The Best Honeymoon Destinations on Every Continent
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When it comes to the perfect honeymoon, some couples zero in on the places they’ve always dreamed about — the Amalfi Coasts and French Rivieras of the world — while others would rather opt for new experiences in less-traveled destinations. Thankfully, there’s plenty of each on all seven continents.
To help you pick the honeymoon of your dreams, we’ve selected two “can’t miss” destinations on each continent, with a few extras in the Caribbean and Mexico (owing to the fact that, together with the US, these regions are the most popular honeymoon destinations for American couples). Read on to find your perfect post-nuptial getaway.
There’s a quintessential romance that permeates France’s landscapes, culture, food and — dare we say it? — air. Couples will feel it the moment they step foot on the cobblestone streets of Paris. (And even more so when they check into one of the Hôtel Plaza Athénée‘s glistening suites with Eiffel Tower views.) Expect to fall deeper in love as you wander the sleepy villages of Provence, where the recently opened Fondation Vincent van Gogh showcases works by the revered painter and the contemporary artists he influenced. Relaxation reaches new heights at the Riviera-chic Grand Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, where the beach club and Mediterranean Sea are just a funicular ride down from your suite. And, of course, what’s relaxation without wine? For that there’s Bordeaux, one of the fastest-growing cities in France.
As Hungary garners recognition as one of Europe’s top wine producers, so too is the country migrating onto the honeymoon map. You’ll be surprised by the quality and complexity of vintages that hail from its 22 wine regions (the most prominent of which are Tokaj, Eger and Lake Batalon). After a few days in the capital of Budapest, where you can post up at the new Mystery Hotel Budapest, drive just 18 miles to the unassuming town of Etyek, which yields some of the country’s finest Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Pinots and sparkling wines. Stop for tastings at Rókusfalvy Birtok, Halmi Pince, and Anonym Pince, which has a state-of-the-art tasting room with sweeping views of the countryside. Afterward, fend off the impending hangover with dinner and a stroll along Etyek’s so-called “Gastro Walkway,” a cobblestone street lined with restaurants.
Classic: South Africa
Safari first-timers flock to this African nation for its game-rich national parks, where you could check off all the Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalo and elephants) in a single day. Whether you choose Kruger National Park’s Singita Lebombo Lodge, or Sabi Sands’s Singita Boulders Lodge, you’re guaranteed the expert guides and top-notch experience for which this conservation-tourism operator is known. After a few days in the bush, head to Cape Town, where art, cuisine and adventure come together in one picturesque setting. Take it all in from the One&Only Cape Town, a luxury property on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront with Table Mountain views.
Though Rwanda has captured the attention of gorilla-tracking hopefuls, permits have skyrocketed to $1,500 per person for just one hour with the majestic primates. Uganda, meanwhile, is home to more than half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas; and the opportunity to see them is a third of the cost. A lodge-to-lodge circuit with WildPlaces Africa offers every kind of safari experience rolled into one. Start with classic game drives in the plains of the Great Rift Valley at Apoka Safari Lodge, where you’ll spot giraffe, lion, zebra and hippos. Follow that with chimpanzee tracking at Semliki, which operates its own research project. Cap your honeymoon in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, the highest lodge in Uganda, is just steps from the Nkuringo trailhead for gorilla tracking.
The United States
Classic: Napa Valley, California
For decades, honeymooners have been wooed by the romance of California’s preeminent winemaking region. With miles and miles of vines, Napa provides endless opportunity for discovery — a boutique winery, a roadside taco truck a quiet one-road town. But when it comes to the accommodations, you’ll want to stick to known entities. Storied resorts such as Meadowood Napa Valley or Auberge du Soleil offer full-service spas (hello, couples’ massage), luxe guest rooms, chef-driven restaurants and convenient access to some of the region’s top vineyards. Or, try the forthcoming Four Seasons Resort & Residences Napa Valley, which will feature 105 guest rooms and private villas, plus its own winery and vineyard, when it opens next year. And yes, there are plenty of fantastic points hotels in the Valley, too.
