20 Great Places to Honeymoon
When it comes time for you to choose a honeymoon location, the options -- beach? mountains? East? West? relaxation? adventure? sun? snow? -- are seemingly endless. Yes, the world is your oyster, but there are 194 pearls inside it, each waiting to be discovered. Simply put, the planning process can be a bit daunting (not to mention that you're also orchestrating an entire wedding). That's why we did the work for you, embarking on a virtual globe trot to create the "Choose Your Own Honeymoon Adventure" guide. As you read, you'll want to cross-reference your travel personality (Beach Bum, Thrill Seeker, City Slicker, or Frequent Flier) with your specific style (Classic for traditionalists, New for explorers, Budget for the cost-conscious, Blowout for the opulent, and Homegrown for those who want to stay close). Whether you are sand dwellers or urbanites, explorers or homebodies, on a budget or breaking the bank, we're confident you'll find the perfect place to celebrate your marriage. Bon voyage!
If your idea of heaven includes white sand, turquoise water, tropical fish, rum punch, and butler service, you'll want to book a trip to one of these hot spots.
There's a reason couples keep flocking here: It's incredible.
When to go: Anytime -- but October and November are especially exquisite.
Where to stay: First, hit Waikiki, where you'll luxuriate in freshwater pools at the newly face-lifted Royal Hawaiian, one of the original playgrounds for Hollywood royalty like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. The resort is known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific, and for good reason. Next, for a different side of Hawaii, jet to unspoiled, locally beloved Princeville, Kauai, the site of Hawaii's first-ever St. Regis. There, 90 percent of the rooms overlook Hanalei Bay, which is widely considered to be one of the world's best beaches.
What not to miss: In Waikiki, book private beachfront cabanas with concierge service, and swim, paddleboard, or melt away post-wedding stress with a massage. Later, sip cocktails -- the Garden, Royal, or classic Scratch -- at the iconic Mai Tai Bar. Gobble fresh seafood (sourced at the local Pier 38 fish auction, the only one of its kind between Tokyo and Maine) at the new, innovative Azure restaurant, or on Monday nights, join the festive Aha Aina feasts (they're like luaus, but grander). In Princeville, hike to the Napali Coast, explore sea caves, wildlife refuges, and tropical gardens; consult private wellness experts to customize Halele'a Spa's Hawaiian healing rituals; and chow down at Kauai Grill, helmed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (of New York City's Spice Market fame).
Pictured, One of Hawaii's many pristine black-sand beaches.
You can see Greece another time. This is the Med of the moment.
When to go: May to October.
Where to stay: Beach-hop up the Adriatic: Start in southernmost Dalmatia at Old Town Dubrovnik's The Pucic Palace, where you'll find 19 rooms housed in updated 17th-century digs. Then, coast over to Korcula Island's brand-new Lesic Dimitri Palace "residences," where each floor of an 18th-century bishop's palace has been preserved and modernized into suites. Sail up to Zadar's Hotel Bastion, a boutique spot built on the remains of a 13th-century fortress. Finally, in lesser-traveled Istria (bordering Slovenia and compared with Tuscany), rent a villa or stay at Monte Mulini Hotel in the shore town of Rovinj.
What not to miss: Island-hop via sailboat, motorboat, or yacht. In World Heritage Site Dubrovnik (built atop a colony that may date back to 700 b.c.) and Korcula, visit medieval castles. Relax at Pucic Palace's nearby white-pebble beach or at Lesic Dimitri's spa. In Zadar, scuba dive, jeep safari, or head to nearby Nin for famous mud baths. Visit the wineries in Istria, and, at Brijuni National Park, relax on one of the world's most magnificent islands.
Pictured, Croatia's bright blue skis, shady palms, and idyllic shoreline.
It's the real deal -- leave Cancun to the spring-break crowd.
When to go: October to May.
Where to stay: Embrace simple, intimate luxury at Sayulita's Villa Amor (a 45-minute ride from the more heavily populated Puerto Vallarta). In this enclave, bungalows with private plunge pools line undeveloped Nayarit Riviera beachfront property.
What not to miss: Claim a deserted stretch of beach for you and your love. Take excursions to golf or go whale-watching (humpback season runs from December through March). Sample delicious rustic eats, from unpretentious Sayulita fish tacos (soaked in beer and garlic) to more gourmet cuisine.
