Since they were funding their own wedding, Brandon, a tech-support manager, and Jacqueline, an online media coordinator, thought their dream vacation would stay just that -- a dream. But then Brandon's family swooped in, fairy godmother–style: His uncle offered his time-share on Kauai, and Brandon's parents sprang for the flight. So a week after their April 2011 wedding in Gilbert, Arizona, the newlyweds headed west to find "beauty that we had no idea existed in the United States," says Jacqueline.
Here, the just-married pair smile as wide as Waimea Canyon behind them.
Best Excursion: "We took a tour with Catamaran Kahanu along the Napali Coast, and the landscape -- cascading waterfalls, lush valleys, and massive cliffs -- was unreal," says Brandon. "And while we were out there, a family of humpback whales put on a show for us."
Must-See Shore: "The crystal-blue waters at Ke'e Beach seriously brought tears to our eyes," says Jacqueline. "It's a fantastic snorkel site with reef fish and turtles, but we got there late in the day with no gear. Next time!"
Local Eats: "We had banana-macadamia-nut-coconut pancakes at the Ono Family Restaurant, hot dogs with tropical relishes at Puka Dog, and shave ice, which is like a snow cone, at Jo Jo's Shave Ice -- yum!" says Jacqueline. "Our favorite dish, though, was definitely loco moco at the Kalapaki Beach Hut. It's a traditional breakfast of rice topped with a beef patty, fried egg, and brown gravy, but we totally ate it for dinner a few times."