courtesy of Courtesy of Capella Lodge
The honeymoon is one of those high-stakes trips that requires careful, thoughtful planning—and a well-padded budget. After all, the idea is that you’ll only do it once, so there is inevitably a bit of—okay, a lot of—pressure to make this extremely special. And just as weddings have become ever more extravagant over the years, so too have honeymoons—why take one week when you can take off three? And why not multiple stops? Tanzania and Tuscany? Patagonia and Fiji?
These past 15 months of forced abstinence have only created even more pent up energy to travel, whether for a honeymoon, a birthday, an anniversary, or simply just because we finally can, for the most part. And for those blessed couples who had to contend with Covid-delayed weddings and last minute plan Bs, well, perhaps you deserve two honeymoons.
Here, we break down 40 T&C-approved honeymoon destinations, plus where you should stay in each. Have a thirst for adventure? Consider a 10-day trek across the Serengeti, on foot. Prefer to just sprawl out on pristine sand for a week? We’ve got the perfect little private island in Australia. Want to stay close to home? Honeymoon a la JFK and Jackie Kennedy in a delightful celebrity’s refuge in Santa Barbara.
Whatever you choose, do keep in mind that we are still living in a pandemic, and some of these destinations may be open for the immediate future, while others aren’t yet. But it never hurts to plan in advance—and cue up the wanderlust—especially for such a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Santa Barbara, California
With its charming clay-roofed Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and its balmy Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara ranks high on the list for romantics who want a city-meets-beach escape that is also convenient to access (fly into Santa Barbara airport or make the easy 2-hour drive up from Los Angeles). Plus, for oenophiles, there is picturesque, winery-strewn Santa Ynez Valley, less than an hour away. As for where to stay, there is nothing more romantic than San Ysidro Ranch, the gorgeously landscaped idyllic hideaway where JFK and Jackie spent their honeymoon, and where countless celebrities, from Winston Churchill to John Huston, have sought refuge.
Kohala Coast, Big Island, Hawaii
Hawaii and honeymoon are rather synonymous, but venture off the beaten path a little bit and head to Big Island, arguably the state’s least commercialized—and most authentic—island. Adventures include helicopter tours, nighttime snorkeling to see manta rays, and, of course, the geological marvels of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, a mid-century, open floor plan masterpiece from Laurance S. Rockefeller that features cantilevered stairways, a museum-worthy collection of Asian Pacific Art, and a pretty slice of beach with sand as smooth as silk.
Big Sur, California
A land of sweeping views known for its mind-body-soul getaways and retreats, Big Sur has towering redwoods, whimsical meadows, and the most dramatic vistas of the Pacific coastline. To indulge in the quintessential (and romantic) Big Sur experience, head to the Ventana Big Sur, for its infinity-edge hot tub, clothing-optional Mountain pool, and adjacent Japanese hot baths.
Punta Mita, Mexico
This 1,500-acre coastal peninsula in the Riveria Nayarit region is an oasis of wellness and indulgence. Located on the west coast of Mexico, there are surf villages, plenty of whale watching opportunities, and tons of biodiversity, all topped off with a wild and untamed feel—it’s barefoot luxury at its finest. The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has unique spiritual activities like a chakra balancing ritual, meditation, and yoga on top of a rock, along with other honeymoon-worthy things like private sunset yacht tours and secluded dinners on a cliffside facing the setting sun.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Lake Como, Italy
Riva cruises, delicious pasta, ambling strolls through postcard perfect villages, lounging by a fresh saltwater pool that floats in the lake… Isn’t this what a honeymoon is supposed to be? Set against the dramatic scenery of the Alps, Lake Como and its picturesque towns (Cernobbio, Bellagio, Varenna among them) have long been a chic, polished refuge for Milanese elite (and George Clooney). For the most quintessential dolce vita experience, head to the grandest dame here: the majestic, historic, and exquisitely manicured Villa d’Este.
They sure know how to do honeymoons on Maui. The island has a polished, but relaxed feel, with enough fantastic culinary options to eat at a different restaurant every night. Add in gorgeous beaches, rain forests, and whale watching during certain times of year. Soak it all in at Hotel Wailea, an adult- only, all-suite property overlooking three Hawaii islands.
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Pacific Harbor, Fiji
Remote, tranquil, and surrounded by crystal clear water, Fiji is the ultimate place to decompress post-wedding. It’s also a haven of luxury properties, many with their own private island—could there be anything more romantic than being alone in the middle of nowhere? Nanuku, an Auberge Resort, offers guests the option of renting out its exclusive two-acre private island, located a 25-minute boat ride away from the main property.
