Are you thinking about eloping in Hawaii but are not really sure and can’t make up your mind?? Well, let me make it up for you because I just came back from there and OH MY GOSH!! 😉 You NEED to elope in Hawaii and all its gorgeousness. When you picture Hawaii in your mind, you think of sand and beaches, blue waters and palm trees everywhere but all the islands are totally different from each other. And no matter what you envision your elopement to look like, whether it be on a beach or by a waterfall, you will definitely find a beautiful wedding location in Hawaiian Islands. Out of them all, Kauai is my favorite. It has everything you want starting from fresh air, white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, waterfalls and cliffs and so much more. And even though Kauai is a major tourist destination, it has still maintained it’s happy and low-key vibe except for the Roosters that WILL start going off like the obnoxious alarm starting 4 AM and you can’t even snooze it even though what you want more than anything in the world is just sleep for couple more hours after that torturous flight lol
It is no surprise that Kauai is considered a paradise on earth and is known as “The Garden Isle” because of all the lush green lands that include tropical forests as well as breathtaking beaches. Between the Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), Kauai also offers some stunning adventure spots for all you thrill seekers out there. The combination of the Tropical Paradise and Epic Adventure Spots makes Kauai the perfect spot for your adventure elopement! So let’s jump right in and let me help you plan a ridiculously amazing elopement in Kauai.
** But before we get into it, just a reminder, in order to keep this Island as beautiful as it is, please remember to respect the island and its people and follow the LNT principles.
Hawaii & How to get there.
The main airport to get into Kauai is the Lihue International Airport. It is located 1.5 miles east of Lihue, on the Southeast coast off the island of Kauai. You would book a flight to Lihue airport to get to Kauai the fastest.
My favorite way to book flights is through the app Hopper. If you don’t know what hopper is and don’t have then you need to. You can start looking for flights few months in advance and it will keep a watch on them for you. Whenever the flights are about to go up in price, it will send you a notification so you can book it then. If you look for a flight on there, it will tell you if you should wait or Book now. If it predicts, a price deduction, it will ask you to wait.
The only downside to the app is that, because it wants to give you the best deal and cheapest flight, they may not always be the fastest or the most convenient. My flight to Kauai had a 24 hour layover in LA and I had to book a hotel room for one night which was about $200 extra. I should have just paid extra for a faster flight. But it also depends on where you are flying out of. There are direct flights out of LA, San Francisco, Seattle as well as Phoenix and some other airports.
If you are able to splurge a little bit and want the most convenient flights, then I suggest Hawaiian airlines. They have direct flights from New York City with a short 40 min layover in Honolulu. If you are able to upgrade to first class, there are super nice lie back seats and with Hawaiian bedding to give you the best Hawaiian experience.
** Pro-tip: If you are flying anything other than Hawaiian, keep in mind that the airport counters at Lihue for the other airlines only open 3 hours before the flight departure time. So if you get there any earlier than that you will be waiting OUTSIDE. There is no inside waiting or comfortable benches to sit on while waiting. We made the mistake of getting to the airport earlier like idiots and had to wait outside for 2 hours lol
Hawaii Marriage License and Laws
It is not hard to legally elope in Hawaii but you do need to know how to get a marriage license and all the other licenses that is required for your vendors to shoot your wedding ceremony. If you want a quick overview you can watch this video about the process of getting married in Hawaii. You can also go on this website and read all the requirements about the obtaining of your marriage license as well as getting married. But to overview, you can fill out the application form from the marriage license agent or download them and submit them. No blood test or birth certificate is required unless you are under the age of 18. No witnesses are required. The total application fee is $65 and once obtained, it is valid for 30 days throughout the state of Hawaii.
Your wedding can only be performed by the officiants that are commissioned by the state of Hawaii. If you are planning on having your wedding at the beach, then the officiant should obtain the beach permit for the wedding which will cover the photography during the ceremony and photos after but if you plan to go elsewhere to shoot, your photographer will have to get additional permits. It HAS to be the photographer that gets the permit as they have to submit their insurance information as well.
Where to Elope in Kauai
One of the most amazing spots for your elopement in Kauai is Poipu. The Shipwrecks beach in Poipu is located on the South shore of Kauai and in close proximity to the Grand Hyatt Resort. It consists of stunning cliffs overlooking some of the most beautiful blue waters I have ever seen. There are plenty of beach resorts to stay at which is extra nice as you can walk out of your hotel and jump into the waters or get married at the shore. The waters are the calmest on the South shore in winter. Some of the cliffs in Poipu offer a bit more quiet and are easy to acquire permits for.
** Pro-tip: Most beaches are going to be somewhat popular during the day and on the weekend so try to aim for a weekday for your ceremony to avoid people in the photos. You might also consider your ceremony to be either at Sunrise or Sunset for the best lighting conditions so you can have those gorgeous golden lit photos. No arches or amplified music or alcohol is allowed for beach weddings.
