Honeymoon hot spots

Make your honeymoon extra special by choosing a getaway that matches your personality

By Jamey Bradbury

  • Kayaking at Makua beach, Hanalei, Kauai. Kayaking at Makua beach, Hanalei, Kauai. Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority / Dana Edmunds
  • Relaxing at the beach of Biras Creek, Resort. Relaxing at the beach of Biras Creek, Resort. Photo credit: Biras Creek Resort
  • Strolling the streets of Paris. Strolling the streets of Paris. Photo credit: Atout FrancePierre Torset
  • Ecohabs overlooking the Caribbean Sea in Tayrona National Park. Ecohabs overlooking the Caribbean Sea in Tayrona National Park. Photo credit: Proexport Colombia

After months of planning countless wedding details, you want a honeymoon that really helps you celebrate newly married life. But where in the world should you go? And is it the perfect getaway for you? We asked travel planners to share their hottest tips and picks to help you plan that once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Romance Meets Adventure

Classic destinations continue to be the hot spots for Alaskan honeymooners, according to travel specialist Jules Cherrington of All About Honeymoons. “Couples ask for new or different destinations every year, but when it comes down to it, Hawaii and Mexico are still the most popular spots,” she says. And for good reason – the weather is always warm, romantic settings abound and these hot spots are just one or two flights away from Alaska.

But, these days, many honeymooners want to do more than just bask on a beach, says Cherrington, who’s seen an uptick in the number of couples who want to be active during their honeymoons. “Kayaking, hiking, ziplining – doing those things as a couple really opens up your world, and that makes for more spectacular memories.”

While active Alaskan couples ask Cherrington about bucket-list destinations like Africa or Iceland, the price and flight time needed to get there tends to turn people off. But more traditional honeymoon locales like Hawaii and Mexico are catering to the adventurous couple by highlighting hiking, snorkeling, river rafting and other exciting activities.

If Hawaii is too “been there, done that” for you, the Caribbean is calling. Just 16 miles north of Venezuela, the Caribbean island of Bonaire is known as a premier scuba diving and snorkeling destination. “It’s not your typical Caribbean vacation,” explains Jason Price of Divi Resorts. “The island lies at the center of a national marine park and is renowned for shore diving and as a destination for couples seeking sport and nature.”

Couples can spend their days kayaking in protected mangroves, spelunking, kite sailing or diving before they enjoy the island’s laid-back vibe in the evenings.

Another option for outdoor adventurers is “glamping” – that is, glamorous camping, which lets you enjoy the natural environment without having to rough it. Destinations like Puntarenas or Manzanillo in Costa Rica now offer luxury tents or rainforest tree houses with amenities like hot tubs and couples’ massages.

Something for Everyone

If adventure isn’t your thing, you can still chose a honeymoon destination that caters to your interests. Here are some ideas:

Foodies. South America is the hot destination for food and wine lovers right now, says Cherrington: “It’s a long flight from Alaska, but people think it’s worth it” for the seafood dishes of Peru, the sweet corn arepas of Colombia or Brazil’s array of regional cuisines and vineyards.

France is still another popular destination for food lovers, but Cherrington suggests couples shouldn’t limit themselves to the city of lights. “Paris is beautiful, but if you can get out of the city, you can really explore France’s food culture,” she says. Rent a car or hop on a train and sample the seafood of Normandy, the German-influenced cuisine of Alsace and Bordeaux’s wines.

World Travelers. “A couple who usually loves to travel the world may not have considered just relaxing in a quaint, romantic resort,” points out US Travel Vacation Supervisor Sarah Vaughn. For a restful honeymoon in an exotic locale, she suggests small resorts like Biras Creek or Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands.

For couples who want to do some traveling, though, she recommends choosing three cities in one area, like Rome, Florence and Venice, and spending quality time in each. Or, says Vaughn, a cruise may be the answer to wanderlust: “Mediterranean cruises, for example, are a good way to see several destinations and only unpack once.”

Beach Lovers. St. Martin in the Caribbean offers secluded beaches in a lush setting, says Price, and the Little Bay restaurant on that island will throw in an extra touch by putting a table on the beach for honeymooners to dine on the water’s edge. “It’s really special – a couple off in their own world, with the sound of water lapping at their feet and a candle flickering in the moonlight.”

Fiji is home to both secluded and popular white sand beaches, some of which feature colorful coral reefs, ideal surfing conditions or proximity to beautiful tropical gardens. Cherrington also suggests Tahiti, where couples can stay in overwater bungalows near the beaches of Bora Bora. Closer to home is Punta Maroma Beach near Cancun in Mexico, where beach butlers ensure you never have to leave the waterside if you don’t want to. “There’s a great reef system that runs through there, too, the second largest in the world,” Cherrington says. “It makes for some amazing snorkeling.”

Perfect Packages

No matter what their passions, honeymooning Alaskans are also expressing a preference for all-inclusive getaways.

For the budget-minded couple, an all-inclusive package that takes care of air, hotel, food, alcohol and activities for one price means no surprise fees or expenses. “All-inclusive is my number one selling honeymoon right now,” Vaughn shares – but, she says, do your research. “Some of the lower-end all-inclusive resorts only offer a daily buffet. You want a property that has an order-off menu, room service and plenty of restaurants and bars.”

Cherrington recommends resorts run by reputable companies like Sandals or Palace Resorts. Divi Resorts’ Carina Bay on St. Croix in the Caribbean offers an all-inclusive package in an island setting that doesn’t require a passport, since St. Croix is part of the US Virgin Islands.

All-inclusive or tailored specifically to your interests, there’s a honeymoon destination out there that’s the perfect first vacation for you and your new spouse.

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