#VisitOahu Part 7: The Kahala


Part of being a honeymoon designer means visiting destinations to see firsthand whether they may be good fits for future clients. These trips are often whirlwinds, packed full of handfuls of properties and experiences. Since a girl can only take so many notes in a day—hello, hand cramps—there’s one really easy way I sometimes measure whether a property gets added to my list of favorites:

Do I dream about returning someday with my hubby?

If the answer is yes, the hotel or resort jumps onto my list of contenders for future clients—with a couple’s final choice depending, of course, on their specific interests and honeymoon style.

On my recent trip to Hawaii to earn my master specialist status from the O’ahu Visitors Bureau—an opportunity made possible by my host agency the Gifted Travel Network and partner supplier Journese—I was lucky to return home lusting after several serious honeymoon heavens, especially The Kahala Hotel & Resort.

Here’s why I plan to whisk Mr. Smitten off to this luxury property someday for a romantic respite:

The Location.

The Kahala is located 10 minutes outside of Waikiki, in the residential area of Kahala—one of the most exclusive parts of Honolulu. In other words, being outside of bustling Waikiki gives the resort an uber relaxing vibe, while maintaining easy access to the shopping and restaurants honeymooners and other vacationers love about Waikiki. (The Kahala even has a complimentary shuttle to take guests to and from the city center!)

The resort is also set between Diamond Head and Koko Head craters, offering breathtaking views no matter where you look.

The Beach.

If you appreciate any of the following like Mr. Smitten and I do when we’re on a vacay, you and the love of your life will feel right at home with your butt on the beach at The Kahala.

  • Eight-hundred feet of pristine white sand
  • Sapphire blue water
  • Complimentary beach loungers and towels
  • Kayaks, boogie boards, paddle boards, snorkel gear and other water sport equipment for rent on-site
  • Cabanas
  • Food and beverage service

The rooms.

I love a spacious hotel room, even more when it’s light, bright and airy. The rooms at The Kahala are all these things—from the lowest room category all the way up to the Imperial Suite, where President Obama, Sir Elton John, Queen Elizabeth II, The Dalai Lama, and so many other world leaders and celebrities have kicked their feet up for some fun in the sun.

Even better? Every room has a stunning view. Whether you prefer to overlook the ocean, Ko’olau Mountains or the resort’s private dolphin lagoon (yes, you can sit on your patio and watch dolphins play all day), options abound.

The dolphins.

Animal lover or not, it’s impossible to witness a dolphin up close and not believe in magic. A natural ocean water lagoon weaves throughout The Kahala, where Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins splash and play all day. The sanctuary offers educational experiences and raises money for dolphin conservation. I was lucky enough to participate in the resort’s Dolphin Encounter, which is a 15-minute dockside session during which I got to touch and feed Lono, the sanctuary’s oldest (and arguably cutest) dolphin.

The "Best of Kahala Seafood Buffet."

Every Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., Plumeria Beach House—an oceanfront, open-air restaurant at The Kahala serves up some of the most delicious seafood (and more) on O’ahu. From lobster to prime rib and everything in between, you’ll find it at the Best of Kahala Seafood Buffet. (Including the most dreamy chocolate mousse. You won’t regret trying it…or going back for seconds.) I generally don't care for buffets, but, you guys, it was memorable—in all the best ways. I'm not alone in this thinking, either.

The seafood buffet at Plumeria Beach House is so good, it isn’t just packed with resort guests on Fridays and Saturdays. When I was there, just as many locals had made reservations—one of the most telltale signs the restaurant is one of the top places to dine on weekends in the Honolulu area.

Because the buffet is so coveted, be sure to ask your honeymoon consultant to make you reservations if your vacation at The Kahala includes a Friday or Saturday. For an even more memorable dinner, schedule it over the sunset hour if possible!