Facebook: Lahaina cited as top honeymoon destination

Facebook, the social media website with more than a billion users, has released data showing that Lahaina, or probably West Maui, is a top getaway among its recently married couples this year.

Lahaina leads all other destinations in Hawaii where Facebook honeymooners from around the world have been. Second is Honolulu, followed by Lihue. Kihei and Kahului are in the Nos. 5 and 6 spots, respectively, with Makena and Wailea at the Nos. 8 and 9 spots, respectively.

Lahaina is second only to Las Vegas as the top destination worldwide for all honeymooning couples. It is also second to Sin City the as top destination in the U.S. for all honeymooning couples.

“We know through research that (honeymooners) are drawn here for the beauty and for this thing in the air that (we) always hear about, romance. This is a place for them to relax and spend time together, learn about each other while learning about our history and cultures,” said Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitor’s Bureau.

She noted that Maui provides seclusion and “couple time” but also offers a variety of activities.

While Facebook listed “Lahaina” as the top destination, Vencl said that Lahaina for the purposes of the survey probably also included the Kaanapali Resort.

Recently, Facebook analyzed the top honeymoon destinations in and outside of the United States based on its “check-ins.” The feature allows Facebook users to let their friends know where they are.

Lahaina’s position as a top site for honeymooners does not surprise those in the visitor industry, especially to those in West Maui.

“I’m glad to hear it; we are still up there and popular,” said Michael Moore, a founder of Na Hoaloha Ekolu, owners and operators of the Old Lahaina Luau and several other eateries in West Maui.

When the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” is played at the luau, honeymooners and newlyweds are the first to be called up to dance, followed by those celebrating anniversaries. Sometimes half the audience is on its feet, signaling how many honeymooners and newlyweds are attending the luau, Moore said.

“You’re in the visitor industry on Maui. You are definitely in the honeymoon business, too. That is a big part of the market,” Moore added.

At the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali, General Manager Allan Farwell, said, “Maui is a great honeymoon destination. We are here in honeymoon season, September and October; we get a ton of honeymooners.”

He added that the hotel recently added 25 new cabanas, of which honeymooners like to take advantage, along with swimming under the hotel’s waterfall or parasailing in waters fronting the hotel.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more honeymooners came to Hawaii this July, compared to July 2013.

This July saw the number of honeymooners statewide increase to 46,975, a 10.3 percent increase over July 2013 numbers. In the first seven months of this year, 335,632 honeymooners visited the state, an increase of 10.2 percent over the same period last year.

Vencl agreed that having honeymooners visit Maui is important to the island’s industry because it could translate into future visits.

“What we find is that not only do they come for the honeymoon, they come back for the anniversary, over and over for a regular basis. Then they bring the kids and grandkids,” she said. “It starts the flow of a family vacation sometimes on Maui.”

She added that U.S. News & World Report recently named Maui as the No. 4 destination in the world to visit. Topping the list was Paris, followed by London and Barcelona, second and third.

Vencl said she took a liking to a quote on the U.S. News’ Travel website. It says: “Maui is not nearly as large as the Big Island, nor is it as small as Lanai, as bustling as Oahu or as quiet as Kauai. For many Hawaii vacationers, Maui is just right – offering a taste of just about everything the Aloha State has to offer, from impressive wildlife to intriguing history and culture.”

Maui also was ranked second as the top honeymoon destination and first for best summer vacation in U.S. News & World Report.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.