Found your forever travel partner? Congrats! Now we’d like to set you up with an equally perfect honeymoon. Nikki Ridgway plays matchmaker, pairing 10 types of honeymooners with a soul mate of a getaway
Best for Beach Bliss
Turks & Caicos
Weddings are stressful, and there’s no better way to recover than by logging some serious time on the sand. Few destinations do the fly-and-flop vacation like Turks & Caicos. Just a three-and-a-half-hour flight from NYC, this low-lying northern Caribbean island chain greets the wedding-weary with near year-round sunshine, 270 miles of unspoiled shoreline, gin-clear sea and a strong rum punch. The ocean-facing resorts along Grace Bay Beach are self-contained enclaves designed for holing up en casa, dining alfresco with sand in your toes and lounging poolside or on the beach. Sure you can go on snorkeling excursions, boat rides out to the quieter cays, and perhaps a dinner at romantic Coco Bistro, but really, this honeymoon is about you, your Mr/Mrs and a steady supply of frosty beverages.
Best for Big Trippers
Were you more excited to plan your honeymoon than your actual wedding? Then you might be in the market for a maxi-moon. But a blowout trip doesn’t have to mean a sabbatical and a round-the-world ticket. Vietnam packs a big-trip punch with historic and cultural experiences, culinary adventures, shopping and brain-off beaching all in one affordable package. Fly into Hanoi and experience the romance of the French colonial Old Quarter and serious eats on Tong Duy Tan street, then head south to the historic capital of Hue for tours of the Imperial ruins and walled city, as well as the essential sunset cruise on the Perfume River. From here, make for lantern-lit Hoi An where days are spent exploring the UNESCO-listed Ancient Town, shopping for made-to-measure clothing, taking cooking classes or lounging on the region’s exceptional white sand beaches — An Bang and Cua Dai are favorites. Divers should add a day for excursions to the nearby Cham Islands before transferring to the capital of Ho Chi Minh City for the flight home.
Best for Mini Mooners
Need maximum bang for your limited vacation buck? Our southern sister delivers the brain-off travel fix required for a successful mini-moon, with easy connections from both coasts and the perfect mix of beach time, culture and killer cuisine. East coasters can fly direct to Cancun and disappear into classy newcomer Nizuc Resort & Spa or head an hour south to the beachfront Mayakoba resorts and all-inclusive favorite, Blue Diamond Riviera Maya. Or, for a boho vibe and celeb spotting, continue on to Tulum’s palm tree-lined shores and blend beach time with eco adventures in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. On the west coast, Cabo is more than a Spring Break destination, with gorgeous resorts built into the craggy cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. Honeymoon favorite the One&Only Palmilla, reopening in March 2015, is one of few in the region with a private swimmable beach. It makes the most of it with beach butlers, sun care kits and palapa-shaded loungers.
Best for Culture Vultures
This city by the sea has the romance factor covered — scorching sunsets, cruises on the Bosphorus, an iconic minaret-studded skyline, restored palace sleeps, hilltop views and endless atmospheric streets to wander — but is also a dream destination for culture lovers. Start with the historic sights in the Sultanahmet District, the oldest part of the city, where you’ll find the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and dizzying Grand Bazaar, then cross the Galata Bridge for a gallery crawl through hip Karaköy (Elipsis and Galeri Mânâ are favorites) and tour of the nearby Istanbul Modern Art Museum. For sacred architecture buffs, the Ortaköy Mosque recently reopened after a three-year renovation, while just outside the city center, the trailblazing Sancaklar Mosque is a must-see subterranean space that’s still wonderfully crowd free.
Best for Nature Lovers
The romance of safari is inescapable, from fiery sunrises against a backdrop of loping giraffes and sundowners beside a hippo-filled lake to dining alfresco under a zillion stars and falling asleep to the sounds of the savannah. South Africa offers one of the easiest access safari experiences, with nonstop flights from the US into Johannesburg, then a short flight north to Kruger National Park. Here, luxury camps like Vuyani Safari Lodge and Lion Sands River Lodge, supply Out of Africa–style glamour and stellar game viewing, with chance sightings of lion, leopard, giraffe, elephant and more. Plus, you can add a few days in Cape Town to bliss out by the beach and explore the winelands in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek.
