Six spots sure to please every type of newlywed couple, with promises for a memorable trip.
Dreaming of an amazing post-wedding escape? Everyone has an opinion on the best honeymoon spot, but the fact is, it’s all about what appeals to you as a couple, and that is as unique as your love story. That’s why we suggest sitting down with your intended and talking about what you want to do when you get there. Tick something off your travel bucket list? Eat yourselves silly now that you’re off your wedding diet? Or just laze on a gorgeous beach and relax? Here are six ideas for different types of couples, as a starting point to answering a slightly different question: “What is the best honeymoon spot for us?”
ADVENTURERS: SOUTH AFRICA
At Singita, you can relax in your own secluded “treehouse” after a day of wildlife-viewing. (ADRIAAN LOUW PHOTOGRAPHY)
A safari is high atop many people’s bucket lists, and with the great exchange rate for the South African rand, it’s more affordable than it’s been in years. Safari lodges come in all shapes and sizes, but the best are intimate—with great design, stellar cuisine and extras like swimming pools and spa services. Sabi Sand, a private game park just outside of Kruger National Park, is home to some of the best, including Singita, which has three super-sexy lodges there. The word “safari” means “journey” in Swahili, and that’s exactly how you to do it—staying at two or three lodges over the course of a week. Your days take on a similar routine at each lodge: You’ll wake up early for a morning game drive, then head back to the lodge for lunch and a dip in the pool before heading out again in late afternoon for an evening game drive and sunset cocktails served in the bush. Cap off your trip with a visit to Cape Town or the Winelands, or head off to the island of Mozambique for a few days of beach time.
ADRIAAN LOUW PHOTOGRAPHY
Getting there: Johannesburg is 15 hours from Atlanta via Delta Air Lines. From there, it’s a 45-minute flight to Kruger National Park.
BEACH LOVERS: ANGUILLA
The powdery white sands and sparkling turquoise waters of the British West Indies provide a stunning backdrop for exclusive Cap Juluca. (MARK WEILAND/CAP JULUCA)
We Floridians know our beaches, so if you’re going to fly to one for your honeymoon, it better be exceptional! Anguilla is well worth the trek. This tiny Caribbean island has a low-key vibe (a lure for celebs who come here to get away), plus top-notch resorts and restaurants, all edged by sugar-white sand and that gorgeous Caribbean water. Maundays Bay is one of Anguilla’s best beaches, and home to romantic Cap Juluca, a 70-room, Moroccan-style resort. Oversized guest rooms with French doors, ocean-facing terraces and private sun decks off the bathroom are stacked in low, whitewashed villas. Walk from your room straight to the sand, where your two chaises are waiting under a shady palapa. When you get peckish, stroll down the beach to dine on tapas-style plates at Spice, or elegant seafood at Pimms, one of the island’s prettiest restaurants. Or take a water taxi to Scilly Cay, an offshore restaurant that serves up grilled chicken or lobster alongside some serious rum punch.
Soak in a soothing garden bath with a view to the private terrace and the beach beyond. (MARK WEILAND/CAP JULUCA)
Getting there: St. Martin is a three-hour flight from Miami on American Airlines. Once in St. Martin, you take a 30-minute ferry ride to Anguilla.
HISTORY BUFFS: TUSCANY
Castello del Nero, surrounded by more than 700 verdant acres, is an ideal destination for discovering the best of Tuscany. Visitors can explore the nearby towns of Florence, Siena, and Pisa, or enjoy truffle hunting, horseback riding, and bicycling on the estate. (CASTELLO DEL NERO)
Time moves slowly in the countryside between Florence and Rome, where rolling hills brim with vineyards and olive tree groves, and medieval-era castles peer down from hilltop perches. The road that connects the two cities dates back to the Roman Empire, and you’ll still find evidence of ancient stonework as you walk through the fields. Castello del Nero is ideally situated between Florence and Siena, in the heart of the Chianti region. This unique hotel is centered on a 12th-century castle and its surrounding village, with 50 luxury rooms set behind the historic stone walls. Interior restoration was overseen by the Italian Art Commission, resulting in museum-worthy frescoes and reliefs throughout the public spaces and guest rooms. But the amenities are purely modern, from flat-screen TVs to the stunning ESPA spa and the Michelin-star take on traditional Tuscan cuisine at La Torre. A complimentary shuttle takes you into Florence for more sightseeing in the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Most rooms include such features as wooden beam ceilings, historic frescoes, and marble and mosaic baths. (ANDREA GETULI)
Getting there: Connect directly to Florence via Frankfurt on Lufthansa, or via London on British Airways.
