20 Unforgettable Honeymoons

True: I was more excited when we booked our honeymoon than when I bought my wedding dress.

False: I was more excited when we booked our honeymoon than when my fiance proposed.

It might not be quite the most exciting thing ever.  But it’s almost the most exciting thing ever.

Abbeyglen Castle

Abbeyglen Castle

In case you don’t know where to start, I’ve compiled a list of 20 breathtaking spots where I’d honeymoon in a heartbeat . . . and one spot where I will be honeymooning!

Abbeyglen Castle HotelClifden, Connemara, Ireland
Locations don’t get much more romantic than a castle!  Stay at lovely Abbeyglen in rugged County Galway and explore around the Twelve BensMountains by foot or horseback, go fly fishing in local streams or deep sea fishing in the North Atlantic, play a round of golf at the nearby links, and enjoy Irish Night at the castle, with traditional music and food, and dinner menus written in Gaelic.

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru

Banyan Tree VabbinfaruVabbinfaru, Maldives
One look at the Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru should be enough to convince you: this is paradise.  Set on its own private atoll, the resort features elegant suites, and stunning villas that open into private gardens or directly onto powder-white beaches and the Indian Ocean.  If you want to take the private setting even further, Banyan Tree will arrange romantic dinners a deux in your villa or on a remote sandbank, with a chef to cater to your every need.  And if scuba diving is one of your passions — or something you’ve always wanted to try — you’re surrounded by some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world.

Blue Palace Resort and Spa

Blue Palace Resort and Spa

Blue Palace Resort & SpaElounda, Crete
Jaw-droppingly beautiful water vistas and equally magnificent living areas make Blue Palace Resort & Spa a prime but secluded Mediterranean destination.  Savor the elegant, serene atmosphere by indulging in treatments at the spa, which Spa Finder‘s readers named the best spa in Greece in 2007.  If you can tear yourself away from your dreamy room, sunbathe on the beach or visit the nearby fishing village of Plaka.

Bushman's Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Bushman's Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat

Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness RetreatCederburg Mountains, South Africa
You can’t beat this.  Seriously.  In 2009, Travel & Leisuremagazine called Bushman’s Kloof the best resort in the world.  The world.  And it’s easy to see what makes it so special.  Luxurious rooms and spectacular vistas compete for your attention with the on-site wildlife — including zebras, caracal (African lynx), aardvarks, ostriches and Cape leopards.  You cans check out ancient rock art at caves on the reserve and spend leisurely afternoons fly fishing, testing your archery skills, or at the spa.  When you leave the reserve, visit a nearby surfing beach, Rooibos Tea Factory, and the Clanwilliam Museum’s Anglo-Boer War exhibit.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseLake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Really, for all the tropical paradises out there, is there anything more beautiful than rugged snow-capped peaks, coniferous forests and shimmering lakes?  This resort sits on the pristine shores of Lake Louise in Canada’s Banff National Park where, depending on the season, your activities can include anything from horseback riding and mountain biking to dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice fishing.

The beach at Florablanca at Latitude Ten

The beach at Florablanca at Latitude Ten

Florablanca at Latitude TenSanta Teresa, Costa Rica
Costa Rica has become the go-to spot for eco-tourism.  Florablanca, a Certificate for Sustainable Tourism-certified resort nestled into the jungle on the Pacific coast, keeps up with the competition. It’s a short walk from your villa to the the beach, where you can enjoy surfing, horseback riding, snorkeling, and yoga lessons.  Catch a fishing boat nearby and head offshore in search of mahi mahi and blue marlin.  Or take a sea tour of Isla Cabo Blanco Wildlife Preserve, visit Montezuma, and trek through Corcovado National Park in search of toucans and scarlet macaws.

