Move over Mauritius, luxury honeymoon destinations just got interesting
After finding The One, then The Venue and finally The Dress, it can be easy to opt for The Usual by the time you get round to planning your honeymoon. Perennial go-tos, like the Maldives, Hawaii and South Africa, are easy escapes for bamboozled bride and grooms. But what if your heart is set on having an adventure? Or finding a romantic bolthole off the beaten track? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Welcome to the maverick couple’s honeymoon lust list. You’re welcome.
1. Marrakech, Morocco
Sizzling hot with oodles of character, Marrakech is seriously underrated when it comes to romantic breaks away, especially if you book yourselves into El Fenn, a lavish riad with rustic charm. Boasting a roof terrace, turquoise pool, intimate bar and chic artwork, it’s a fantastic base for exploring the city’s bustling bazaars. Head to the Medina’s labyrinth of souks for a spot of haggling or take a car to explore the stunning Atlas Mountains. And don’t miss the sheer spectacle and decadence on display at Le Comptoir – a lavish bar and restaurant famous for its live shows and ritzy swagger.
Ancient culture, incredible cuisine, fast-paced new-gen cities and breathtaking landscapes: Japan is kicking ass right now. Think hidden beaches in the southern islands of Okinawa, world-class skiing in Hokkaido and charming rural hideouts, including Shikoku, Kyushu and the Notto Peninsula. My tip? Touch down in Tokyo and gorge on the world’s best sushi, head to Hakone to conquer the iconic Mountt Fuji, then hop off the tourist trail to explore Okinawa and Hokkaido. Japan is literally your oyster and Black Tomato has the inside track for a unique trip.
Sailing through Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast with the wind in your hair and a chilled G&T is the epitome of romance and – if you can bear to tear yourself away from the deck – there’s much to explore in its charming towns. Alongside the crumbling monasteries in historic Dubrovnik, there’s now a handful of slick little bars, gastronomic restaurants and hip hotels packed with savvy visitors from Rome, Paris, New York and beyond. In fact, Hvar harbour positively hums with the wealthy and well-heeled, so if the glamour all gets too much, set sail and take a dip in the ocean instead. It’s a hard life. Check out Yacht And Friends for chartered itineraries.
Hit Montana in style on an all-American ranch. Nestled in one of the area’s most pristine valleys, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a five-star, 19th century homestead that balances the Wild West experience with lavish mod-cons. Learn to fly fish on a Blue Ribbon trout stream, experience awe-inspiring views on horseback, and drift off in a bespoke glamping tent under the Big Sky. Just don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure.
5. Hayman Island, Australia
Sun, celestial blue sea and white powdery sands – Hayman Island in Australia’s Whitsunday archipelago is as close to paradise as any beach lover will find, and the One & Only resort is officially honeymoon heaven. Lounge on a dazzling white day bed together while sipping cocktails, learn to dive on the Great Barrier Reef at the hotel’s first class PADI school, or take a trek up to Dolphin Point at sunset for the most incredible island vistas. This is the place for newlyweds who just want to unwind. Intimate candlelit dinners, obligatory.
Aruba. Nope, Rachael from Friends didn’t make up this self-styled Happy Island. It’s real and it’s a damn good honeymoon hotspot. Stay at the plush Ritz-Carlton for views over the pristine Palm Beach shores, relax in tropical seclusion with a wild flock of flamingoes on Flamingo Beach, and take a 4×4 island jeep tour to see some of Aruba’s famous historical sites – including the California Lighthouse, which is best viewed at sunset with a gin-laced sundowner (naturally).
7. Sorrento, Italy
Looking for a serious dose of sophistication after a booze-fuelled big day? Take a trip to Italy’s uber-charming Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast and check into the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. Surrounded by fragrant citrus and olive groves, the views of the Gulf of Naples from here are unforgettable. And the pizza’s not bad either. Ask to stay in Sophia Loren’s favourite suite, then charter a boat over to chic Capri for an afternoon of designer shopping. Afterwards, take a dip in the iconic hotel’s white marble pool to cool off, and visit the Boutique Spa La Serra for an indulgent signature treatment. Think pure Mediterranean bliss. Then triple it.
8. Pangkor Laut Island, Malaysia
Suites on stilts, azure waters and stunning wildlife. The Pangkor Laut Resort, set along the Straits of Malacca, is pretty much everyone’s idea of honeymoon heaven – including the late Pavarotti who declared it his very own paradise island and now has a suite dedicated to his memory. Two million years in the making, this stunning Malaysian gem boasts breathtaking beaches and acres of lush rainforest, where guides will introduce you to white-bellied sea eagles and large monitor lizards as they sunbathe on the island’s rocky outcrops. Once you’ve made friends with the locals, book a private chef on Emerald Bay and dine on freshly caught lobster under the stars, or enjoy a dreamy sunset cruise. Spoilt, much?
9. Santa Catarina, Brazil
Rio, São Paulo, Jericoacoara, Salvador… Brazil’s not a country that’s short on must-sees. However, if you’re searching for a new South American hotspot, check out Santa Catarina, which boasts 560km of spectacular coastline and some pretty awesome surfing. In fact, if you’re all about big waves, head to Guarda do Embaú and Praia do Rosa – two stunning surf villages south of Florianópolis. Then wash the salt off and slip into something more comfortable at Ponta dos Ganchos – a private island peninsula fringed by tropical trees, choppy shores and oyster farms, that also happens to offer up a Jacuzzi or infinity pool for every room. Winning. In fact, with a cinema, sauna and restorative spa, you might choose to swerve the surfing altogether…
10. Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands, set some 960km off the coast of Ecuador, are as oddly untropical as they are magical. Each of the 15 islands offers a completely unique experience and an intimate date with nature. Think giant tortoises the size of small cars, tangled heaps of iguanas, and waters teeming with sea lions. Head to Isla Española or ‘Hood Island’ to get up close and personal with the albatross, hit San Cristobal Harbour to spy pelicans scooping up beakfuls of squirming fish, then take a trip to Santa Cruz to visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre and its infamous tortoises. Once you’ve had your fill, retreat to Pikaia Lodge – a sleek hotel balanced on the rim of an extinct volcano that blends wood, glass and steel beams to resemble a coastguard look-out. Smart doesn’t even begin to cover it.