9 Dreamy Honeymoon Destinations Abroad
The Caribbean. Mexico. Hawaii. These destinations have been extending their siren calls to newlyweds for decades. And for good reason: Just when you thought you knew them, they manage to reveal another wonderful secret, whether it's a hidden beach, a charming town, or an under-the-radar island. Find out how to enjoy each region, both on and off the beaten path.
East of Providence Island (home to Nassau), this speck of sand is unspoiled and decidedly chill.
The Plan Flip a coin to decide between The Cove, a renovated island classic reopening in November 2012, and the Sky Beach Club, with contemporary rooms and everyone's favorite hotel extra: a swim-up bar. Spend your days charging the bumpy roads by jeep and trying on various hidden beaches for size.
Good to Know The place to be on Friday nights is the fish fry at Anchor Bay, while open-air Tippy's reigns on Saturdays when rake-and-scrape bands pack the house (pineapplefields.com).
Expect verdant mountains aflutter with exotic birds, and beaches that could have jumped off your screensaver.
The Plan Spread out at Villas at Stonehaven on a hillside overlooking the sea. Every day you can choose your own adventure, whether it's kayaking through mangroves, biking mountain trails, scuba diving with manta rays, or snorkeling.
Good to Know All the best eateries are tiny, family-run, and totally relaxed. You'll love Salsa Kitchen Tapas Restaurant, on a porch under strands of twinkling lights, and King's Bay Cafe, a turquoise house that offers vistas of the big blue beyond.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Two words: Mexican Caribbean -- a.k.a. 70 miles of glorious white sand, reefs teeming with fish friends, and aqua water stretching down the eastern Yucatan Peninsula.
The Plan Book a room 10 minutes north of busy Playa del Carmen in the newly renovated Viceroy Riviera Maya, where jungly paths lead to casitas with hammocks and plunge pools. Snorkel in Akumal Bay, and dine at Yaxche, which serves authentic Mayan dishes. (Note: Eat early, then take a full-moon horseback ride on the beach with Rancho Baaxal.)
Good to Know Coba Ruins, which include Mexico's tallest Mayan pyramid, are a low-key alternative to busy Tulum.
Todos Santos, Mexico
This sunbaked town draws surfers to its swells, painters to its honeyed desert light, and foodies to its farm-to-table fare.
The Plan Unpack at the adobe-style Rancho Pescadero, five minutes from the legendary San Pedrito surf break. Or head to Los Cerritos beach, where instructor Mario Beceril will hone your skills. For stylish in-town digs, get a room at Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa, close to galleries and artists' studios. And satisfy your Mexican food cravings at Landi's, in the Todos Santos Inn's flower-filled courtyard. Looking for nightlife? Join Todos Santos Eco Adventures for a stargazing hike, complete with bubbly.
Good to Know In addition to art, the Galeria de Todos Santos also has a great Asian-fusion restaurant.
Oaxaca City, Mexico
In a high southern valley, this colonial city has cobblestone streets, art galleries, exceptional cuisine, and leafy plazas where marimba bands serenade cafe-lingerers into the night.
The Plan Base yourselves near el zocalo, the vibrant central plaza, at the Camino Real Oaxaca, which oozes romance despite its chaste roots as a 16th-century convent. Get your historical bearings at the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, then stroll open-air markets. Set aside time for the jaw-dropping Monte Alban ruins. When you arrive in Puerto Escondido, find bliss in a suite at Villas Carrizalillo above a crescent cove.
Good to Know In Teotitlan del Valle, 18 miles outside the city, Tlamanalli restaurant serves up delectable mole sauces.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Shoes seem silly once you step from the ferry onto the sand streets of this carfree isle off the tip of the Yucatan.
The Plan Las Nubes de Holbox hotel offers end-of-the-road privacy, grab-and-go bikes, and a huge terrace crying out for sunset mojitos. Warm, shallow water and steady breezes make this a primo place for kiteboarding; hook up with the Holbox Kiteboarding School for lessons. Come summer, whale sharks are the main attraction 'round these parts -- Willy's Tours gets high marks for small groups and expert guides. Be sure to save a night to dive into a heaping bowl of seafood paella at Los Peleones.
Good to Know Las Nubes will set up a candlelit dinner for two on a sandbar -- a staffer paddles you over in a canoe.
This island's authentic best lies beyond its iconic strip, on wild coastal roads, orchid-lined trails, and pocket beaches.
The Plan If you're in the mood to splurge, check into the stellar Kahala Hotel & Resort in a chichi 'hood 10 minutes east of Waikiki. If not, the sweet disposition of Keiki Beach Bungalows on the North Shore will make you feel right at home. Grab a gourmet wiener and duck-fat fries for lunch at Hank's Haute Dogs. Then, do it up right at night: Locavore guru Peter Merriman's first Oahu venture, the Monkeypod Kitchen, opens in November 2012 at Ko'Olina Resort.
Good to Know A two-mile hike from the trailhead on Kalanjanaole Highway leads to the Makapuu Lighthouse -- a prime whale-spotting perch from December to April.
This rural escape is Hawaii unplugged -- ideal for pairs who are happy with leisurely days and wide-open spaces.
The Plan Start at the plantation-style Lodge at Koele, which has plush rooms -- many with fireplaces -- in the cool, piney upcountry. Go four-wheeling through the lunarlike red-rock spires at the evocatively named Garden of the Gods, or hike the Monroe Trail to score views of Molokai and Maui. When you tire of the adventurous life, transfer to the opulent Resort at Manele Bay, the lodge's beachfront doppelganger.
Good to Know The Lodge at Koele has extras like archery and sporting-clay ranges (a serious blast in every sense).
Big Island, Hawaii
This island deserves to be seen from more vantage points than just the one -- as sweet as it is -- you get from a beach chair.
The Plan If you prefer a large, luxury resort, it's hard to beat the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the sunny Kohala Coast. On the flip side, the Lava Lava Beach Club, a new kid on the Waikoloa Beach block, has just four cottages, their cocktail-ready lanais steps from the sand. Hit nearby Sansei for sushi; look past its strip-mall surrounds, because the food is insane. This is road-trip country, so rent a 4WD and take a self-led Kona Coffee Driving Tour with tasting stops at some of the island's 600 coffee farms.
Good to Know Night snorkeling among Kona's giant -- and gentle -- manta rays with Kona Diving Tours is an experience of a lifetime.