Going on honeymoon presents you with a dilemma: This is the one chance you get to really splash out on the holiday of a lifetime, so you want to take advantage of it and do something exceptional.
On the other hand, after dealing with a year of planning the nuptials, worrying about how much it will all cost you, bickering with your partner over wedding venues, arguing over the guest list with your future in-laws, managing pre-wedding nerves, then rushing around on the day trying to talk to everyone you’ve invited, you might not have the energy to do anything too exciting on your honeymoon.
The chances are, you will be absolutely exhausted the day after the big day —there’s a reason why the honeymoon cliché involves spending two weeks passed out on a paradise beach.
You’ll probably need to relax and gaze lovingly into your new bride/groom’s eyes for at least five days, but after that you’ll likely be ready to explore somewhere exciting or astoundingly beautiful with your soul mate.
The key is to choose destinations where you can do both — get inspiration from our guide to two-centre honeymoon options.
Mauritius and Reunion
Relax in Mauritius
The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is the classic honeymoon destination, with palm trees swaying over long stretches of pure white sand. The hotels here are geared up for honeymooners, so you’ll be well looked after. Stay all-inclusive and you can chill out in comfort for the first part of your honeymoon, sipping cocktails on the beach, and eating in-house before getting an early night.
Enjoy wilderness on Reunion Island
There are plenty of interesting natural and historical sites to explore on the island of Mauritius, but if you are looking for true adventure, take a flight over to the nearby French island of Reunion.
France’s outpost in the Indian Ocean is home to a live volcano and three huge dramatic craters or cirques. Plan a trek into Cirque Mafate, which is only accessible by foot, or cruise through the lush, green, wild valleys of Cirque de Salazie or Cilaos and stop off to admire gushing waterfalls or pretty colonial villages, or take a trek through the stunning scenery. Elsewhere you can visit Creole towns and geranium or vanilla plantations, or go snorkelling or whale-spotting on the coast.
Miami and Key West
Relax in the Florida Keys
This special strip of tiny islands offers the warm welcome and a laidback spirit of the American South, as well as the azure waters, tropical landscapes, breathtaking sunsets and party atmosphere of the Caribbean.
This is a great place to find an affordable, easygoing haven for your honeymoon, and enjoy relaxing activities ranging from a relaxed Hemingway-style fishing trip, a visit to the unique town of Key West, a cycling tour, dolphin spotting or taking in one of the Keys’ annual food festivals.
Waterbabies can learn to scuba dive or explore the Florida Keys Shipwreck Heritage Trail in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This line of nine wreck sites stretching from Key Largo to Key West has produced artificial reefs that are rich with marine life, and are suitable for both snorkeling and diving.
Party and shop in Miami
When you’re done with relaxing in the Keys, step up the pace with a visit to Miami’s South Beach strip where you can soak up the party atmosphere.
Tour the famous Art Deco buildings along Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue one day, then hit the shops for fashion bargains the next, or spend the day people-watching on the beach or in a pavement café.
By night you can sip cocktails in one of the gorgeous designer hotels — try the Gansevoort for the glamorous rooftop bar, or hit the terrace at the Mondrian on the west coast for the best sunsets.
Mozambique and South Africa
Relax in Mozambique
Traditionally, honeymooners used to stop off for a week on the romantic Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar before going on an exciting safari trip in South Africa. Nowadays savvy travellers are discovering the charms of Mozambique instead.
This former Portuguese colony offers world-class diving, white beaches and swaying palms, deserted islands and remote spots in which to chill out.
Transportation links and infrastructure are better in the southern part, which is a playground for weekenders from Johannesburg; and the northern stretch of coast is for the more adventurous, with its wide open spaces and remote luxury lodges.
Have a safari adventure in South Africa
Thanks to the weak South African rand, your holiday money will go a long way in South Africa, so you’ll be able to splash out on a luxurious safari trip. This involves dawn-starts and full days of chasing round and tracking down lions, giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs and elephants and friends, interspersed with some serious eating.
You’ll probably be all safaried-out after two to three days of game spotting so you can invest in an unforgettable experience. And Beyond is the biggest and best safari operator in Africa — not only do their safari camps offer impeccable service and unforgettable locations, they are also active in conservation, not only of the wildlife but of local communities near their reserves, so you’ll be doing good when you invest in their holidays.
A romantic choice is Kirkman’s Camp, in the Sabi Sands private reserve. Adjacent to Kruger, you’ll enjoy the benefits of the wildlife that runs between the two but without the crowds.
You’ll also love staying here; the stunning old colonial hunting lodge gives you a real sense of history, and the guest chalets open straight onto the bush, so you can watch as an elephant strips a tree just outside your window or naughty monkeys run riot on your terrace; visit www.andbeyond.com.
Good to know
• When planning, bear in mind that if you take two weeks off work, and get married on the first weekend, you won’t get two full weeks of honeymoon.
• Even if you are an adventurous traveller, be sure to book the first few days’ hotel rooms – you won’t have the energy to traipse around looking for somewhere to stay when you’ve arrived.
• If you need to budget, plan carefully. Go off-season when hotel rates are cheaper, or you will be able to negotiate a cheaper rate at your dream hotel. Get a cheap flight but don’t scrimp on accommodations — you’re likely to want to spend a lot of time in your room, and you don’t want to argue with your partner if the hotel turns out to be a nightmare.
• Remember to say you’re on honeymoon when you book your hotel rooms, for free upgrades, candlelit dinners and complimentary champagne.
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