You’ve made it official–and now it’s time to unwind. Whether you’re the type of couple that wants to explore a once-in-a-lifetime destination, experience otherworldly food and architecture or simply veg out on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, we’ve got you covered. Wedding planning, while exciting, can be a major source of stress–and your honeymoon is likely going to be your first real chance to enjoy some quality time with your spouse. The trip should be relaxing, first and foremost, and suit your wants, needs and style as a couple. With that said, incorporating all of your favorite things into one trip can overwhelm, or take away from your time spent simply enjoying one another’s company.
When planning, consider your bucket list (a honeymoon is the ultimate excuse to invest in a trip you’d otherwise never splurge on), your getaway goals (lounging poolside? A spa? Hiking? Indulging in local cuisine after all those months on a wedding diet?) and the best times to visit your dream destinations. Keep in mind that while off-season travel can save you money, it can also be unpredictable. Decide whether you’re the type of couple who can handle making the most out of your plans being derailed; the last thing you’d ever want is to spend the majority of your trip in inclement weather, or discover that most of a location’s must-visits are only open in high season. We’ve considered the world’s most romantic, untapped, exciting and visually stunning destinations when crafting this list, and have teamed up with industry experts to give you all the reasons you’ll need to visit, and where and when to plan your stay. Here, the 18 ultimate honeymoons to have on your short list for 2018.
The cerulean waves of Oahu may sound old-fashioned for a honeymoon destination, but the most populous and diverse of the Hawaiian islands will blow your hula skirt stereotypes out of the water. Instead of the crowds that throng Honolulu, opt for a lower-key beachside town like Kailua. Settle into that “island living” mindset by spending your days visiting the less-touristy leeward side of the island where you can catamaran and snorkel with wild dolphins, hike the awe-inspiring views of the Ka’ena Point Trail or sample some of the finest raw fish on the planet courtesy of tiny strip-mall poke shops (yes, really) and brilliantly unexpected fusions from the island’s bustling food truck scene. Wondering where to stay? The Surfjack has all the makings of a cool, downtown, off-the-beaten boutique property–but it’s right in the heart of the action in Waikiki.
You and your soon-to-be not the lounging on the beach types? Why not go to the (almost) end of the Earth instead. Nestled along the southern coast of Chile, a trip to the Aysen region is like visiting another world. This vast, sparsely populated frontier is home to massive glaciers, cascading waterfalls, jagged cliffs, and snowy mountains that would inspire even the least photographically inclined to break out their cameras. This is one trip tailor-made for disconnecting from the rest of the world–and connecting with each other.
If the image that springs to mind when you think of Ireland is rolling green hills, sheer craggy cliffs, and looming stone castles… well, you’re not wrong. But all of those things are just a part of Ireland’s appeal. Of course you can stay the night in a converted castle or quite literally stumble across a centuries-old building or monument around any turn, but you’d be remiss to skip out on taking in a play on Dublin’s storied theater scene, listening to some cutting edge music in one of Belfast’s clubs, or ignoring the colorful political murals of Derry. Think of a honeymoon in Ireland as a perfect opportunity to cover that “something old, something new” part of the tradition. If you’re looking to spend the night in a castle fit for a modern day royal, visit Ashford Castle, or book a room at the newly refurbished Adare Manor.
Southwest of Sri Lanka, this small nation of islands is tailor-made for ocean-going couples. Snow-white sand and waters so blue that you’ll run out of shade names to describe them, the Maldives are home to some of planet’s most beautiful beaches. With close to 100 resorts to choose from each encompassing its own private island, like Soneva Fushi, Cheval Blanc Randheli, The One & Only Reethi Rah and more, you’ll find a fit whether you’re five-star types or back-to-nature gurus. The warm waters are also home to a shocking array of sea life from jewel-like coral walls, bobbing sea turtles, and even massive gentle-giant whale sharks. Pack your snorkel–these sights are not to be missed.
The friendly, fun-loving nature of the Thai people permeates through every aspect of this lush, culturally-rich country. Whether you favor the rural heartland of the country, where rice paddies and dense forests dominate, the golden, gleaming Buddhist temples that dot the landscape like glittering freckles, or prefer to spend your time wandering street markets, there’s something for any couple. Plan on discovering exotic produce and tangy-spicy-salty-sweet dishes that will ruin you for take-out noodle dishes forever; Thailand offers new adventures and breathtaking views around every corner.
Arts-loving newlyweds, prepare yourself for the wonders of this oft-ignored central European country. Set against cresting alpine summits, Austria is home to beautiful examples of baroque palaces and sky-kissing cathedrals, winding art galleries and formidable fortresses. Thanks to the support of the Habsburgs, who ruled the country for centuries, Austria was a world capital of art and music, echoes of which can still be seen today in the Vienna’s nigh-overwhelming glut of museums and concert halls which make a trip to Austria a classicist’s dream come true. Spend time in the luxurious capital city to start, and then head out to the highlands for a more countryside, Sound-of-Music-evocative experience, for a honeymoon that will feel like it’s two trips in one.
Architecture buffs, you’ve found your honeymoon. Sister-city to the more famous Florence, Siena is no runner-up in beauty and culture, its streets functioning like a massive open air museum of Romanesque and Gothic design. With its stunning green, red, and white facade, the Duomo (also known as the Siena Cathedral) is the iconic landmark of the city, but the Piazza del Campo, Palazzo Publico, and towering Torre del Mangia all belong on your list as well. Take a break in between sights to take in a bite at one of the streetside cafes or an afternoon glass of red from one of the region’s famed vineyards.
