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Romantic dates for Hawaii lovebirds

Let your love soar with these date ideas found only in the Islands.

You don’t have to look far to feel the love in Hawaii — our pink sunsets and fragrant flowers are enough to make your heart flutter. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s time to take romance to the next level with an itinerary that is as unique as your relationship. Try these dreamy date ideas to keep ahold of Cupid’s arrow, Island style.

UPSTAIRS dishes

Fall in love with the menu at UPSTAIRS, which features dishes from two popular Japanese restaurants as well as new signature plates.

For the foodies: eat, drink and be merry in Honolulu

If food is the way to their heart, spend the day indulging your taste buds at Oahu’s hottest restaurants. DECK. at Queen Kapiolani Hotel in Waikiki boasts a stunning view of Diamond Head and a big brunch menu featuring Cajun classics, creative loco mocos and a divine haupia French toast, plus plenty of cocktails and mocktails fit for a celebration. Stroll to the other end of Waikiki and make your way to UPSTAIRS, which opened in late 2021 with dishes designed by chefs Keiji Nakazawa of Sushi Sho and Kazunori Yashima of Yakitori Hachibei. Lunch on weekends features their staple pastas and salads, while dinner brings tsumami small plates like hamachi ponzu and live music wafts through the lofty space. Continue east to the heart of Chinatown, where Chef Andrew Le, a James Beard Award semifinalist, shares a tasty vision of Vietnamese fusion food at The Pig and The Lady, including steak smothered in fish sauce and Bolognese pasta made with Southeast Asian spices. Call the restaurants ahead of time for reservations — or Valentine’s Day specials — and stay up to date with Safe Access Oahu requirements.

Napali coast boat tour

Share a one-of-a-kind experience with a Napali Coast boat tour that explores hidden coves.

For the adventurers: get your hearts pumping on Kauai

Some dynamic duos prefer sharing an adrenaline rush over dinner and a movie. Seize the day on the Garden Isle, starting with a Napali Coast boat tour that explores the secluded 17-mile coastline. The landscape’s towering emerald cliffs shield pristine white-sand beaches from car traffic, and the only way to access the remote sea caves and reefs is by boat. Another site that’s best reached by watercraft, Uluwehi Falls (nicknamed Secret Falls), is a favorite destination for guided kayak tours. The paddle down the Wailua River passes by heiau (religious sites) and grottos before arriving to a hike about a mile to the falls. Continue the excitement with mountain tubing offered by Kauai Backcountry Adventures, where you’ll float down canals and through tunnels on the former Lihue Sugar Plantation. Once you’re back on land, consider flocking to the sky with Koloa Zipline, Kauai's longest zipline course that offers a sunset tour that concludes under the moon.

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

See sunrise like you never have before with an early morning hike along the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail.

For the early risers: find the morning magic in Hawaii Kai

Watching the sun illuminate the sky truly sets the tone for a romantic day — especially when it’s a spectacular oceanfront view. Set your internal clocks to hike before dawn at Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail, the easternmost point on Oahu and quite possibly the island’s best place to catch sunrise. The paved 2-mile path is usually bustling in the midday heat, but the cool mornings attract a quiet crowd equipped with headlamps and cameras. Post daybreak, fill up on breakfast at Moena Cafe in nearby Koko Marina Center, home to kalua pig benedict, banana Chantilly pancakes and macadamia nut lattes — you earned it. If energy levels are still high, consider a saunter through Koko Crater Botanical Garden and awe at the rare dryland plants that originated from Hawaii, Africa, Madagascar and the Americas. Alternatively, make a reservation to snorkel at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, where you’ll swim together amongst hundreds of colorful tropical fish.

Paniolo Adventures

Trot to your heart’s desire along the picturesque hills of Kohala with Paniolo Adventures.

For the curious wanderers: take some detours on Hawaii Island

If you two think the journey’s just as fun as the destination, head to Hawaii Island to cover some ground. For the ultimate ramble, follow part of the 175-mile Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail along the ocean and through lava fields. It crosses the island’s four National Parks sites, including the famed Hawaii Volcanoes and Puuhonua o Honaunau, where you can see a traditional hale poki (consecrated house). To the north, unleash your inner paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) with a side-by-side horseback ride along the open range of Kohala Mountain. Paniolo Adventures offer five signature tours at Ponoholo Ranch for beginners to experts, all featuring beautiful views of the Kona coastline, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa — a panorama that will make your hearts swoon. On the Hilo side, bring your camera to Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, a lush subtropical rainforest on Onomea Bay with waterfalls, stream crossings, ocean vistas and 2,000-plus species. Stroll hand in hand through what feels like another world.

 

Story By Sachie Yorck

February 7, 2022