The Best New Honeymoon Hot Spots
By: Kathryn O'Shea-Evans
A new twist on a popular European city. The latest foodie getaway in South America. An undiscovered Mexican beach escape. (Yes, it does exist!) These spots around the world have caught our eye for a variety of exciting reasons—and each one is guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable honeymoon experience you won't find anywhere else.
The Beach Getaway: Isla Holbox, Mexico
With unspoiled powdery beaches, frolicking flamingoes, and hardly any cars, this quiet 26-mile-long isle is a crowd-free alternative to honeymoon hot spot Tulum. It's so laid-back that flip-flops and a sarong constitute "dressing up."
When To Go: December to March, for the sunniest weather (average temperature: 77 degrees) and little chance of rain.
Getting There: Fly to Cancún airport (four hours from New York City; five hours from Los Angeles). Then it's a two-hour drive and 20-minute ferry.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Stay: For romance with a side of beach chic, opt for one of the thatched-roof oceanfront suites at Casa Las Tortugas. Some of the amazing amenities include a yoga pavilion right by the pool, a restaurant that utilizes organic produce from the owner's farm, and a new spa where the treatments are inspired by 4,000-year-old Mayan rituals. We recommend the couple's milk bath with mint leaves in Yucatecan marble tubs.
Eat: Taco Queto (no website, dinner only) may be an unassuming food truck, but we guarantee that the tacos al pastor, chorizo burritos drizzled in cream sauce, and fresh guacamole will be some of the best Mexican food you'll ever have.
Do: During the Whale Shark Tour with VIP Holbox Experience, you'll snorkel a reef teeming with octopuses and sea turtles, snack on ceviche made from the catch of the day, and swim alongside gentle 40-foot-long whale sharks. (No need to worry: They're more whale than shark and eat mostly plankton.)
Shop: For a wearable piece of the shore, pick up a sea-urchin necklace or starfish earrings cast in gold. Noa Joyeria carries a standout collection.
The New Caribbean Resort: St. Maarten
It used to be that the French side of this isle—St. Martin—got all the attention for its jet-setters, top-notch food, and pristine beaches. But the new, adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort is putting the Dutch half, with its cruise port, casinos, and nightlife, on the sophisticated traveler's map.
Stay, Eat, Do: As is usual with luxe all-inclusives, you won't have to reach for your wallet or shell out extra for top-shelf drinks, seaside dinners, snorkeling, 24-hour room service, or Wi-Fi (not that you'll need it). Some rooms even come with butlers—because you never know when you'll need someone to serve you lunch.
The Cultural Center: Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal's capital city has long been a stop on European getaways, thanks to plentiful sunshine and affordable hotel prices (now even more so, thanks to a favorable euro exchange rate). But lately, it's been earning raves as a rapidly emerging style hub as well. And with the opening of places like LX Factory, a former fabric-manufacturing complex that's chockablock with hipper-than-hip shops and restaurants, the secret's out—along with our passports. We asked local tour guide Bruno Gomes, founder of We Hate Tourism Tours, for his must-dos.
When To Go: March to May and September to October, for mild weather. Avoid August, when many businesses close for vacation. Rock music fans will love the NOS Alive Festival (July 7–9).
Getting There: Seven hours from New York City; 12 hours from Los Angeles.
Stay: "I recommend booking a private suite with a view of the river at The Independente," recommends Gomes. "It's a combination hostel and hotel, and it looks like the set of a Wes Anderson movie."
Eat: "Lisbon is full of cool restaurants, but I love to take the short ferry ride across the Tagus River to Cacilhas for an outdoor table at Ponto Final (+351 21 276 0743). Go at 6 p.m. for the best light, order an aperitif and the dourada escalada grelhada (grilled sea bream), and dine overlooking the skyline with the river at your feet," says Gomes. "After dinner, head back to Lisbon for a drink at The Insolito, on the roof of a 19th-century building. The cocktail menu is always changing; trust the bartender to make something you'll like. And be sure to try the chocolate cake at Landeau Chocolate in LX Factory—it's to die for."
Do: "Spend a morning wandering the lush landscape of Calouste Gulbenkian Garden, which is full of romantic hidden corners and also home to the modern art museum Centro de Arte Moderna. In the afternoons, my wife and I like to get a bottle of wine from the Alentejo region and drink it on the terrace of the Miradouro de Santa Catarina overlook, the main square across from the Museu da Farmácia. Yes, you can drink everywhere in Lisbon! Four euros at a convenience store buys an excellent wine. People ask me why we don't export more of it, and I say: 'Because we drink it all.'"
Shop: "Feira da Ladra (+351 21 817 0800), or the Thieves Market, is an eclectic, disorganized flea market that was said to be the place where robbers would sell what they had stolen. Even today, if something is missing, we say to go to Feira de Ladra and maybe you can buy it back. For more modern finds, there's Muitomuito in the LX Factory, known for its midcentury furniture."
The Foodie Tour: Santiago, Chile
If you've already eaten your way through Lima, this is the time to visit what has recently become South America's tastiest town, where a new breed of inventive chefs are putting local ingredients front and center. Our meal-by-meal guide takes the guesswork out of where to eat.
When To Go: Late September to November, when flowers (and farm-fresh food) are flourishing. Or visit in April for Ñam, an annual food festival during which the country's best chefs host cooking demos around the city.
Getting There: 11 hours from New York City; 14 hours from Los Angeles.
Stay: Luxe 62-room hotel The Singular Santiago is the newest game in town. We also love the recently redone Castillo Rojo, set in a 1923 mansion just a block from one of poet Pablo Neruda's former homes. Ask for a room with a view of the Andes.