Gran Hotel La Florida

Gran Hotel La Florida

Gran Hotel La FloridaBarcelona, Spain
Want a hip, high-class honeymoon?  You won’t get anything less at this 5-star resort set high above beautiful Barcelona. Enjoy the spa or the sophisticated on-site restaurants, or venture out into the city andto the Mediterranean beaches beyond.  Local attractions include the Picasso Museum, La Boqueria Market, and F.C. Barcelona, Barcelona’s futbol team.

HarborView Inn

HarborView Inn

HarborView InnCharleston, South Carolina
If “cozy” and “laid-back” are your code words for “perfect,” check into Charleston’s historic HarborView Inn, a bed and breakfast overlooking the harbor and beautiful Waterfront Park.  In a penthouse suite, you’ll enjoy lovely water views from your whirlpool tub, with your fireplace crackling in the background.  Then take your time enjoying the city and it’s outlying Antebellum plantations, walk along the famed Battery, and enjoy a carriage tour of the historic district, not to mention Charleston’s extra-fine dining.

Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua Spa

Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua Spa

Hotel Hana-Maui and Honua SpaHana Bay, Maui, Hawaii
Bypass the big resorts and head to this boutique hotel at the very tip of Maui.  With a variety of cottages and suites to choose from, Hotel Hana-Maui offers a serene and secluded setting overlooking tropical gardens and, of course, the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Start your day off with a complimentary yoga class, then relax at the spa’s outdoor lava rock showers or under the shade of an umbrella at the private beach.  If you want to up your excitement level, take a Ka’Ekeleu Cavern tour, go “flightseeing” in a helicopter, experience a hula or ukulele lesson, andvisit the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Travel Europe's canals with Le Boat.

Travel Europe's canals with Le Boat.

Le Boat CruiseEurope
If you want your honeymoon to be about just you and your honey, take off in a posh houseboat. Explore the many regions of France, cruise up Scotland’s deep canals, or under Holland’s famed windmills. Travel around Germany’s dark forests, along the Venetian coast, through the heart of Ireland, or criss-cross the English countryside — all from the comfort of your home sweet boat.

The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach

The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach

The Leela Kempinski Kovalam Beach – Kovalam Beach, Kerala, India
When you take a 5-star resort a set it down between two amazing beaches, you definitely get a vacation to remember.  At the Leela in Kovalam, you can soak up the sun and splash in the Arabian Sea, align your chakras with yoga lessons, and even keep your room in bloom with an on-site florist before you dine in one of the resort’s many restaurants.  Excursions to check out India’s wild side and the Kerala capital of Trivandrum round out your trip.

Cruise the Baltic aboard the Norwegian Jewel

Cruise the Baltic aboard the Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Cruise Line Northern European Cruise – London, England
If you’re not satisfied with one location for your honeymoon, take off on a not-so-orinary 12-day cruise that introduces you to the “land of kings and tsars” — Berlin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and the beautiful Baltic Sea. During your time at your ports of call, you can visit Stockholm’s Royal Palace, explore Copenhagen by bike, and check out the Medieval buildings in Tallin, the capital of Estonia, which have remained largely unchanged since the twelfth century.

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa – Hot Springs, New Mexico
Relax in the scenic desert ambiance of your cliffside villa or the resort’s mud pool and four springs . . . or take off on an adventure.  White water rafting, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, llama trekking, mountain climbing, and skiing are just some of the activities you can dive into nearby.  And after a long day, you’ll return to the resort — one of the oldest health resorts in the nation, founded at the same mineral springs the Tewa tribe first discovered — where you can enjoy a casual dinner of Southwestern favorites.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Park Hyatt Tokyo – Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Made famous in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, Tokyo’s 5-star Park Hyatt is said to set the bar for all other Tokyo hotels.  Located in the trendy Shinjuku district, the Park Hyatt offers quick access to many of Tokyo’s hip clubs, Japan’s Kabuki theaters, and Disney Tokyo.  When you need a break from the world’s biggest city (population: just under 30 million), stay at the hotel to enjoy dinner at the New York Grill perched on the 52nd story, a workout with a personal trainer at the fitness center, traditional Japanese treatments at the spa, Club on the Park, and your suite’s incredible views of the city skyline, Yoyogi Park, or majestic Mt. Fuji.

