You probably have a long list of must-haves for your first vacation as husband and wife—epic locale, amazing scenery, bucket-list excursions, and super romantic digs. But when it comes to picking the right honeymoon destination for you, there's more that goes into the decision than whether or not the resort has a swim-up bar. (Though that is surely an added bonus.)
Price, seasonal discounts, and weather are some of the main factors to consider when narrowing the field. For example, you may dream of sinking your toes in the sand on Jamaica's northeastern shores, but if you're planning a summer wedding, the Caribbean island won't be your best bet, since hurricane season extends from June to November. Instead, consider Sardinia, Italy, when the Mediterranean sea is warm and the wine flows at buzzy cliffside cafes. Always saw yourselves enjoying an adventurous safari honeymoon? Try an off-the-beaten-path trip to Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park in December, after rainy season has ended and viewing of the region's famed mountain gorillas is prime. Or, snag off-season discounts by booking Mexico's Riviera Maya in April or Hawaii during September—both destinations see fewer travelers during this time but still offer great weather.
No matter what time of year you wed, there's an incredible experience to be had in every corner of the globe. From classic getaway spots like St. Barth, Greece, and Italy to far-flung locales like Vietnam, Iceland, and Bhutan, we break down the best times to travel to the hottest destinations around the world. Happy honeymooning!
January: St. Barth
Few Caribbean islands can match the sex appeal of swanky St. Barth, which clears out in January after big New Year's celebrations (making it less crowded and more affordable). The French overseas territory is a slice of the Cote d'Azur just a few hours by plane from the East Coast. It's chock-full of fancy, beach-chic resorts (Hotel Le Toiny, Le Sereno, Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, and Le Guanahani top our list), charming, shop-filled towns like Gustavia, gorgeous swaths of sand (don't miss Flamands Beach), and insane restaurants like Bonito, which guarantee you'll gain a few post-wedding "lbs," but trust us, it's worth it.
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Vietnam: This Southeast Asian country is oft-overlooked in favor of Thailand and Cambodia. But it shouldn't be; it has some of the region's most diverse topography—tropical jungles, sun-drenched coasts, chilly mountaintops, cool highlands—and some of its most epic scenery. (The towering, rainforest-covered islands of Ha Long Bay are otherworldly.) No matter what time you visit, there will be one (or more) areas to explore, but the height of winter guarantees overall less humidity. And with the central region's new Four Seasons the Nam Hai and the debut of the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, set 2,296 feet above a private bay on Monkey Mountain (yes, it's literally called Monkey Mountain), there's even more reason to add Vietnam to your bucket list.
February: Sri Lanka
The past few years have ushered in a new beginning for this Indian Ocean island-nation, which was unofficially closed to tourists during a decades-long civil war. Now, as peace time prospers, couples are flocking to its southern shores (home to gorgeous beaches and world-class swells), northern "cultural triangle" (where you'll find UNESCO sites of Sigiriya, Kandy, Dambulla, and Anuradhapura), and southeastern national parks (home to some of the world's highest leopard populations, which you can spot on game drives at a safari camp like Chena Huts by Uga Escapes). And since tourism is still developing, couples who travel to Sri Lanka are guaranteed to "get there first"—talk about honeymoon bragging rights.
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Bali, Indonesia: There's never a bad time to visit the exotic isle of Bali, filled with luxe beach resorts, serene temples, and cheery locals. After a few nights in a coastal town like Nusa Dua, Uluwatu, or Legian, make for Ubud, the cultural and spiritual epicenter of the island, where you'll be treated like royalty at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan or Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
From the buzzy capital city of Reykjavík to the otherworldly landscapes everywhere you turn (think volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, lava fields), this Nordic island nation has all the makings of an Insta-worthy honeymoon. While tourist season peaks during summer, mid-March to mid-April is prime time for Northern Lights viewing. To capture the incredible scenery—and to get exclusive access to one of Iceland's hottest attractions—book a stay at the 62-suite Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland (that just opened in April), located at the famed Blue Lagoon.
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Belize: If you're looking for golden-sand beaches, lush tropical jungles, and ancient Mayan ruins, look no further than this teeny tiny Central American country. Get the most bang for your buck by booking a "reef and rainforest" package, which combines both jungle and beach resorts. (We love sister properties GAÏA Riverlodge, on the Privassion River, and Matachica Resort & Spa, on sunny Ambergris Caye.)
