10 tempting honeymoon ideas (where to go, that is)
Stress is as much a part of wedding tradition as vows and bridal bouquets. But when the big day is done, the honeymoon awaits. It may be the trip of a lifetime. Or it could be an off-the-beaten-path journey that sets the pattern for years of traveling together.
After consulting various wedding and honeymoon publications, and trolling our Travel section archives, I offer 10 suggestions for honeymoon destinations (though any reason to go there will do).
I also recommend, as does my colleague Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter, that you get all your travel information in writing if you make the arrangements yourselves. If you go through an agent, he or she will be your advocate should problems arise.
1. Safari. If you love outdoor adventure, this is the perfect experience. Most safaris are commercial enterprises providing luxury accommodations and relying on off-road vehicles to take visitors to big-animal sightings. In December, an article about Zebra Plains in Zambia told about walking safaris, "probably this decade's biggest news in African safaris," in which you stalk your quarry on foot. Many lodges that have driving safaris offer walks as well. Either way, it's a thrill. Incidentally, I received an e-mail the other day about safaris in North America, with luxury accommodations and sightings of wildlife including bears, wolves, elk, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, moose, and more.
2. New York City. Drive 90 minutes up the New Jersey Turnpike to arguably the greatest city on Earth. New York, New York is the city that never sleeps. And it has something for everyone: history, theater, music, dining, architecture, ethnic neighborhoods, parks, professional sports teams, hiking, biking, boating, and so much more. Lodging ranges from bed-and-breakfasts to high-end luxury hotels. Perhaps you've visited the city before, but missed a carriage ride through Central Park or a visit to the boathouse. Go for high-adrenaline activities or peace and quiet - both are available in the Big Apple.
3. Eastern Europe. This category and the next one push the envelope because they encompass so many locales. But I couldn't choose between Croatia and Estonia and Romania. Travel stories from these destinations have detailed the juxtaposition of old and new in Estonia and Latvia, where Inquirer music critic David Patrick Stearns wrote, "The best focus for Baltic excursions is cultural." Croatia has been dubbed one of the best destinations for 2013, and a must-see is Dubrovnik, which George Bernard Shaw called "Paradise on Earth." The Dalmatian Coast, across the Adriatic from Italy, is being called the "new Riviera."
4. Western Europe. OK, this covers the other half of the continent. Iceland has emerged as a top destination, due to its natural beauty, including the northern lights, hip nightlife, and soothing thermal pools. Spain, at the southern end of the continent, is another hot destination. An article in December detailed a visit to Ronda and a stay in a three-bedroom villa that sounded like a wonderful place to get away from it all. Other top destinations in Spain are Barcelona, for beaches; Granada, Islamic heritage; Madrid, for the royals and bullfights; Malaga, Picasso's birthplace and golden beaches; and Valencia, for oranges and the massive cultural complex Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, the City of Arts and Sciences. A personal favorite in western Europe, and a premier destination in Italy, is Venice. "It's a city best experienced with your eyes - and your senses - wide open," TripAdvisor says on its website.
5. Hawaii. What list of romantic travel destinations doesn't include this cluster of U.S. islands in mid-Pacific? Paradise here ranges from Hana - "for rest and rejuvenation, nature and Hawaiian culture, flora and fauna," wrote William Ecenbarger - to Kaanapali on Maui, where the beaches are fronted by luxury hotels. It all depends on your flavor. The Disney property on Oahu - Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa at Ko Olina - may be an excellent choice for a destination wedding. In fact, Disney offers a wedding team to help you make your plans on all its properties.
6. Bora Bora. I longed to visit this South Pacific paradise even before this Travel section whetted my appetite in July with an article about its two sides: Vaitape on the main island, in the tourist-shop-laden western lagoon, and the fairy-tale world that was featured, among other places, on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Some say it is the inspiration for the enchanted Bali Ha'i. The over-water bungalow suites are expensive (up to $1,000 a night), but it may be worth the expense on this special occasion. As the song says: "Here am I, your special island, come to me . . . ."
7. A castle. Leave it to Inquirer Travel readers to spread the word about true first-class luxury. Fred Beckley wrote in spring about his overnight visit to a castle in La Rochefoucauld, France. Many castles in various locations have been converted into high-end hotels. For example, Amy Laughinghouse wrote about the Isles of Scilly, "a tranquil archipelago renowned for its white-sand beaches and teal-blue waters 28 miles off the southwestern coast of England," where you can stay within the castle walls "at the Star Castle Hotel, on the grounds of a 16th-century fort on St. Mary's." Looking for a castle? There are many sources on the Web.
8. The Caribbean islands. For Philadelphians, these destinations are easily accessible. From the Netherlands Antilles' Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao to the more than 700 islands, islets, and cays that make up the Bahamas and all the islands in between, you'll find beautiful beaches, bustling nightlife and commerce, historic sites, music, and local and haute cuisines.
Get away from the cruise-ship docks to experience the place with the locals. And don't forget our own Puerto Rico; Vieques Island is breathtaking.
9. Take a cruise. Cruise ships have become destinations in themselves. There are behemoths that have all the luxuries of resorts on land. Smaller all-luxury liners take you just about anywhere you want to go, whether it's cruising through Canadian waterways or U.S. rivers.
Stories this year have taken us along rivers in India, and the Blue Danube. Cruising is an excellent way to see Alaska, and one writer suggested that small expedition-style ships are best for getting up close and personal. Smaller ships are the only way to get to Antarctica; on some excursions you can take inflatables to the ice. And don't forget that Cunard Cruise Lines' Queen Mary 2, successor to the QE2, makes transatlantic sailings, but also travels the North Atlantic from New York to Canada.
10. Hop a train. Yes, this can be a very romantic trip - especially if you want to see where you are. Writers this year have inspired me with their stories. Just last week, one detailed a wonderful train ride across the Canadian Rockies. Because the ride is the destination, each night the train stops and guests are lodged in "above-average hotels."
An article about the Eastern & Oriental Express conjured images of royalty and diplomats journeying from Paris to Vienna, beginning in the 1880s. It offers tours in destination cities, fine dining, and elegant cabins. Imagine being lulled to sleep on the rails as you journey across Asia.
Tell Us About Your Honeymoon
September is a traditional month for weddings and honeymoons. I've given you 10 suggestions for destinations. Now, I'd like to hear from you.
Tell me about your honeymoon. Where and when did you go, and why there? Send along a photo in JPG format, at least 1 MB in size, and I'll share stories from readers on Sept. 29.
E-mail TravelTalk@phillynews.com, and put "Honeymoons" in the subject line.
- Philippa J. Chaplin, Travel editor
To comment, e-mail Travel editor Philippa J. Chaplin at email@example.com.