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Connoisseur's Choice in Luxury Living

Kauai – YES, YES & YES!

Kauai – YES, YES & YES!

 Yes, Yes & Yes
I Do Just for Two! 

Eloping, 2nd Marriages, Anniversaries, or Renewing Vows

By Scott Farnham

Photography By Connie Ekelund

Looking to plan a romantic event or special wedding? Consider the garden island, Kaua’i. It may just be the ticket to all your dreams come true.

As we discovered, Kaua’i has a super easy and slow pace, making it a jewel of a find for folks wishing to have a no-stress, relaxing time instead of fretting about finding enough space to lay down your beach towel. No hustle and bustle, no traffic jams and no fast food chain restaurants on every street corner.

On Kaua’i we learned the natural beauty is still unspoiled, and no wonder its moniker is “The Garden Island.” We experienced towering waterfalls, lush vegetation, and pristine rivers. The classic golden sand beaches and palm fronds that frolicked in the ever-present trade winds were imprinted in our minds, as was the pounding surf that lulled us to sleep each night. Dolphins cavorted off the bow of our catamaran, and sea turtles gazed at us with as much curiosity as we had for them. Caves suitable for any pirate to bury their treasure in were found at each beach stop along our journey. And on this fantastic journey, we went to all corners and sampled Kaua’i bountiful charms.

Wedding Couple
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Perhaps this isn’t your first marriage or you’re just old enough to know what’s truly important is spending a carefree time and focusing on the here and now. You don’t want to worry about planning for masses of other people, bridesmaid gowns, dinner menus, flower arrangements and hotel reservations. In today’s busy times, it feels great to be able to drop out of the rat race and stop to smell the hibiscus growing outside your door. All you Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers, and type A personality people deserve to be able to get away from it all. Kaua’i fits that bill.

The friendliness of the local people is one of the island’s biggest assets. Throughout our travels there, we met with people who took great pride in telling us about their island, the history and special places to go.  We learned that “Aloha” means hello and goodbye, and when one part of our journey finished, another immediately began.

After having landed in Honolulu, we took a short island hop flight to Kaua’i. The difference was dramatic, from a commercialized and congested main island to the lush and laid-back island that we welcomed us.

Kaua’i also offers up enough thrilling adventures to satisfy any adrenaline junkie’s appetite. We took part in many exciting activities, along with our romantic agenda, of course!

Hanalei Colony Resort
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Our journey started at the Hanalei Colony Resort, which is nestled on a secluded stretch of golden beach, set against the magnificent mountains of Kaua’i’s North Shore. We wanted a place to recharge our batteries and get away from busy times, and found it here. It really is a special place for a romantic interlude, in the most postcard-beautiful surroundings. The Hanalei Colony resort is in a land of rainbows and shimmering moonlight skies. Virtually at the end of the island highway, one has to travel over many one lane bridges and through remarkable terrain to find this gem, and it is well worth the time to do so. The sound of the surf sent us off to dreamland each night, and the cool tradewinds kept us from overheating in the daytime, while lounging on the property’s amazing beaches. We had a remarkable dinner at their Mediterranean restaurant to cap off the experience.

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We wanted to discover all Kaua’i’s charms and what better way than a private helicopter charter to view the garden island? We selected Safari Helicopter Tours as our guides and were rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience to access places island-wide and especially on the Nā Pali Coast, seemingly unchanged since the formation of this beautiful island.

In the expert hands of pilot Julia, we toured in safety and comfort in a modern A Star helicopter, and were afforded close views in canyons with towering waterfalls and impossibly steep, lush green mountains shooting up from the deep blue sea. Safari Helicopter owner, Preston Myers has operated the first-class operation from Lihue airport since 1984, and is a true pioneer in aviation tourism on the island.

Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures
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To get up close and personal with this amazing countryside, we enlisted Kaua’i Backcountry Adventures to take us lazy river tubing through the canals and hills of a former sugarcane plantation. These manmade canals offer a refreshingly cool dip of mountain fed water on a hot day as they wind their way through tunnels and past amazing scenery, all under the watchful eye of their experienced guides. A delicious lunch served afterwards filled us with energy again.

Princeville Ranch Adventures
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We would need that energy because our next activity was to go horseback riding with Princeville Ranch Adventures to a secluded private waterfall. How perfect was this you ask? Imagine your own secret waterfall cascading down on you in an idyllic setting of exotic flowers and vegetation. Our guide Kalowna was very knowledgeable about the 2500-acre ranch we were on, and the horses were very well trained and behaved.

Princeville Ranch also offers ziplining adventures, so we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give it a try. Our guides Aaron and Miguel made sure everyone was safe always and started us out slowly to get the hang of things. We progressed up to the finale named King Kong, a 1200’ side by side thrill ride that still makes me giggle when I think of it.

Nights while we were on the North Shore consisted of sampling from fine dining to food trucks, and opportunities to shop in the quaint village for treasures to bring back home to family.