April: Todos Santos, Mexico
This small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula has been called the "Tulum of yesteryear"—a laid-back surfer/artists' enclave with beautiful beaches and zero pretension (or overpriced hotels and boutiques, as has become the norm in Tulum). It's largely flown under the radar—save for day-trippers from Los Cabos looking for epic swells—until now, thanks to the opening of Hotel San Cristóbal, a boutique hotel masterfully designed by Bunkhouse Group's Liz Lambert (claim to fame: the teepee/trailer-outfitted El Cosmico hotel, in Marfa, Texas). Though the region remains remote and undeveloped, there's plenty for couples to do: snorkeling with sea lions, glamping on the beach, picnics on deserted islands, and hikes through the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range.
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Napa Valley: Bud break arrives as early as March these days, so timing your Napa honeymoon can be tricky. We love April for its low-key scene (no harvest-time crowds). Take your pick among romantic retreats—Meadowood Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil, the new Las Alcobas—before making the rounds at famed wineries like Hall, Round Pond Estate, and Caymus Vineyards, before sunset cocktails and mouth-watering cuisine at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch.
Ireland may not have overt honeymoon appeal, but a trip to the emerald isle during the early days of summer promises charming villages, lush green hillsides, low-key pubs, and luxe accommodations. Post up at a castle hotel like the historic Ashford Castle or Adare Manor, relaunching this fall with a new 42-room wing, championship golf course, and the first La Mer spa in the UK and Ireland. If you prefer to honeymoon on the move, board the throwback-style Belmond Grand Hibernian train, which offers two-, four-, and six-night journeys from Dublin and tours of whiskey distilleries. Or, try something a little more unexpected (and Insta-worthy): Finn Lough Resort, in Northern Ireland's remote Enniskillen parish, has new snow-globe-like "bubble dome" rooms—perfect for falling asleep beneath the stars.
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Paris: The City of Light is spectacular any time of year, but shoulder season ushers in lower room rates, fewer crowds, and more moderate temperatures. There are endless places to stay; the fashion-favorite Ritz Paris, the recently relaunched Hôtel de Crillon, or the relative newcomer La Réserve Paris Hotel and Spa are among our faves. Spend your days living like locals: shop for antiques at the famed Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen flea markets, ride the metro to far-out arrondissements, make a picnic on the banks of the Seine, and peruse lesser known attractions, like the Père Lachaise Cemetery, where you can pay homage to The Doors singer Jim Morrison and authors Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde.
Whether you choose the vibrant city of Split, the jaw-dropping islands around Hvar, or the historic Old Town of Dubrovnik (try the newly renovated Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik, where Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth II have stayed), a Croatian honeymoon offers a smorgasbord of adventures and romance at every turn. Don't miss a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, filled with crystalline lakes that tumble into each other via cascading waterfalls, or the chance to island-hop along the coast by chartered sailboat.
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French Polynesia: June to August tends to be the most popular travel time, in part because it's whale-watching season—humpback whales stay here for five months to breed and give birth. (You can even see them breaching from the shores of Moorea.) The majority of honeymooners travel from Tahiti to Moorea to Bora Bora, an island-hopping itinerary that promises to please (especially if you opt for our fave new resort, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui). But it's worth getting off the beaten path: The Brando, a private-island resort on Tetiaroa, has lured celebs like Johnny Depp, Bradley Cooper, and Irina Shayk, while Hotel Kia Ora, on remote Rangiroa, offers world-class scuba diving (with whale sharks, if you're lucky!).
Sardinia's Costa Smeralda ("Emerald Coast") is so named for the deep green hue of the Mediterranean sea, one of the main draws on this 34-mile-long stretch of coast. The island is only really open from April to October, and peak summer months offer the chance to be a part of all the action. Post up at a luxe resort like Hotel Cala Di Volpe, in one of their romantic 60s-inspired new suites, and explore hidden inlets (perfect for skinny dipping), jump off of dramatic rock formations into the azure seas, and have a candlelit dinner in an outdoor cafe where the air is filled with the scents of laurel, oleander, and juniper.
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Mykonos, Greece: The "St. Tropez of Greece" is in full swing during the height of summer (if you're looking for fewer crowds, try May or June). Spend lazy afternoons lunching (and boozing) at restaurant/clubs Nammos Mykonos, Scorpios Mykonos, or the new Santanna Mykonos, then retreat to your luxe digs—Grace Mykonos and Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort are two of our faves—for sunset cocktails overlooking insanely blue water.
We won't judge if you just asked yourself, Where the F is Madagascar? Most people would associate the name with the animated film before thinking of the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. But don't worry, that's largely because the country lacked any honeymoon-worthy resorts—until now. As the first true luxury eco-resort, Miavana promises to meld luxe amenities (14 super-spacious villas, infinity pools, butler service) with access to some of the world's most unique geography and wildlife (helicopter safaris, scuba diving on pristine reefs, jungle hikes to spot lemurs). While you can travel here pretty much year-round, be sure to avoid late December through March, a.k.a. cyclone season!
