For harried brides-to-be, pondering where to go on one’s honeymoon can be an overwhelming task. The globe is so big, the planning window so small! Luckily, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the equation, quizzing our editors and consulting countless wedding blogs to find the best places for newlyweds to head after the big day. Here are our picks for the year’s top honeymoon destinations—and where to stay once you get there.
You’ll find some adventure amidst the green when you’re Costa Rica bound for your honeymoon. The flora and fauna—almost overwhelmingly beautiful—will captivate you, and you’ll always find plenty to do, especially if you’re an outdoors-loving pair. Bonus: the eco-lodge trend is popular, meaning dedicated green couples can feel good about their vacation.
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Where to Stay: Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge
Don’t sacrifice a bit of luxury—at the Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge you can have your nature and your upscale accommodations too. Activities abound (think kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and sailing) and the Edible Garden offers a tour that takes you from raw cacao beans to finished chocolate cake. Wind down from wedding excitement on the yoga deck or take a night walk to see elusive nocturnal local life. The solar-powered lodge offers private wooden cabins with open-air showers or mango-shaded rooms in the guesthouse.
Runner-Up: Hotel Punta Islita
If you know you’ll need some pampering after a day spent outdoors, the spa at Hotel Punta Islita offers myriad treatments using local herbs. This is a great spot for staying in your private casita—the views are jaw-dropping and you can relax in your own plunge pool or hammock-hung private garden. Breakfast is included and service is totally personal—can the honeymoon go on forever, please?
Whether you’re headed to the rolling wine country of Tuscany or the rocky shores of the Amalfi Coast, Italy is the right spot for taking in gorgeous views—and great meals. Foodies and history buffs will enjoy a stay in the historic center of European high life.
Where to Stay: Villa Armena Relais
The Villa Armena Relais is perfect for pretending to be a 16th-century nobleman—with every 21st century convenience. The villa, which opened in 2012 after a big renovation, boasts an attention to detail that will transport guests to another time. From red-brick walls to terracotta floors, guest rooms (some of which have deep marble soaking tubs) are the height of Renaissance chic. The restaurant and wine cellar display the best ingredients of the region. Look out for a wellness center to open in 2013.
Runner-Up: Le Sirenuse
Le Sirenuse might have the best views in Italy. The museum of a hotel integrates art and nature perfectly—the poolside terrace carved into the coast is a great place to relax and dine. If you’re willing to splurge on high rates, the perks and beauty will prove their worth again and again.
Spa seekers and those in need of a post-wedding wind-down should look to Bora Bora in the romantic South Pacific, where over-water bungalows and white sand beaches beckon. Spend a few afternoons sailing and snorkeling, and you’ll be feeling like a blissed-out newlywed in no time.
Where to Stay: Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa
At the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa, views of Mt. Otemanu are interrupted only by the sight of a perfect white beach. Large bungalows sit astride the blue lagoon and feature mahogany canopy beds, sitting rooms, and marble bathrooms. Coral gardens and volcanic rock formations offer great spots for snorkeling, and a hill-top spa adds to the luxury. If you’re looking for a day trip, free shuttle boats will take you over to Bora Bora’s capital, Vaitape.
Runner-Up: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa
The InterContinental Bora Bora can do double-duty by serving as wedding venue and honeymoon spot. The wedding chapel (the only resort chapel in French Polynesia) has a glass aisle suspended over the water, making every step of the ceremony unforgettable. Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure that you wake up to a gorgeous view, and the world-class Thalassa spa with its deep seawater and seaweed treatments is intensely therapeutic.
Tip: For a more adventurous, less bank-breaking trip, check out a smaller family-owned hotel, or pension. Learn more with our Bora Bora Hotel Guide.
Mexico will always be a favorite honeymoon spot for fun-loving pairs who want to celebrate their nuptials on the sand. Those whose ideal suitcase contains only a bathing suit, sun block, and a pair of sandals can rest assured that they’ll find the ideal beach honeymoon in Riviera Maya.
Where to Stay: Viceroy Riviera Maya
The Viceroy Riviera Maya is all about luxury in the sand. Camp out in a palapa villa and enjoy your own private plunge pool and outdoor shower—comforts inside include canopy-draped king beds and hand-cut artisan soap. You’ll feel like you’re in the thick of it thanks to the jungle-side location, and if you’re so inclined, you can traverse the paths cut through the greenery for a close-to-home adventure. Relax at the beach or pool (separated by mere steps) and enjoy meals at the two fine restaurants. Pro tip: Don’t ignore the ever-present bug spray.