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Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Known for its scuba diving and protected coral reefs, Bora Bora in French Polynesia is another remote, castaway type destination for honeymooners who want to get away from it all—and who are up for a big splurge. The Conrad, located on a private cove on the island of Motu To’opua, boasts the longest stretch of white sand beach in Bora Bora and possibly the most legendary sunsets.
Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
This 1,400-acre eco-luxury resort and residential community in northwest Costa Rica is home to exotic wildlife and white-sand beaches, and is the ideal jumping off point for exploring Costa Rica’s awe-inspiring nature with your other half. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: couples looking for a mix of high-wire adventure (think zip lining) and R&R can find it all here.
Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Nova Scotia, Canada
For those looking for a slightly out-of-the-box honeymoon, the coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is just the place. Home to two of the top 100 golf courses in North America, honeymooners also have access to world-class biking, hiking, and sunset boat tours. It’s also a seafood heaven, offering an abundance of first-rate lobster, crab, salmon, and naturally farmed local produce. Book a room at Cabot Cape Breton, a a secluded 72-room luxury resort with 19 oceanfront villas along the stunning coast of Cape Breton Island.
The Azores, Portugal
Just a five hour flight from NYC lies a group of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that teem with untapped nature for gourmands and adventure enthusiasts alike. The best way to experience this relatively undiscovered destination is through Azores Getaways, a customizable tour operator. They have a diverse list of packages, from food and wine tours to ambitious itineraries for those who want to travel to all nine islands in one trip. The best part? Booking will be headache-free as the packages all include accommodations, roundtrip flights, and airport transfers.
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Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia
This crescent-shaped, World Heritage-listed island is the ultimate getaway, with fabulous weather and, the honeymooners’ holy grail, seclusion. Just 400 visitors are allowed at any time, meaning Lord Howe Island really will be like your very own slice of paradise, one that also happens to have the world’s most southerly coral reef at its doorstep. Stay at the Capella Lodge, a luxe retreat with just nine contemporary island-styled suites inspired by the carefree spirit of an authentic Australian beach house.
Canouan, The Grenadines
A still somewhat undiscovered part of the Caribbean, Canouan is an unspoiled tropical island offering excellent golf, tennis, deep sea fishing, and sailing. There’s good reason why Mandarin Oriental chose Canouan for its first resort in the Caribbean. The all-suite hotel features top-of-the-line Italian design, private butlers, and plenty of options for romantic outings, from private beaches to uninhabited islands.
A honeymoon to Florence gives you a bit of everything—food, unlimited culture, and easy access to the Tuscan countryside. Relais Santa Croce, a Relais & Chateaux property, exudes romance and history. Located in an 18th century palazzo, the property offers something totally ideal for a party of two: a hot air balloon ride over Tuscany, complete with tours of wineries in the Chianti region.
Charming and very low-key, Nevis is known for its slow, relaxed pace, crystal clear waters, and white sand beaches. But for a bit of a change to the typical Caribbean escape, there’s Golden Rock Inn. Designed by the architects of the famed Aman resorts, the intimate 11-room property is nestled within lush gardens and has serious art world cred: it’s owned by Brice and Helen Marden. There are hiking trails, exceptional views, and gourmet food, all set against the jungle chic jungle of this higher-altitude part of Nevis.
Turtle Island, Fiji
Turtle Island is a 500-square-mile island that was privately acquired by a media mogul looking to escape urban burnout. It’s now home to over a million trees, bountiful reefs, wildlife, and a resort with 14 villas (meaning the island is home to just 28 people at a time), access to 12 private beaches, a myriad of water and land-based activities, and fresh Fijian meals inspired by the bounties sourced from on-island ingredients. And everything is included in the nightly rate so honeymooners can really just totally bliss out.
For true adventure seeking couples, head to Tanzania for a 10-day, 62-mile expedition on foot across Serengeti National Park. This isn’t about five-star accommodations: there are no lodges, no roads, no crowds and no smartphones. It’s only walking, fresh cowboy coffee, long lazy lunches, journal-writing, photo-snapping, cold Tanzanian lagers at sundown, hearty meals of curries and stews, storytelling around burning campfires, stargazing, and sleeping in a tent to the sounds of hooting owls rustling grass. Not for the faint of heart, surely, but arguably what some would call Africa at its best.
