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What Makes a Good Honeymoon?

My fiance and I are in the middle of planning our honeymoon. Actually, that’s not really accurate: we’re more at the beginning of planning our honeymoon, and the reason is this: we just can’t decide where to go.

Say the word—go on, say it out loud, I’ll wait—and it immediately conjures up images of deserted white sand beaches and hammocks strung up between palm trees, right? At least, that’s what I picture when I picture a honeymoon. And at first I thought that would be pretty great: two long weeks of lying on the beach in the middle of nowhere, occasionally rolling over to rub in a little more sunscreen or order another margarita. Perfect, right?

Well, maybe. Because the more I thought about it, the more I figured that I might find that just a little….what’s the word I’m looking for here? Oh yes: boring. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good beach just as much as the next girl, but I figured if I was going to go a fairly long way for two whole weeks, I’d want to do a little more than just lie on the sand all that time. And besides, what if the weather bailed on us? Then we’d have two weeks of playing scrabble in our beach bungalow.

So just like that, the Maldives were out. (Well, to be honest, the Maldives were pretty much out from the start: it’s rather pricey to stay in an over-water bungalow, even if that has always been one of your Travel Musts.) And so we started thinking about locations that would combine a little bit of beach-time and a little bit of city-time, places we’d always wanted to visit and to which neither of us had ever been before. South Africa, we thought? Greece? India?

They were all strong contenders, but for now we seem to have sort of settled on Australia—at least for the moment. We could visit Syndey and Melbourne for some city time and then head to Cairns for that week on the beach, sunbathing and sipping drinks with umbrellas in them, and diving the Great Barrier Reef.

What I’m curious about, though, is how you chose your honeymoon destination. Where did you go and why? What were the most important factors in deciding on this Great Big Trip To Cement An Important Moment In Your Life? And if you haven’t taken a honeymoon, where would you choose to take one?

Be warned: I’m basically going to be stealing all of your ideas.

 

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Comments

Le
Reply

What’s the verdict. My fiance and I are in the same dilemna.. Maldives but pricey and a very very long flight.. we’re in california. 2nd choice is Bora Bora.. looking for ideas as well.. we’re active but love the beach..

Camels & Chocolate
Reply

Yay for Australia! Seriously, you won’t be disappointed! And now I can get tips from you guys on Sydney/Melbourne, as Jeanie and I are going there next January!

Also, I recognize that photo… ;-)

Anne & May
Reply

Two words for you: HIGH SEASON.

Do NOT and I repeat DO NOT visit a tropical beach destination in the low or rainy season. Even IF the low season shouldn’t be a problem when you’re there, do not risk it.

Our honeymoon was a lovely blend of city and beach and I can’t recommend that combo enough BUT the beach portion was ruined by a horrible monsoon. It was deeply devastating.

I think if you’re going to take two weeks, you should definitely go somewhere you might not otherwise and be sure to hop around a little. 14 days in one place is too much for most people.

Window Seat Jenn
Reply

If I were planning a honeymoon, I would want to go somewhere neither me nor my honey has been. If you “settle” on Australia, as you put it, you really can’t lose! It has everything — beauty, adventure, energy, beach, city, outback…My favorite memory from Australia is exploring Magnetic Island by mini-moke! So much fun!

I’m sure you and Sean will have a blast no matter where you choose to go!

Betsy Illingworth
Reply

Holly, I just hopped on Nothing but Bonfires this morning because I was doing some honeymoon planning of my own! And I’ve read so many of your trip descriptions, I thought it would be a good place to brainstorm.

Anyway — I have a similar idea about mixing in activities and beach or other downtime, but an additional conundrum – i think we’ll only have 5- 6 days. So looking for all of that… within a reasonable flight range from DC. Hmm.

Genevieve Brown
Reply

We went to Bali on our honeymoon and I think it had a perfect balance of beach and culture. The people are amazing, the mountains are gorgeous, the beaches beautiful. I can’t say enough about it. The exchange rate is great, which means super luxury hotels are actually affordable. We went for 10 days and just loved it. Go to Bali! if you want to go even further off the beaten path, split your time between Bali and nearby Lombok.

NothingButBonfires
Reply

Genevieve, I LOVE Bali and it was definitely in the running — but I’ve been there twice, so in the end decided I should probably go somewhere I haven’t yet been. Though I definitely haven’t ruled it out altogether — especially since you make the point I KEEP going back to: super luxury hotels for super cheap!

