You traveled to Kauai’s glorious South Shore to celebrate your 10th wedding anniversary, and the trip has been both a blast and a great reminder of why you married this person in the first place. Your big day is tomorrow and you two lovebirds are feeling lazy over coconut shrimp at the Holoholo Grill’s Aloha Hour at your resort, Koloa Landing. The sun is just starting to set, streaking the sky fuschia with smudges of peach.

“Would you call the sky pinky-peach?” you ask, sipping your mai tai.

“It’s more like a peachy-pink,” your spouse answers, smudging a shrimp through the lilikoi sauce.

“When’s the last time you watched the sun rise?” you ask.

“Senior year of college on a gorgeous stretch of beach in San Felipe, Mexico . . .” he answers. You raise an eyebrow at him, and he continues. “. . . with about ten frat bros freezing in sleeping bags.”

You grin, then add, “I can’t remember my last time.”

“I think you may be due for a sunrise, babe. And I could probably use a more, you know, romantic memory . . .”

You agree that tomorrow would be a great morning to watch the sun rise since it is your actual anniversary. What better way to celebrate a decade of connubial bliss than by milking every moment out of the day?

You add, “Just glad we’re not planning this for the morning after our anniversary . . .”

The Royal Coconut Coast

Checking your phone, you discover that the sun will rise at exactly 6:11 am, and since Kauai’s best sunrises are seen from the East Shore, aka the Royal Coconut Coast, you decide you should head out around 5:30 am. There are many beaches to choose from on the eastern side of the island, and most are just a quick exit off the main Kuhio Highway. Your internet research implies that all these beaches offer a spectacular front-row seat for the sunrise.

“There’s Kapa’a, Wailua, Lydgate, Kealia . . . Nukoli’i?” (Pronounced new-kō-LEE-ee.)

“Nukoli’i!” you echo, just loving the sound of it. ”Let’s try that one.”

Rising to the occasion

The next morning, you both rise easily at around 5:15 am because your body clocks are still on mainland time. You pad into your villa’s gourmet kitchen, brew up some local-roast coffee, stir in a splash of oat milk and fill your thermos bottles. You grab beach towels and a couple of bananas, then jump into your rented Jeep and hit the road. Nukoli’i Beach Park is about a 25-minute drive up the highway, and though it’s still dark out, the road is easy to follow, and you feel sort of superior getting such a jump on the day.

You arrive at the red dirt lot at the end of Kauai Beach Road and find plenty of parking due to the early hour. You walk out to the cool sand and take in the scene. The ocean gently laps at the shore as the darkness starts to soften, the clouds streaking a deep purple across the horizon. A tree reaches across the view in silhouette. You set your beach chairs up on a section of sand that has a wide view over the sea and settle in with your coffee. Your toes and his toes find each other under the sand. It’s now 6:00 am.

“Happy anniversary,” your spouse whispers to you.

“Happy anniversary.”

You watch in silence as the sky slowly begins to lighten. A golden patch emerges at the center of it all, illuminating the clouds and creating contrast behind them. Shafts of golden light intersect the horizon.

“Would you call the sky goldish-purple?” you ask.

“More like purplish-gold,” he answers as he reaches to hold your hand.

Soon, the true splendor of the sun emerges just above the line, and the orb is now full and round. It is so brilliant now, you feel a little mesmerized. You bask in the moment — thinking about the new day, and the world, and the sanctity of life, and how ready you are to make the most of it all. You sit quietly together with just the sounds of the surf and the occasional call of the zebra doves.

Soon your thermoses are empty and your hearts are full. Your spouse looks over at you and grins.

“So . . .” you ask, “more romantic than with the frat bros in Mexico?”

“Hmmm . . . Just a bit,” he says, and leans over for a kiss.

For more information on the best places to watch the sun rise (or set, for that matter), just check with the concierge at Koloa Landing Resort. Our team is ready to help make your visit to Kauai, well, brilliant.

— Erica Karlin