Unexpected: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Historic and minimally commercial, Oregon wine country is a breath of fresh air for couples who prefer boutique travel experiences. You’ll find two-thirds of the state’s wineries and vineyards in the Willamette Valley, located just an hour outside of Portland. At the Allison Inn & Spa, couples have a luxurious home base (think: wood-burning fireplaces, cozy accommodations, sprawling grounds) from which to explore the terroir, known for its yield of world-class Pinot Noir. Just ask Karen MacNeil, James Beard Award–winning author of “The Wine Bible,” who recently partnered with the inn to develop multi-day wine retreats and guest experiences.
Classic: Riviera Maya
Sugar-soft sand, azure Caribbean waters, centuries-old ruins—it’s easy to see why the Riviera Maya is one of the world’s most popular sun-and-sea destinations. And that popularity will only continue to rise: Cancun International Airport (CUN) added 30 new air routes in 2018, many from overseas and US cities such as Austin, Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco. Use points to cover stays nearby at the Ritz-Carlton or the JW Marriott (both from 50,000 points per night) in Cancun before heading to the Riviera Maya. Beat the crowds at the boutique hideout Hotel Esencia, set on a secluded stretch of beach between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The celeb favorite just debuted duplex penthouse suites, a coffee bar and Beefbar Esencia, the first Mexican outpost of Riccardo Giraudi’s internationally acclaimed restaurant concept, which highlights rare cuts of beef (think: Australian wagyu and Japanese Kobe).
Unexpected: San Miguel de Allende
The allure of Mexico’s beaches may be undeniable, but its colonial cities offer a window into the heart of Mexican culture. The provincial capital of San Miguel de Allende is filled with historic charms: cobblestone streets, grand cathedrals, baroque Spanish architecture. Past and present meld beautifully at the new Hotel Amparo, a 1900s-era home outfitted with modern amenities, like a coffee and wine bar and a state-of-the-art chef’s teaching kitchen. Couples can also visit hacienda ruins and quiet villages just beyond the city limits: Journey Mexico offers guided horseback treks along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, an ancient trail used by Spanish Conquistadors to transport silver and other treasures.
Classic: The Bahamas
With a wide variety of accommodations and experiences on some 700 islands and cays, the Bahamas is a honeymoon shoe-in. Amenity-obsessed couples can take their pick among the three properties at the Baha Mar mega resort, complete with 40 dining and nightlife options, a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course and an ESPA spa. Those who prefer privacy can retreat to Kamalame Cay, a private-island resort where each room comes with its own golf cart — perfect for travelers in search of skinny-dipping beaches. Everyone with an Instagram no doubt wants to swim with the pigs in the Exumas (for that, post up at the Grand Isle Resort & Spa). On the island of Eleuthera, The Other Side offers souped-up glamping-style accommodations, plus one of the most picturesque infinity pools in all of the Caribbean.
Unexpected: St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Thanks to minimal tourism infrastructure and raw natural beauty, this island chain has remained blissfully undeveloped. (Even better, it hasn’t experienced a direct hit from a hurricane in over 60 years, making it a safe bet for honeymooners year-round.) The archipelago is more accessible than ever, following the construction of a new airport (SVD) on St. Vincent and new direct flights from New York-JFK on Caribbean Airlines and Miami (MIA) on American Airlines. Take your pick of remote paradises: the Mandarin Oriental Canouan offers just 26 suites and 13 villas along sugar-soft Godahl Beach. The island of Bequia has secluded Bequia Beach Hotel and newcomer The Liming. And then there’s Petit St. Vincent, a 115-acre private-island resort where — gasp — rooms are intentionally Wi-Fi-free.
Classic: Antarctic Cruise
A new generation of purpose-built expedition vessels is transforming the future of polar travel. Case in point: Quark Expeditions’ forthcoming World Explorer vessel, which makes its Antarctic debut in 2020 (sales began this year). The 200-passenger, all-suite ship is chockfull of souped-up amenities: state-of-the-art dual helicopters, an interior Zodiac hangar, four embarkation points, 11 different cabin styles, spa and fitness facilities, plus a glass-domed Observation Lounge. The ship has a 70-day operational range, offering more adventures than ever before on the White Continent. Unclear whether you’ll still hurl over the side of the ship while traversing the notoriously rough Drake Passage.
