern Oahu. 3DHawaii's marketing assistant Jessica Pang cited it as the perfect place to have a romantic picnic. Coincidentally, I'm officiating a wedding there this weekend — my second at the site.

Puu Ualakaa truly has a magical sway — when I performed my first wedding there, I was compelled to snap some photos and video and produce a post about remembering to appreciate the treasures in our island home. Perfect place to enjoy some QT with your honey.

The Mokulua Islands. These twin islands rest a mile offshore Lanikai Beach. They're picture-perfect any time of day, but are best enjoyed during the sun and moon rises — a favorite of 3DHawaii's online product manager, Katie McCanless. The next full moon rise is Thursday (it will start to ascend over the islands at 6:18 p.m.) and, of course, you can catch the sunrise any day if you happen to be up by 7 a.m. (an hour before is even better for twilight). See it walking along tranquil Lanikai Beach or, if you're athletically inclined, the Pillbox Hike. The hike can also be enjoyed for the moonrise, just bring a flashlight.

Photo: Matt Zeth/Creative Commons.

Waikiki Beach at night. A walk along the famed beach at sunset, heading into night as the lights of the city rise, is truly enchanting. Tiki torches along the beach add to the glow. Bathe in the sparkling Gold Coast as you walk toward Diamond Head, the classic resorts as you walk back, and the sound of live music rising.

The Hanalei Pier. Built in 1892 and made famous in the movie "South Pacific," this classic pier projects into a limpid half-moon bay, surrounded distantly by verdant mountains and cliffs. It beckons you to clasp hands and stroll its length, smiling as you watch the kids leaping and splashing off the end.

Photo: B Mully/Creative Commons

Sunset in Kailua-Kona. Photo: Eric Guinther/Creative Commons.

Kona's Sea Wall. The Big Island's famed seaside hamlet is perfect for sunset strolls along the sea wall that lines Kailua Bay. Gaze upon palm trees, historic structures, sailboats and the occasional cruise ship on the horizon, all bathed in golden light. You can poke into one of the take outs that line Alii Drive and grab something for an impromptu picnic as you listen to the ocean gently lap against the rocks.

Maui's southern, western shores. With the island cluster of Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai just across the Auau Channel, spots along coastal Maui are postcards come to life. Enjoy it along Kaanapali's resort row, a walkway along the beach that fronts the Sheraton, Westin, Kaanapali Beach Hotel and Whalers Village.

Anywhere along Kihei, Wailea, Lahaina and Kapalua will impress, too.

Kaanapali sunset. Photo: jcsandoval4/Creative Commons.

Deserted beaches

Polihale Beach, Kauai. Kyle Pearce/Creative Commons.

Just you, your S.O. and a tropical beach. Understood — romance is better when there aren't others around. And even with 1.2 million people scattered across these Islands, deserted beaches aren't impossible to find — though you will have to travel farther to get to them. You may not be alone at these, but it'll be close — or you'll get lucky.

Polihale Beach, Kauai. One of the state's longest, Polihale stretches 17 miles along Kauai's west coast between Waimea and Barking Sands. The striking Na Pali cliffs start on its northern side.

Papohaku Beach, Molokai. The entire island of Molokai is a study in getting away from it all. No significant industry rose when pineapple plantation and ranching businesses died, leaving it suspended in time. Papohaku, on the island's west coast, is one of Hawaii's largest beaches. It will feel as though paradise swallowed you.

Learn more about Molokai »

Photo: David Croxford/Hawaii Magazine.

Polihua Beach. Step One, rent a Jeep. Step Two, drive the one-lane Kanepuu Highway to Lanai's northwest coast. Step Three, be patient: The road is more dirt path than highway, making a 25-mile journey a two-hour endeavor. But once you are there, you two will likely be alone on a broad expanse of white-sand beach with views of Molokai and, on clear days, Oahu's distant silhouette.


For the "wow" factor, Hawaii's cascading waterfalls deliver every time. There are hundreds to choose from, but if your sweetie doesn't care to trudge through the jungle to get to them, here's a selection you can drive up to.

Wailua Falls, Kauai. The 80-foot, double tiered beauty is situated just outside Lihue off Maalo Road (State Hwy 583). If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to go is in the morning.

Photo: Eric Richardson/Creative Commons.

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii. Nestled just behind Hilo, you can drive Waianuenue Avenue up to Rainbow Drive and be rewarded with this 80-foot falls that drapes over a large cave. It is named for the many rainbows it generates when the morning light shines through its mist.

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