Just another insanely sunny day in Mexico paradise.
Tahiti? Too crowded. Go here instead for remote romance.
When to go: May to October.
Where to stay: Ready to observe tropical creatures from a private, glass-bottomed patio suspended over turquoise water? Le Meridien Bora Bora's newly renovated overwater bungalows boast enormous wooden decks and windows in the floor.
What not to miss: True beach bums are content to eat, drink, and unwind in paradise. The day's biggest plans might include swimming with endangered hawksbill turtles in the interior lagoon (check out an ecological talk at the turtle sanctuary), spa-ing, scuba diving, and feeding sharks.
A cluster of postcard-worthy overwater bungalows in dreamy Bora Bora.
All the beauty of the Caribbean, minus the border hopping.
When to go: Spring or fall.
Where to stay: Imagine pristine island beaches, 10,000 wildlife-filled acres, and jaunts into an energetic nearby city. Good news -- it's all right here in no-passport-required South Carolina. Kiawah Island's Sanctuary Hotel offers the height of classic Southern hospitality and some of the East Coast's largest king-size rooms. Upscale but unstuffy, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff's screened-in-porch cottages and cottage suites sit perched on the May River, surrounded by 20,000 acres of low-country wilderness.
What not to miss: Visit The Sanctuary's spa, where bobcats have been known to appear at the window mid-treatment. In the evening, share a meal at one of the property's newly reinvented restaurants. At Palmetto Bluff, fish, crab (perhaps for your own dinner), or play tennis, and beach it up on an excursion to Daufuskie Island. Ingredients for spa treatments and farm-to-table cuisine are picked from on-site gardens, so indulge in natural spa services like "The Blind Date, Lovers' Experience," which uses local cornmeal and lavender. Save room for delish meals at May River Grill, River House, and Buffalo.
A stately seaside church in South Carolina.
If danger is your (and your fiance's) middle name, you'll want to kick-start your marriage with one of these high-octane, adrenaline-fueled adventures.
TANZANIA/ZANZIBAR ISLE/SOUTH AFRICA/BOTSWANA
It's the quintessential continent for wild-animal sighting.
When to go: October to June.
Where to stay: If you're looking for authenticity -- animals, without the frills -- choose Africa Dream Safaris. Though high-end excursions range from chimpanzee trekking to Zanzibar Island snorkeling, the Serengeti is the destination for wildlife-viewing. Stay at a luxury lodge (Migration in dry season, Kusini in green season, or Mbalageti year-round) for a few days, and then venture -- tented camp in tow -- into the bush for true communing with nature. Looking for something a bit more upscale? Then be sure to check out And Beyond, which offers an incredibly luxurious romance-specific East African expedition, also through the Serengeti and beyond, at lodges that feature five-star amenities such as chandelier-lit bathrooms and butler service. In the countries of South Africa and Botswana, Abercrombie & Kent guides visitors on a different kind of African adventure, supplementing hotel stays with tenting and hiking with rides in all-terrain vehicles.
What not to miss: With Africa Dream Safaris, scout wildlife like hyenas, zebras, wildebeest, lions, and leopards. And beyond? Head from the Serengeti's wildlife walks and game rides to Mnemba Island's beaches off the Indian Ocean coast. Feel the need for speed? Get a rush driving an A-1 race car, flying in a jet fighter, and cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa.
One of many exotic creatures you'll scout out on this continent.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS/ECUADORIAN HIGHLANDS
Ecotourism and uninhabited wilderness at its absolute best.
When to go: Winter or summer.
Where to stay: Get your sea legs on aboard Gap Adventures' newest intimate catamaran, Adventurer VI, and tour the Galapagos Islands for 10 days. There are only eight rooms (plus personalized service and naturalist guides) and amenities like a four-person Jacuzzi. Inka's Empire Tours takes you to Ecuador's highlands and on a larger cruise (for less cash) between the untouched Galapagos Islands.
What not to miss: Check out rare species like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, lava lizards, blue-footed boobies, red bats, and adorable baby sea lions (plus their protective larger parents). For a truly surreal experience, jump in the water to snorkel and swim with hundreds of marine turtles. Ready for dry land? Stay at Hacienda Cusin, and from there, visit the markets in the leather town of Cotacachi, where La Mirage Garden Hotel's lavish themed spa boasts wandering peacocks. Then put one foot on each side of the equator and nest at beautiful Old Town Hotel Patio Andaluz in Quito. Be sure to order the traditional stewed figs for dessert.