Don
Reply

I think Australia is a GREAT choice. Sydney is beautiful, fun, very walkable and easy to get aroud, with really pleasant people, good food, and beautiful water surrounding the entire city. And just enuf – not too much – to see.
But only fly into Cairns to get to the Great Barrier reef area, the city is not so pretty… Try the Sebel Reef house in Palm Cove. Great waking up to the strange Kookaburra…
Make sure the weather is right for the beach and also make sure it’s not jellyfish season.
Haven’t been to Melbourne but by all reports its fab.

SarahinBoston
Reply

I second Australia, if only because that’s also where I’d like to go on my honeymoon! Because of the long flight (especially here on the East Coast) and all the things to see once in-country, I’d like to take three weeks for my visit there. And given the U.S. vacation policies, when else can you get three weeks off, back to back, than for a honeymoon? Somehow I can’t see my supervisors approving a three-week vacation. But a three-week honeymoon? Well, that’s a bit different… :)

kate
Reply

My husband and I are not “relaxing” travelers. We like adventure and trying as many things as possible (think, 30 hours on a crowded bus). That being said, we knew that we DID just want to do nothing. We spent so much time and energy doing a “home made” wedding that we did NOT want to plan ONE MORE THING! So, we went ot Montego Bay,Jamaica. In the off season, so it wasn’t full of college kids or families. Truth be told, we weren’t able to just sit on the beach, we had to get in some hiking and adventures somewhere, but it was the perfect thing for our honeymoon. It stands out because it was unlike all of our vacations and travels. Travel is a big priority for us in life, so we knew it wouldn’t be our only chance to get away and we decided to make it different!

Good luck, Holly. Australia is great & you’ll definitely get the variety you’re looking for!

Leah
Reply

Hmmm…I’m thinking something cheap, close, and…baby-friendly!

(Please go somewhere fantastic so I can live vicariously. In turn, I will let you babysit. :) )

SoniaBonia
Reply

New Zealand! Please go so that I can be jealous. You know you want to ;)

judi
Reply

we wanted exactly that – some lazy, relaxing beach time, some city and doing-stuff time, but b/c of the time of year we got married it didn’t *totally* work out that way.

because of what we wanted, we picked new zealand, and while it was spring there, it never really got warm enough to enjoy being on a beach, but we at least walked around on the beach, even if it wasn’t really warm enough to go in the water.

anyway, new zealand was AMAZING and the only reason we didn’t pick australia was b/c 2 couples married not long before us had gone there, and we just wanted to do something a little different. i can’t recommend it enough.

Christine
Reply

My husband and I are from California and spent two weeks in the Tahitian Islands. I would definitely pick the Tahitian Island over Australia for a honeymoon. We traveled around to Tahiti (1 night), Moorea (3 nights), Bora Bora (4 nights), Rangiora (4) nights) and it was wonderful. Bora Bora was my favorite and could have stayed there longer. Here are my reasons: After a wedding you want a little relaxation but like you I cannot sit still on a beach. If you travel around to the different Islands you can go hiking, diving (snorkeling), and plenty of other activities. At the end of the day we had a bottle of Malibu and fresh pineapple juice watching the sunset- just perfect.

We also did the same Australia trip the year before (Sydney, Cairns, Port Douglas). Although it was very beautiful it didn’t have that same exotic romantic escape that Bora Bora had. If you do decide to visit Australia stay in Port Douglas because it is a little more remote and have beautiful resorts. All the dive boats leave from Port Douglas so it makes it easier and they have a very cute little town. Oh one note- we couldn’t swim in the beach because there were shark, alligator, and poisonous jellyfish warning. It must have been the season for them.

John
Reply

My fiance and I are headed to the Maldives for our honeymoon at the end of March. We’ll let you know how it is!

Melissa
Reply

My sweet husband and I went to Tortola BVI for our honeymoon, and these were the criteria: I asked him to pick somewhere that neither of us had been and tell me if I was supposed to pack for the beach or for the mountains. A couple of notes on this: we were young and had travelled quite a bit domestically, but not together and not to the same places. We both have LARGE extended families, so our wedding was crazy-huge and stressful to plan long-distance (we married where I grew up, and I didn’t live there at the time). My goal was not planning anything else. Nothing.

SO, that said, Tortola was great. Small island, pretty hiking, nice snorkeling…a calypso festival while we were there. Having read you for awhile, though, and knowing the background of travel that you and your fiance have, I think you will like somewhere with a grander balance of adventure and relaxation. Australia could be it, but, then, it could be a bit like going somewhere a little too similar to where you already live. Tahiti, though, could be exotic, adventurous, and relaxing. Just a thought….

