Not all honeymooners have their hearts set on classic Hawaii. Many couples are choosing to search the world in pursuit of the perfect exotic beach for their post-wedding retreat—one that blends romance, adventure, and far-flung drama in one getaway.
Beautiful and laid-back Belize—just a two-hour flight from Miami or Houston—is the ideal honeymoon spot after the frenetic pace of the wedding. It’s still an unspoiled tropical paradise that’s not nearly as well known as other Western Caribbean islands like the Caymans or Jamaica. As the home of the world’s second-largest barrier-reef system, Belize offers excellent diving, snorkeling, and fishing, plus perfect beaches for sunbathing. Be sure to carve out some time to visit the Mayan ruins and rainforest reserves during your vacation.
Where to Stay:The seven private villas on the four-acre private island of Cayo Espanto near San Pedro are the epitome of pure luxury. Each villa—six beachfront and one overwater bungalow—features private plunge pools and docks and the services of a personal “houseman.” Rates include three meals a day plus access to a snack pantry. Lounge on the beach or dock of your villa or take out a pedal boat, sea kayak, or sailboat. A secluded island picnic can be arranged as can excursions to the rain forest or Mayan ruins, fishing trips, and private cruises.
Perfect for couples that… want an overwater bungalow experience without the long-distance flight to French Polynesia or the Maldives.
If your idea of honeymoon bliss is a deserted island, the Maldives are for you. Located 430 miles southwest of Sri Lanka, this nation in the Indian Ocean is actually made up of 26 atolls spread over 35,000 square feet. The archipelago sits atop a massive underwater mountain range—from the air, you see a perfect mosaic of coral reefs and sand bars. This is Mecca for divers who wish to see whale sharks, moray eels, Manta rays and stingrays, reef sharks, and turtles like the hawksbill and green sea varieties. The trip from the United States requires a long-haul plane ride and then you’ll need to take a speedboat or seaplane to transfer to your resort. But believe us, the trip is worth it.
Where to Stay: A posh Ambassador 55 yacht whisks you from the airport to the most romantic and secluded hideaway you can imagine: One&Only Reethi Rah in the North Male Atoll. You check into your beach villa or overwater bungalow and are amazed by the sheer amount of space allotted to your private paradise. You frolic on the beach and swing on your hammock for days without seeing anyone else—other than your dedicated 24/7 villa host—unless you head to the restaurants, main beach, spa, or pools. Activities here range from water sports (think snorkeling, diving kayaking, pedal boats, and wakeboarding) to tennis and cooking lessons.
Perfect for couples that… want to experience what it’s like to vacation on a (nearly) deserted island without sacrificing top-notch accommodations.
It’s easy to recognize photos of the Seychelles. Beaches on these islands are dotted with massive, smooth boulders that make it look as if some giant left them there eons ago. In the 1750s the French settled on this archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, which are about 900 miles east of Kenya. There’s a convivial atmosphere here coupled with a focus on fine food and wine. Forty-two of the islands are granite, including the popular Mahé, Praslin, Silhouette Island, La Digue, and Frégate. If you love nature, you’ll enjoy the exquisite diving and snorkeling sites.
Where to Stay: From Mahé—where the international airport is—take a shuttle plane, sea ferry, helicopter, or private yacht to Raffles Praslin Seychelles on the northeastern tip of Praslin, the second-largest granite island. Raffles is the site of 86 villas and villa suites—some tucked directly into the hillside with panoramic views of the sea in the distance. Unlike Maldivian islands that are only slightly above sea level, the Seychelles has quite a bit of elevation. Resorts like Raffles offer on-call buggy service whenever you don’t wish to walk from one spot to another on property. A butler will also pamper you 24 hours a day and in-villa dining here is quite a treat. On-property activities range from water sports (think snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and boating) to earthly pursuits (beach football, biking, and more).
Perfect for couples that… are adventurous. The Seychelles are all about island-hopping, so you can explore the flora and fauna that’s unique to each.