Beautiful Bartolome Island in the Galapagos.
MANAGUA/SAN JUAN DEL SUR
Jungle? Check. Waves? Check. Adventure? Check. It's a wilder wild.
When to go: November to May.
Where to stay: While yogi expats opt for tamer neighbor Costa Rica, real adventurers choose Nicaragua. In the capital city of Managua, relax under skylights framed by papaya, mango, and breadfruit trees at the hip new boutique spot Hotel Contempo. Then head to San Juan del Sur at Nicaragua's first luxury eco-lodge, Morgan's Rock, where 15 bungalows offer huge hammocks.
What not to miss: In Managua, zip-line across Tiscapa Lagoon (a volcanic lagoon within city limits), and hike to the beautiful Apoyeque Lagoon. Once in and around Morgan's Rock, take a class at Nicaragua Surf Report School in San Juan del Sur.
A gorgeous expanse of sand and surf, Nicaraguan style.
ANTARCTICA/RECOLETA, BUENOS AIRES
You want off the beaten path? It's yours -- proceed with caution.
When to go: November to March.
Where to stay: Trust your trip to Abercrombie & Kent's MS Minerva vessel and follow in the footsteps of explorer Ernest Shackleton among glaciers and -- wait, is that an onboard sauna? Afterward, spend a few days at Buenos Aires's Alvear Palace Hotel in Recoleta, where suites come with Hermes bath products.
What not to miss: Sight whales in South Georgia, hang out with penguins on a snowy hill, and pass through glaciers.
Navigating the icy waters in frigid -- and fascinating -- Antarctica.
Go west, young woman (and man!) There's action at every turn.
When to go: Anytime.
Where to stay: Outdoor activities from skiing to mountain biking have earned Boulder the label "best sports town" and won St. Julien Hotel & Spa accolades as a tranquil oasis. After a few days there, you'll want to experience the swanky new Capella Telluride, which incorporates ski-lodge-style local stone and warm woods into truly decadent rooms. Ready to venture over to Colorado Springs? The Broadmoor has just introduced modernized and youthful cottages with heated bathroom floors and sprawling golf-course views.
What not to miss: In Boulder, hike or ride horses through 30,000 acres of parkland. Go tubing and fly fishing in Boulder Creek, and take a dip in Boulder Reservoir. Ski and snowboard, and at St. Julien, grab a "Buff Couples" massage before noshing on Jill's homegrown grub. In Telluride, go heli-skiing, hot-air ballooning, and celebrating at festivals from film to bluegrass. In Colorado Springs, participate in all things Pikes Peak (14,000 feet up), and sample innovative eats at the Summit brasserie. Day-trip to Manitou Springs to sip natural spring water with supposed healing properties.
Paddling around the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
True culture vultures will want to bypass the great outdoors for the chance to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the wilds of these exciting concrete jungles.
Say oui! The world's most romantic spot simply never gets old.
When to go: Anytime -- but who doesn't love Paris in the spring?
Where to stay: Wandering aimlessly with baguette (the bread, not your ring) in hand is a worthwhile activity in itself in Paris. It's virtually impossible to do the City of Lights wrong, as sometimes, in this world-renowned city, simple can trump complex. Still, a stay at the famed Four Seasons Hotel George V ups the ante. And Hotel de Crillon's Bernstein Suite (Madonna's Parisian pied-a- terre of choice) offers ravishing views and service that's just as outstanding. For a younger vibe, book a room at The Five Hotel or the unpretentious Hotel des Grands Hommes (it's directly across from the Pantheon).
What not to miss: Check the Parisian Tourism website for updated restaurant and gallery openings, as well as operas and concerts at the Palais Garnier. Art lovers should peruse the obvious (the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay), but also check out Beaubourg's contemporary galleries and the new hep-cat 19th Arrondissement's Le Centquatre art collective. Shop Le Marais for chic boutiques. As for food, sample Le Meurice (it has earned three Michelin stars) and Joel Robuchon's intimate 36-seat experiment, L'Atelier. Stroll the streets of the Isle Saint Louis with a cone from famed ice-cream maker Berthillon. And, for a true indulgence, dive into George V's three-hour spa "Romance" package.
Just one of many adorable streets in Paris.
Minutes away from a city that's at the climax of its renaissance.
