Planning a honeymoon shouldn’t be a minefield, but it sometimes feels that way. In an age of bridezillas and their over-the-top weddings, a honeymoon should be a time to relax, be romantic and maybe climb a mountain with your new partner.
Since you have got the whole world to choose from when planning your honeymoon, we asked local travel experts – and a former bride – for a recommendation on every continent.
Koh Samui, Thailand
When newlywed Emily LaBorde Cheramie of New Orleans started planning her honeymoon, she knew she and her soon-to-be husband wanted to kick off their marriage with an adventure. “My husband and I knew we wanted a ‘once in a lifetime’ honeymoon: a destination we knew we would probably never venture back to once we began our life together, open our respective businesses, had children, etc.,” LaBorde Cheramie says.
After doing some research and talking to a friend who had been there before, they finally settled on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand.
Koh Samui has a unique balance of luxury and adventure. Many untouched islands surrounding it offer a great sense of seclusion. Couples can pet tigers, ride elephants, hike waterfalls or spend time at the spa.
On their adventure, LaBorde Cheramie and her husband visited the Big Buddha Temple, which features a 12-meter high golden Buddha statue, found on the island of Koh Faan off the coast of Koh Samui. The statue, along with a collection of temples, is surrounded by local markets where the couple had “a very enlightening meeting with a monk.”
The travel time is long – usually a 36-hour flight connecting in multiple cities abroad – and airfare tends to be a little pricey. But once there, the American dollar goes far. Overall, though, LaBorde Cheramie’s advice for couples looking at a honeymoon in Koh Samui is to “not think too far outside the box.”
“If you aren’t the outdoorsy type couple, don’t think you’re automatically going to turn into one simply because of your destination,” she said. “Be true to yourself and your likes as a couple. If you enjoy the outdoors and natural, untouched and secluded areas, then Thailand is definitely for you.”
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Often called “the last frontier” country, Australia is the perfect place if you’re seeking a pioneer-style getaway. Couples can find plenty of places to pitch a tent, enjoy the wildlife and enjoy a night swim on a deserted beach.
It is also the perfect place for couples that want a little bit of frontier with some pampering, says Karen Wild of Lagniappe Travel Services.
Wild and her co-workers have planned many trips to the Outback for couples. “You can do just about anything from luxury to standard vacations, from laid back to adventures,” she says. “From families to honeymooners, you can find anything you want when visiting Australia.”
If you have to pick one place in Australia to visit, the Great Barrier Reef would be it. The abundance of marine life makes it the perfect place to go diving. Colorful coral fills the clear water, along with sharks, turtles and beautiful fish.
There is one piece of feedback couples who take an Australian honeymoon come back telling Wild: “The things I have heard back from clients who have traveled to Australia is that there is so much to see and do, that when the trip was over they want to stay longer,” she says.
Banff National Park, Canada
North America is the most popular continent for local brides, says Shannon LeBlanc of Paradise Vacation Escapes; Hawaii, Florida and California are the top three spots for North American vacations.
But if hanging out on a beach is not your thing, try Banff National Park in Canada. The Canadian Rockies never get very warm (60 to 80 degrees at the peak of summer), and the ski resorts are some of the best in the world.
“This area is abundant in beauty and wonder: spectacular waterfalls, alpine wildflowers and all encompassing mountains,” says Wild of Lagniappe Travel Services.
Have you ever wanted to walk on a glacier? You can here. Couples can also ride horses, relax in steaming mineral pools and explore historic sites, like The Cave and Basin National Historic Site, which played a significant role in the Canadian National Park system.
The national park can be accessed through three world-class alpine mountain resorts: Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Each resort sits in charming towns with friendly locals, and is a great choice for couples starting out their marriage, Wild says.
Chile’s Lake District, Chile
Winter brides rejoice! The great part about Chile is that while it is winter here, it is summer there, so if you have a fall or winter wedding you can still enjoy a great beach vacation in South America.
Chile’s Lake District in particular is a great choice for honeymooners looking for something different.
“The spectacular arrangement of lakes, volcanos, rivers and waterfalls here are a major travel destination and yet offer plenty of seclusion for honeymooners,” Wild says.
There are 12 major lakes in the district, and between those lie hot springs, the Andes Mountains for hiking, and six volcanos. The weather is always temperate, although it rains fairly often.
For couples feeling really adventurous, they can try hiking Villarrica, which is the most active volcano in the region at just over 9,300 feet. Hikers should be warned: The volcano is active, and climbing it can be dangerous. That doesn’t stop the bravest of climbers, though.
A Tour of Italy
European vacations are fairly common, but Italy has recently turned into a hot spot for newlyweds.
Lucienne Gore, a travel agent at Town and Country Travel, Inc. in New Orleans, is planning four honeymoons to Italy for New Orleans couples at the moment.
“Italy has become very popular in the past year,” she says. “I think it’s just the romance of it all. It’s the beauty, the ability for it to just be the two of them in a foreign country, all the romantic buildings and atmosphere.”
Another reason for the uptick in Italian honeymoons is because couples have figured out that they can travel to multiple cities in one country for a great price.
For example, according to Gore, a typical honeymoon itinerary in Italy may include a trip to Rome to visit the Vatican, a stop in Venice for a romantic Gondola ride, seeing the statue of David in Florence, and maybe even visiting the Amalfi coast for “added luxury and romance.”
While in Italy, LeBlanc recommends visiting Cinque Terre, a “secret destination,” which is made of five charming towns with quaint hotels and seaside resorts. “Cars are banned in the quiet villages, which makes this even more special,” LeBlanc says.
Chobe National Park, Africa
If wildlife is what you want to see, then there is no better place to travel than Chobe National Park in Africa. According to its website, this reserve hosts the largest concentration of wildlife on the continent. Depending on the season, visitors may see hundreds of elephants on a typical afternoon game drive.
“The game reserves are amazing,” Gore says. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Since the Chobe River forms the northern boundary of the park, a river tour is a great way to experience all the reserve has to offer. Hop on a boat piloted by a local and see hippos, crocodiles and a mind-boggling array of birds and other wildlife up close.
Take a Cruise
As you may have guessed, Antarctica is one of the least traveled destinations, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. LeBlanc recommends going on an expedition with your groom if you’re interested in seeing the continent. “Voyage cruises take you pass huge icebergs, stunning landscapes and wild life including penguins and enormous whales,” LeBlanc says. “The vivid lights of emeralds and violets will set the mood for romance.”
For any honeymoon, LeBlanc suggests that brides work with a travel agent. “By turning the honeymoon planning over to a travel professional, [a bride] can focus on other things for the wedding and just show up and enjoy the honeymoon,” LeBlanc says. “Sometimes when brides plan their own trip, they get caught up in the details of booking everything which leaves them frustrated and not able to enjoy the honeymoon to its fullest.”