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Ibiza and Formentera, Spain: Ibiza gets a bad rap as a party-fueled, soulless island, but the opening of Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay—on the gorgeous shores of Cala Talamanca and done up in a tranquil palette of white, gold, and blue—makes the case for giving the island's quieter side a go. If prefer to avoid crowds entirely, try sister island Formentera, heralded as a less-traveled Balearic paradise where you can do a whole lot of sunbathing, dining on squid-ink paella, and swimming off yachts—because you wouldn't want to eschew all the glam moments.
Near-perfect year-round weather means there's no such thing as low season in the Aloha State (unfortunately, for those looking to save), but September is one of the best times to visit, since the resorts quiet down after the start of the new school year. Make for the isle of Hawaii (a.k.a. the Big Island), where you can sip mai tais and chill on the sand—Four Seasons Hualalai's powdery strand is especially stunning—before taking a helicopter tour over Mauna Kea, the highest peak in the state, and the lava-filled Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
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Zanzibar: This semi-autonomous archipelago of Tanzania makes for the perfect post-safari jaunt. Couples can fly (just a little more than an hour) or save a few bucks by booking a two-hour ferry from Dar el Salaam, Tanzania's largest city. The best time to visit is during the cool, dry months of spring (June to October), when temperatures average 80 degrees. On the mainland, take a tour of Jozani Forest, the many historic spice plantations, and the narrow, art-filled streets of Stone Town (the historic part of Zanzibar City). To really get away, however, make for the white-sand beaches of andBeyond Mnemba Island, a luxe private-island resort, or the new Aiyana, on neighboring Pemba island. One must-do before you leave? A sunset cruise on a dhow, a traditional sailboat carved from mango wood.
There’s never been a better time to explore the Kingdom of Bhutan (a.k.a. the “Happiest Place on Earth”), on the heels of William and Kate’s visit this past April and with the forthcoming opening of five lodges by wellness-centric Six Senses. There are plenty of ways to explore this humble Himalaya-fronting nation, but for the perfect itinerary, plan a lodge-to-lodge trek with stops in Thimphu (the capital), Bumthang (a verdant woodland), Punakha (filled with agricultural terraces), Gangtey (among the last habitats for the endangered black-necked crane), and Paro (home to Tiger’s Nest, one of the country’s most sacred monasteries).
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Tanzania: By this time, the Great Migration—that heaving mass of wildebeests that travels back and forth across eastern Africa—has shifted south from the Mara to the Serengeti. To see it in action, as well as catch sightings of the Big Five (lions, buffalo, elephants, rhinos, and leopards), try Asilia Kimondo Camp, a posh mobile safari that moves with the herd.
November: New Zealand
This adventure capital has sprung to the forefront of popularity of late, thanks, in large part, to still-buzzy resorts (the Farm at Cape Kidnappers, the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matakauri Lodge) and noteworthy new openings like Helena Bay, an 800-acre lodge on the country’s idyllic North Island, which hosts no more than five couples at a time in its oceanfront villas. (And has a private two-mile beach and Michelin-quality restaurant for which the chef sources ingredients from an extensive on-property garden and farm.) Plan to visit before peak summer season, when daytime temperatures are comfortably warm and cooler nights mean fireside cuddles.
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Riviera Maya and Mérida, Mexico: The Caribbean-fronting Riviera Maya coastline is chock-full of wallet-friendly all-inclusive beach resorts. Couples looking for a boutique hideout, however, need look no further than the insanely chic Hotel Esencia, which has hosted everyone from Lupita Nyong'o to Emily Ratajkowski in its 29 whitewashed rooms. If you're down for a road trip, make the four-hour drive to Mérida, the colorful inland capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, and check into the hacienda-chic Chablé Resort & Spa, where the spa is set inside a cenote.
Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, which runs along the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is home to one of the world's highest concentrations of mountain gorillas. Although it's regarded as a year-round activity, one of the best times for gorilla trekking is the short dry season from mid-December to early February (or the long dry season, June to September). During this time, couples can stay at the just-opened Bisate Lodge, managed by Wilderness Safaris, or the forthcoming One&Only Gorilla's Nest, and embark on daily hikes for an up-close look at these gorillas in one of their last-remaining natural habitats.
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St. Kitts: Escape the cold winter months on this less-traveled island, soon to house the splashy new Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the first Caribbean property from the luxe brand. Couples will find it hard not to dine every night at the Stone Barn, an adults-only restaurant serving an exclusive chef's tasting menu, but the seaside dining room at the ocean-to-table-style Fisherman's Village promises a worthy alternative.