From tropical getaways to wild adventures, these honeymoon hideaways have it all.
Words by Melissa Jacobs
Planning your dream honeymoon?
“Many brides and grooms want to travel to exclusive destinations and have unique, one-of-a-kind experiences,” JoAnn Hewlett says, owner of Make a Memory Event Planning in Newark. “They also want to go where celebrities go, and to places they’ve seen on Instagram.”
Here, Hewlett shares five romantic destinations where adventure awaits.
Dubai and the Maldives
Jennifer Byrne, president and CEO of The Tropical Traveler in Malvern calls The Maldives “super sexy.” The island nation in the Indian Ocean is known for over-water bungalows, a “honeymoon must,” Byrne says. “Each resort is on its own little island.” Whether you’re looking for “low-key and quiet” or a place where people “day drink at pools manned by deejays,” Byrne will help you plan your perfect getaway. Like most great things, it takes some doing to get here. Byrne books her clients through Dubai, where they have a one-night stay. “It’s an absolutely electric city,” she says. “The memories couples make will last a lifetime.”
When to go: When it’s summer here, the weather is ideal there. September and October are also great months to visit.
Travel tip: Because of the travel required, 10 days is the minimum. Two weeks is best.
Bob Older’s Creative Travel in Newark is the only agency in Delaware licensed to arrange trips to Cuba. His clients fly from Newark to Havana, where they stay in a beautiful boutique hotel. Dinners are in the city’s best restaurants, including a rooftop hideaway where Cuban musicians serenade couples. Days are spent on walking tours with experienced guides and a convertible ride along the colorful buildings and rich architecture on El Malecón, Havana’s 4-plus mile oceanside boulevard. “It’s old Havana—it’s romantic and it’s fantastic,” Older promises. Day trips can also be arranged. The must-see is Las Terrazas, a UNESCO-designated biosphere billed as one of the top insider spots in Cuba. A one-hour drive from Havana, Las Terrazas has farms, artisans, the ruins of a coffee plantation, a raved-about vegetarian restaurant, waterfalls and plenty of beaches.
When to go: September through June, before the sweltering heat.
Insider tip: Thanks to Cuba’s new train system, travel through Cuba’s 15 provinces is now easier, faster and more comfortable.
“You can go to Italy 100 times and have 100 different trips,” says Samuel. “But the Piedmont region is one of Italy’s hidden gems.” Bordering Switzerland and France, Piedmont is nestled into the Alps. Travel by train from Milan or fly into Turin, the region’s capital city. Turin is filled with beautiful palazzos, cafes and copious chocolates. The home of Nutella, Turin— and the entire region—is a foodie’s paradise. Samuel arranges visits to chocolate and hazelnut shops, cheese shops and tastings with vintners who specialize in Piedmont’s unique red wines. “We take people where the tour buses don’t,” Samuel says. “It’s private, delicious and very romantic.”
When to go: Avoid crowds and high-season prices by traveling in May, early June and September.
Insider tip: Truffle hunting is a must. Samuel arranges excursions with locals (and their dogs).
South Africa and Seychelles
Fly into Cape Town, South Africa, and spend three nights exploring the city, says Sara Samuel, a travel consultant with WhirlAway Travel in West Chester. “Cape Town is an incredible place for foodies, and the dollar goes a long way,” she says. Then, head to Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Samuel arranges private safari tours so couples can safely see elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, buffalo and more. The animals are wild, but the accommodations are not. Samuel books her clients into exclusive high-end lodges complete with breath-taking views, excellent restaurants and top-notch service.
End the trip with a few days in the Seychelles, the chain of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s eastern coast. The Seychelles offer an array of activities, but “you can do absolutely nothing but be together,” says Samuel. “It’s a great way to end a honeymoon.”
When to go: Winter here means summer there, and temperatures can soar. Aim for March through October.
Insider tip: Staying for two weeks is ideal. To get the full experience, plan for at least 10 days.
Porto, Lisbon and Algarve, Portugal
Portugal is the new Paris, declares Katie Buckley, a leisure consultant with Connoisseur Travel in Kennett Square. With amazing food, wine, art and history, Portugal has become a popular honeymoon destination, largely because it is unfamiliar to many Americans. “Everyone wants a unique honeymoon,” Buckley explains. “They want to have the adventure together—then brag about it to their friends.” Buckley serves up cultural immersion excursions like private tastings at wineries and cooking classes with local chefs in their home kitchens. While couples spend most of their time in Lisbon, Buckley arranges trips to the medieval town of Porto and to the Algarve region. Filled with white-sand beaches, Michelin-starred restaurants and exclusive resorts, Algarve is Europe’s newest hot spot for luxury vacations.
When to go: Summer here is high season there. For fewer crowds and better prices, consider late spring or early fall.
Insider tip: Beware of tourist traps. Upgrades and other perks can be arranged through a knowledgeable travel agent.