URBANITES: NEW ORLEANS
Chartres Street near St. Ann sits in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, the oldest—and most distinctive—neighborhood in the city. (ALEX DEMYAN/NEWORLEANSONLINE.COM)
One of America’s best-loved cities is perfect for honeymoons, if you know how to play it. First, choose the right home base. The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is just off Canal Street, within easy walking distance of the French Quarter as well as the artsy Warehouse District. Set in a landmark 1893 building, the beautifully restored hotel has hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, who played at The Blue Room. Dining is an event in this city; take a candlelit table at Bayona and tuck into the Southern menu that changes daily, or sample everything pork at Donald Link’s cult Cochon. Live music is always on the menu on Frenchmen Street, where jazz greats take the stage at Blue Nile and brass bands vie for change on the corner of Chartres Street. For daytime fun, take the cable car up to the Garden District and do a walking tour among stately Victorians. Magazine Street is tops for shopping, while art lovers will adore the Odgen Museum of Southern Art. When you’re tired of exploring, retire to the Roosevelt’s rooftop pool and watch the sun set over the Mississippi.
The golden lobby of the historic Roosevelt New Orleans hotel has been restored to its original grandeur. (ALEX DEMYAN/NEWORLEANSONLINE.COM)
Getting there: The Big Easy couldn’t be easier to get to—it’s an hour and 40-minute flight on Southwest Airlines.
ROAD TRIPPERS: MONTAGE PALMETTO BLUFF, SOUTH CAROLINA
At South Carolina’s Montage Palmetto Bluff resort, discover the area’s scenic Low Country landscape on land via bicycle, or on water via kayak. (Tim Zielenbach)
South Carolina’s Low Country is one of America’s treasures, and we’re lucky to have it (almost) in our backyard. One of the best places to enjoy the charms of the area is at Montage Palmetto Bluff, set on the May River just outside the tiny town of Bluffton. The resort-style town oozes with ambiance, in the form of giant oaks dripping with Spanish moss, wide marshes and genial Southern hospitality. Check into one of the 46 stand-alone cottages, outfitted with plush beds, freestanding tubs, gas fireplaces and screened front porches. When you’re energetic, play the championship golf course or kayak past dolphins on the river; if you’re not, enjoy a couples’ massage in the privacy of your own room. Dining starts with cocktails on the verandah of the Main House, followed by Low Country cuisine (think pumpkin bisque or sweet-tea-brined pork, followed by sticky toffee pudding). Great news for fall brides: Palmetto is undergoing a major expansion that will double the amount of hotel rooms to 150 and add a 15,000-square-foot spa.
The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, situated in the May River Forest, challenges golfers at all skill levels.
Getting there: Palmetto Bluff is just north of Savannah, and about a 300-mile drive from Orlando.
A former palace and convent, the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas hotel is located in a quiet plaza near Cusco’s main square. (ADRIAN HOUSTON LIMITED)
There’s no doubt about it: Peruvian cuisine is having a moment. Featuring fresh seafood, super grains (they started the quinoa craze) and influences that range from Spain to China, it’s a fresh fusion that super-chef Ferran Adrià called, “the future of gastronomy.” Start your tour in Lima at Astrid y Gastón, where celeb-chef Gastón Acurio first rose to fame. Chic El Mercado serves up fresh ceviches and pisco sours on an open-air patio. But it’s not just happening in Lima. Sky-high Cusco is the jumping-off point to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, and a great place to try traditional dishes like lomo saltado and choclo, the country’s unique large-kernel corn. For an utterly unique meal, try the tasting menu at Senzo, where an Acurio protégé transforms ancient Peruvian recipes with modern cooking techniques. It’s just one of the amenities at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, a gorgeous boutique hotel set in a former convent in the center of town; you’ll also love the cushy rooms, organic spa and the city’s only swimming pool.
Northwest of Cusco sits Machu Picchu, the iconic site of ancient Inca ruins. (SUSAN MOYNIHAN)
Getting there: Lima is a 6-hour nonstop flight on LAN Peru, or you can connect via Miami.
5 Tips for Planning a Perfect Honeymoon
1. Visit a place that's new to you both. A honeymoon is all about romance, and making a place your own. There's no better way to do that than by starting off on equal footing, in a destination you can discover together.
2. Be strategic on flights. Getting there can eat up a huge percentage of your travel budget, especially with far-flung locales. Plan ahead by getting a credit card that collects miles, so you can spend your hard-earned cash on the fun stuff—like plunge pools and couples' massages.
3. Read the fine print. That great online rate won't be so great when they add in taxes, fees and the dreaded "resort fee" (basically an excuse to charge more without having it show up in online searches). The same goes for airline fares when you add in seat selection, baggage fees and penalty fees if you need to make any changes.
4. Pace yourselves. A honeymoon is a different kind of trip. Yes, you want to see and do a lot, but you also need time to relax, unwind and explore on your own. Make sure to leave plenty of downtime for breakfast in bed or impromptu private time.
5. Budget right. It's a fact: You get what you pay for. And even if you can score an upgrade, a 5-star hotel is going to command 5-star prices. Anyone who tells you different isn't telling you the truth.