When to go: Anytime, though summers are incredibly humid, and December tends to be crowded with tourists.
Where to stay: The best of all worlds converge at the new Capella Singapore -- its villas and suites overlook the South China Sea. The grand property sits amid 30 acres of rainforest on Sentosa Island, but it's 10 minutes from the downtown center.
What not to miss: At Capella, try spa treatments based around the lunar cycles: New Moon, Waxing Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon. In the city, take in the Buddhist temple Thian Hock Keng, sip Singapore Sling cocktails at the Raffles Hotel, shop Orchard Street, and wander the eco-conscious Zoological Garden. Hungry? Stop for lunch on Far East Plaza's fifth floor for the locals' favorite, chicken rice. For nightlife, check out Boat Quay. Plan to spend a day at preserved Pulau Ubin, the home of Chek Jawa, the 6,000-year-old former coral reef that's now a giant touch pool. You'll want to go during low tide, when the natural grasses, seaweeds, and creatures (including tons of starfish and a very rare otter) are most easily observed.
A traditional Buddhist temple in Singapore.
Not convinced? Think London, only quainter and cheaper.
When to go: Spring and summer.
Where to stay: The dollar is relatively strong against the pound, making Edinburgh a somewhat inexpensive city. Take a long, deep soak at boutique spot Hotel du Vin. Or shower among iridescent mosaics, then wrap up in the world's chicest hotel robes at Missoni's first-ever hotel.
What not miss: Wander along the Royal Mile, and blend your own whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Browse Stockbridge's gourmet shops, and sample burgeoning neighborhood Leith's unlikely cluster of Michelin-starred restaurants, including the newest, Paul Kitching's 21212.
An exotic city that neighbors a wonder of the world: genius.
When to go: November to March.
Where to stay: Pharaoh never did Egypt this well. Let tour company Scott Dunn and its staff of butlers and Egyptologists guide your Nile cruise aboard The Oberoi Zahra. In Cairo, check into the Four Seasons Hotel at the First Residence, then fly to Hurghada, on the Red Sea, where The Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh's Grand and Royal Suites offer private swimming pools.
What not to miss: Soak up the sights along the Nile; then venture to Cairo's outskirts to feast your eyes on the pyramids. Scuba dive the Red Sea's Gulf of Aqaba.
If you haven't been post-Katrina, you haven't been -- period.
When to go: October to May.
Where to stay: Balmy air, exotic aromas, spicy Creole flavors, and sultry jazz riffs make New Orleans an undeniably exotic locale, almost like a culture of its own. The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans has been historically refurbished since Hurricane Katrina and boasts the seriously indulgent Maison Orleans Suite. Meanwhile, the brand-spanking-new $145 million Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria hotel, delivers with in-room butler service and decadent evening canapes.
What not to miss: Putting on The Ritz? Check out Jeremy Davenport's jazz stylings Thursday through Saturday and the "Desire" booth at Melange restaurant. At The Roosevelt, eat, drink, and be merry at lauded chef John Besh's new Italian restaurant, Domenica, and pamper yourself with a super-luxe facial or massage at the Guerlain Spa. Out and about? Frequent Preservation Hall's down-and-dirty old-school jazz club. Devour Jacques-Imo Cafe's famous alligator cheesecake as well as local treats like beignets and po' boys. And to give your nuptials some good karma, pitch in at Brad Pitt's charity org, Make It Right, which helps rebuild homes damaged by Katrina.
Been there, done that? Then move on! Jet-set down the road less traveled to the world's most far-flung locales, where the everyday is a million miles away.
It's the trip of a lifetime -- doesn't that deserve crossing the globe?
When to go: March to October, when three times a month the moonrise creates an illusion of a glowing staircase, known as "staircase to the moon."
Where to stay: At the newly reopened Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat (on the Indian Ocean) in lesser-traveled Western Australia, set up "glamp" in a luxurious Ocean View tent, or opt for a solar-powered, open-floor-plan, bamboo-and brushed-steel-adorned Eco Villa. Either way, TVs and telephones are mercifully absent. You'll truly unplug, and you'll like it -- after all, you'll have more time to practice saying words like "husband" and "wife." Not convinced? Stay at the new five-star Pinctada Cable Beach for the sleek design of its Master Pearler Suites.
