Marrying the love of your life is the best reason to embark on your most meaningful, memorable, and magical vacation. With so many enticing locations to choose from, picking the right place for your honeymoon can certainly cause overwhelm. After all, there’s just so much world out there. Would you like to luxuriate at a top-tier resort that screams romance, go on an urban foray, or take an action-packed adventure?
To help you choose the perfect destination, we turned to travel experts Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown and Joan Roca for advice.
Meet the Expert
- Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown is the director of weddings and romance at Sandals Resorts International. She leads a team spanning 16 adults-only Sandals Resorts on seven islands and is recognized as one of the Caribbean’s most revered destination wedding experts and tastemakers.
- Joan Roca is the CEO and founder of Essentialist, a bespoke, high-tech, and editorially-driven travel-planning company. The private service connects the most knowledgeable experts in the travel world with leading technology to deliver outstanding and memorable experiences in a personalized yet efficient way.
Types of Honeymoon Locations to Consider
Should you honeymoon domestically or go abroad? Roca shares that although most people opt to go abroad, the U.S. has a lot to offer honeymooners. "With every type of terrain and every activity under the sun, you can be as lazy and relaxed or as active as you want," he says about domestic honeymoons.
Roca endorses Hawaii for endless water sports and unspoiled beaches and highlights Maui’s luxury resorts and year-round sunshine in particular. He adds that Montana is great for hikers and adventure-loving pairs that need a well-earned break from the city. "There are national parks and glacier parks as well as ski resorts and mountain biking trails and ranches. Two of our favorites are The Green O and The Ranch at Rock Creek." He also highlights Napa and Sonoma for food and wine enthusiasts. "There’s even a Napa Valley wine train, but away from the wine you can enjoy a balloon ride or a game of golf and relax in a leafy vine-covered boutique hotel at night or a luxury inn along the banks of the Napa River."
If you want to go international without traveling too far from the U.S., Donaldson-Brown encourages honeymooners to consider the Caribbean. "Honeymoons in the Caribbean give couples the abroad experience while not being too far from the United States," she notes. "The Caribbean has always been a great option for honeymooners for many reasons: dependability, consistent weather, abundant activities, manageable flights, and of course, budget. If your love leans on the adventurous side, your dream honeymoon might take place in Curaçao or Grenada, destinations known for their diving and on-land adventure. If your love is easy like a Sunday morning, Saint Lucia or Barbados may be a better fit, known for ultimate serenity."
Further afield, Roca proposes island destinations like the Maldives (often combined with a week in Sri Lanka), Seychelles, French Polynesia, and Bora Bora. "They all offer an incredibly romantic otherworldly setting and a sense of seclusion that’s difficult to find elsewhere." For great value, Roca beckons lovebirds to consider Bali, the land of candlelit dinners and stunning sunrises, as well as Morocco, which has something for everyone whatever the budget. "There are a number of options when it comes to Morocco—you can enjoy a stay at a riad and relax by the pool, explore the High Atlas Mountains, drive cross country, or take a camel ride through the Sahara." In Europe, Roca pinpoints the long season of attractive weather from May to September as a major draw to Cote d'Azur in France.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Honeymoon Location
"Be realistic about your budget and expect the unexpected," reminds Roca, adding that couples should be prepared for unaccounted costs. "Organization, research, and a lot of forward planning are key. If the honeymoon is abroad, you need to also consider flights and accommodation." Roca also advises that a honeymoon out of season can save costs.
Your budget will naturally impact where you end up honeymooning but opting for an all-inclusive resort can help your money go further—and give you peace of mind when you’re on the trip. "All-inclusive resorts such as Sandals (which is known for its luxury inclusions) are a wonderful option for honeymooners, giving them a chance to close the book on wedding budgeting and not spend each day of their trip fretting about the bill," says Donaldson-Brown.
Timing and Duration
With your budget in mind, think about how long you hope to travel the world with your darling. Are you planning a mini-moon or an epic "mega-moon" of several weeks? Knowing the duration that you would like to (or are able to) honeymoon for can help you narrow your location list. Once you have some ideas, don’t procrastinate and start researching.
Roca points out timing considerations including the wedding date, the weather, and seasons: "These factors will determine almost everything from what clothes to wear to what activities you partake in." When booking, he urges newlyweds to avoid all major events, national holidays, and months with unreliable weather. You definitely don’t want a washout or to travel during a disaster-prone period.
A Familiar or New Destination?
Donaldson-Brown encourages honeymooners to step outside of their comfort zones and explore a new place as a recently married couple, saying, "We all have our beloved destinations, but what is more romantic than sharing a new experience together?" Similarly, Roca recommends choosing a destination that is new to both parties. "It makes a more lasting memory if the couple is exploring and discovering together for the first time," he states.
Choose a place that reflects your style as a couple or one that will set the tone for the kind of couple you hope to be as a newly married pair.
Tips to Choose Your Ideal Location
Make a bucket list.
Betrothed lovers should define what a perfect honeymoon looks like for each person. What do you want most out of the trip: pampering, relaxation, adventure, cultural stimulation, or a mix of all these elements? How can you cater to both people’s needs? Roca suggests that you both write a bucket list alongside a list of where you’ve already been and then compare notes. "Compromise is key," he stresses. "Don’t book the Maldives to suit one person if art exhibitions and museums are your thing and conversely, don’t jet off to Madrid if your significant other loves to relax by the beach."
Consider a multi-destination trip.
A good way to marry both your ideal vacations is to consider a multi-stop getaway. "For us at Essentialist, the most popular honeymoon is a combination with equal parts adventure (perhaps a week) followed by a week of down-time," Roca reveals. "Patagonia and the wine regions of Argentina and Chile offer an extraordinary combination of the wild outdoors—as wild as it gets—amidst glaciers, valleys, and vast open plains, alongside some serious pampering, luxury accommodation, and excellent food and wine," he declares. Lake Como and Venice are also great combination trips due to their close proximity to one another.
Don't over plan.
Ensure there is ample time to simply enjoy each other's company. "Rather than planning two or three things a day, try every second day, therefore allowing some downtime, wherever the destination," Roca suggests. If honeymoon planning is getting the best of you, don’t be shy about enlisting the help of a travel planner to help you breathe easier. "This is the most special trip that a newly married couple will take so having someone that guides you in the right direction, that discusses your concerns with you, presents destination options, and tailors everything for you is definitely a plus," he adds.
Keep in mind that your honeymoon is about celebrating your love, unwinding after months of stressful wedding planning, and looking to the future as a team. Donaldson-Brown says it best: "There are no entry requirements to a good vacation, and honeymooning couples are sure to form life-long memories of love no matter where they are."