Runner-Up: The Rosewood Mayakoba
Acquire a taste for the exotic when you room among the wildlife-filled lagoons in the sprawling grounds of The Rosewood Mayakoba. As an added perk, beachfront rooms include personal butler service.
Let’s be honest—there’s a dreaminess to honeymooning in Paris that just can’t be beat. Foodies and wine aficionados will be in heaven, culture-loving couples will find something to do around every corner, and every newly married pair can appreciate the beauty of a stroll through the famed love capitol of the world.
Where to Stay: W Paris-Opera
Paris will throw romance at you at every turn—stay somewhere fun and irreverent to offset the effect of rose-colored glasses. The W Paris-Opera, decorated with quirky illustrations and mismatched nods to French icons, is a lively place to call home while you explore the City of Lights. The staff knows all the hotspots and the DJ’d lobby lounge offers an exciting spot for a cocktail and a canapé.
Then again, why not amp up the romance factor while you have the excuse? L’Hotel is an iconic Paris landmark (and Oscar Wilde’s former home, to boot). Stay and enjoy dinner at the acclaimed Le Restaurant, or venture out to explore St. Germain-des-Prés. The Left Bank spot is all glamour and French charm.
Napa and Sonoma
California Wine Country is a perfect pick even for wine newbies—those looking to curl up with a good book or set out for a picnic in the orchards will find a quiet getaway. Active travelers can strike out via bike or kayak to see more of the scenery.
Where to Stay: The Farmhouse Inn
Get cozy in a snug cottage—complete with wood-burning fireplace and private sauna—and feel stress melt away. The Farmhouse Inn does rustic-meets-modern so well that it seems silly to even leave your room; once you sample the included breakfast, though, you’ll be happy to get up in the morning. You will most definitely want to book a table at the Michelin-starred restaurant while you’re there.
Another great option for green enthusiasts, h2hotel
is a trendsetting spot that brings eco-friendly means to a beautiful end. Check out the living roof populated by succulents, as well as the biodynamic spa treatments. Try a new cocktail every night at local favorite Spoonbar, the on-site restaurant.
Trendsetters will want to set their sights on Thailand, thanks to the wave of travelers choosing to explore Southeast Asia this year. Adventurous sorts will love the experiences—from elephant riding to luxury camping—that it affords.
Where to Stay: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
After the flurry of activity and guests that weddings bring, you might find yourself harboring the desire to retreat to some remote locale. Jump on board the luxury camping bandwagon in one of Golden Triangle‘s 15 luxury tents stocked with all the amenities and you’ll find total peace. You’ll know you’re far from home when you see the on-site Elephant Camp and learn to ride, feed, and train elephants. The spot in northern Thailand offers views of the Ruak River, the jungle, or the mountains of Laos, but you’ll never need the leave the property—the all-inclusive packages can include meals, spa treatments, excursions and more.
Runner-Up: Pimalai Resort and Spa
For a more traditional resort experience, try the Pimalai, where you’ll never want for space to unwind. Exclusive villas have full kitchens, private pools, and drivers, so you won’t have to break a sweat en route to the spa. The atmosphere is distinctly calming.
The Big Island, Hawaii
Honeymooning on the Big Island might be the best way to get a taste of every essential Hawaiian experience—the locale offers it all, and first-time visitors and loyal fans alike will be kept busy and excited. Classic couples seeking a classic honeymoon will find that Hawaii never goes out of style.
Where to Stay: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
A stay at Mauna Lani Bay will give you all of that Hawaiian-vacation luxury, but it will also give you the chance to have a more authentic Hawaiian experience. From petroglyph field tours to a "Talk Story" session at an historic home, you’ll find more than just a swim-up bar and beach cabana. That said, two acclaimed waterfront golf courses, ocean views, and several super-convenient dining options round out a relaxing trip. The breathtaking lobby screams (or rather, discreetly announces) total elegance.
Runner-Up: Puakea Ranch
Historic country estate charm, complete with horseback riding and fresh fruit picking in the orchards, abounds at Puakea Ranch. Though not directly on the beach, each of the four restored ranch houses and bungalows is beautifully turned out and equipped with a kitchen and exclusive pool access. The concierge service is top-notch, so you’ll never want for anything.
Photo Credits: Costa Rica accommodations courtesy of Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge; Tuscany accommodations courtesy of Villa Armena Relais; Bora Bora bungalows © 2013 Hilton Hotels & Resorts; Mexico suite courtesy of Viceroy Hotel Group; Paris lobby courtesy of W Hotels; Napa and Sonoma accommodations courtesy of The Farmhouse Inn; Thailand accommodations courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts; Hawaii beach courtesy of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows