If you were the world’s most talked about couple, where would you go to escape it all? When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their royal engagement last week, brides-to-be everywhere melted with fairytale overload. And though details of their May 2018 nuptials have quickly unfolded following their first official appearance as an engaged couple, what remains to be seen is where Meghan and Harry will choose to unwind after their whirlwind wedding weekend is over. We asked Brian Kelly a.k.a The Points Guy, a travel expert with more than 5 million monthly views on his Web site, to offer up his predictions for the most meaningful, memorable locales the royal couple might consider. “The royal couple’s first concern is most likely their privacy,” Kelly says. “They don’t want the paparazzi following them from breakfast to the beach so they should check out an off-the-beaten-path destination.” There are the obvious choices, like Botswana, where the couple traveled here before getting engaged and from which the cushion-cut center stone in Meghan’s gorgeous engagement ring was mined. But Kelly thinks Meghan and Harry might instead choose a different conservation-centric destination, or perhaps a far-flung beach or a picture-perfect location close to home. Here, we’ve rounded up the places that would guarantee a royal-worthy honeymoon.
1. French Polynesia
Pippa Middleton reportedly chose the Tahitian island of Tetiaroa for her honeymoon earlier this year. The isle is home to the Brando, one of the world’s most exclusive (and expensive) retreats, and it’s hosted everyone from Barack Obama to Johnny Depp. The private-island setting would provide not only a paparazzi-free zone for Meghan and Harry to enjoy the resort’s dazzling amenities—snorkeling and scuba diving pristine reefs, dips in their own infinity pool, daily included spa treatments—but also the opportunity to learn about the incredible conservation work of the Tetiaroa Society, the resort’s nonprofit organization that focuses on scientific research and preservation of the atoll in which it lies.
“Everyone thinks Meghan and Harry will travel to Botswana since the two vacationed there earlier this year, but I think they might choose Rwanda instead,” says Kelly. Meghan traveled there in 2016 as a World Vision Global Ambassador to support a clean water initiative, so this African country would be a meaningful choice for the humanitarian-focused couple. It’s also the location for the ultimate honeymoon experience: trekking to see one of the world’s last-remaining populations of endangered mountain gorillas. Set at the border of Volcanoes National Park, Wilderness Safaris’ Bisate Lodge is the best place to take it all in. It’s also the centerpiece for a large-scale reforestation project that works to support both the environment and the surrounding community. Kelly also suggests the new One&Only Nyungwe House or the forthcoming Gorilla’s Nest.
After safari, the royal couple will obviously need some R&R on the beach. While Prince William and Kate Middleton chose the Seychelles’ exclusive North Island for their post-nuptial retreat, Meghan and Harry might want their own island paradise, like the newly revamped One & Only Le Saint Géran, in Mauritius. This exclusive 142-room oasis—set at the northern tip of the renowned Belle Mare coastline—just reopened after a multimillion-dollar, nine-month renovation. Villa One is the room to book: The secluded two-bedroom villa comes with its own staff (a chef, a butler, etc.) plus a private infinity pool and spectacular ocean views.
It’s no secret that Ms. Markle is a fan of Tuscan wine, says Kelly: “Her lifestyle blog, The Tig, was named after Tignanello, a world-renowned Super Tuscan made by the famous wine house of Antinori.” To get her fill of the region’s top vintages, Meghan and Harry might post up at the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, a medieval-village-turned-luxury-resort that even has its own church. Set among the rolling hillsides of Tuscany, the resort is home to ultra-private villas, a cooking school (that incorporates ingredients from the onsite organic garden), and close to adorable towns like Siena, should they decide to take a mini-road trip through the countryside.
Since the couple has fast-tracked their engagement in advance of their May 2018 ceremony at Windsor Castle, a minimoon might be in order. This would give the couple the chance to unwind and plan a proper honeymoon for down the road. That’s especially true when you consider how many picture-perfect destinations can be found just a stone’s throw from the couple’s future home at Kensington Palace. Case in point: Balmoral Castle, the royal family’s Scottish home, where Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana chose to honeymoon back in 1981.
May through July is one of the best times to visit Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of three main islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. Here, Meghan and Harry could spot the legendary Komodo dragon in its natural habitat and dive teeming coral reefs in otherworldly blue waters. Tour operators like Jacada Travel and ATJ offer 11-night private sailing trips on an authentic double-masted Phinisi vessel that offers unparalleled access to remote, uninhabited areas. Meghan and Harry could even end their honeymoon at Nihi Sumba Resort, a private-island paradise that’s been voted the best in the world. Or, they could pair a stay at Amanwana, another gorgeous private isle, with five nights aboard the Amandira, a luxury sailboat that has five cabins, a crew of 15, and a gorgeous outdoor deck that’s perfect for dining beneath the stars.
And who knows, the couple might surprise us and return to a cherished locale—and the inspiration for Meghan Markle’s engagement ring. Prince Harry, after all, has been a champion of wildlife conservation in Africa, especially on behalf of Wilderness Safaris’ Rhino Conservation Botswana, which focuses on the repopulation of endangered black and white rhinos in the Okavango Delta. Wilderness Safaris’ flagship lodge, Mombo Camp, reopens early next year in the Delta with brand-new rooms (each has a private plunge pool for maximum privacy), expert guides, and an on-staff masseuse. Even better: Chief’s Island, where Mombo is located, is once of the best places to spot black rhinos, so Prince Harry can perhaps see his the fruits of his conservation efforts on twice-daily game drives.