Eat Breakfast: Adjacent to a leafy courtyard, the Colmado Coffee & Bakery serves delicious Chilean breakfasts (cotija-topped eggs, buttery white bread, tomato salad), but that's not why you're here. In a land where instant coffee reigns, this is the place for a fix of the real thing, including sips made with a siphon—the brewing method of choice for many coffee fanatics.
Eat Lunch: The city's gastronomic wizardry is on display at Fuy, where the menu offers dishes like toothfish and honeyed cauliflower with citric emulsion, and braised short ribs in smoked cherry tree purée. Get a table on the leaf-shrouded patio under the dusky-pink umbrellas.
Eat Dinner: When news of a restaurant spreads from one hemisphere to another, it must be something special. At Rodolfo Guzmán's Boragó, everything is grown (or milked) at his nearby farm, foraged in the mountains, or bought from fishermen. This means the menu changes daily, but it may feature guanaco (a llama relative) served with guava and quail eggs.
Eat Dessert: In the summer, locals line up around the block for the all-natural, homemade ice creams at Emporio La Rosa, flavored with indigenous fruits like lúcuma and maracuyá pepa. Do as Chileans do, and order an individual mascarpone ice cream cheesecake topped with passion fruit for a midnight snack.
Sip Cocktails: Couples congregate at Ruca Bar for inventive gin cocktails, such as the Gin Yang, made with lemon, triple sec, and cardamom syrup, and late-night tapas including lollipop falafel.
The Global Menu: Berlin
There's a lot of buzz around the German capital's dining scene—and lately, all eyes have been on the Mitte district. Just don't come craving only schnitzel, because the cuisine here comes from all over the world, not just Germany.
Eat: Artist Olafur Eliasson's sister, Victoria Eliasdóttir, is heading up a new Icelandic seafood spot, Dóttir, which serves a changing five-course menu for around $63; expect dishes like North Sea shrimp in a wild-herb salad. There's also an airy, minimalist sushi spot called Dudu, as well as Mogg, a kosher artisanal deli located in a 1927 Jewish girls' school. (Don't miss the pastrami sandwich.) In the mood for Mexican? Neta serves up delicious street food, like tacos and quesadillas made with slow-cooked beef.
The Adventure Zone: Mongolia
The wide-open grasslands, rugged, wind-hewn mountains, and untamed wildlife here are more accessible than ever, with outfitters tailoring trips for intrepid couples. Get your bearings in Western comfort at the 290-room Shangri-La Hotel, Ulaanbaatar, which opened in June 2015 on Great Chinggis Khaan Square. Then join Nomadic Expeditions for your choice of only-in-Mongolia thrills, including overnights in yurts and visits with local nomadic reindeer herdsmen.
When To Go: Early July for warm weather and the Naadam Festival—like Mongolia's own Olympics—which takes place in the Gobi Desert. Late November is best for tracking snow leopards.
Getting There: 26 hours from New York City, with one stop; 20 hours from Los Angeles with one stop.
Visit: In 1923, the first set of dinosaur eggs ever to be discovered were found at the red sandstone Flaming Cliffs archaeological site. You'll dig for more remains, then enjoy a gourmet picnic dinner.
Hike: The 7,400-foot-high mountain of Bogd Khan has been considered holy (and protected from loggers and hunters) since the 18th century.
Meet: In the fields adjacent to the thick forests of Siberia and 853-foot-deep Lake Hovsgöl, you'll spend time with the few remaining families of the nomadic Tsaatan tribe, reindeer herdsmen who've been moving with their animals about five times a year since the Ice Age.
Stay: Consider Three Camel Lodge—a collection of luxe felt-covered gers (yurts) in the Gobi desert—your home base. With private bathrooms, king-size hand-carved beds topped by camel hair blankets, and attendants stoking the fire and proffering thermoses of hot tea, there's nothing cozier.
Ride and Track: Here's a snapshot for the future grandkids: you two atop towering camels traversing the Khongoryn Els, sand dunes that reach up to 2,625 feet. During the winter, you may even spot the endangered (and notoriously elusive) snow leopard; its habitat is the nearby Gegeet Valley, and there are only some 4,000 left in the wild.
The Tropical Safari: Galápagos Islands
Until recently, the best way to explore this fiercely protected archipelago—located about 620 miles west of Ecuador—was on a cruise. But the modernist, sustainably built Pikaia Lodge changed all that, offering a three-day combined land-and-sea experience, complete with its very own yachts to explore the surrounding islands.
When To Go: It's a year-round destination, but you'll see more fish (and possibly mating blue-footed boobies) when the water is cool—June through November.
Getting There: 26 hours from New York City, with two stops; 22 hours from Los Angeles, with two stops. Plus local ferries.
Day 1: Check in and immediately hit your private plunge pool (available in pool suites, for $600 more), which overlooks the verdant and volcanic landscape—and likely a few wandering resident tortoises. Afterward, fuel up on quinoa croquettes, octopus carpaccio, and Andean fruit cheesecake in the restaurant; tomorrow's a busy day.
Day 2: Over the next six hours, you'll explore jagged lava tunnels, stare into the cavernous Los Gemelos sinkholes, and meet 800-pound tortoises at Rancho Las Primicias. Be sure to book a predinner Shamanic massage back at the lodge: The spa's got a rainmaker stick—and the staff knows how to use it.
Day 3: It's yacht time! On the docket? Spotting the locals—meaning blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and fur seals—sunning themselves on South Plaza Island. Then you'll chillax in the onboard Jacuzzi or your private cabin while sailing the crystalline Pacific waters. Next up: Santa Fe Island, to snorkel with sea lions and wander a prickly-pear-cactus forest.