Baltimore Sun, January 2005
Obviously, planning a wedding is stressful. Despite following all the proper planning advice from friends, families and wedding planners, there are always stressful moments, and most brides and grooms feel a sense of relief when the wedding day draws to a close. Not only are they happy that every item on the “to-do list” is checked, but the couple also has a honeymoon to enjoy. So, after all the rushing around and bickering with each other on the wedding details, the happy couple gets to enjoy some time alone to begin their life together and embark on the most romantic time of their marriage. Just about anywhere will be romantic, but travel agents seem to agree that most couples still want to find romance on the islands. With that in mind, here are some especially romantic places to honeymoon on the beach, as well as stateside locales:
Pink sand beaches, holding on tight to each other while traversing on motor scooters and upscale dining combine to make Bermuda very romantic, according to Molly Hurwitz of Burton Travel. Despite its short beach season – typically May through August – this British island off the coast of North Carolina offers crystal clear turquoise water, making it a snorkeler’s paradise. On shore, hiking trails abound, and due to the lack of rental cars, the island is perfect for walking around town or speeding around on the island’s trademark scooters. Bermuda is a prosperous island with gorgeous, brightly colored homes dotting the coastline. However, its beaches steal the show, especially Elbow Beach, according to Mary Joan Levin of Royal Travel Planners (www.royaltravelplanners.com). One of the most popular beaches in Bermuda, Elbow Beach is surrounded by coral reefs, perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
The Tahitian Islands
Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea are the most popular islands in French Polynesia for honeymooners, who are drawn to these islands for their beautiful beaches, warm waters and seclusion. Couples can come here and do everything or nothing at all, and the islands are known for their privacy, which is why many Hollywood stars vacation here. “Usually, couples go to two or three of the Tahitian Islands, which are great for diving and outrigger canoeing,” says Hurwitz. However, what the islands are known best for are the unrivaled resorts. The thatched roof, private bungalows set over water are a must for honeymooners, says Hurwitz. “Many have glass floor panels so that you can see straight into the lagoon below, and some properties even offer room service by canoe. These overwater bungalows are uniquely Tahitian.”
“There are endless possibilities for romance on any of the Hawaiian Islands,” says Hurwitz, “however, the most popular for romantic honeymoons are Maui and Kauai.” Amazing sunsets, beautiful scenic views, spas, volcano tours and helicopter tours will all leave you breathless in Hawaii. “Hawaii makes a dream come true,” adds Levin. Besides picturesque beaches, Hawaii has plenty to keep you busy in the water. Snorkeling, surfing and diving are a must in Hawaii. Additionally, you can get up close and personal with sealife by chartering a rafting tour in Maui. Expert guides will help identify different types of colorful fish, allow you to swim with dolphins and take you inside Hawaii’s mysterious sea caves.
From the great cities in Italy to the countryside of Tuscany, you can’t get more romantic than Italy, says Hurwitz, whether you’re sightseeing in Rome and Florence or renting a private villa in Siena. Venice is also a draw for romance – St. Marks Square, gondola rides, watching the amazing artistry of glass blowing or lace making or simply wandering small side streets. Of course, Italy also is known for amazing cuisine, and couples can share an amazing meal while taking in the sights. “I always recommend a stay on the Isle of Capri – breathtaking views from small hotels on the top of Capri,” says Hurwitz.
Great weather year round and world-class dining make Aruba a popular choice for honeymooners, including Heather and Marshall Perkins of Baltimore. “We had perfect weather, and we stayed in an all-inclusive resort, which was nice, relaxing and very affordable. Also, Aruba is not a hurricane target, which was reassuring,” says Heather. She adds that she and her husband enjoyed snorkeling and had fun renting a Jeep to go sightseeing. “Part of the island is a desert, which provides great sightseeing,” adds Hurwitz.
Levin puts Barbados near the top of her list for romance. Besides its beautiful beaches, Barbados offers more sightseeing options than most of its Caribbean counterparts. Exploring West Indian culture and taking a driving tour of small seaside villages, gardens, plantations and 17th century churches will amaze honeymooners, who will also enjoy Almond Beach, according to Levin.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Swimming with the dolphins and beautiful beaches make this Mexican city, located about 45 minutes from Cancun, a draw for honeymooners, says Hurwitz, as well as exploring Mayan ruins and shopping in the quaint downtown area. For a daytrip, couples can take a quick ferry to Cozumel. Playa del Carmen also is known for wonderful all-inclusive resorts for lounging around the pool sipping frozen cocktails.
Levin recommends the Cayman Islands for a romantic getaway. Grand Cayman is the most popular destination for cruise ships and tourists, but the island is still laid back and relaxing. Snorkeling here is the main draw, while beach lovers will enjoy soft, powdery sand beneath their toes. The Caymans include Grand Cayman (called “Grand,” although it’s only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide), Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The Dominican Republic, especially Punta Cana, has become a popular destination over the past few years, due to its unspoiled beaches and affordable price tag. Resorts and hotels are limited to the height of a palm tree, so don’t expect any high-rise hotels here. Hurwitz especially recommends the all-inclusive Secrets Excellence resort. Located far away from the airport and cluster of hotels, this secluded resort offers top-notch dining and a pool that would take all day to swim through, especially if you stop by the ample swim-up bars.
Despite is reputation for quickie weddings and sometimes quickie annulments (see Britney Spears), Las Vegas is actually popular for honeymoons, says Hurwitz. Upscale resorts and world-famous entertainment make Las Vegas a luxurious destination that is still quite inexpensive. Nearby sightseeing opportunities include the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas has amazing spas to help you unwind and work those wedding kinks out.