Koloa Landing Resort
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We said aloha to the North Shore and headed south to Koloa Landing Resort in Poipu. The luxury of this resort is evident on arrival. Newly opened, Koloa Landing is sure to establish itself as a favorite among Kaua’i visitors. The rooms are exquisite in design and materials, and in no time at all, we found this a place to really feel at home. On the grounds, there are simply amazing areas with multiple pools, a water slide, grotto, hot tub, waterfall, and a handy restaurant. Koloa Landing Resort would become our base camp to launch our wedding day and other sporting activities while in the south side of the island.

Wedding - The Event
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To say we had a special elopement wedding day would be an understatement… we had a spectacular wedding experience in paradise! Credit goes to our wedding planner, Diana Gardner from Alohana Weddings.  She is a wonder woman and miracle worker all in one. Our job was easy, all we had to do is show up, Diana had the heavy lifting of organizing the 101 details, and let me tell you that she did a simply amazing job.

Imagine a wedding at National Tropical Botanical Garden, a veritable botanical ark of tropical flora. Located on the South Shore of Kaua’i, McBryde garden is nestled in the picturesque and historical Lawa’i Valley. This made a perfect backdrop for our ceremony, photo session and candlelight dinner.

Diana did a masterful job of not only selecting the best wedding experience vendors, but organizing the timetable and making sure the whole event ran seamlessly from start to finish. We highly recommend her if you are looking for an unforgettable experience.

My lovely bride Connie had her hair and makeup done by Meghan Dahl of Kaua’i Wedding Hair & Make-up. Megan arrived at our hotel a couple of hours prior to the ceremony and she had amazing ideas and attention to detail. The bride emerged looking beautiful and ready to go. Megan specializes in both small and large wedding parties and once did a 12 bridesmaids event!

Speaking of beautiful, the stunning and fragrant flowers and bouquet, hair clip, leis, centerpiece, garlands, aisle petals & loose flowers all were simply perfect and were provided by Arlene from Blue Orchid Florist.  Neil from Orchid Alley provided orchid plants, a large arrangement, white orchid plants and cut stems that were incorporated into the décor. We have never seen so many orchids and petals, and the ceremony was something out of a dream or movie. And what movie would be complete without music? We were serenaded with Over the Rainbow by Lenny Breeze on ukulele.

The ceremony was presided over by Minister Tommy Togioka from Royal T Entertainment who blew the conch shell and led the event. Wonderful local vows, a traditional Hawaiian Lei exchange, and meaningful personal commitment dialogue followed. It was all a whirlwind of emotions and activity, even a bit surreal being set in such a beautiful location.  As my beautiful bride walked through an archway festooned with orchids, over the grass sprinkled with flower petals, I thought myself the luckiest man on earth. This will be a memory to cherish for all time.

To remember these magical moments, photographer extraordinaire Brian Finch from Love Bliss Imaging captured our memories in digital. Brian knows just how to suggest a pose, a look and use the gorgeous island light to create photos that are stunning. Several people have asked me if our photos were photoshopped because they could not believe such a sunset could be captured. Brian shuttled us around to various locations at just the right times to take advantage of the light.

Our videographer Michelle Rundbaken from Zest Kaua’i also did a wonderful job of creating a story line video of our whole wedding. She takes great pride in putting the pieces and events together to make a memorable video that we can cherish and share with family.

After the ceremony and photos, everyone was, of course, hungry and dinner was served, but not just any dinner. Just when we thought the wow factor could not be greater, Diana had arranged a chandelier and candlelight dinner for the two of us in the garden, under the stars. Chef Leo Antunez prepared a five-course meal featuring his summer rolls, rack of lamb, flower salad, fresh caught Ono, and blueberry strawberry cake in chocolate sauce, yummy X 3!

Tommy T serenaded us with traditional Hawaiian songs while we wined and dined and Marissa provided the accompanying hula dancing. It was such a perfect ending event to a magical day. The setting, the garden, the sunset, the beaches, the food, the wine were all beyond compare.

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Our honeymoon still was not over, though. The next day we visited the spa at Kukui’ula for a couple’s massage and dinner, both of which were equally amazing and satisfying. Chef Ben created a special menu that features the best of island cuisine and wine pairing. The architecture and grounds of this resort are a sight to behold with views that go for miles.

Koloa Zipline and ATV Tours
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After the wedding and relaxing days, it was time to get sporty again. We still had a thrilling night time zipline jumping into the unknown under starry skies that was really, really fun, and an ATV tour that we got incredibly muddy on, both activities by Koloa Zipline/ATV Tours

Outfitters Kaua’i
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We cleaned up the next two days by kayaking with Outfitters Kaua’i. Our destination was a 10 story waterfall right out of a movie scene. After an hour’s paddle up river and a short hike, the sight of this was breathtaking. Our guide, whose name was Elvis (how great is that!) was a storehouse of knowledge and very professional.

Holo Holo Charters
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On our last day, we took a fast catamaran cruise along the Nā Pali coast with Holo Holo Charters for some sightseeing and snorkeling. It was nice to get another perspective of the garden island from the ocean and we sailed past many famous movie locations, caves and beaches, all the while having catered food and drinks. While snorkeling, we saw sea turtles and seals and it was a tremendous experience to round out our honeymoon.

We did so much, saw so many things, met such wonderful people in Kaua’i and had such an incredible time.

It is on the top of our list to return and do it all over again. Aloha!


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