For a gorgeous elopement sans passport, set your watch to island time, and jet off to Maui, the Hawaiian archipelago dubbed the most romantic of them all. And for good reason: Maui has more miles of swimmable beaches than any other island in Hawaii, many lined with palm trees and scenic lava-rock formations for a picture-postcard afternoon of relaxation. The striking sightseeing—whether on the water (spot massive humpback whales leaping into the air) or 10,023 feet above sea level atop the Haleakala volcano—turns an elopement into a next-level vacation.
And for elopers keen on adventure, a weekend won’t be enough to soak it all in. Stick around for snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Molokini Crater, or perhaps take an unforgettable journey on the Road to Hana through eastern Maui’s lush tropical rainforests. Along the way, you might swivel around breathtaking hairpin turns, pause for photos of gorgeous waterfalls, and pick up some locally handmade jewelry to commemorate your trip—and the start of a lifetime of love.
Best Time of Year to Visit
April - May and August - October
The tropical climate in Maui means generally warm weather year-round (average temps are in the 70s and 80s) but because of crowding and higher prices in summer and winter, the shoulder seasons are an ideal time to visit. There are a few caveats, though, if you’re planning on partaking in specific activities while on the island, such as whale-watching, for instance, which happens in the winter as humpback whales migrate en masse to the waters around Maui. Winter is also the time for surfing thanks to the season’s bigger waves—though that usually comes along with storms dampening otherwise clear afternoons. By contrast, summer is the sunniest time of year with the calmest waters, meaning it’s great for snorkeling, swimming, and parasailing, as long as you don’t mind more crowded beaches.
Pro tip: In general, the southern and southwestern parts of Maui are the driest, while the west side experiences more frequent showers, and the eastern region—which is mostly a tropical rainforest—can see over 300 inches of rain annually. Pack a raincoat just in case, as well as light layers for nighttime temperature dips if you’re visiting in winter, spring, or fall.
Head inland from Maui’s southwestern coast to the rural upcountry region and you’ll find yourself surrounded by miles upon miles of idyllic farmland. Nestled amid them is one particularly pretty 13.5-acre swath exploding with 45 different varieties of lavender. Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm offers Maui’s only “lavender lifestyle experience,” which is an elevated name encompassing guided farm tours, bouquet-making, and lavender tea tastings, among other rustic things. Its 4,000-foot elevation grants it stunning bicoastal views and a purple-tinged photoscape unlike anything you’ve ever seen. For weddings, the farm partners with a local planning service, A Maui Wedding Day, which offers an elopement package for up to five people. For $1,600, you’ll have a two-hour block of time on the farm between 9am and 4pm, including a ceremony with your choice of officiant—and for additional fees, a variety of extra options, from transportation to photography to a private dinner for two.
Going for an upscale elopement? Kaanapali Beach holds three pristine miles of glistening gold sands and crystal-clear surf fronted by six massive luxury resorts (the island’s Hyatt Regency, Sheraton, and Westin among them). If you’re into the idea of a lux all-inclusive, you could stay at any one of these hotspots and tap their resources for a well-coordinated wedding experience without ever leaving the resort complex. The only catch? You can’t have a toes-in-the-sand ceremony on any part of the main Kaanapali Beach stretch (it’s the only beach in Maui where they’re off-limits).
Sure, you could host your ceremony at one of the hotels and then wander toward the water for portraits—but to skirt the beachside ceremony ban altogether, go for the Kaanapali Maui at the Eldorado by Outrigger. Beyond spacious condos, this property near the famed Black Rock (known for cliff-diving rituals) boasts an oceanfront cabana equipped with a kitchen and facilities—the secret to the beach-wedding loophole. Its location right on the sand makes it the only spot in esteemed Kaanapali where you can have a true beachfront wedding, just a few minutes north (and away from the hustle and bustle) of the resort stretch. Not to mention its due-west exposure, which makes a sunset ceremony that much more breathtaking. Win. Win. Win.