Considered by some to be one of the last truly “wild” places in southern Africa, Zambia boasts mesmerizing wilderness alive with one of the most diverse animal populations in the world. For those looking to experience a part of the world that remains largely untouched by outsiders, where lions lounge in the shade of trees and elephants wander freely, Zambia is an unbeatable adventure and home to some of the most luxurious safari lodges on offer.
Opting out of a church wedding doesn’t mean you have to miss out on celebrating your love at a majestic religious structure–at least not if you spend your honeymoon visiting Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument ever built. Encompassing more than 400 acres of intricately carved towers, temples, and grand statuary, the Wat is an icon of Cambodia, but it’s far from the only reason to visit. Cambodia is a riot of new sights, sounds, and smells, where ancient ways and the modern world blend and mingle into a spectacular and singular experience that has made it one of the rising stars of Asian travel destinations.
Ibiza is so 2017. Instead, we suggest newlyweds turn their sights on this seaside getaway. Just an hour south of Lisbon, this cluster of villages is often referred to as “the Hamptons of Portugal,” with high profile names like Christian Louboutin, Jacques Grange, and Philippe Starck all boasting homes along the rolling dunes of this rice paddy-striped coast. Relaxed sophistication is the order of the day here, making it a perfect choice for honeymooners looking for a place where they can walk down the beach in bare feet and also choose from a full roster of vintage champagne.
This under-the-radar archipelago is home to sugar-sanded beaches, limestone cliffs, and stretches of clear, glassy water so pristine it’s like the horizon goes on forever. Diving, surfing, and kayaking around El Nido (the northern portion of the island’s population center) are big highlights for sporting types and scenery-seekers alike, but once you’ve had your fill of the spectacular views, make a point of traveling to Puerto Princesa as well for nightlife and to explore the truly unique Subterranean River National Park.
Sporting sorts and photography fanatics will find a more-than-happy medium in this southern hemisphere beauty. Mirror-smooth bays and sounds give way to emerald mountains, snowy peaks and rich farmland. Home to quite literally every adventure sport you can imagine (and a fair few you’ve probably never heard of), New Zealand is as warm and welcoming to the daring as it is to those who just want to sit back with a good glass of white (maybe a few oysters too) and watch.
Maybe it’s Game of Thrones madness (this country is home to a number of the show’s filming sites, including the real life city of Dubrovnik which lends its face to Westeros’ Kings Landing), but Croatia has never been a more sought after, or a more romantic, travel destination. Packed with gorgeous Roman ruins–including the fourth century Diocletian Palace built as a retirement home for the emperor himself (the same local limestone was used to build the White House)–and natural spectacles like the seven towering waterfalls of the Krka National Park and virtually unchanged medieval villages like Korcula, Croatia is rife with sights and experiences still undiscovered by most American travelers.
As much as we love Napa, the U.S. winemaking scene doesn’t begin and end with California. Not far off of the western coast of Oregon, this 150-mile stretch of land contains over 200 wineries, not to mention hotels, b&bs, restaurants, and of course, wine bars. National forests, towering waterfalls, and scenic drives offer a break for when (and if) you need a break from sipping pinot gris at small, family-run vineyards and eating world-class food, hand-crafted cheeses, and locally-sourced produce.
Planning a spring wedding? We dare you to find a more ideal setting for your honeymoon photos than the cascading pink petals of Japan in cherry blossom season. And while those blushing flowers may only last for a few weeks each year, there’s never a bad time to honeymoon in Japan. For the zen side of things, make your way to Kyoto, where the city’s hundreds of shrines and temples are like taking a step back in time. Make it a spa trip by visiting one of the country’s thousands of natural volcanically-warmed hot springs known as onsen (Japan is home to nearly 10% of the world’s active volcanoes), or spend your days in Tokyo, sampling some of the finest, most precisely-crafted drinks and cuisine in the world.
Whether you and your beloved are looking to explore tastebud tempting New Nordic cuisine, climb some millennia-old glaciers, or soak away your troubles in skin-soothing natural hot springs, Iceland has everything you need. Smaller than the state of Kentucky, Iceland’s size makes it easy to move between must-see sights like the famed mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon or the glittering glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park or touring the museum scene of Reykjavik. Iceland also happens to be one of the most accessible places on Earth to catch a regular display of the Northern Lights. Book a tour to the northern tip of the island and let nature put on her nightly light show just for the two of you.
While there is some debate about the true inspiration for Bali Hai, the fantasy paradise from James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, this small Pacific isle has long held a reputation for its otherworldly beauty. With turquoise lagoons, lush coral reefs, and overwater bungalows taken directly from your cold wintery daydreams, Bora Bora is an ideal choice for couples who are looking to live the dream. Hike the extinct volcano at the center of the island, snorkel through the technicolor coral gardens that ring the landmass, or just lounge in the lap of luxury at one of the numerous five-star hotels that dot this must-visit tropical escape.
While this small island to the south of the Korean coast may not be a familiar destination to American newlyweds, it’s been a beloved honeymoon spot for lovebirds from South Korea and Japan for years. Though there is certainly some attention-grabbing kitch (the over-the-top Loveland theme park is, as the name might suggest, dedicated to the erotic and the ridiculous), the real highlights of Jeju Island are much more down to Earth–and in some cases, below sea level. Home to the tallest mountain in South Korea and massive underground tubes formed by rapidly cooled lava, Jeju Island displays astonishing natural beauty as well as some of the finest skin-loving spa treatments around.