If you and your main squeeze are the types for whom a breathtaking beach is the definition of honeymoon happiness, then you already know you have a lot of choices. The world is huge, and literally covered in oceans and sand. So how to narrow things down? Cost, accessibility and travel time, risk (think Zika) should all come into play. Wow factor may also.
And when it comes to that last criteria, nowhere has it like the Philippines. While still considered off the beaten path by some, the Philippines is a collection of thousands of dreamy islands that literally scream romantic getaway. You may not know anyone who has traveled there, and for some that may seem scary. But for others it adds to the excitement. You can be adventurers, albeit adventurers who are ensconced in a private villa at a top-notch resort with some of the most insanely colored scenery outside your door, exceptional food, and world-class natural wonders calling your names.
Yes it's far, but actually Philippine Airlines has nonstop flights from West Coast cities to Manila, which happens to be a perfect place to kick off the fun. The superluxe Peninsula Manila will put you into chill-out mode immediately, and help you eradicate jet lag (East-meets-West treatments for him and her are truly heavenly). Relax by the pool, sip an exotic fruity cocktail at the sexy Salon de Ning, and dine at one of a handful of evocative restaurants while you adjust to the time change, and make sure to book a pro-led tour of Intramuros—ideally traveling in Peninsula's souped-up Jeepney—for some culture and understanding of the Philippines' Spanish (and other countries) influence and rule.
Manila has a reputation for being a shopping mecca (at its center: Greenhills Shopping Centre), and while your other half may not find that particularly stimulating, there are also fascinating museums, tastebud-stimulating restaurants, secret bars, galleries (check out the shoppable and artistic Aphro) and other draws that can keep you busy a couple days. But of course the massive city is a jumping-off point for a number of domestic island destinations. One option for beaches, coral reefs and the one-of-a-kind geological formation known as Chocolate Hills (a series of 1,200 symmetrical mounds that turn brown in the dry season, green when it's rainy) is Bohol, a flight from Manila.
There, the new Tarsier Botanika is a forested, intimate resort and experiential retreat that was formerly a tarsier sanctuary. The most famous sands and turquoise waters in the country may be surrounding Cebu and Boracay, which have vibrant nightlife scenes, if that's what you're into.
Another increasingly popular destination is Palawan, a province that comprises Palawan island as well as others like Coron (still a bit rustic and worth exploring now). If you've heard the name it's probably because these islands' beaches were recently named the most beautiful in the world. But regardless of how well a picture depicts the scene, standing on a powdered sugar–white beach and looking out at the turquoise sea in real life is so much more powerful an experience. The palm-fringed beaches may just take your breath away like when you first saw that ring.
The draw of Coron and its surroundings is the spectacular sea, which includes lagoons, coral gardens, snowy beaches and lakes. The best way to take it all in is via boat, which the staff at Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa (or their "mainland" Coron Town hotel, Two Seasons Coron Bayside Hotel) can arrange with a friendly English-speaking guide. The beauty of this area is can't be overstated. You've likely never seen anything in nature the intense color of the water surrounding the island, which also features the resort's stunning pool, water-centric villas, a restaurant serving Filipino specialties (Lobster!
Crocodile! Shaved ice!) and a gym perched up on a hill that provides the best view you've ever had while jogging. A couples' massage is a must, as is a whirl in the transparent kayak built for two, which provides an eye-popping way to see beneath the surface. If you're divers, there should be no question about your honeymoon destination: Coron has about a dozen WWII shipwrecks, as well as rare fish and giant clams, plus varieties of shark, manta rays and sea turtles. As you realize quickly, this entire region—which also includes El Nido, in the north part of Palawan, and Puerto Princesa, which is more of a city but home to the tourists' favorite UNESCO-protected underground river—is truly spectacular.
There's nowhere more epic to wrap up your dream-moon than at Amanpulo, the pride of all Filipinos and the Aman brand. The private-island resort is more than worth the splurge, and the pampering and attention to detail begins even before you touch down. Picture this every night: electric blue crystal-clear water that turns the color of a robin's egg before the sun blazes orange in the sky and sets beneath the silky surface, palm trees silhouetted against a sky of pink. The casitas are incredibly private (and come with your own golf cart and mountain bikes for navigating the island, along with his-and-hers straw hats and totes), each with their own path to the pristine beach, but even when in "public," at one of the vibrant restaurants, pool, spa or gym, there's a feeling of having more than enough space to stay in your just-married bubble of bliss.
There's even a floating bar you can book all for yourself. Snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding and sailing are optional ways to see the sights, while those who are particularly romantic might book a helicopter trip and tour of a South Sea pearl farm nearby. Of course buying a little something for your S.O. should be part of this grand gesture, because why not? It's one more way to bring a slice of paradise back home.