10 Dream Destinations for a Honeymoon

Kate Sitarz, January 06, 2016
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    Your honeymoon might be the best excuse you ever have to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip—the kind where you're okay with stretching your budget for an amazing hotel or far-flung locale. Of course, what your honeymoon looks like depends on what type of traveler you are.

    If you're leaving immediately after a wedding, a made-for-relaxation destination is unbeatable. And one that allows you to spend quality time with your significant other—whether that means learning to SCUBA dive together or coming down from the wedding chaos over dinner in a Michelin-star restaurant—is essential. Here are 10 dream honeymoon destinations for all kinds of travelers.

    For the Romantics: Bora Bora

    Nothing says romantic honeymoon quite like an over-water bungalow. And Bora Bora pretty much has the lockdown on mind-blowing on-water accommodations. You can even opt to stay on a private islet in the lagoon: Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island has 21 bungalows that bring the South Pacific to your doorstep.

    But there's more to the rainforest-covered islets than romantically relaxed bliss and thatched-roof huts. Diving, snorkeling, or kayaking in and on the turquoise-blue coral-filled lagoon, or hiking the emerald interior to stunning views from Mount Pahia, can keep even the most active travelers enchanted for days. Or try outrigger canoeing for an activity laced with local culture.

    Bonus: One of Bora Bora's only public-access beaches, Matira Beach, is lauded as one of the world's best.

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    RELATED: 10 Amazing Overwater Bungalows You Can Sleep in

    For the Gourmands: Calistoga, California

    Away from the too-touristy town of Napa itself, Calistoga gives visitors the best of Napa Valley with a more secluded feel. And outside of New York, Chicago, and the Bay Area, the Valley is the only other place in the States you can find Michelin-starred restaurants—the type of places that make up for the fact that you maybe didn't get a chance to eat at your wedding.

    Plus, there's no shortage of vineyards and wineries, making it arguably the best place in the country for couples that appreciate fine dining. Add in some romance with an early-morning hot-air balloon ride over the area vineyards, complete with post-flight mimosas and breakfast.

    The Calistoga area is also known for its mud and mineral baths, and the spa at Indian Springs offers both. Its mud baths use volcanic ash that's mined on-site mixed with water from the property's four on-site thermal geysers. Spa and hotels guests also have access to the mineral pool and adults-only pool.

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    For the Adventurers: Botswana

    For adventure travelers, nothing compares to the thrill of seeing lions, rhinos, and elephants up close. With countless companies getting into luxury safaris, you can make the most of wild landscapes and off-the-beaten-path destinations without having to give up the comforts of a plush bed.

    Accommodations like Jack's Camp feature 10 canvas tents with en suite bathrooms and private decks with views of the desert, ancient baobab trees, and one of the largest salt flats in the world. Jack's Camp rates, as with many outfitters, also include all meals and drinks, game drives, and a walking safari with expert guides. It's a trip that's sure to get your heart rate thumping as you spot wildlife, or even as you stare up at the night sky during a candlelight dinner.

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    RELATED: I Went on an African Photo Safari—Here's What It Was Like

    For the Outdoorsy: Exmouth, Australia

    Outdoorsy types will have no trouble finding a never-ending supply of places to explore in Australia. But for the best of ocean and Outback in one, the area around Exmouth is unbeatable. The nearby Ningaloo Reef is the world's longest fringing coral reef and frequented by numerous migrating whale species and dolphins. Abutting the shore, Cape Range National Park is full of limestone ranges, deep canyons, hundreds of caves, and large swaths of beach. Emus, kangaroos, and wallabies, along with dozens of bird species, call it home.

    The seaside luxury tents of Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef blend in with the sand dunes and are the best situated for visitors looking to snorkel the reef alongside whale sharks and turtles, take guided gorge walks through the national park, and kayak out to more remote lagoons. Plus, with no Wi-Fi you can really disconnect from the rest of the world.

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    For the Introverts: Kyoto, Japan

    With more than 1,600 Buddhist temples and hundreds of Shinto shrines, not to mention their Zen-inducing gardens, Kyoto is the perfect spot for those looking for a little solitude. It's entirely possible to find a spot to while away an afternoon in quiet contemplation. The area is all the more dramatic in during fall and cherry blossom season.