Charise
Reply

We’re getting married in October and going to Italy – a few days in Rome and a week in the country in Chianti, to get a good balance of city and relaxation. We are very much NOT beach people and love to spend our travel time DOING stuff, in addition to the fact that we are all about checking out the local food and wine wherever we go. We’ve both always wanted to go there, and this is probably the only time I’ll convince him to take all his vacation time for the year in one go.

Monica
Reply

I wanted something with the beach and drinks with umbrellas so we went to St. Martin which was actually a Caribbean island I had never heard of before. But it was so great. The island is half Dutch and half French. You can get lobster grilled on the beach for a few bucks or spend a couple hundred at some fancy French restaurant. It’s also the island right next to St. Bart’s so we took the ferry over and rented a scooter for a day. We drove around pretending we were super rich movie stars. :) But it is a very small island so two weeks might be way too much (we were there for 10 days).

My other recommendation would be Croatia. I’ve been hearing a lot about the amazing beaches there lately so we’ve put it on our list. Do you read the food blog chocolateandzucchini.com? She just took a trip to Croatia with her boyfriend and took some great photos. They went up and down the coast, staying in each place for a few days. You should check out her entry on that, for sure.

Monica
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Sorry for the double post but I found the direct link:

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2008/09/croatia_highlights.php

Photos: http://flickr.com/photos/clotilde/sets/72157607304677188/

Good luck on your search!

Diane
Reply

We did a catamaran cruise in Sint Maarten first and then got married on the beach. My beloved husband surprised me with the cruise for my 40th birthday and then we decided to get married while on the trip. It was perfect – amazing weather and since we were sailing we got to see things from a perspective that was different from a land based vacation.

I loved every minute – we got city, beach, sailing, great food and experiences all rolled up into one trip.

Jo
Reply

I felt moved to come out of lurkdom on this one.

I seriously urge you to consider New Zealand (I’m a Brit who now lives here, but has also lived in Melbourne for two years and travelled extensively in Oz).

It would be difficult in a public forum to get into the nitty gritty of Oz versus NZ (!) but right now, with the USD as it stands, you’ll get some great prices at places like Huka Lodge and Blanket Bay — and there’s incredible (we’re talking retina-tearingly beautiful) landscape everywhere you go. For me, Oz is brasher and coarser somehow. Cairns, especially — full of younger kids hell bent on partying. And Christine points out the stinger (jellyfish) issues which can also mar a good beach/ocean fantasy!

I went to the South of France, by the way, but married in London, so it was a pretty eays trip down.

Good luck with the plans!

Anne in SC
Reply

To start, my husband and I are not the biggest of travelers – so what worked for us may not for you. We initially had grand plans of exciting trips to Europe or the Caribbean etc., but finally decided to go easy on ourselves. Getting to the marriage “through” the engagement period was taxing, if not stressful. We decided that we didn’t want the added stress of “having” to see a wonderful new place we’d never been to before. We wanted a place to be able to relax if we wanted or to do the touristy thing if we wanted.

We also didn’t want to take forever to get there (we only had 1 week). So we decided to go to the place I grew up vacationing, sometimes for weeks at a time, since I was in the 5th grade (husband had even been a few times with us). It was tropical, we knew what we liked doing, where things were, the things we hadn’t done that we didn’t want to miss out on, etc. And we were lucky enough to get a straight shot on the flight. The verdict: we came home rested, having had a ball, having added new experiences in a familiar place. It was paradise.

It really doesn’t matter where it is that you go – just take the stress off of “having to do” so that you won’t regret not having done it because you were already mentally exhausted. You are most likely going to be extremely tired of planning by the time the honeymoon gets to you.

Amy
Reply

I know it sounds cliched, but my fiance and I decided to do Hawaii… He is from Ireland so we will have A LOT of out of town guests, which also means A LOT of work! We thought that we would just want to relax… But we are mixing it up by spending two days on Oahu and a week in Kauai so we can see different things. He’s a big history buff so I will be dragged to Pearl Harbor :)

Kauai Bus Tours
Reply

Hawaii is the best place for me. Getting to the marriage “through” the engagement period was taxing, if not stressful. We decided that we didn’t want the added stress of “having” to see a wonderful new place we’d never been to before. We wanted a place to be able to relax if we wanted or to do the touristy thing if we wanted.

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