Keeping your love alive on O’ahu

Toronto Star, May 14: You wake up to the sound of the waves rolling on the beach, birds chattering as they fly past your open balcony and dolphins splashing and playing in the resort’s lagoon a few floors below.

It’s almost enough to drown out the cacophony of your man snoring.

The wedding is over. The ‎compromising is just beginning.

You can learn a lot about creating a long and lasting partnership on the island of O’ahu, home to thousands of weddings every year that are framed by surf, sand and the perfect sunset. And after the ceremony, you can stick around to pick up a few tips on keeping your love alive.

For example, doing things you don’t really want to do. Say, yoga on a stand up paddle board. You’re more than game. He’d rather not, but he gives it a whirl. He struggles to follow the instructor bending into different poses while standing on our giant boards that are anchored off the beach at Kahala Hotel and Resort. She tells us to look at the horizon to steady ourselves. He attempts the wheel pose and rolls right into the water.

Of course, successful couples have also learned that you don’t have to do everything together. On a day trip to the leeward (west) side of Oahu, he heads off to the championship Ko Olina Golf Club while I check out Lagoon 2, one of the beaches and sheltered swimming area on the resort. I float on my back watching a just-married couple pose for photos on the beach while little kids build sand castles and run into the water with colourful foam noodles.

Any marriage counsellor worth their salt will advise you to have your own adventures, but it’s equally important to connect at the end of the day over dinner. We talk about the day’s activities over the work of art that is the appetizer platter at Chef Chai in downtown Honolulu. After our seafood entrees, we share cheese cake made with olive oil and coconut milk.

Another evening, we feel a little guilty about ordering filet instead of Ahi at Bali Steak and Seafood in Waikiki, but any regrets vanish when the steaks arrive. Our table has a perfect view of the sunset. “If you miss it tonight, it will be back tomorrow,” our server quips, while instructing us to never stir a Mai Tai. We have a hearty discussion about the benefits of drinking the rum and juice in layers.

There are other times in a relationship you don’t need to talk at all. Like during the couple’s massage at the Kahala Spa. Tiny Japanese ladies with the strength of sumo wrestlers run their elbows down our hamstrings and smooth out all the gravelly bits in our shoulders. We lie on our massage tables a few feet apart, lost in the luxury, and unable to talk even if we had anything to say.

But life together isn’t always miraculous cheese cake and relaxing massages. Successful couples learn to navigate the stress of their hectic lives. The very crowded KCC Farmers’ Market across from Diamond Head offers an excellent opportunity to practice these skills. Weaving through hordes of shoppers picking up giant avocados and apple bananas, we find crepes for breakfast that the sign promises are “made with amour.”

A few stalls over, a man is selling the world’s freshest coconut water. He chops off the top of a coconut, inserts a single straw and hands it over. We pass it back and forth sharing the liquid that’s as sweet as champagne, while moving together through the ebb and flow of the crowds.

And bickering, maybe just a little, over the best way to get to the exit.

Just the facts

Destination weddings: O’ahu is a popular choice for Japanese and North American couples to get married. They can say their vows in a glass chapel at Ko Olina Resort, with pounding surf as a backdrop at Turtle Bay Resort or standing over a shallow pool at the Modern in Honolulu.

Chef Chai: You will fall in love with the food at this downtown Honolulu restaurant beloved by locals and visitors alike. The restaurant serves up plenty of seafood but zero butter in its masterpieces.

Madre Chocolate: You and your honey can satisfy your sweet tooth by making your own chocolate bars at Madre Chocolate in Honolulu’s Chinatown. The “bean to bar” shop grows its vanilla beans, hot peppers and other ingredients out back.

If you go: Bring your sweetie.

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