If you go towards the west of the Island, you will find Hawaii’s very own look-a-like Grand Canyon, Waimea Canyon. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water” which is a reference to the Canyon’s red soil. It’s about an hour drive from Lihue, which if you ask me, is so worth it once you get there. The views from the overlook of the canyon are stunning! There are multiple places you can stop and take photos at if you are up for the adventure.
Just north of Waimea Canyon, there is Kokee State park which has the most iconic views of the Napali.
Pro-tip: If you plan to have your elopement at the canyon or Kokee, your photographer has to get a permit and the application must be submitted 45 days in advance and the application fee is around $100 per day for the permit.
The North Shore of Hawaii is a great place to get married especially if you are eloping in Summer. That’s when the waters are the calmest. One of the locations is the Limahuli Gardens. But the most stunning thing in the North Shore is the Na’Pali Coast. This 17 mile stretch of coastline is line with cliffs, lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and sea caves.
Pro-tip: the Napali Coast is inaccessible by car and the only way to get there is to hike or take a boat tour.
There are tons of gorgeous places to elope in Kauai. If you are not the adventure hiking type then there are always places and beaches that are fairly easy to get to without having to hike trails. Basically Kauai has something for every couple getting married.
How much does it cost to elope in Hawaii?
You must be thinking it is super expensive to go Hawaii and elope right? Well, you can keep it as simple or lavish as you want. If you just want to elope in the nature and want nothing, then it probably won’t cost you anything besides the license, permit and flights. But if you want to make it a little bit more, you can buy a dress, get a bouquet from a florist or make your own and even find a venue. If you are eloping by yourself or just a few guests, it’s easy to keep your cost low. Wedding venue prices are high on the Island.
If you can afford it and don’t want to plan it all yourself, you can look into hiring a wedding planner or an elopement package, but you may not have full control over all the details and logistics if you go this route.
Traveling to Hawaii in the off season may keep your flight costs low. To save money on food, avoid eating out as much and stay at an Airbnb with a kitchen so that you can make your own meals.
And lastly, you will need an amazing photographer. This is one thing that you should not try to find a deal on because your photos are the only things that remain after. So find a photographer whose work you absolutely love, who you jive with and will be up for all your adventures. You should be able to trust your photographer to document your elopement in an epic way.
When to Elope in Hawaii?
The temperatures in Hawaii are pretty much the same all year around so you don’t have to worry about that. The only thing you really should watch out for is the rainy season and the tourist season. If you are planning on getting married at a popular spot during tourist, then you may want to do it during a weekday to avoid the rush. Check with your photographer and officiant to figure out the best times of the day to have your ceremony for the best lighting conditions. Rain is notorious in Hawaii and can pop up at any time so make sure to have rain jackets. It may not last all day long, it may be on and off or it could just start raining all of a sudden even if it’s sunny.
Kauai Guided Tours
If you are eloping in Kauai and want to take your adventure to the next level, there are several companies that offer guided tours and activities that could be super fun.
Helicopter rides: There are a few helicopter companies that offer tour where you can view Kauai from the sky. You fly over the Island and above the Napali Coast and view of the waterfalls. The doors off tour are recommended to get the best out of the experience.
Kayak tours: Book a kayak tour and explore the Hanalei Bay and Hanalei River Valley.
Zip lining and horseback riding: Princeville Ranch Adventures is one company that offers zip lining and horseback riding tours through their scenic ranch.
ATV tours: Take a guided ATV tour and explore the waterfalls, jungle landscapes as well as the movie sites in Kauai. You will get muddy and wet during this so if you are not okay with it, I suggest you don’t do it.
Surfing lessons: There are many places in Hawaii that offer surf lessons starting from beginners to advanced. If this is something you have always wanted to do then now is the time.
Go to a Luau: If you have time and if it’s in your budget, then go to a Luau and enjoy some dancing and delicious Hawaiian food. I am told that they are expensive and need reservation in advance.
Scube/Snorkel: Take a scuba or a snorkeling tour and explores Hawaii’s amazing marine life and maybe you will get to swim with the sea turtles. You can snorkel for free anywhere but these tours will make sure you see some good stuff.
Tips for planning your Kauai Elopement Trip
Buy Reef safe sunscreen.
Pack hiking shoes because some areas require walking through mud.
Rent a jeep or a 4x4 if you want to explore the off beaten path.
Waterproof phone case so you can take some cool underwater shots.
Lightweight rain jacket
Buy your fruit from local roadside vendors or farmer’s market
Stock up on groceries at the beginning of the trip to save some money. There is a Costco by the Lihue Airport.
Make sure to try some shaved ice.
Have some ear plugs for night. Trust us on this one if you don’t want to be awaken by roosters super early.
I think that’s about everything you need to know to plan your elopement in Hawaii. If you elope on any of the Hawaiian Islands, I guarantee it will be amazing and beautiful and everything you ever imagined your wedding would look like. Do I have you looking for flights yet? I am already planning my next trip.
Doesn’t Hawaii sound like an amazing place for your elopement? I’d love to guide you through the process of planning your perfect wedding day so we can make it meaningful and fun and be there to document every moment. Get in touch with me 🙂