Like a bag of jellybeans, the staff at Frommer's comes in many different flavors: straight, gay, married, single, banana. And while we all love to travel, only a few of us have actually taken a honeymoon. But hey, anyone can fantasize about a long, exotic vacation, no expense spared, with Mr. or Mrs. Right (or Right Now) alongside. So whether you're planning a honeymoon or are simply in the mood for a romantic vacation, here are a few of our suggestions.
Sailing the Turkish Mediterranean
This is the stuff that semi-adventurous sun-lovers' dreams are made of: For an unforgettable honeymoon, charter a traditional wooden gulet -- complete with crew if you, like me, don't know how to sail -- and cruise the mythic "Blue Voyage," or Mavi Yolculuk, in the Turkish Mediterranean.
Spend some time taking in the exotic wonders of colorful Bodrum before embarking on your romantic journey for two (or maybe a few more, depending on the size of your boat -- and possibly your wallet). Drift down the Turquoise Coast where picturesque scenes unfurl before you, wowing you at every turn: dramatic mountains, rugged pine cliffs, ruined Roman theaters, pagan temples, and endless blue skies and bluer water, just across the Aegean from the Greek Islands.
When you tire of lazing about and taking your meals on deck, swimming and sunning to your heart's content (or shall I say if?), get your feet on dry land for some hiking on ancient dirt roads, which you may have all to yourself, depending on the time of year. Or seek out some modern Turkish culture or history of ancient civilizations, art and architecture (like those quintessential multi-domed mosques), arabesque music and Turkish mezes,or appetizers, and, of course, shopping: traditional carpets and kilims, lokum (a.k.a. Turkish Delight -- you either love it or you hate it), vibrant blue and red pottery and white copper, carved ivory-colored pipes and irresistible saffron, which all make great gifts.
Lounge on the beach and splash in nearby waterfalls by day, and party all night in the seaside resort town of Antalya. Then, when you're all tuckered out, return to your gulet for another peaceful night together under the stars with the sea rocking you gently. Repeat your perfect day in paradise as necessary, or until your memory nags you about a place called home.
For more information, see www.frommers.com/destinations/turkey/0349037667.html. -- Alexia Meyers
Kauai, Hawaii: The Garden Isle
The honeymoon destination of my dreams? That's easy: Kauai.
For Americans, Kauai, known as the "Garden Isle," is about the most gorgeous, tropical, and remote place on earth you can honeymoon without having to change currency or carry a passport. Not that I'm United States-centric, it's just that my dream honeymoon does not include standing in customs lines or trying to figure out the tip at dinner when all I have in my wallet are bills sporting the faces of people I've never heard of. If you're not American, get thee to a bank, change your currency, dig up your passport, and stand in line at customs -- it's worth it!
Try to stay at the Princeville Resort Hotel (5520 Ka Haku Road, Princeville; tel. 800/826-4400; www.princeville.com), on the North Shore of the island, just northeast of Hanalei. It's quite possible to spend your entire trip on the property, never once leaving the compound, if that's your style. There are multiple restaurants, live entertainment, a full-service spa, a golf course, and tennis courts, not to mention miles of blue water, a heavenly beach, and sensational views and sunsets worth writing home about (but don't, it's your honeymoon!). If you prefer not to stay on the North Shore (more scenic and lush, but also more rainy), and instead choose the South Shore, another option is the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa at 1571 Poipu Road, Koloa (tel. 808/742-1234; www.kauai.hyatt.com). This is a gorgeous, sprawling resort with many restaurants, pools, and lounge chairs on Poipu beach. At the very least, go to the Hyatt to sit on the veranda off the main lobby for a fruity cocktail.
Sleep in, then see where the day takes you. One day might be perfect for getting a massage or sipping mai tais at the hotel pool, the next ideal for an easy hike. One I suggest is close by the Princeville, to a spot called the Queen's Bath (www.hawaiiweb.com/kauai/html/sites/queens_bath.html). You'll wind down a short dirt trail until you hit a lava shelf. A few hundred yards down to your left is a pool, carved into the shelf, which fills with ocean water in the summertime (This hike is better for summer honeymooners, though it's still beautiful at other times of year).
Other musts include at least a daylong visit to Waimea Canyon (www.hawaiiweb.com/kauai/sites_to_see/WaimeaCanyon.htm), on the west side of the island. At 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500 hundred feet deep, the "Grand Canyon" of Hawaii is absolutely spectacular. It's worth getting up early for, which is saying a lot when you're on your honeymoon. The topography, colors, and views are staggering.
