No need to fly to Tahiti to honeymoon in an overwater bungalow. For a spot so sexy, it served as the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond, set off for Jamaica, where steamy hideaways include charming cottages suspended over jade-colored lagoons. There’s a reason why Jamaica is a making a comeback as the honeymoon locale of the moment. With its naturally heart-shaped “Jacuzzi” at Reach Falls (the backdrop of Tom Cruise's “Cocktail”) and lush mountains dotted with (very) private swimming holes and secluded cottages, it’s no surprise this Caribbean island is continuously popping up on friends’ Instagram feeds.
Uber isn’t exactly a thing here, and taxis should be the last thing you worry about arranging on your honeymoon. Book a car service like Paradise Travels (ask for Willy, a friendly driver and guide who had the pleasure of carting the Real Housewives of Orange County around the island), who will whisk you off when you land in Montego Bay. Ease into Jamaica’s laid-back lifestyle on the scenic car ride to your resort, stopping for “jelly” (the freshest coconut water you’ll find) or jerk chicken from one of the many roadside stands (Scotchies’ tin-roofed BBQ restaurant is a local fave) along the way.
If you’re looking to go the all-inclusive route, book one of the over-the-water villas or bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Island. As if the quick jaunt to Jamaica wasn’t easy enough, this hotel is just a 10-minute drive from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport. The Tahitian-style villas sit along a wooden boardwalk on the resort’s private island, Sandals Cay, and feature everything from see-through glass floors (a suite version of a glass-bottom boat) to private infinity pools and personal butlers. Admire sea view from the outdoor soaking tub or rock above the waves in an over-water hammock for two.
These villas may be a closer version of what you’d find in Bora Bora, but over in Oracabessa, you’ll find the OG of Jamaica’s James Bond-style waterfront suites. English author Ian Fleming first fell in love with the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay back in the 1940s, purchasing an old donkey racetrack that he transformed into his own island hideaway: GoldenEye. From his villa bedroom overlooking the bay, he wrote all 13 of the James Bond novels—starting with “Casino Royale” in the early 1950s. You can still sleep in the tropical garden-encased, three-bedroom Fleming Villa (complete with a butler, cook and private beach), the perfect base if you’re planning a buddymoon with eight of your closest friends.
The reason GoldenEye became synonymous with the world’s most famous spy (despite being the birthplace of Bond) is the resort’s far-flung island vibes mixed with an element of low-key luxury. Despite sitting a 2-hour drive from the capital, Kingston, the 52-acre resort feels worlds away from the Caribbean. Here, you can do everything or nothing and feel completely content. From your lagoon cottage’s private porch, take a steamy midnight dip or hit the water by kayak (one of the many included island-style amenities). Lounge over at the eye-shaped, saltwater infinity pool or sip Provençal rosé while dining on freshly grilled jerk BBQ at the seafront Bamboo Bar. You can also hop on a paddleboard and make your way to the newly opened FieldSpa, where healing roots and herbs grown in the resort’s farm, Pantrepant, are incorporated into Jamaican-inspired treatments (think Oracabessa Bay-harvested sea salt scrubs and Blue Mountain Coffee wraps). Farm-to-table is the theme at the resort’s treehouse-style restaurant, Gazebo, where you and your other half can indulge in modernized spins on local specialties (you can’t go wrong with the braised oxtail and yam beignets or the coconut poached mahi mahi).
Better yet, stay somewhere even more secluded like the Pantrepant Farm itself, tucked away on the banks of the Martha Brae River. The two-bedroom cottage was originally built for friends of Mary and Chris (Blackwell, that is), but now this working cattle farm acts as a rustic retreat for couples looking to experiencing the Jamaican countryside, galloping through the fields by horseback or hiking through the wooded trails. Another way to tour Jamaica’s tropical forests: by chairlift, soaring up 700 feet to the top of Mystic Mountain.
Sleep in a spot just as scenic like The Caves, 12 cliff-side suites perched on Negril’s West End. Think of this as your own mermaid grotto, where five-course meals take place in seaside caves lined with candles, and drinks are served in secret caverns accessed by coral staircases and wooden footbridges.
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For that swoon-worthy Instagram shot, take the 15-minute drive from GoldenEye over to Firefly, named after the lightning bugs that start glowing come nightfall. The former home of English playwright Noël Coward (who hosted everyone from Sean Connery to the Queen Mother) is a fave for wedding photos, since its sits suspended on a hillside, 1,200 feet above Blue Harbour. Head up late afternoon for a picnic, catching the fiery sunset over the water while sipping cocktails in one of the island’s most spy-worthy spots.