We love hearing about honeymoons, and one of our fave spots to do it as at Destination 42, run by our friend (and fellow former magazine editor) Sarah Carrillo Riswick. She features real honeymoons on her site, and recently went though and pulled some of her favorite tips from their experience, along with some hotel picks:
Travel journalists and bloggers always have a good tip or two up their sleeve, like how to squeeze a month’s worth of clothes in one carry-on. But for a romantic honeymoon, these tips aren’t always useful. So to switch things up I asked couples who have recently returned from their honeymoons what advice they’d offer. The biggest piece of advice: Don’t try to do it all. Instead, slow down and enjoy the ride.
1. Plan with a Pro
“Definitely go through a [professional],” says Preeya Hughes, who honeymooned with her husband Jawanza in South Africa and Mozambique. “There’s so much stuff that you couldn’t think of that they will. We didn’t have to think about anything,” adds Jawanza, “[Our travel planner] sketched out two different honeymoons for us. One was Tanzania and Zanzibar, the other South Africa and Mozambique. South Africa and Mozambique was the more luxurious way of doing it. And we thought well, it’s our honeymoon!”
“The people at Phinda are amazing,” says Jawanza of their South African safari camp. “Any request you could think of, they were two steps ahead of you!”
They also loved ending their trip with some beach time. “If you do a safari, you have to go to the beach after,” said Jawanza. As for their hotel, White Pearl in Mozambique, “it was absolutely gorgeous,” says Preeya. “The website doesn’t do it justice.”
Cecilia Segal, who honeymooned in Kenya and the Seychelles, agrees. “I definitely underestimated how awesome it was to have a professional plan it for us,” Cecilia said. “It was really nice to show up and have everything taken care of and when things went wrong we weren’t on our own.” And things did go wrong, including missed flights, lost luggage and a fire in Nairobi that closed the airport.
But besides that, they loved their trip, which started on the Seychelles and ended with safari sightings in Kenya. “We wanted an all-inclusive luxury tented camp that wasn’t too mainstream. We loved [Karen Blixen Camp] because it gave back to the community and was environmentally conscious. All of the cabins lined the river, and the river was filled with hippos. So you could eat lunch on the banks where all these hippos were hanging out!”
2. Don’t Try to Do It All
“I think if we were to re-do it we’d spend more time in each individual space, because we spent a lot of time actually traveling between location, location, location,” said Daniel Johnson, whose 12-day trip with wife Catie included three stops in Australia—Cairns, Sydney, and Melbourne — plus Auckland, New Zealand. “We stayed at four different hotels and had flights between each one, so there was a lot of traveling,” says Daniel. “And I personally don’t find traveling relaxing.”
That said, they loved their trip especially the time spent in Cairns. “The Great Barrier Reef is amazing, you have to go there!” says Daniel. “It’s something you really couldn’t imagine.”
“It’s better to scale down your itinerary and really experience places,” said Erika Buckley. She and her now-husband Bill originally envisioned a three-country Southeast Asia tour but ended up paring their itinerary to just two, Cambodia and Thailand. This allowed them to really explore Angkor Wat, where they started. “The ruins were amazing,” Erika said. “You need at least two days to explore them.”
Then they did three different stops in Thailand, including Bangkok, Koh Lanta and Krabi, where their villa at Railei Beach Club faced the sea and had a bathroom that opened to the jungle. “Every morning I would take a shower in the open air, watching monkeys swing from trees,” says Erika. “It was insane and beautiful — probably the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed.”
3. Make the Most of One Place
Many honeymooners island-hop, but you can see just as much by staying in one place. Lucian Capellaro and his wife Renee stayed on Maui but experienced its diversity by staying in three hotels in different parts of the island: Kaanapali, Hana and Paia. This allowed them to experience all sorts of things — a luau and snorkeling Molokini Crater on the west side, kayaking and driving the Road to Hana on the east, and seeing sunrise at Haleakala on their last stop — without spending all of their time driving across the island.
Their favorite stops were smaller hotels: Travaasa Hana, where their room came with a deck-front hot tub, and the eight-room Inn at Mama’s Fish House, part of a favorite eatery in the surf town of Paia. “The fish is caught that day and they tell you the fisherman’s name and where he caught it,” says Lucian. “It’s the freshest fish you’ll ever have!” They also learned that size matters to them when it comes to hotels. “Stick to boutique hotels if you can find them; the service is better and it’s more romantic, and the price compared with the chain hotels wasn’t that different,” he says.
Chris Mehl and his wife Elie based themselves at one hotel on Kauai but used a guidebook to plan daily excursions that took them all over the island, from hiking and zip-lining t exploring Waimea Canyon, a favorite spot. They took their time, seeking out local haunts like The Mermaid’s Café in Old Kapua Town along the way. (“Amazing tuna wraps,” said Elie.) “Our favorite moments were the spontaneous drives and stops at little out-of-the-way spots that we just couldn’t have scheduled ahead of time,” said Chris. “You’re on your honeymoon; relax and go with it.”
For more tips and real honeymoons, visit Destination42.com.