If you don't want to stray too far from the North Shore, take a tour up the Na Pali Coast, via boat or helicopter. You may recognize the verdant landscape here, as it's been featured in many films, such as Jurassic Park, the 1976 remake of King Kong, and South Pacific, to name only a few. The jagged, dramatic geography is reminiscent of nothing back in the lower 48.
Kauai is simply magnificent. Sure, it's my dream honeymoon destination, but who says you have to wait for a honeymoon? This is one destination that's dreamy no matter what the occasion. -- Cate Latting
The Scottish Highlands by Rail
I'm one of those people who hardly equates a beach with romance -- it's more like a recipe for sunburned misery. My ideal honeymoon would require lots of atmosphere, combined with a touch of culture and history. I also love traveling by train and have longed to ride one of the more famous lines. If money were no object, I'd probably opt for a week-long journey on the luxe Royal Scotsman, which offers richly decorated interiors, an intimate atmosphere (it carries only 36 passengers at a time), plenty of privacy, and exquisite dining. I've always longed to tour the ultra-atmospheric Scottish Highlands and can't think of a less stressful (or more romantic) way to do it. The train makes plenty of stops along the way so guests can venture out of the observation car to sample the local sights and sounds (including entry onto some private estates that regular visitors can't get into). For up-to-date itineraries and prices, check the website at www.royalscotsman.com. -- Naomi Kraus
Tying the Knot in Vermont
Neither of us were the sort who had spent our girlhoods planning our dream wedding. I suggested to my partner, once Vermont created civil unions, that we drive up and have one; so much more romantic than heading down to City Hall here in NYC, getting a domestic partnership certificate notarized at a Chinese restaurant and filing it with the city clerk. My three sisters (with six weddings between them) had gone in for honeymoons from Disney World to Australia, but I'd seen enough of Disney World in high school, and between the two of us, we didn't have enough vacation time to head to another hemisphere.
So, the more computer literate (as opposed to the more romantic) of us booked a package on www.gayweddings.com, and we drove up to Waterbury, where we checked in at Grunberg Haus Bed & Breakfast (www.grunberghaus.com) and were shown to a beautiful little cabin perched on a hill behind the main house. It was just big enough for two, with a lovely bed (perched on it, the teddy bear on it that I think is required by law in all B&Bs), a woodstove, a rocking chair, and a welcome basket of sweets and souvenirs.
Toward the end of a long, hot summer, we caught a cool breeze in our hilltop nest, smelled the pine and the crunchy, crackling noises we heard as we sat on our deck and looked out were the chipmunks rustling under the leaves. From the breakfast room the next morning, we were entertained at the picture window by hummingbirds feeding and bluejays calling.
The ceremony was a simple, private one. The local justice of the peace, who was also one of the Vermonters who worked toward the passage of the civil unions bill, performed the ceremony. It was on the back deck of the B&B, witnessed by the owners, who obligingly played "our song" on the CD player when the ceremony was over. (It's Crimson & Clover.)
And then...we were civilized, after a fashion.
We took pictures in our wedding outfits on the front porch, surrounded by the free-range chickens our hosts used to supply the breakfast eggs. Then we changed out of our outfits back into play clothes, and went to...Ben & Jerry's factory (www.benjerry.com). Well, we were in Vermont. And we love Ben & Jerry's. And frankly, that's why I picked that particular B&B. (The other half really wanted to go to the Trapp Family Lodge, but then, she used to be a nun.)
So our honeymoon began with the sweet taste of many flavors of the divine B&J. Our package included a few meals and a boat ride, but the best thing we did was simply wander the hills, then stay put in our little cabin. Then we drove, the long way, the scenic way, down to Maryland, past Lake George and through the Hudson Valley, through Pennsylvia and into the rolling hills of Maryland for the party.
We checked into the Hyatt Regency Baltimore (http://baltimore.hyatt.com), which is not the newest, shiniest hotel in the Inner Harbor, but has, hands down, the best view, both from the rooms and from the rooftop seafood restaurant, Pisces.
We toasted ourselves as the sun set, with the boats small and large crossing the Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium lit up to our left, and old, beautiful Federal Hill to our right.
The next day, the party was on the water (also a law in Maryland), and the champagne flowed freely.
All in all, the perfect honeymoon. -- Kathleen Warnock
Heron Island: Life on the Great Barrier Reef
Before we settled into joint checking accounts, combined income tax returns, and discussions of the color and consistency of the baby's daily bowel movement we were a (somewhat) interesting couple. We went to parties, stayed up past 10pm and occasionally took fabulous vacations. Even so, what with one thing (shotgun wedding) and another (renovating our apartment), we never gathered the requisite time or money to take a honeymoon.
