Booking your honeymoon is supposed to be one of the most fun parts of wedding planning—if you know where you want to go, that is. But after you've driven yourself crazy picking out place settings and the perfect flowers for your centerpieces, having to research one more thing might just be enough to put you over the edge. Picking your honeymoon destination is especially taxing when all you know for sure is that you want to stay in an overwater bungalow (hello, who wouldn't want to relax post-nuptials in an ultra-private retreat surrounded only by the ocean?) in a tropical locale. Bali, Tahiti, Bora Bora—what's the difference between these hotspots, anyway?
To help you determine which overwater bungalow location is right for your honeymoon, we talked to luxury travel consultant Jim Augerinos, president of Perfect Honeymoons, to get the scoop on the real differences between these popular destinations and which one is right for you.
First, know the most popular overwater bungalow destinations.
For couples looking to escape to a dreamy, private retreat, Augerinos recommends that they consider French Polynesia, the Maldives, Fiji, Belize, Mexico, and Jamaica. From there, you can narrow down your search further, thinking about destinations within each country. If you know you're limited on time, you may prefer to travel to Mexico or Jamaica rather than fly across the globe to get to French Polynesia or Fiji.
Consider the accessibility of one locale over another.
"Mexico and Jamaica are direct, non-stop flights from most major U.S. cities," Augerinos says. But if you want to book a bungalow in one of these closer-to-home locations, you need to plan far ahead. "Resorts in these areas, like Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica, and Palafitos as El Dorado Maroma in Mexico, are banking on the fact that most people don't have the vacation time to fly two days or would just prefer not to spend 15 or 20 hours flying. So far, these rooms are booking 12 months in advance." He equates it to popular wedding venues: If you want to snag an overwater bungalow in a coveted destination, you need to move early.
You should want to spend a lot of time in your room.
Augerinos recommends overwater bungalow destinations to any couple who is prepared to spending the bulk of their honeymoon in or around their room. "You are paying a very high premium for an overwater bungalow, so you should want to spend time there," he says. "They appeal to couples looking for a bit more privacy as well as something unique that they probably have never experienced before." Another perk, he says, is the Instagram-worthy backdrop for your honeymoon pics.
Think about timing, size, and surroundings.
You don't want to travel to any overwater bungalow location during monsoon or hurricane season, so check with a trusted travel consultant to ensure you're booking during the right season. Augerinos also suggests double checking to see that you can actually jump straight into the water from your bungalow, how many others the hotel has ("less bungalows means more privacy," he says), and are there any coral reefs ("great for snorkeling") nearby for you to explore? While you'll certainly want to take advantage of your bungalow, it's nice to know what the area immediately around you has to offer.
Consider the drawbacks before you book.
Distance and cost are the two most important factors couples should think about before booking an overwater bungalow location for their honeymoon. But since "the average couple now spends nine to 12 days on their honeymoon," Augerinos says, "couples are not choosing locations that are more off the beaten path for their honeymoons." In short: If you have the time (and funds) to spend, these are a great choice.