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You’ve already spent months mapping out the guest list, locating a universally flattering bridesmaid dress, and packaging 150 fabulous favors—now you deserve a vacation. Get out of town and onto an amazing trip with our foolproof guide.
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Make a Plan
Before you can enjoy your newly wedded happiness, you’ll want to sort out the less sexy details: the budget, the time frame, seasonal weather considerations, and whether or not you’ll hire a travel agent. To guarantee smooth sailing ahead, nominate a “captain.” The partner overseeing fewer wedding details should be the point person for travel agents, tour operators, hotel and airline booking, and running major decisions by the copilot.
Tip: There’s no reason you can't wait a few weeks or months to embark on the extension of your happy beginning. It’s okay to mini-moon in the days afterward and save the major getaway for later, when your destination of choice is at its best (or most affordable).
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Or Rent a Place All for Yourselves
Whether it’s a villa, pied-à-terre, or cabin, you’ll probably wind up with more amenities than you can take advantage of in a week. (Think kitchens with a fully loaded spice rack, DVD collection, his-and-hers bikes!) More importantly: Total. Privacy. Luckily, each of the three sites from the previous slide will work; we also love uniquehomestays.com.
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Find an Unforgettable Pool
A honeymoon without one is like a dinner without dessert. Here, three swims you’ll want to dive right into:
Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah
The dip: Like a mirage, this retreat’s oasis wraps around a dusky-red 165-million-year-old Entrada Sandstone escarpment (pictured here). Settle onto a king-size daybed with epic mesa views, order a prickly-pear margarita with hibiscus-infused tequila, and know you can die happy now (from $1,100/night, amanresorts.com).
The Raleigh in Miami
The dip: Pack your biggest sunglasses and teeniest bikini! This Art Deco beauty backs see-and-be-seen South Beach (the sand is just a shimmy away). But even though it’s in a party town, the atmosphere only reaches Spring Breakers-level rowdiness, well, during spring break. The rest of the year, it’s heaven for honeymooners (from $280/night, raleighhotel.com).
The Library in Koh Samui, Thailand
The dip: This ruby-red tiled swimming spot is as refreshing as they come. Leave the mattress-versus-adult-size-beanbag decisions to a quick game of eeny-meeny before diving on in. Then make your way to the far side of the pool, rest your elbows on the sleek teak deck, and take in the endless ocean beyond (from $300/night, thelibrary.co.th).
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Say “Aloha” to…
A new crash pad on the northwest coast of Maui that’s sure to cause rapid blinking, dropped jaws, and gasps of surprise. There are no standard rooms, only suites, at the Montage Kapalua Bay, and all of them have expansive lanais with ocean views, gourmet kitchens, and washers and dryers. From the lobby, styled like a traditional canoe house with a 45-foot-high wooden ceiling, you can pad out to the multi-terraced pool where cabanas are tucked into private nooks. And the beach? It’s a favorite of green sea turtles; snorkeling is definitely in order (from $1,090/night, montagehotels.com).
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Set Aside Some Me-Time
“We have this idea that the honeymoon is all about frolicking around and French-kissing on horses,” says Molly Guy, founder of Stone Fox Bride, “but every so often you need to take time away from your partner to get back in touch with yourself. Allow yourself a couple of hours alone every day to take a walk, meditate, or do absolutely nothing.”
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Shout from the Rooftops
Tell anyone and everyone it’s your honeymoon; chances are, you’ll get upgrades, better tables, and free bubbly!
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Travel in Style
Maybe it’s just us, but there’s something to be said for arriving at your destination with chic luggage—and not the beat-up bag you used on your semester abroad. (Anecdotally, we swear it gets us better service, too!) Enter the sleek Rimowa Salsa Air suitcase, a German-made piece that’s featherlight, virtually dent-proof, and guaranteed to be your second-most-dependable travel companion yet ($580, rimowa.de).
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Say “Hola” to...
One of Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa’s 16 cabanas, which are a dozen steps from the pool-temp sea, the ideal distance, you’ll find, for a moonlit skinny-dipping sesh. As evidenced by its name, this newly opened escape sits on an island—Little Corn, 55 miles east of Nicaragua—and as soon as you arrive, it’s time to commune with the Caribbean: Splash, float, submerge, repeat. Then, grab a pair of the gratis kayaks because White Holes, a snorkeling spot teeming with eagle rays and nurse sharks, is an easy paddle offshore. Come dinnertime, pan-seared king fish, pulled from the very ocean you were playing around in earlier, will land on a plate in front of you. And at night, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of waves. That is, if you’re not neck-deep in the shimmering water (from $300, littlecornhotel.com).