What not to miss: Go humpback-whale watching, pearling, and sunset camel riding on Cable Beach or spa-ing at the new Chahoya Spa (the Fusion Stone Massage, the Chakra Balance Massage, and the Himalayan Rejuvenation Therapy are especially decadent treatments). For sustenance, dig in to a plate of sliced, sauteed pearl meat at the new Selene Brasserie, then grab a drink at beloved oceanfront Jack's Bar. Next, hop on a plane and jaunt off to Perth in the southwest, where you can go surfing and vino tasting at Margaret River wineries. Feeling adventurous? Travel back north to Ningaloo, where you can go swimming with whale sharks.
Dubai? So last year. Skip the man-made islands and go here.
When to go: October to April.
Where to stay: For serious world travelers (and Vegas-caliber partyers), the new frontier is Doha, Qatar, where The W Hotel (it has swings in the lobby!) has just put down roots against a fairy-tale "Arabian Nights" -- style cityscape. Thanks to indulgent 400-thread-count sheets and swanky amenities galore, the WOW suites should do trendy justice to their name.
What not to miss: Visit I. M. Pei's Museum of Islamic Art (the 91-year-old architect has deemed it his last major building), check out various cultural ruins in and around Doha, shop in souqs, and stroll or bike seaside along the Corniche, an area of Doha considered one of the most beautiful places in the Middle East. Spend an afternoon watching camel races in Al Shahaniya, where you'll see robot jockeys, then get "Bliss"-ed out in a VIP couples spa suite. With outfitters like Gulf Adventures, visit singing sand dunes (Qataris used to believe the eerie songs were the cries of evil djinns, or spirits) and Khor Al-Adaid, the "inland sea," for diving, dune bashing, or Bedouin-style camping and BBQs.
Breathtaking architecture spirals to the sky in Doah, Qatar.
CARACAS/LOS ROQUES/LOS LLANOS
South America can be pricey -- go north to get your money's worth.
When to go: November to May.
Where to stay: In Caracas, check into The Hotel with its rooftop terrace for a day or two. Next, trek to Los Roques, where you'll choose between many unpretentious little inns (like Macanao Lodge) on Gran Roque Island. Finish your trip at the Swarovski-owned ranch retreat Hato Garza in Los Llanos.
What not to miss: In Caracas, visit Simon Bolivar's home. In Los Roques, snorkel and kite-surf in turquoise water. Try water-buffalo ranching and horseback riding in Los Llanos.
It's worlds away in culture, but you can get there in hours.
When to go: October to April.
Where to stay: The award-winning hoteliers at Aman organize transportation between neighboring properties for varied and synergistic "experiences." Begin at urban oasis Aman New Delhi, then travel to high-end wilderness camp Aman-i-Khas in Rajasthan, and finish off at Amanbagh near Jaipur for complete relaxation.
What not to miss: In Old and New Delhi, visit historic sites, like Humayun's Tomb. Go on a tiger safari at Aman-i-Khas in Rajasthan's Ranthambore National Park, then tour the ruins by elephant in Amanbagh.
SAN JUAN/PONCE/RINCON/VIEQUES ISLAND
You've been to Bali, but have you seen the paradise next door?
When to go: November to May.
Where to stay: If you're in the mood for an exotic jaunt that doesn't require a passport (and, despite Puerto Rico's reputation, doesn't involve boisterous casinos), you're in luck. Stick to San Juan's Old Town, or bypass the city's touristy vibe altogether for the quieter village of Ponce (Hotel Melia or the Hilton Resort). There, friendly locals and quaint colonial streets offer a more traditional, Spanish atmosphere. Then for total beach immersion, splurge at The Horned Dorset Primavera in mellow beachy hangout Rincon -- there are only 37 rooms, and they're right on the water. Or check into the first-ever Caribbean W Retreat & Spa on Vieques Island (with a casual vibe and neutral tones, this isn't your average W Hotel).
What not to miss: In Old San Juan, witness sunsets on El Convento's La Veranda Terrace and gaze at magnificent architecture. Hit at least one of chef Wilo Benet's restaurants, like Pikayo at the Conrad Condado Plaza Hotel. In Ponce, tour the impressive Ponce Museum of Art (reopening in autumn 2010) and take a ferry ride to uninhabited Gilligan's Island for snorkeling. In Rincon, hit the beach to windsurf, surf, swim, snorkel, and sunbathe (with lots of SPF!).
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