The “I do’s” have been said and all of the great uncles have gone home. After months of (often stressful) wedding planning, it’s finally time to take that long awaited vacation after the big day.
Yes, we’re talking about the honeymoon. But honeymoons aren’t the trips they used to be. While many couples still look for somewhere romantic to go after tying the knot, others are straying from the standard two-weeks-on-a-beach getaway.
If you’re an offbeat bride, or a bride looking to spice things up a little, there are plenty of places to honeymoon that are less traditional, but just as fun.
Peter Island – The Caribbean
Peter Island – The Caribbean
Some brides would love to have a Caribbean-style vacation, but don’t want to deal with all of the vacationers who normally occupy the Caribbean. For those honeymooners, all signs point to one location: Peter Island.
Peter Island is located in the Caribbean, but is a lesser-known island. Since fewer people travel there, couples who do pick this honeymoon destination often get much more privacy, says Lucienne Gore of Town and Country Travel in New Orleans.
“Most people don’t even know where Peter Island is, but it’s remote and beautiful,” Gore says. “It’s the kind of place where couples can wrap themselves up in one another and just get lost.”
The island, made up of five beaches across 1,800 acres, is an oasis of tranquility. The white sand and clear blue water is what we’ve come to expect from the Caribbean, and couples looking for relaxation have their choice of several all-inclusive private beach resorts. Off-shore fishing, sailing, swimming with dolphins, helicopter rides and diving are available activities for those craving a little more adventure.
The privacy the island provides does come at a cost, though. “It’s magnificent, but I’d say it’s about $4,000 a person, so it’s high-end property,” Gore said. “Airfare is usually between $700 and $800, and there’s a boat transfer to even get to the island.”
Still, as long as you have the budget, you won’t be disappointed.
The Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands
Nature and animal lovers need not look any farther than South America, particularly the Galápagos Islands.
Ashley Machen, founder of New Orleans-based Treasure Travel, has planned trips to the Galápagos before.She says visitors can fly into Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and take a domestic flight out to Galápagos Islands the next day. From there, a great way to see the Islands is via a four- or five-day cruise.
“See sea turtles hatching and swimming, sea lions lying around, exotic birds and so much more,” she says. “There are all kind of animals there you can’t see anywhere else. It’s extraordinary.”
After cruising around the islands, couples can travel around Ecuador, or even go explore the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon has an entirely different climate and eco-system than the Galápagos Islands, but is equally as impressive, Machen says. “These are two amazing, unique areas you can’t see anywhere on earth.”
One of the best parts about this trip is that it’s pretty cheap in terms of international travel. The American dollar goes a long way. Couples who want to travel internationally, but don’t want to spend a fortune, can get the best bang for their buck on a trip like this.
For brides looking for a honeymoon that doesn’t require a passport, try Texas. It may be non-traditional, but Austin is a great place for a couple’s getaway.
“Austin has a lot of similarities to New Orleans, so I can see why honeymooners may feel comfortable there,” Machen says. “There’s a great music and art scene there.”
Mary Beth Arredondo, a recent New Orleans bride who honeymooned in Austin with her husband Adam, agrees. “Adam and I would absolutely go to Austin again if we re-did our honeymoon,” she says. “There’s hiking, food, music, fishing, theater, ballet. It doesn’t matter how varied your interests are, there is something for everyone. The city is gorgeous and so clean, and the people are friendly.”
While many couples like to plan an itinerary around popular tourist attractions, Mary Beth and Adam decided to give their honeymoon a twist: They decided to explore the city by visiting various food trucks.
“The great thing about planning our trip around food trucks is that we saw more of the city than we probably would have otherwise, and we had all these wonderful experiences that we couldn’t have planned,” Mary Beth says. “We’d look up a food truck to go to for an early lunch, and then we’d walk around the neighborhood. When something piqued our interest, we’d go do it.”
By targeting food trucks, not only did the couple get to experience some great local cuisine, the two also got a unique look at the city. And since it’s not a very far drive from New Orleans, anniversary trips to Austin are easy.
Another great place to honeymoon that doesn’t require a passport is the Smoky Mountains. A weekend in the mountains is perfect for any couple that likes to stay active outdoors. “There are a lot of cabins to rent up in the woods in the mountains, and it’s very secluded,” Machen says.
Cities like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, offer cabin rentals high in the mountains, where couples can go hiking, zip lining or even horseback riding. Couples can even rent cabins with full kitchens so that they can prepare meals with their sweetheart instead of having to travel in town for every meal.
When you do want to mingle with the locals, these two cities are full of charming shops. Many local artists and bakers sell their goods from quaint stores lining the mountainside. It’s the perfect place to find souvenirs to remember the trip.
The area is also great for couples looking to honeymoon in the fall or winter. “There’s usually a hot tub outside, so even if they go in the fall or winter, they can enjoy the view in the cold,” Machen says.
Depending on the time of year, skiers can even plan to spend most of your trip at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort and Amusement Park.
Costa Rica has been catching travelers’ attentions for years, but honeymooners have yet to catch on. Couples looking for diversity may be surprised to learn that Costa Rica r-eally does have it all.
There’s a little for everyone in this small, Central American country such as beaches, hiking and zip lining in the rainforest. The tropical atmosphere lends itself to a romantic vacation, and trips are customizable.
“You can do the spa resort and relaxation for one half of the trip, and then move into the rainforest for the more adventurous activities for the other half,” Gore says. “It’s definitely flexible and can be customized to fit whatever the couple wants. Instead of choosing between a relaxing trip and an adventurous one, you can have both.”
Gore recommends starting the honeymoon at a resort on the Costa Rican beaches as a good way to unwind after the wedding. After three or four days of pure relaxation, it may be time to go stand underneath the waterfalls, white water raft and take a tour through the rainforest. Depending on how long you have, you can even travel back to the beaches to finish the trip off with one last dose of relaxation before heading back to the real world.
Remember, there are endless options for outside-the-box honeymoons. A traditional honeymoon spot like Hawaii may be exactly what you’re looking for, but if that isn’t your style, then go where you love.
“I love the beach and the honeymooners come back and love it, but I would love to see more people doing bucket list items, like climbing Machu Picchu, or seeing the Great Wall of China,” Machen says. “Experience something amazing. Have a great adventure. That’s a really great way to get to know your new partner better.”