    Outside of downtown along the Ooi River sit 10 rooms accessible via private boat, part of Hoshinoya Kyoto. Its two on-site gardens, library, floating tearoom, and spa all at the base of the Arashiyama Hills make it the perfect spot to relax with a book or reflect on a walk to Kameyama Park or further to Sagano bamboo forests.

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    RELATED: 10 Things You Should Never Do at a Destination Wedding

    For the Cold-Weather Lovers: Alaska

    Honeymooning on a beach isn't everyone's thing. If you prefer snow to sand, head north instead—way north. Part of the largest protected landmass on Earth, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is home to glacier-covered peaks and 13 million acres of the world's most remote wilderness. Here it's possible to see the Northern Lights in September or hike up mountains that have no name on trails no one has ever walked, thanks to the Claus family and their Ultima Thule Lodge.

    The lodge sits 100 miles from the nearest road and everything—including wrought-iron stoves, sheepskin rugs, and guests—are flown in on one of the family's five bush planes. These are the same planes that can take you skiing on back-country slopes or on daily flights around the national park. With only five cabins, no more than 12 guests are here at once. Alaskan meals (think fresh, wild, local salmon) are served. And if you ever feel too cold, your shivers are no match for the cedar sauna and wood-fired hot tub.

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    For the Beach Bums: Palawan, Philippines

    Palawan Island, just one of the Philippines' more than 7,000 islands, is one of the country's most sparsely populated areas. Most travelers head to El Nido, renowned for its 50-plus white sand beaches. But the area is a jumping off point for those looking to hop between fishing villages and uninhabited islands, too. If you're looking to plop yourself on the sand, El Nido Resort Pangulasian Island has its own 750-meter stretch of fine white sand, plus access to private beach clubs on Entalula Island and Dibuluan Island. Hobicat sailboats, windsurfing, and snorkeling are also options at the clubs, in addition to reclining in a lounger with a good book.

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    RELATED: 10 Beaches That Should Be on Your Bucket List

    For the Exotics: Marrakesh, Morocco

    The bustling Djemaa el-Fna Square, the distinctive Koutoubia minaret, the maze of souks selling carpets and spices: Marrakesh is a colorful place. Soaking at hammams, camel rides through the desert, and visits to art galleries and dining options in the ville nouvelle are also part of the experience. But as soon as you want to escape the hustle and bustle, accommodations like those at La Mammounia can make you feel a world away. The hotel, known for its spa, also has a 20-acre park with fruit and century-old olive trees, plus hundreds of flowers that come and go with the seasons.

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    For the Historians: Tuscany, Italy

    Tuscany encompasses the Renaissance-rich cities of Florence and Pisa, along with coastal beaches, medieval villages, the snow-capped Apennine Mountains, and the sprawling vineyards and olive groves of the Chianti region. Art and architecture abound in Florence's Uffizi Gallery, home to Michelangelo's David, and its Duomo basilica. Away from the Leaning Tower, Pisa has a variety of Romanesque buildings and Gothic churches.

    And if you look for them, there are tons of places to stay that are packed with history of their own. A converted 12th-century castle with centuries-old frescos and vaulted ceilings, Castello Del Nero gives guests easy access to both nearby cities and the laidback Tuscan countryside (where wine and olive oil tastings are a must).

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    RELATED: 10 Secret Places in Italy

    For the Extroverts: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    After all that time and effort you've poured into planning a wedding, it's hard not to come crashing down from the go-go-go pace. If you're a couple that likes being surrounded by other people, consider a high-energy destination that can match your tastes. With a world-renowned nightlife—locals tend to head out no earlier than 10:00 p.m.—Rio de Janeiro knows how to party. Its music scene is eclectic, with live music halls, dance venues, and street parties anchored by the city's signature sound of samba. You may catch the sunrise here, but only because you haven't gone to bed yet.

    The Art Deco Belmond Copacabana Palace is a Rio icon, perched below the city's iconic forested mountains. Its swimming pool (poolside drinks are a given) is made for socializing, while its location is one of the best for easy-access to Copacabana Beach, where sun loungers await and beach assistants can watch your belongings as you take a swim.

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    Read the original story: 10 Dream Destinations for a Honeymoon by Kate Sitarz, who is a contributor to SmarterTravel.

    (Photo: Couple on honeymoon via Shutterstock)