Destination Wedding: Hidden Hawaii

Is your heart set on an intimate destination wedding in gorgeous Hawaii? 

We’re talking about the most gorgeous secret beaches in the Hawaiian Islands – Hidden Hawaii!

We love Waikiki as much as the next person, but its crowded, resort-studded shore isn’t exactly what you’d call tranquil. If it’s serenity and solitude you’re after, head to one of Hawaii’s many secret, off-the-beaten-path beaches.

We think that secret and intimate locations are the bomb for exotic destination weddings!  And we’re pretty sure you’ll agree. 

We talked with our community of Hawaiian wedding planning professionals to find out the most amazing secluded beaches, perfect for smaller destination weddings!  These are their recommendations:

Secret Beach, Kauai – Though its real name is Kauapea, this isolated, half-mile stretch of sand is better known among locals as Secret Beach.

The name fits: Nestled between Kalihiwai Bay and Kilauea Point, it’s located far off the tourist track and accessible only by a rocky, unmarked trail. Lava rocks border the beach on both sides and jutting red cliffs cloaked by lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls form a dramatic backdrop.

Be warned: Though public nudity is illegal in Hawaii, the far east side of the beach is unofficially clothing-optional.

Waipio Valley Beach, Big Island – Of all the beaches on the Big Island, the unspoiled crescent of black sand at the base of Waipio Valley is easily the most secluded: It’s sheltered by 2,000-foot cliffs, and it’s a grueling three-mile hike down.

But don’t be dissuaded, as you’ll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts with superfine, inky sand, and calm, clear turquoise water.

Look to the east, and you’ll spot the spectacular Kaluahine Waterfall (pictured) and the larger Waiulili Falls, which are accessible via a rocky trail along the surf. Due to its remote location, you’ll likely have this secret paradise all to yourself.

Mākua Beach, Oahu – Tucked away on Oahu’s windswept Waianae coast—far from the crowds of Waikiki—you’ll find Mākua Beach, a scenic, half-mile stretch of golden sand backed by the Waianae Mountains and the lush, uninhabited Mākua Valley.

Thanks to its seclusion, the beach is almost always empty, especially outside of weekends, so you can sunbathe and swim in total peace.

But be warned: Unlike other beaches in Oahu, Mākua is not protected by an offshore reef and there’s no lifeguard onsite, so stay close to the shore (or better yet, stick to the relaxing tide pools at either end of the beach).

Makapu’u Beach, Oahu – Though it’s a mere pocket of sand—just a quarter-mile long—Makapu’u Beach is undoubtedly one of Oahu’s most scenic shorelines.

Backed by the high lava rock cliffs of Makapu’u Point, its shore is wide and golden, and its waters are cool and iridescent.

As pretty as it looks though, be aware of the rip currents and a powerful shore break, which make Makapu’u unsuitable for leisurely swims. It’s best to enjoy the view from the shore or from the Makapu’u Lighthouse, standing atop a sea cliff on the eastern end of the beach.

Kawakiu Beach, Molokai – You could argue that the island of Molokai itself is hidden in plain sight—sandwiched between Hawaii’s two most popular islands—and that all of its beaches are blissfully tranquil.

But what if its total seclusion you’re after?

Drive north to Paniolo Hale, park off Kaluakoi Road, and then hike for 45 minutes down to Kawakiu, Molokai’s northernmost beach. Sheltered by leafy kiawe trees, this perfect crescent of white sand and blindingly blue water is paradise at its very finest.

Makalawena Beach, Big Island – On the Big Island’s sleepy North Kona coast, Makalawena Beach—or “Maks,” as the locals call it—is a string of white-sand coves lapped by brilliant, turquoise-blue water.

You’ll have to hike for half an hour over lava rock to get there, but it’s worth the trek: It’s always deserted, there are lots of shady trees to laze beneath, and there’s a beautiful coral reef just a few feet offshore that’s perfect for snorkeling.

Added bonus: Hawaiian green sea turtles love to visit Makalawena, so keep your eyes peeled.

Polihua Beach, Lanai – Largely overlooked by tourists in favor of Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, the island of Lanai feels like a secret paradise filled with undeveloped beaches and desert-like landscapes.

Polihua Beach feels especially remote, located on Lanai’s wild, northwestern coast and accessible only via four-wheel drive. (Because of its wildness, it’s also not somewhere you should try swimming.)

The two-mile sandbar used to be the nesting ground of Hawaiian green sea turtles; they’ve since moved to islands further north, but you’ll likely spot migrating humpback whales between December and April.

Mokuleia Beach, Oahu – Located on Oahu’s remote northwest shore, just past Haleiwa, the silky sands of Mokuleia Beach are often empty.

Add to that its sheer seclusion—the nearest store or restroom is more than ten miles away—and it makes for the perfect tropical island “set” (in fact, the television show Lost filmed its first season on Mokuleia).

Though its bright blue waters are almost always choppy, they’re rich with marine life, and you’ll likely find large green sea turtles basking on the shore in the summer months.

Honokalani Beach, Maui – With its jet-black shore, aquamarine waters, and thick, jungle-like foliage, Honokalani Beach in Hana is a destination wedding couple’s dream!

Besides lying lazily on the “sand”—actually made up of tiny lava pebbles—there’s plenty to do: You’ll find seaside lava tubes and sea caves carved into the lava cliffs along the shore. It’s wild, unspoiled Hawaii at its best, and a necessary stop en route to Hana.

Polihale Beach, Kauai – Located at the end of a long, unpaved dirt road off Kaumuali’i Highway, Polihale Beach is often overlooked in favor of the more accessible beaches at Poipu and Kalapaki.

It’s a shame; sprawled over 17 miles, it’s the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii, and arguably one of the most beautiful, backed by 100-foot sand dunes and framed by the Na Pali cliffs. From its silvery sands, you can even spot the “forbidden” Hawaiian island of Niihau.

Now that you’ve had a chance to explore some alternative locations for your fabulous destination wedding, it’s time to think about your next step … destination wedding stationery, save the date cards, and invitations.  Check out these beach-themed suites!

And – of course – we’re here to help you navigate putting together that stationery suite!  Fran is amazing with color and is so knowledgeable about the other elements of design.  She’ll be a great help, plus – you’re just going to love her.

We’ve also put together some collections of wedding images to help keep you inspired.  You’ll find those here.

Your big day in Hidden Hawaii is going to be incredible – the Happily Ever After you’ve always wanted!

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