Step foot on this crescent-shaped corner of paradise, and you’ll see why it’s consistently ranked among the best beaches in Hawaii. Naturally sheltered from trade winds by its curved, palm-lined coastline, pretty Kapalua is most popular for kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling around its vibrant coral reefs. And just like its sister to the south, Kaanapali, this beach is perfectly positioned for sunsets over the horizon, making it a top pick among elopers (and tourists of all kinds, for that matter). A designated parking lot at the head of the beach path, as well as restrooms and showers, add to both its convenience and popularity—which also means that you’ll be better off arriving early in the day to secure your spot.
If timing isn’t your strong suit, nearby restaurant Merriman’s (a farm-to-table hotspot with locations across Hawaii) offers an appealing alternative: Reserve its grassy overlook on a cliff overlooking Kapalua Bay, and you’ll get all of the stunning ocean views with none of the crowds. For $700, you can host a ceremony with up to 35 guests from 10am to 2pm or 3pm to sunset. Then, treat yourselves to a spread of the restaurant’s signature “pupu” (appetizers), like ahi ginger poke or kalua-pig-and-sweet-onion quesadillas.
Similar to Wailea Inn, Lahaina Oceanfront Estate is a gorgeous vacation rental—only this one is even more intimate, sleeping only 12 to 15 people (depending on set-up) across six bedrooms. As its name suggests, it backs right up to the ocean with a grassy backyard and a narrow strip of sand; hang out by the water, and you may just spot a few sea turtles swimming in the area.
As for the Airbnb itself, it’s beautiful, too, with balconies spanning more than half its length and amenities including a pool, hot tub, and hammock (who doesn’t love an oceanfront hammock?). Rent it, and you’ll have private access to the full property, meaning zero interruptions to the photo ops in all directions. Inside, you’ll find a family room for entertaining, a gourmet kitchen with a breakfast nook, and a separate one-bedroom unit with a private kitchen and bath among the home’s 3,800 square feet of living space. Use it as your home base for the weekend, host your ceremony on the lawn, and relax with a cocktail or two on a hammock—it’s everything you need for a Maui elopement in a single booking.
The fact that this once-hidden gem has been widely explored doesn’t make its initial appeal any less so. Nestled between private homes and accessed only by a break in a rock wall, this little crescent beach is a stunning spot for tying the knot—thanks to golden sand, palm trees, a smattering of lava rocks at the coastline, and a bright turquoise surf. It’s also called “Paako Cove” or “secret cove” (because of its inconspicuous locale), and since it only fits 15 to 20 people comfortably, it’s practically made for eloping. Recently, weddings have become more common on its shores, though, so it’s best to stake it out early in the morning for a chance at having the space to yourself. There isn’t too much within walking distance in the way of restaurants or lodging, but just a four-minute drive up the road is Makena Golf & Beach Club, where you might retreat to a hillside villa or dine al fresco with a celebratory round of Mai Thais.
Typically quieter than surrounding beaches and mainly used by area residents, this peaceful sandy stretch is somewhat tucked away. Unlike many south Maui beaches, Palauea (aka White Rock Beach) doesn’t have a designated parking lot; to get to it, you’ll park on the side of a dirt access road off Makena Road, south of Polo Beach, then traipse through the kiawe trees along a path to the sand. But once you make it, it’ll be well worth the trip. When the water is calm, this beach’s gently sloping shoreline makes it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling around natural rocks flanking both edges (though if you do decide to take a dip, stay near the coast, since there’s no lifeguard on duty). Because it’s a recessed bay, it doesn’t get as much wind as nearby beaches, making it exceptional for a ceremony and portraits.
Though there aren’t restrooms or facilities on-site, you can find them at Polo Beach, two minutes up the road. It’s adjacent to the luxe Fairmont Kea Lani—the southernmost hotel on the Wailea coast resort area—where you can kick off your honeymoon with sugar body scrubs at the on-site spa.
Simply put, this is the Airbnb of your dreams. Pililani is a gated estate in the northern part of upcountry with four lushly landscaped acres of grounds. Palm and citrus trees, a tropical cut-flower garden, and a fish pond filled with water lilies transform it into a serene oasis from the rest of the world—which is fitting given that its name means “close to heaven.” Once you get there, you’ll find practically no reason to return to the land of mere mortals, thanks to endless diversions on the property itself, whether you’d prefer to take a dip in the 40-foot pool or hot tub, relax in the sauna, play a few matches on the regulation-size tennis court, or grill up a fresh feast in the poolside cabana.