San Alfonso del Mar

San Alfonso del Mar

San Alfonso del Mar – Algarrobo, Chile
Boasting the world’s largest swimming pool — a clear saltwater lagoon that’s a full kilometer in length and holds as much water as 6,000 regular swimming pools — San Alfonso delMar offers plenty of water-based activities. From its own aquarium to kayaking, sailing, and scuba diving lessons to paragliding over the Pacific, you may never leave the water.  Unless you want to get back to your rental apartment so you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view . . . of all that water.  When you feel like drying off, head to San Alfonso’s underground discotheque to party the night away.

Sonesta Beach Resort Taba

Sonesta Beach Resort Taba

Sonesta Beach Resort Taba – Taba, Egypt
Maybe the pyramids aren’t your thing.  Instead, head to Egypt’s Riviera on the storied Sinai Peninsula, where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Red Sea.  The 5-star Sonesta Beach Resort features views of the sea, mountains, and South Sinai Desert, a breathtaking private beach, a dive center, and a hip nightclub right on the beach.  But don’t get so comfortable that you forget to set out from the resort for several day trips: visit Colored Canyon andthe lush Pharaoh Island, take a camel ride through the Sinai Desert, and visit Mount Sinai itself, where the Bible says Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Stonefield Estate Villas Resort & Spa

Stonefield Estate Villas Resort & Spa

Stonefield Estate Villa Resort & Spa – Soufriere, St. Lucia, West Indies
A secluded, pristine haven between the rain forest and the sea, Stonefield’s mountainside villas feature outdoor showers, hammocks for two, private plunge pools — and awe-inspiring views of the Caribbean and St. Lucia’s spectacular Pitons, the twin peaks.  If you ever feel like leaving your own piece of paradise, you can explore sulphur springs and nearby waterfalls, take a horseback ride through the rain forest, snorkel at Jalousie Beach, venture into Soufriere for shopping, or chill out on a sunset cruise.
Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate

Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate

Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate– Rotorua, New Zealand
Travel & Leisure magazine named Treetops the #1 resort in New Zealand for the past two years.  Situated on New Zealand’snorthern island, Treetops boasts inviting facilities, plus kayaking, clay target shooting, birdwatching and a horseback safari on site.  Off site, you can visit boiling mud pools and several nearby active volcanoes — and the Buried Village, which was destroyed in a nineteenth century eruption.  If you want a different view of the countryside, take a a helicopter ride or cruise along lovely Lake Tarawera.  And it’s a quick (helicopter) ride to Hobbiton, the location and original movie set from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Trisara Hotel and Villas

Trisara Hotel and Villas

Trisara– Phuket, Thailand
Named Hotel of the Year 2006 by the U.K.’s Gallivanter’s Guide— among many other accolades — Trisara Hotel & Villas is the place to go if you’re looking for a tropical getaway in Southeast Asia.  Rooms feature private plunge pools, while the villas kick the sexiness up a notch with private infinite pools overlooking the Andaman Sea.  If you feel compelled to leave your amazing view for a few hours, you can enjoy fine dining on-site or leave the premises for a few little adventures — like bungee jumping, sea cave canoeing, elephant trekking, scuba diving, and speed boating.

Venice-Simplon Orient Express

Venice-Simplon Orient Express

Venice-Simplon Orient Express Europe
For a look at Europe from a different perspective, board the storied Orient Express for a journey throughout the Continent and you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked back in time to the days when rail travel was standard fare — but also the height of luxury.  You can pick an itinerary — and price point — that suits you best, from a short 2-day trip to a full-blown six day adventure.  The cities you can choose to visit include Paris, Krakow, Venice, Istanbul, Prague, London, Vienna, Budapest and Rome.

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