Unexpected: Antarctica Day-Trip
For couples who don’t have the vacation time for a full-blown voyage to Antarctica, might we suggest a day trip? If that sounds like a ridiculous marketing ploy, think again: As part of its “Exceptional Ellerman Experiences,” Cape Town’s luxe Ellerman House offers a 24-hour, round-trip excursion to the White Desert, dubbed the “Greatest Day.” After a relaxing stint at the Bantry Bay boutique hotel, couples will board a private gulfstream jet for the five-and-a-half-hour evening flight over miles of ocean and icebergs. Come morning, you’ll land on the interior of Antarctica on a literal “ice runway,” before riding to the Schirmacher Oasis in a 4×4. After eight hours exploring frozen cliffs and lakes (with expert guides), cap the day with a gourmet Champagne dinner before the return flight to Cape Town — where you’ll likely wake up the next day thinking it was all a dream.
Home to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring wonders, Machu Picchu, Peru is as bucket-list as it gets. But experience-driven couples can also venture beyond the ancient site, making stops in Lima (for shopping in the Barranco District and visits to Mario Testino’s Museo Mate); Cusco (for exploration of the Sacred Valley’s pre-Incan ruins and pisco sour–making classes at Belmond Hotel Monasterio); and the Amazon basin, where you can traverse the namesake river aboard one of Delfin Amazon Cruises’ luxe ships, complete with floor-to-ceiling stateroom windows and Relais & Châteaux–designated cuisine.
Unexpected: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Located off the northern coast of Brazil, the 21 islands of Fernando de Noronha (only one of which is inhabited) are a veritable eco-wonderland. Thanks to an environmental preservation tourist tax, this UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with untouched landscapes and abundant wildlife (sea turtles, spinner dolphins and even humpback whales). Naya Traveler offers culturally immersive, custom-tailored journeys that take you to the most remote corners of the archipelago: snorkel the reefs off Sueste Beach, learn about the wild sea turtle population from a local conservationist, or hike to Baia do Sancho for panoramic views of what is considered Brazil’s most beautiful beach.
Classic: Bali, Indonesia
Combine golden-sand beaches with lush jungles, picturesque rice fields and centuries-old temples and you have Indonesia’s crown jewel: Bali. The island paradise has always been a popular choice for far-flung honeymoons, but this past year it was a destination anew, thanks to an explosion of hotels in areas such as Jimbaran Bay, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua and Ubud. Our picks: Six Senses Uluwatu, COMO Uma Canggu and Capella Ubud.
Unexpected: Andaman Islands
This chain of 300-plus islands, located between India and Thailand, is seriously postcard-worthy, and far less traveled than nearby island nations. Covered in coconut trees, tropical mangroves and uninhabited beaches the Andamans are a less-developed alternative to neighbors Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Thailand. Head straight for Havelock Island, where Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans sits on one of the best beaches in Asia. Seventy-five villas are spread out across 30 acres, so you never have to worry about crowds as you kayak through mangroves, picnic on Radhanagar Beach or dine beneath a blanket of stars.
Classic: Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Three words: Great Barrier Reef. Could there be a more epic honeymoon than one on the Whitsunday Islands, a beach bum and scuba diver’s paradise? The new 10-room Elysian resort offers an eco-friendly hub on the remote southern stretch of the GBR (you’ll be the only divers on that reef just beyond Long Island’s white-sand beaches). Once you’re out of the water, request a picnic on a neighboring island or a day trip to Whitehaven Beach, a heart-achingly beautiful swath of sand.
Unexpected: South Island, New Zealand
It’s easier than ever for couples to access the world adventure capital: Air New Zealand recently launched a nonstop flight between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Auckland (AKL), providing access from the Midwest for the first time. While the North Island is sought out for its metropolitan cities, sandy beaches and geothermal pools, its less-developed southern neighbor is a great alternative for intrepid couples. Snowcapped mountains offer a picturesque backdrop on the journey from Auckland to The Lindis, a new luxury lodge (and architectural marvel) in the Ahuriri Valley, where adrenaline junkies can get their fix of heart-pumping ATV rides and airborne gliding trips. Those who prefer a slower pace can check into wine country’s Marlborough Lodge, while backpacking enthusiasts should consider trekking the Paparoa Range on the newest of New Zealand’s Great Walks, set to open this year.
Featured photo by Pablo Heimplatz/Unsplash
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