Best for City Slickers
In a city of eight million, New York City has a knack for making you feel like the most important person in town — perfect, then, for honeymooners. Craft an urban itinerary that includes a mix of Old New York and the new classics: An upscale lunch at Midtown icon La Grenouille and a cozy brunch at hip West Village bistro, Buvette; a stroll through the Shakespeare Garden in Central Park contrasted with a wander in Brooklyn Bridge Park; the classic horse-and-carriage ride in Manhattan and a spin on Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Don’t miss cocktails at the other-era Bemelmans Bar inside the Carlyle Hotel, but then join a cool crowd downtown for inventive drinks and serious city views from the top-floor bar of The James New York. For music lovers, there’s the chance to dress to the nines and disappear into the crowds at the Metropolitan Opera House or keep things intimate for a night of cabaret at the atmospheric Café Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie.
Best for Epicureans
With its dreamy cypress-studded hills, medieval towns and acres of vineyards, Tuscany knows how to heap on the romance. A foodie focus will help set your itinerary and get you off the beaten path to sample creamy pecorino cheese in Pienza, graze on truffles and wild boar in Norcia or sip world-class Brunellos in Montalcino. Plan on long lunches in local towns like Assisi, Spello, Montepulciano, Montefalco and Bevagna and quiet evenings at your own private castello. Hotel Castello di Casole is a favorite for its spectacular infinity pool and two restaurants, while nearby La Bandita has just eight rooms and offers private dinners under a covered pergola and all the Brunello you can glug. For more of a splurge, sprawling L’Andana has a working winery, kitchen gardens, cooking classes and a seasonal restaurant overseen by Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.
Best for the Stressed
Thatched bungalows floating above turquoise lagoons, hammocks strung between palm trees on deserted beaches. The Maldives is the kind of honeymoon daydream that will get you through pretty much any wedding planning stress. Comprising 1,192 islands in 26 atolls across 35,000 square miles of the Indian Ocean, this is the honeymoon for seclusion-seekers. The only challenge is choosing the right resort from the almost 200 luxury options. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is a frontrunner for its remote setting (a 45-minute flight and 30-minute speed boat ride from Malé) and world-class Vidhun Spa village with five standalone couples’ treatment rooms and 30 indigenous treatments, while Dusit Thani Maldives is a knockout thanks to a spa nestled in a coconut grove and six treetop treatment pods. True wellness aficionados should opt for Soneva Fushi, an eco-minded game changer and one of the Maldives’ original luxury resorts. The spectacular Six Senses spa has a menu that includes 14 types of massages, Ayurvedic facials and body treatments, reiki sessions and a “couples journey” ritual.
Best for Adventurers
A pint-sized playground for adventure lovers, Belize fits beach time, world-class diving, jungle adventures and myriad Mayan ruins into its 9,000 square miles. Fly into Belize City then continue inland to the forested Cayo district and seek out hiking and biking adventures in the Maya Mountains, canoe and tubing rides down the Mopan and Macal Rivers, and underground tours through the cave systems at Jaguar Paw and Caves Branch. History buffs can’t miss the more than 4,000 Mayan structures still being uncovered at Caracol or the smaller ancient Maya archaeological site at Xunantunich, which you can reach via horseback thanks to Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa. If underwater adventures are more your speed, fly north from Belize City to Ambergris Caye, where the world’s second largest barrier reef is just offshore and you have easy access to the famous dive site, the Blue Hole.
Best for Variety Seekers
Not the state but the Big Island itself, Hawai’i is a perfect pick for newlyweds practicing the marital art of compromise. Fly into Kona and rent a car to make the most of its wildly varied offerings. Hike through the lava fields of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, have real-life cowboy adventures in the big sky country of Waimea and sea kayak through Kealakekua Bay. Then, for relaxing down time, pack a picnic and make for the region’s black sand beaches at Punalu'u or white shores along the Hapuna Beach State Park. And if you don’t have time to see it all (the Big Island is larger than all the other islands combined), book a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride to the active Kīlauea volcano or into the deep valleys of Waimea, Pololu and Waipio.