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Learn the Lingo
You’ll travel smarter with an understanding of these terms.
Companion Fare: Book one ticket and get the second for less; usually applies to transportation and cruises.
Departure Tax: A fee charged for leaving a country can be added to your plane ticket or required in cash at the airport.
Shoulder Season: Those magical months that fall between high and low seasons, when rates and crowds are down, but the weather’s not at its worst.
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Recycle Your Wedding Jewelry
One of our recent brides did something so cute we couldn’t wait to share it: For her fanciest honeymoon dinner with her new husband, she paired her wedding earrings with a white sundress to recapture some of that big-day magic. We say bust out those baubles as much as you want—they’re sure to bring back lovely memories and make you feel extra special.
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Make Tracks Midweek
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Get Off the Beaten Path
It’s a good idea to go out of your way to explore. Together, you’re sure to find some hidden treasures to remember forever.
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…But Know This
Keep in mind that tourist sites are usually touristy for good reason—when in Paris, see the Eiffel Tower. You won’t regret it.
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Jot Down the Highlights
“My husband bought a small journal to write down little details, like the animals we saw on safari, people we met, food we tried, and silly things that made us laugh. It’ll be priceless years from now when we read through it and are reminded of that trip.”—Samantha Wennerstrom, blogger at Could I Have That?, who honeymooned in South Africa and the Seychelles in August 2013
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Sleep In Every Day
Because how often do you get to relax like this?
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…Except for One
In addition to sunsets, try to catch at least one sunrise together.
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Dine with a View
Sit back and take it in at these restaurants:
Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California
Cantilevered 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, this architectural wonder (pictured here), all glass, wood, and slate, makes you feel like you’re floating on the clouds. And the only thing that will compel you to tear your eyes away from those floor-to-ceiling windows is the food. Splurge on the nine-course tasting menu and prepare to be wowed by items like abalone, roasted quail, or wild boar. Local tip: The coast can be foggy, but less so in late summer and early fall (postranchinn.com).
The Cliff in St. James, Barbados
This coast-clinging gem looks west onto a beyond-blue horizon and south to bright beaches and artfully scattered boulders. The most coveted tables? Any of the outermost ones, which have a front-row seat to the nightly stingray and tarpon feedings. (And, yes, you can reserve one in advance.) Come early for a sunset cocktail in the lounge—the Bajan Garden Punch is deadly delicious—then loosen your belts for a round of shrimp curry followed by a strawberry-filled meringue doused in Grand Marnier and lit on fire; it’s called the Flaming Snowball (thecliffbarbados.com).
Le Jules Verne in Paris
An Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. What more do you need to know? That there are three dining rooms, all with Parisian vistas sparkling below? That the prix fixe menu varies but often features such goodness as baby artichokes, and chanterelles and langoustines over sweet peas? That Champagne is a given? And that all meals end with mini pastries? Le sigh (lejulesverne-paris.com).
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Say “Halo” to...
The Sanchaya. If you want to do the seashore-and-city thing, jet into Singapore and then hop a ferry to the nearby Indonesian island of Bintan, where it awaits. The resort has an intriguing mash-up of colonial charms and Southeast Asian flair: The staff is British Butler Institute–trained, and a jamu gendong lady comes by at breakfast with complimentary jamu (herbal juice). You’ll laze on the sugar-sand beaches. Take jungle walks. And then … part two: Singapore. Neck-craning skyscrapers. Shopping till you drop. Heady night markets and mouthwatering food stalls. Exciting, but not The Sanchaya. Maybe you’ll hit Singapore on your first anniversary (from $920/night, thesanchaya.com).
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Ask People to Take Your Picture
While those long-arm selfies work in a pinch, you’ll want a few well-composed photos, too. Just remember to take your sunglasses off, and never have the sun at your back. If you’re reluctant to ask a favor of a stranger, know that the reciprocal snap—you take one of us, and we’ll take one of you—is a fail-safe strategy.
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You don’t need to see every sight in town, buy every (or any) pal and relative a souvenir, or squeeze every last drop of awesomeness out of your honeymoon. After all, this is only the beginning of many amazing adventures together.