For most lovebirds, the long-awaited — perhaps, pandemic-postponed — honeymoon is the ultimate, dream vacation. Thankfully, a wide world of remarkable travel is just waiting for you and your new spouse to bust open the piggy bank to plan something memorable, exotic, adventurous, relaxing, and, of course, romantic. No pressure. While we’re big fans of the quintessential Hawaiian honeymoon, consider thinking outside the Aloha isles for this newlywed-inspired escape. After all, your honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime excuse to splurge on a unique holiday.
Here, we’ve mapped out several week-long (ish), honeymoon destinations for two, based on a range of budgets (note: airfare costs aren’t included in our projected expenses). For this special getaway, we’ve padded our budgets a bit — ok, a lot — more than usual. (Hint hint: Your honeymoon is not the time to skimp.)
Given the continuously evolving COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to check your chosen destination’s current health and safety-related requirements prior to your getaway.
Destination: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Gorgeous, unspoiled beaches and a chill, low country vibe make Hilton Head Island the ideal spot to kick back after all the wedding festivities. Stroll 12 miles of sandy oceanfront, parasail, paddle, fish, and cruise the warm waters. The island’s wild side — mossy live oaks and marshy nature preserves — is matched by manicured luxury. If you and your sweetie prefer ziplining through the canopy, rallying on a tennis court, reading a book on a pristine beach, teeing off on a world-class golf course, or soaking in a little history, you can find it all within 69 square miles. Whether you choose iconic, old-school accommodations or swanky new resorts, you can play, spa, and dine your way through your honeymoon. And, while you’re lounging on the beach, keep an eye out for dolphins, loggerhead turtles, ospreys, and ibises.
Hilton Head Highlights:
- Take a sunset cruise across Calibogue Sound
- Kayak the Broad Creek Estuary
- Pedal some of the island’s 64 miles of trails
- Sip a dark ‘n stormy while listening to live music, beachside at Tiki Hut
- Tee off with your spouse at one of two dozen champion courses (perhaps, blow your budget on world-renowned Harbour Town Golf Links)
Destination: Bali, Indonesia
Land of turquoise waters, 10,000 temples, terraced hillsides, lush rainforest, and vibrant culture, Bali is the poster child for paradise. Immerse yourselves in the Zen of ancient temples and wellness resorts, or surf some of the world’s best — and most picturesque — breaks. Dive, snorkel, and hammock together. Savor Indonesian flavor with a cooking class or a traditional Balinese dance performance. Whether you check into the Four Seasons or an oceanside villa, the “Island of the Gods” delivers ample opportunity for full-throttle adventure as well as cuddle-up-and-soak-it-all-in tranquility. Namaste!
- Hike Kintamani, Bali’s active volcano
- Dive the reef at Nusa Penida
- Watch the sunset at Balangan Beach
- Surf the powerful Uluwatu, or smaller waves elsewhere
- Check out the sacred Ubud Monkey Forest (just don’t feed the macaques)
Destination: Puerto Rico Islands
Purportedly the birthplace of the piña colada, this colorful, Caribbean hideaway delivers equal parts romance and spicy fun. Hunker down in an all-inclusive resort (with its own island) like El Conquistador, splurge on the intimately posh and private Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve, or set up a cool basecamp in a lofty, mountain-side inn. Whether you prefer to salsa the night away, or prioritize time under a beach umbrella, Puerto Rico has sizzling culture and jaw-dropping natural wonder in spades. And, yes, passion can be found everywhere from the cobblestoned streets of San Juan to the quiet beaches of Vieques to the rainforest’s stunning waterfalls. Cheers!
Puerto Rico Highlights:
- Hike or zipline El Yunque National Park
- Kayak Vieques’ bioluminescent bay
- Surf Rincon
- Meander San Juan’s Paseo de la Princesa
- Snorkel and relax at Culebra’s renowned Flamenco Beach
Destination: Marlborough Wine Country, New Zealand
The vast, rugged, natural beauty of New Zealand is so spectacular, you’ll wish you could bottle it. And well, you can — thanks to the country’s delicious and beautiful wineries! Should world-class sauvignon blanc strike your fancy, Marlborough, on the northeast edge of the South Island, is a smashing spot to not only explore vineyards, but also toast the tremendous surroundings. Road trip the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, kayak Marlborough Sounds — made up of 1,500 kilometers of coastline — soak in Maori culture, and bike the craggy coast’s ridgelines. Venture to other wine regions and be sure to foray far and wide (perhaps, via helicopter tour) for extraordinary eco-adventures, like spelunking the North Island’s Waitomo Caves or rambling through awe-inspiring Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Marlborough (and beyond) highlights:
- Bike some — or all — of the 380-km Classic Wine Trail
- Boat or swim with the dolphins in Marlborough Sounds
- Ride the TranzAlpine train through the South Island’s Alps to Arthur’s Pass National Park
- Explore the phenomenal beaches at Abel Tasman National Park (South Island)
- Wine, dine, and explore other locales, like Waiheke Island or the Waipara Valley
- Day hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing (North Island)
Destination: Tour de Western Europe
You just committed to one, incredible person, but you don’t need to commit to one European city. Start with the quintessential city of love and light, Paris. And. Go. From. There. Rail Europe is an easy way to map out an itinerary that can span the Mediterranean jewels: Marseille, Cannes, Nice, St. Tropez, Monaco, Cinque Terre, and Genoa … or head inland to the likes of Florence and Rome — or, perhaps Geneva? Don’t zoom by the petite and under-the-radar, dazzling seaside ports and country villages. Stop and smell the lavender — or chianti. Of course, Valencia, Madrid and Andorra can serve as precursors or the grand finale to the Provençal or Medici tour. And, for Celtic-Saxon intrigue, “chunnel” to England and the bonnie Highlands. Onwards!
Nevertheless, it is also perfectly ok to choose just one European destination and relish every romantic moment therein. No judgment, if you choose a single, honeymoon city.
Western Europe Highlights (depending, of course, on where you end up):
- Savor gelato (anywhere in Italy) and admire the real Michelangelo’s David in the Academia or Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (Uffizi Gallery)
- Sunbathe in Cassis or St. Tropez in France, followed by Michelin-starred, harbor dining
- Tuck into the paella — and beaches — of Valencia
- Sip champagne in Champagne
- Play golf at St. Andrews and raise a pint in Edinburgh (don’t miss the castle)
Destination: South African Safari
If your goal is to make your honeymoon unforgettable, a swishy sojourn involving Africa’s “Big Five” — elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard — is just the ticket. Private game reserves and spendy, guided safaris typically include opulent digs and five-star dining. Consider making yourselves comfortable in the Eastern Cape’s ultra-luxe Shamwari Private Game Reserve, with easy access to the gorgeous coast as well as wine country. Or book an exclusive stay at a lodge in the 7,500-square-mile game reserve, Kruger National Park. If money is no object, why not top off the experience by flying to neighboring Zimbabwe to take in the world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls? And don’t forget to stargaze away from the city lights!
South Africa’s Eastern and Western Cape Highlights:
- Drive the “Garden Route” with beachy stays along the way in Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay
- Spend some time in Cape Town, summiting Table Mountain and dining at the waterfront
- Raise a glass of pinotage in Stellenbosch wine country
- Check out the penguins at Boulders Beach
- Pop over to Addo Elephant Park for even more wildlife viewing