Rent it for just the two of you and turn your elopement into a romantic rendezvous in one of Maui’s most stunning corners, or invite up to eight friends or family members and share the love. The main wing of the house has three bedrooms, and the covered walkways on either side lead to two private master suites, making the property well-suited to a small family affair.
If you’re looking for a chic indoor/outdoor venue to tie the knot with space for a small reception, look no further than Steeple House, a restored 1950s chapel with an adjacent event room and manicured terrace overlooking the ocean. In many cases, its setup presents a Goldilocks scenario: It’s not so big that your intimate group will get lost in it, yet it’s an established enough venue that it includes a handful of logistical perks, like a bridal suite for getting ready, a small catering kitchen, and parking for up to 40 cars. Not to mention, it’s a particularly great choice for those who’d rather not bet on good weather, given the extensive indoor space. (Though if the day ends up being a beautiful one, you could easily walk to nearby Oneloa Beach, the least crowded one in Kapalua). To host just your ceremony at Steeple House, you’ll pay a $1,500 site fee for a three-hour rental (not available on Saturdays); to also throw a party, the fee jumps up to $3,500 for the day (30 people or fewer).
Riding the Airbnb wave, Maui homeowners have embraced the rental market—and as their houses emerge as home-away-from-homes for tourists, they’re also finding new purpose as event spaces. Go the way of the private rental for your elopement, and you’ll avoid resort crowds, discover quieter stretches of Maui’s prettiest beaches, and gain access to local recommendations for restaurants and activities. One outstanding place to consider: Wailea Inn. This airy, recently remodeled 9,000-square-foot villa sleeps 32 people in total, divided across four condos. You can rent them separately, or in any combination, though a complete rental gives your group exclusive access to the gated property’s heated pool, jacuzzi, indoor yoga studio, 800-square-foot deck, and grassy oceanfront lawn—the latter two of which make for beautiful outdoor locales to say your vows.
Thanks to ties with a couple of the area’s top event-planning companies, the Inn can also help coordinate food, music, and rentals for a small reception on-site, if you’d like to host one. But even if not, this retreat serves as a far more intimate home base for a few loved ones than a typical hotel, and its stellar location in Kihei (a few miles north of Wailea) doesn’t hurt, either: It’s right across the street from Charley Young Beach, a tranquil photoscape for sunset vows, as well as a great spot for surfing, paddle-boarding, and whale-watching.
Marrying anywhere in Hawaii is pretty straightforward: You can apply for a marriage license online (or with a printed form) and then complete the application by filling it out in person with a marriage license agent on the island where you’ll tie the knot; that process costs $65 total. If you’re over 18, you’ll only need to demonstrate proof of age via a driver’s license or state ID, though any applicant 18 and under must present a certified copy of a birth certificate. Only those with a previous marriage that ended within 30 days of submitting their application will be required to show proof of original divorce decree or death certificate.
Once you’re approved, you can marry immediately anywhere in the state of Hawaii (no waiting period), but the license is only valid for up to 30 days. During that time, you’ll need to have a ceremony conducted by a licensed marriage performer to finalize your union. While you’ll have no trouble finding one of those folks in Maui, you can also have a friend or family member apply to gain this title (and the legal right to marry you) via the same portal used for your license application. For more information on getting married in Hawaii and the marriage-performer application, visit the state Department of Health’s website.
A note on permits: Because all Maui beaches are public, the opportunities for a toes-in-the-sand wedding are practically endless—but as a result, all beach weddings (ID’d as such if they happen below the high-tide mark) require a permit, most often issued by the state; see this full list of state-managed beach locations. If your desired spot isn’t included, contact the county where it’s located to request access for your elopement. Your planner, officiant, or photographer should be able to get the permit for you, but if you do need to apply yourself, it’s thankfully pretty straightforward. First, you’ll fill out an application to access the Online Wiki Permits System, and once it’s been approved, you’ll apply for the permit through the portal. If you have questions about the process, visit this FAQ page from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, or contact the agency directly by emailing email@example.com.