The first thing you’ll realize about Fiji is the fact that the locals are incredibly friendly—shouts of “Bula!” (hello) are directed at just about everyone. Located in Melanesia, the Republic of Fiji sits in the South Pacific Ocean, more than 2,100 miles from Tahiti and midway between Tonga and Vanuatu. Since the Fijian islands were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, you’ll find rugged mountains blanketed with lush forests on many islands. The beaches are perfect golden crescents and many islands boast world-class snorkeling and diving. Unlike other island chains, Fiji has a number of championship golf courses. These islands offer a terrific mix of activities for honeymooners of any age.
Where to Stay: David and Jill Gilmour, the owners of eco-friendly Wakaya Club & Spa in Fiji, are fond of saying that the more the world changes, the more we gravitate to places that don’t—and that’s certainly true of the guests who seek out this all-inclusive private island resort. Ten 1,650-square-foot waterfront bures (cottages) encompass the island. Each is decorated with Tibetan rugs and Asian accents. The island, protected by a coral reef, offers a beautiful blue lagoon and white sand beach that is buffeted by breathtaking cliffs. This laid-back destination is best for couples that like to hike or go on nature walks, enjoy beach picnics, and play golf, tennis, or croquet.
Perfect for couples that… don’t mind getting away from it all (there are no in-room TVs or phones at Wakaya Club, but there is high-speed Internet).
Taha’a, French Polynesia
When people dream of a Polynesian vacation they most often think of Tahiti or Bora Bora. But why not consider the intimate isle of Taha’a, which shares a lagoon with fellow Society Islands neighbor, Raiatea, and is an overseas territory of France? This is the place for people who find the pace of Tahiti too rushed. Time has stopped on “Vanilla Island,” as it’s known for the many villa plantations that dot the landscape. You’ll also find traditional pearl farm huts built on stilts out in the lagoon. Spend your days on the beach, exploring the remote interior roads by 4×4, or visiting the botanical gardens.
Where to Stay: The gorgeous Le Tahaâ€™a Island Resort is located on the tiny islet of Motu Tautau—just a 35-minute boat ride from Raiatea Airport or a 12-minute helicopter trip from Bora Bora. With views of Taha’a in one direction and Bora Bora in the other, there’s something special about this hideaway. Beach villas and over-water bungalows are decorated in traditional Polynesian fashion, with thatched pandanus roofs and interiors featuring bamboo, exotic woods, and coral. The main draw here is the exquisite coral garden just feet from the beach.
Perfect for couples that… enjoy tiny islands where tourists mix with locals.
Porto Heli, Peloponnese, Greece
The small coastal town of Porto Heli on the eastern side of the Peloponnese peninsula has come a long way from its roots as a fishing village. Today, Greeks and well-heeled travelers from around the globe vacation here. From lush olive groves to perfect bays, every scene seems as if it was lifted from a postcard. If you wish to explore beyond Porto Heli, you can do so by car, bike, or boat. There is even hydrofoil service to the nearby isles of Spetses and Hydra. The calm beaches are ideal for sunbathing and frolicking.
Where to Stay: Amanzoâ€™e is a stunning property that looks down from its hilltop perch on the Argosaronic Gulf and neighboring island Spetses. Thirty-eight guest pavilions, each with its own private swimming pool and outdoor pergola, have views of the Aegean and nearby olive groves. Vacations here focus on the beach club and spa as well as visits to nearby ancient sites like the Amphitheatre in Epidaurus and the Medical Sanctuary of Asclepius. The charming town of Nafplion is nearby, with its exquisite examples of neoclassical architecture and the formidable Palimidi Castle. The journey from Athens to Amanzo’e is two and a half hours by car or hydrofoil.
Perfect for couples that… want to honeymoon in Europe without sacrificing a fantastic beach experience.
Photo Credits: Cayo Espanto courtesy of Cayo Espanto; One&Only Reethi Rah courtesy of One&Only Reethi Rah; Raffles Praslin Seychelles courtesy of Raffles Praslin Seychelles; Wakaya Club and Spa courtesy of Wakaya Club and Spa; Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa courtesy of Danee Hazama, Greg le Bacon, DPI, Rani Chaves, Tahiti Tourisme © Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa and Tahiti Tourisme; Amanzo’e courtesy of Amanzo’e