If your mental screen saver of a secluded tropical honeymoon starts and ends with an island, it's time to click through to a new image. For the ultimate in swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, and low-key barefoot luxury, it's time to think of a honeymoon in Belize—more specifically, Placencia, Belize, a pristine stretch of sandy beaches fronting the sparkling sea, on the Central American country's beautiful southern coast. Here you'll find Naïa Beach Resort and Spa, the newest and most romantic honeymoon destination on the Caribbean.
Naïa sits on 200 acres of lush green private paradise where the loudest buzz isn't from a club but from the birds that fill the trees every night at sunset. The relaxed resort has 35 individual beach chalets nestled on the golden sand, with views of the softly lapping water, and all have deep soaking tubs and outdoor showers built for two. (Tip: Upgrade from an already massive studio to a deluxe one-bedroom with a plunge pool to really live large.)
You'll probably never want to leave your romantic digs, especially if you have the resort fill your personal kitchenette with your favorite foods or deliver a romantic dinner for two. You should, however, eventually break away from your beach hideaway and explore the rest of the romantic resort. Upstairs at the main lodge, there's a swank restaurant, 1981, with killer cocktails (try the jalapeño-and-fresh-pineapple margarita), white-napkin service, and refined spins on locally sourced ingredients. Downstairs, the flip-flop-friendly all-day bistro faces the beach on one side and the expansive saltwater pool on the other, and its bar will deliver tasty cocktails and coolers wherever you decide to lay your towel.
Best of all, there's the spa, the largest in Belize, an oasis of intimate over-water bungalows overlooking lily ponds and lagoons, mangroves and palm trees. An exclusive couples' bungalow is tucked at the end of a secluded walkway surrounded by shimmering water. There are massages and more for two, but go local with the Mayan Cacao & Spice Wrap; you'll be painted with a rich chocolate fondue that will leave your skin as smooth as the inside of a truffle.
Even if you're not getting a treatment (although you really should), relax on the spa café's deck overlooking the lagoon and sip a fresh-pressed juice, take a dip in the sybaritic spa pool, or stretch out in a yoga class. (Naïa offers the only aerial yoga in the country.)
Belizeans say their smiles come from sharing their rich natural environment with visitors, making it almost a prerequisite that you get out of your lounger and get to know the country. Belize boasts the second-largest barrier reef in the world, so exploring the water is a must. Sunny Side Tours will pick you up right at the end of the resort's pier for a speedboat ride to Laughing Bird Caye, a national park, for snorkeling, scuba, deep-sea fishing (considered some of the best in the world), and—wait for it—swimming with massive spotted whale sharks, gentle giants that visit the area from April to June.
When you're ready to dry off, head into Belize's lush jungle interior for ziplining and caving or to indulge your deepest chocolate desires at Ixcacao, an artisanal Mayan chocolate farm, with Taste Belize. Finally, there's the compact town of Placencia, where you can stroll the boardwalk, grab a beer by the boat dock, or kick up your feet at the Tipsy Tuna, a true island-style beach bar.
Belize is a peaceful, English-speaking former British commonwealth the size of Massachusetts. The Belizean dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at 2 to 1, and you can use U.S. currency at most locations. There's only one road that leads to and from Placencia, so traffic is pretty much nonexistent, as are crowds. That does mean, however, that driving here isn't really an option from the major airports. Instead, fly into Belize City, a quick direct flight (around three hours) from several major U.S. hubs, including Houston and Atlanta, and then hop a Tropical Air flight to Placencia, which takes about 30 minutes. (Heads up, the small prop planes make multiple stops.) Naïa will pick you up from there for the 10-minute trip to the resort.
In the village, Rumfish y Vino offers Caribbean classics with international twists (think red-snapper curry and braised-short-rib lasagna) served treetop in an open-air dining room. (Tip: Don't miss the Tutti Frutti gelato shop downstairs for the creamiest frozen scoops outside of Italy.) Another top choice is beachside Maya Bistro. The food is whimsically conceived in some cases, like the lobster bread pudding or shrimp-French-toast appetizers, but serious in flavor. It also whips up Placencia's tastiest baked goods. (The colossal cinnamon rolls make for a sweet breakfast in bed.)