But when we do plan our honeymoon, I'd be mighty tempted to reprise a trip we took to Australia in 2000, my favorite part of which was four relaxing days on Heron Island (tel. 02 8296 8010; www.heronisland.com), a sandy coral cay in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The sand is an unbelievable pure white, the water a rich greeny-blue through which you can glimpse patches of coral. The only tourists here are your fellow guests; the only time you need to exert yourself is getting to and from the dining room and strapping on your mask and fins to explore the warm waters. Simply step off the beach in almost any direction to be surrounded by gorgeous coral, flashy fish, and (eek alert) rays and reef sharks. The more ambitious can take diving courses and go on off-island Scuba expeditions.
Snorkeling and other activities like island and reef walks, star-gazing, and tennis, are all included in the price (A$250 for a double; A$480 for a suite or cottage, prices are per person per night), as is food (three buffet squares a day), entertainment, lodging, and all the sand, sea, and sun you could want. Diving trips and certification are extra, as are romantic activities such as night dives, massages, and a sunset wine and cheese cruise.
Even assuming you're already in Australia, getting to this tiny island is a bit of an ordeal, so you'll want to stay at least three or four days. You'll first need to get to Gladstone (flying, taking a train or driving are all options). From Gladstone Marina you'll transfer by boat to Heron Island, which takes approximately 3 hours.
Other wonderful places to experience Down Under: Sydney, Adelaide and the surrounding Wine Country, Kangaroo Island, and Ayers Rock. -- Margot Weiss
Rock the Kasbah in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains
Celebrate married life with an exotic adventure that also helps a remote local community. In spicy and sensual Morocco, you can explore corkscrew city alleyways in Marrakech, relax in seaside Essaouira, and -- most honeymoon-worthy -- hike through the High Atlas Mountains while enjoying a unique and luxurious retreat at the Kasbah du Toubkal (www.kasbahdutoubkal.com) (owned by U.K.-based Discover Ltd.; tel. 44-0-1883-744392; www.kasbahdutoubkal.com; 110€Â¿400€). This majestic hideaway is at the foot of North Africa's highest peak, Mount Toubkal (and it's so visually stunning that Martin Scorsese used it as the Tibetan monastery in his film Kundun). You'll feel simultaneously at home and as though you've stepped into another world.
The views from the Kasbah's rooftop are justifiably publicized as the best in North Africa. Spending an afternoon sipping mint tea and gazing at the region's natural beauty is a fine way to while away a few hours. But it's more than the views that make this place a top pick for honeymooners. With a variety of rooms, you can choose one that's private and serene, with a large lush bed, next to which you'll find two pairs of brown leather babouches (Moroccan slippers) and your own jellebas (traditional Moroccan garments, with sleeves and a hood, that go over your head and reach below your ankles) to wear between your room and the main lodge.
During the day, the mountains are your natural playground. If you hike with a guide (highly recommended), chances are that you'll encounter his friends and family as you explore the mountainside (there are only seven villages in this area, and everyone seems to know everyone else.) After huffing and puffing up steep inclines, enjoy a romantic lunch for two atop the peak you've just conquered, complete with glasses of sweet mint tea. Post hike, unwind in the Kasbah's private hammam (the Moroccan version of a Turkish bath), where you can sit on wooden stools in a large steamy room, mix buckets of hot and cold water to your desired temperature, and scrub each other with traditional black soap and exfoliating gloves.
Clean and refreshed, relax until dinner, which is served for at 7:30 every night. A true eco-resort, purified, filtered water is always available from the kitchen; meals are created from what's fresh and available on a particular day; the entire places is run by a local and extraordinarily hospitable Berber staff; and ten percent of all bills here goes to the community. So far, with that money, the Kasbah has provided an ambulance and a garbage collection service. For more information about the Kasbah and planning a trip to Morocco, go to www.tourismemarocain.ca. -- Jenny Anmuth
Bali, Indonesia: The Ultimate Stress-free Getaway
After months of planning, spending, and fretting, you're done; you've walked down the aisle and enjoyed your reception -- whew! What's left is the one part of your wedding that should be completely stress-free; your honeymoon.
With palm-fringed beaches, verdant terraced rice paddies, and some of the friendliest people on earth, the Indonesian island of Bali is my pick for the ultimate stress-free honeymoon getaway. Bali's attractions are legendary: from its secluded surfing beaches to its mountain craft villages and myriad colorful street-side shrines in between, this island embodies exoticism.
