Tourist-heavy Oahu may not conjure up romantic strolls on secluded beaches or perfect sunsets with only lapping waves in the background. But it really should. The most populated of the Hawaiian Islands still offers plenty of amorous adventures, from garden picnics to spirited cooking classes that will rack up points with your mate. Here are five outside-the-chocolate-box ways to woo your date this Valentine’s Day:
See the lights
Book a table at the Top of Waikiki, a revolving restaurant perched on the 18th floor of the Waikiki Business Plaza with 360-degree vistas. On Valentine’s Day, this regional Hawaiian eatery offers a special four-course dinner featuring prime steak, local lobster pot pie, hamachi and caviar tartare, and a decadent chocolate cake — all paired with wine and served at sunset. If tables with the best views are taken on February 14, score a spot for the next night, when the same menu is available.
Walk a secluded beach
Pack some wine, salami and a wedge of sharp cheese — pick these up at the nearest R. Field Wine Company location inside a Foodland store — and hit a quiet beach right in the middle of town. Yes, Oahu still has a few left. Your best bet would be to walk along the shoreline at Diamond Head at dusk and find a quiet spot away from sunbathers and surfers. A sunrise picnic would work here, too.
Nothing says romance more than a prix fixe dinner at one of Oahu’s best French restaurants, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Chef Mavro. For Valentine’s Day, the fine-dining spot will celebrate romance all week — February 11 to 16 — with a flexible four-course offering. Dine on white sturgeon malossol caviar, seared Hudson Valley foie gras, Keahole lobster risotto, wagyu beef medallions and a Madre Chocolate dessert especially made for this menu. Enhance your outing by adding fresh Perigord truffles, having wine pairings or even splurging on the six-course dinner option.
Experience a garden
Grab some sandwiches or a traditional Hawaiian plate (two scoops of white rice, a mound of macaroni salad and a meat entrée) from Waiahole Poi Factory and head to the sprawling Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, a 400-acre oasis in Kaneohe on Oahu’s windward side that’s chock-full of native, endangered and rare plants. The park offers guided walks at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays, though the garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a network of trails to keep any couple occupied.
Or simply ditch dinner reservations altogether and make your own romantic meal. There are a number of places around Oahu that offer cooking classes, including the culinary arts program at Kapiolani Community College. The school provides several half-day cooking and baking classes in February, including one focused on making light desserts and another on Italian pasta and sauces (both on February 15).
Photos Courtesy of Halekulani and Chef Marvo