The Great Serengeti Traverse
Andaman Islands, India
The Andamans are some of the most remote islands in the world, but worth the trip for their dive sites, beaches, and lush jungles. The Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is the first five-star hotel on Havelock Island, with 50 villas on a 46-acre estate. There are white sand beaches with crystal clear water, kayaking through mangroves, glow-in-the-dark algae, and exceptional hiking and diving.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Andamans
Santorini has long been an iconic honeymoon destination—and for good reason. The inimitable sunsets, the infinity edge pools overlooking the impossibly blue Aegean Sea, the ancient volcanic landscapes, all coalesce to create a magical atmosphere. While Oia is touted as the most romantic town on the island, Imerovigli’s perch atop Santorini’s highest cliff means you’ll get the most magical—and unobstructed—sunset views. Splurge on the villa at Auberge Resorts’ Grace Hotel, which comes with a private swimming pool, its own spa and hammam, a personal chef, and outdoor fireplace. It’s your honeymoon after all.
Located in the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius is known for its secluded, exclusive vibe, incredible beaches, and numerous reefs. Embodying all of this is the One & Only Le Saint Geran. Located on a vibrant coral reef, the hotel has modern, lush interiors, every kind of water sport imaginable, and world-class dining. Bottom line: you’ll never want to leave.
Located next to the more well-known Amalfi Coast destination of Positano, Praiano is a rustic and quaint Italian seaside town that is still—as much as anything on the Amalfi Coast can be—under the radar. For peak romance, stay at the adults-only Casa Angelina: dramatic cliffs, a chic pool club, and floor-to-ceiling windows make it an ideal destination for honeymooners who are seeking the glamour of the Amalfi Coast, without the crowds.
Just a short flight from Madrid or Barcelona, Mallorca is a dreamy island of rippling hills, olive and lemon trees, cobbled villages, and, of course, the Mediterranean Sea. Do as countless artists, writers, and celebrities have done and stay in the charming and chic town of Deià. As for where to stay? It’s hard to beat the Belmond La Residencia. Think: romantic, candlelit dinners among olive groves with views of village and sea, an award-winning spa, picnics on ancient terraces reached by donkey.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi lies the world’s largest sand desert: called the Empty Quarter, it’s the perfect expanse where couples can dine by the dunes, traverse miles of open land by camelback, and generally feel like the only two souls on earth. The luxurious Qasr Al Sarab is the place to make this Arabian fairy tale come true—consider it a palatial oasis right in the heart of the desert.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
A quick flight from the East Coast, Iceland has a lot to offer aside from proximity: horse back riding, amazing geologic and volcanic features, hot springs, and, in the summer, pretty much 24-hours of daylight (winter, while dark, offers a high likelihood of aurora borealis sightings). All of this can be enjoyed from the Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland, a 62-suite hotel where guests have unlimited access to the entire Blue Lagoon facility. There’s also an 18-hole golf course a 10-minute drive from the property.
The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon Iceland
It’s not hard to see why Patagonia is such a popular honeymoon destination. A journey practically to the ends of the earth is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience and there is so much to see in Torres del Paine National Park, from its iconic snow-capped peaks to the otherworldly crystal blue icebergs that dot its many lakes. Stay at the Explora Patagonia for absolutely jaw-dropping views, where guides will help craft a unique itinerary of various explorations (from hikes to horseback riding) through these gorgeous landscapes.
What better way to toast your marriage than in the birthplace of bubbly? The Champagne region of France boasts miles of UNESCO-certified vineyards, Michelin-starred restaurants, and hot air ballon or boat rides down the Marne River. The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa is a 49-room boutique hotel with Biologique Recherche spa treatments and private terraces overlooking the surrounding vineyards and villages. It’s also just a 30-minute drive to Reims, the de facto capital of the region, and its many historic sites (the Notre-Dame cathedral, for instance, was where French kings were crowned for more than 1,000 years).
The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa
Masai Mara, Kenya
Masai Mara is arguably the most renowned safari destination in Africa, home to the big five and stage to the great annual wildebeest migration. Conservation-led travel company andBeyond has already crafted tailor-made honeymoon itineraries in each of their destinations (which span the world from Chile to Sri Lanka). Its Bateleur Camp epitomizes old world glamour and romance. Nestled in a private corner of the Masai Mara, it has just 19 tented suites, each equipped with hardwood floors, a private butler, silver and copper polished bathtubs, antiques, Chesterfield leather sofas, and outdoor showers. Cue the Out of Africa references.
Could there be anything more romantic than Paris? With its picture perfect avenues, glistening landmarks, and the Seine running right through it all, this city was built for lovers. Le Bristol took the opportunity during Covid-induced closure to renovate the hotel’s luxurious rooms and suites—and add in a lovely courtyard garden strewn with roses. For the ultimate in Parisian glamour, book the palatial Honeymoon Suite, located on the top floor with panoramic views of the city.
An imperial city full of gardens, mosques, and some of the best markets (souks) in the region that sell carpets, jewelry, and everything in between, Marrakesh is a more exotic—and exciting—honeymoon destination. Stay a La Mamounia, a Moroccan institution since the 1920s. The hotel boasts sumptuous Jacques Garcia-designed interiors nestled within 700-year-old olive groves grown for a Moroccan prince.
