How do I choose which island to get married on?

By: T. koch


From far away, it can be confusing knowing which of 4 beautiful and exotic islands to choose from for your beach wedding in Hawaii. Here is a brief breakdown of the 4 main Hawaiian islands based on my 10+ years living and traveling on these islands:

Oahu-This is where Waikiki and Honolulu are located. It is NOT the Big island, which is a common misconception. This island is where most of the people in the state of Hawaii live, and thus it is very much like a big city you would find on the United States mainland dropped onto an island setting, at least until you leave the Honolulu/Waikiki area. If you are looking for nightlife traffic and tourists, this is a good place to go. If you are looking for a quintessential trip to tropical Hawaii, this is not the best choice.

Maui-This is the next most populated and busiest island. It is not really like a major city, but it does have a lot of people, city grid-like streets, and reminds many of southern California put on an island. However, it is possible to get away on Maui if you head to the west side (which is dry) or around the other side of the island towards Hana (where unfortunately there are few to no places for tourist accommodation). Maui is full of social butterflies and its great nightlife is not consolidated into one place like on Oahu.

Kauai-This is the beautiful garden island and it is filled with tropical flowers, botanical gardens and lush beauty. Kauai does not have grid-like streets and is considered the ‘country’ get away from the ‘city’ of Oahu. It is the least populated of the Hawaiian islands. Kauai has a valley called Kalalau valley which many guide books and people consider to be the most beautiful place on the islands (I think it’s actually the most beautiful place on Earth!), so you will often find Kalalau on the cover of a book on Hawaii. (It’s like the cover girl of Hawaii, your quintessential gorgeous vista.)

Kauai does not have the nightlife options that the previous 2 islands have, but there are options of some bars and places to dance. There are many options of things to do during the day/night ranging from all of the normal tourist attractions (snorkeling, helicopter rides, luaus, boat rides etc.) to things found specially on Kauai such as kayaking, horseback riding, tube rides, taro patch tours, ziplining and much more.

It has great natural diversity, including a large colorful canyon, steep cliffs, jungle, and desert. Many people consider it to be the best of both worlds because you can have your tropical island getaway and romantic Hawaii wedding on a beach without 100 unwanted guests, yet you still have options of many things to do.

The Big Island/Hawaii- The Big Island, or the Big I, is the largest of the main islands and is very large with very few residents. There is not much nightlife, but you certainly can get far away from everything. The Big Island of Hawaii also has an active volcano you can hike out to and actually see the hot lava enter the ocean. Other than that, you will not have so many things to ‘do’ (there are of course all the normal tourist activities), but it does have immense natural diversity. (Out of the world’s 33 climatic zones, the Big I has 26 of them.)

So, there is my personal overview of the 4 main islands (there are 7 in the state of Hawaii but almost all visitors go to these islands only). Having a Hawaii beach wedding is a wonderful experience. Having a Kauai beach wedding is even more special in my opinion because of the special nature of this garden island. Kauai has so many secluded spots and gorgeous backgrounds that the pictures always turn out better. There are beaches where you can stand facing one way and have a mountain scene behind you, face another way and have mountains and a beach and a pier, and face yet another way and have cliffs and a river next to a beach behind you! You can imagine how stunning the wedding photography is when you have that much variety in one spot.

Of course, no matter which island you choose, having a wedding coordinator or wedding planner will make your special Hawaii beach wedding day run so much more smoothly. It’s so comforting and relaxing to know that someone else is running around doing your worrying for you! Luckily for all the brides and grooms-to-be, there are many attentive and experienced wedding coordinators in Hawaii.

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