So seductive is Bali's charm that I would even consider it as the ideal place to combine your wedding and honeymoon. (Trust me, once they arrive, your wedding guests will thank you.) A cliff-top villa that sleeps 12 of your nearest and dearest can be had for $1,000 per night. A villa for two is a fraction of that price.
Bali Weddings International (www.baliweddingsinternational.com) can arrange all of the details of your Balinese wedding. Costs vary, but rest assured that your dollar goes much farther than it would at home. A budget of $6,000 would cover the following:
- Two night's accommodation for up to 10 guests in a 5-bedroom, oceanfront villa
- A legal wedding ceremony
- Private catering; canapés and a three-course sit down dinner
- A singer, keyboard player and saxophonist
- Decorations around the villa
- $900 worth of beverages
- Return arrival and departure transfers
- Use of a car and driver for up to 8 hours each day
At press time, flights from New York to Bali's Denpasar airport on Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com) cost around $1,400.
Bon voyage! -- Marc Nadeau
Cadaqués, Spain: The Most Beautiful Village in the World
If I were choosing a honeymoon destination -- and, admittedly, this is purely hypothetical -- it would be Cadaqués, Spain, which Salvador Dalí called the most beautiful village in the world. Dalí, who was born in nearby Figueres, was surely a bit biased. But there's no denying that Cadaqués, located near the Spanish-French border, is the prettiest village on the Costa Brava.
The great thing about honeymooning here is that it's not only secluded -- there's only one road in -- but culturally interesting, too. Check out the Museo de Cadaqués (tel. 97-225-88-77); during my last visit, it had a wonderful photo exhibition portraying the artists and writers who have spent time in Cadaqués -- Pablo Picasso, Gabriel Garcia Marquéz, and Federico García Lorca, not to mention Dalí and many others. It's also worth seeing Dalí's house, Casa-Museu Salvador Dalí (tel. 97-225-10-15), in nearby Port-Lligat; or take a day trip to his hometown for a look at the singular Teatre Museu Dalí (tel. 97-267-75-00).
But newlyweds don't want to spend their whole honeymoon gawking at artwork. Cadaqués is an ideal place to sit -- with your new spouse, of course -- and watch the fishing boats bob in the lapis-colored bay. Order some salted anchovies (yes, anchovies -- you'll love them) and have a beer at one of the open-air restaurants. Hike through the whitewashed town, and, at night, hang out in one of the cafes or jazz bars (L'Hostal is one of the best in Europe). This is not a kid-friendly place -- indeed, it's known as a playground for adults, another reason it's perfect for honeymooners. There's a certain hip, well-heeled set that is attracted to Cadaqués, but the village is mellower -- and more bohemian, at least in the off-season -- than the French Riviera. -- Matthew Brown
Simple Domestic Bliss on Cape Cod
My dream wedding and honeymoon exists in violent opposition to the three-ring, Princess Di circuses so lovingly choreographed in glossy bridal mags. No thanks! For me, the sultry, salty air and low-key beach vibe of the Outer Cape is where I want to celebrate my life and my love. Wedded bliss begins with a barefoot ceremony, with hair askew, waves crashing, and the vanilla dunes of Wellfleet's Marconi Beach (in Wellfleet; part of the Cape Cod National Seashore) rising gently as a backdrop. From there, I'd belly up to one of the outdoor picnic tables at Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar (3580 Rt. 6, Eastham; tel. 508/255-2575) and split a gargantuan steamed lobster (not to mention some juicy fried clam bellies) with my newly shackled ball-and-chain. Once the food coma abates, and we make the obligatory stop for ice cream, it's back to one of the many charming inns that dot the coast of Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and towns further north from the "elbow."
If all goes well, we'll arrive in time for sherry with Bernd and Sandra, owners of A Little Inn on Pleasant Bay (654 S. Orleans Rd, S. Orleans; tel. 888/332-3351 or 508/255-0780; www.alittleinnonpleasantbay.com), a beautifully situated home set back from the shores of Pleasant Bay, on the coast road between Orleans and Chatham. The riotiously colorful gardens seem to thrive in the salt air, and the Adirondack chairs that look out to the water are the perfect place to contemplate our future together.
Were we planning a weekend bacchanalia with family and friends, I'd carve out some space at the sprawling Ocean Edge Resort (Rt. 6A, Brewster; tel. 508/896-9000; www.oceanedge.com), a lush, 400-acre compound of villas, townhomes, and a spectacular mansion hotel that still manages to maintain a personal, family-friendly air. Amenities like a private beach, tennis and golf, bike rentals, movie nights and evening bonfires make for a celebration that's both unforgettable and, refreshingly, not all about you and your ridiculously poofy dress. Let the un-wedding plans begin. -- Kelly Regan
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