A cinematic city that exudes romance, culture, and peak la dolce vita flair, Rome is a great entry point to the rest of Italy, or a place where honeymooners can spend the whole trip exploring—and eating. Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is a good home base for all of the above, with its aristocratic suites, the city’s only three-Michelin star restaurant, and a reputation for service and elegance since it opened in 1963.
Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Located in a lesser known part of Bali on the south coast, Canggu is a laid back coastal village lapped by the Indian Ocean with some of the island’s best surf breaks. COMO Uma Canggu is the first luxury hotel to open in the area. Honeymooners looking to try something new, or practice their skills, will have the opportunity to work with TropicSurf on all kinds of surfing. Or simply luxuriate on the beach with your toes dipped in soft volcanic sand.
Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico
Founded by Laurance Rockefeller more than 60 years ago, Dorado Beach, now a Ritz Carlton Reserve (one of the brands most elite categories) is a stunning and sprawling sanctuary of pristine oceanfront guest rooms (most equipped with outdoor showers and private plunge pools), more than 300,000 species of flora, manicured grounds dotted with sculpture and art, and one of the most magical spa facilities in the world. A tropical paradise like none other.
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Sacred Valley, Peru
Nestled in the heart of the sacred mountains of Peru, Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, offers a perfect honeymoon for adventure-seeking couples. At the top of the list: exploring Machu Picchu as a VIP via the resort’s own a private train station, which brings guests directly to the famous Incan Citadel.
Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
Maalifushi, the Maldives
Situated on the pristine Thaa Atoll in the Maldives, and renowned for its diving and surf breaks, COMO Maalifushi is the first and only resort to open on this unspoiled stretch in the archipelago’s southern reaches. Accommodations include 33 overwater villas and suites, and 32 beach villas, suites, and garden rooms. The overwater suites and villas are built off wooden walkways that stand above the shallow lagoon, each with its own private terrace and pool, while garden villas and suites are set within the folds of the island’s lush tropical vegetation—yet still only twenty steps from the beach’s high tide mark.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Have a bit of everything when you stay in the very heart of Pontresina, an Engadine village just six kilometers from glitzy St. Moritz. You can have the peaceful mountains but access to all the hustle, bustle, and glamour of nearby St. Moritz. Pontresina’s only five star hotel is the Grand Hotel Kronenhof that has alpine vistas with the Roseg glacier in the distance, a truly exclusive and intimate getaway for any season.
A peaceful sanctuary in the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto has beautiful gardens, ancient shrines, old streets, incredible food, and a rich cultural history. The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, was one of the first luxury properties to open in the city and boasts Michelin-starred dining, Japanese-inspired spa treatments, intimate rickshaw rides for newlyweds, and a superb location right on the Kamo-gawa River.
Backed by thick jungle on three sides and ocean on the fourth, Trancoso feels so far removed from the rest of the world and was really only put on the map thanks to UXUA. The boutique hotel features 11 one-to-three-bedroom casas, all restored using local sustainable materials. Billed as a “fantasy treehouse,” Casa da Avore is one of the most requested—and a favorite among couples for its ultra-private atmosphere inside UXUA’s gardens.
Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
As we’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t get much more romantic than being on a private island with your new spouse. Off the north-eastern tip of Zanzibar lies andBeyond’s Mnemba Island, made up of just 10 thatched bands and inhabited only by guests and the staff taking care of them. Less than a mile in circumference, Mnemba is surrounded by clear turquoise water and coral reefs, offering some of Africa’s most best dive sites. Prefer R&R instead? Spend an afternoon in one of the shaded traditional Zanzibari ‘beach’ beds located along the sand. Other romantic touches include private dinners served on the beach or a sunset cruise on a Dhow, a local Swahili-style sailboat.
Tuscany is high on many people’s bucket lists, and for good reason. The rolling hills, proximity to mega centers of culture like Florence, and, of course, the food and wine. Stay at the Belmond Castello di Casole, located in a former castle that dates back to the 10th century. Even though the 4,200-acre property is one of the largest private estates in Italy, there are just 39 spacious suites. Take advantage of the heavenly spa and enjoy many an alfresco dinner under the same tree where Visconti used to conjure up his film ideas.
This unique imperial pink city is a great stop-over on any journey to India, or Asia for that matter. Known for its literary festival, fabulous jewelry, and beautiful palaces, Jaipur is both interesting and steeped in romance. Stay at the Rambaugh Palace, one of the city’s most iconic hotels that blends new and old worlds seamlessly.
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