Surfers on their long boards catch the last waves in the fading light at Waikiki. The strip builds to a friendly buzz of buskers, painters and mime-artists to greet the flow of diners. In a late night Karaoke Bar the regulars gather and an elderly man sits on a stool, microphone in hand. Once a professional singer, he effortlessly hits the high notes and his voice keeps the rank amateurs and inebriated where they should be. Watching.


Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii.

Hawaii is the latest addition to the Small Guide Travel wedding destinations. Because we have a philosophy of only promoting places we have personally been to, it took a little while to get there. This was because Hawaii is a bit further from Australia than most Pacific destinations and we had a preconception that it was an American version of Queensland’s Gold Coast. This proved to be a misconception!

There are similarities between Honolulu and the Gold Coast with high-rise buildings skirting the famous Waikiki Beach but it has a different personality – livelier but surprisingly more laid back, commercial but romantic and excellent value. No wonder really that it is the world’s most popular wedding and honeymoon destination.

Hawaii is a great destination for romance and exploring. The climate is fabulous year round (no cyclone season), the beaches deserve their fame, excellent surfing, and the shopping is also legendary. The island of Oahu is home to Honolulu, surf beaches like Waikiki and Waimea, Pearl Harbour and sensational shopping outlets like the Waikele Mall and the Ala Moana Shopping Centre.

The Valley Isle of Maui offers friendly culture, stunning scenery and is perfect for a romantic stay and if you are looking for adventure and an active volcano, the Big Island beckons. And Poipu Beach on the island of Kauai has been named in the top 10 most romantic getaways from USA Today.

A few tips on enjoying Hawaii:

  • If you are aged between 18 and 21 and like the occasional alcoholic drink, probably best to look elsewhere. The legal drinking age is 21 and it is strictly enforced. Even if you are aged 21 to 30 you should take photo ID (enjoy the flattery!).
  • Unlike our other Pacific destinations, tipping is expected. Like most employees in the USA, Hawaiian wages are low and waiters, hotel staff and taxi drivers rely on tips to survive (approx 15 to 20%% is a good guide). The upside of this is, you really get such great service you are more than happy to part with a dollar or two. Unlike other parts if the States, Hawaiians aren’t at all pushy when it comes to gratuities. A tipping tip – put a bunch of $1 bills in a pocket away from your wallet – apart from the ease when necessary it will ensure you don’t part with a $10 or $20 by mistake as all US notes look the same.
  • The water is safe to drink and ‘casual’ is the dress code. While the weather will be warm by day, best pack a jacket or sweater as sometimes evenings can be cool and it can get chilly if you visit some of the higher mountain landmarks.
  • If you plan a bit of retail therapy, pack a suitcase within a suitcase. The Waikele Outlet Mall can have up to 70% off designer labels (Banana Republic, Osh Kosh, Saks, Gap etc) and the Ala Moana Shopping Centre is the largest mall is the States (just a walk from Waikiki Beach).

More Information

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