We just came back recently from a Big Island destination wedding in Hawaii and it turned out great! For those of you who don’t know, the Big Island is the largest Hawaiian island (very aptly named) and of all the islands, it’s the most country in feeling. It’s quiet, slow moving and great for those who just want to sit, relax and do nothing. Hotels are scattered along the coast and no matter where you go, it feels like the beach in front of you is just for you. The Big Island is less built up and commercialized than the other major islands although as with any desired location, over time there has been more development. Despite the development though, it still remains peaceful and has a sense of rawness to it and the sunsets are to die for.
The Big Island destination wedding I had the honor of putting together took place at the Mauna Kea Resort. Located on the west side of the island (the Kona side), it’s a hotel with a lot of history. The style of the hotel is comfortable luxury with a bit of a southeast Asian flair. The property is a bit spread out, but that gives you the opportunity to explore and once again feel like you almost have the place to yourself. It’s situated in a sandy cove that is perfect for catching some rays or paddle boarding.
There are quite a few different areas where you can have your ceremony or reception on the property and we used practically all of them! We had an welcome dinner the night before the wedding on one of the lawns and then a full day of wedding activities from the ceremony on the beach, to brunch on the terrace, to cocktails on the lawn, and dinner and dancing in the tree filled luau grounds. And as you know, I love my food, so I must mention that the food was awesome which is definitely something to consider when picking a wedding venue.
While on island, we also took a side trip to the Four Seasons Hualalai, a beautiful resort a bit more south of the Mauna Kea Resort. This is another great venue for a Big Island destination wedding. It’s secluded and very cottage like in the layout of the resort and of course it’s stunning. But, I think the prettiest part of this resort is the beach. There are some lovely trees and the sand and sea are so gorgeous that they look fake (see my photo below). And of course we have to mention the food, which was delicious.
Now we can’t talk about the Big Island and not talk about it’s biggest draw, it’s active volcanos Kilauea and Mauna Loa. While the volcanos are always interesting to visit, we were lucky enough that while on island Kilauea was currently erupting. So, we had to check it out! We went at night and it was pretty amazing to see the lava spewing out. If you happen to be headed to the Big Island any time soon, this has to be on your to do list. It’s definitely a bit of a drive especially from the Kona side, but it’s worth it. And a little local insider tip – go at night when the crowds have died down (after 9pm) otherwise you’ll be sitting in hours of traffic.
You can’t travel somewhere and not eat the real local food (well we certainly can’t) and one of the best places to hit up on the Big Island is Umeke’s. It’s a little hole in the wall in Kailua Kona and has amazing poke. What’s poke you ask? Raw fish (usually tuna) seasoned with spices and a variety of sauces. It’s similar to sashimi, but flavored. It’s delicious and Umeke’s does it wonderfully. And if you’re looking for a great fine dining option, you can’t go wrong with Merriman’s which is the restaurant I always think of when I think of Hawaii regional cuisine on the Big Island. The service is wonderful and the food is amazing and everything is sourced locally.
As you can see, we had a great wedding and a wonderful trip to the Big Island. If you’re thinking about having a Hawaii destination wedding, consider the Big Island. It’s private feeling, idyllic setting, beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunsets are hard to beat. And come on, where else can you get active volcanos, beautiful beaches and amazing food? And of course, if you need a destination wedding planner, give us a call we’d love to help you.