Moon Landings: Dreamy destinations to steal the hearts of newlyweds
By Richard Jones
After two years of backlogs, the number of people tying the knot went through the roof last year.
That has spilled over into 2023, and despite the cost-of-living squeeze, couples are still splurging on their big day, as well as booking trips to bucket-list destinations for their honeymoons.
If you are tying the knot this year, or next, and are still undecided where to go for that once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully!) dreamy post-nuptial trip, here are a few far-flung suggestions.
With its postcard-worthy beaches (one for every day of the year), historic harbours and sun-drenched tropical scenery, the island of Antigua has everything you’d expect from an idyllic Caribbean island. Thanks to its location on the stunning Dickenson Bay beach, Sandals Grande Antigua (top image) is consistently voted one of the world’s most romantic resorts. And if you can drag yourself away from there, you could also take a trip to Barbuda, Antigua’s more remote sister island, for even more sand swathes to sink your toes into.
Thanks to Rihanna’s recent Superbowl appearance, the ‘little girl with big dreams’ is back in the limelight, and so is her home nation, Barbados. During a trip to the Caribbean gem, you can walk down the singer’s childhood street, Westbury New Road, renamed Rihanna Drive. Ocean Hotels has three amazing but very different options on the south of the island. There is retro-inspired South Beach Hotel, the boutique Sea Breeze Beach House, and the five-star all-inclusive O2 Beach Club & Spa.
The Ivi Mare is just down the road from the birthplace of the Ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty herself, Aphrodite. Inspired by its Mediterranean environment, this beautiful five-star hotel on the coastal front of Kato Paphos boasts a 60m long outdoor swimming pool, two bars and three restaurants, offering lavish buffets, Greek a la carte experiences and Asian-fusion dishes. The Ivi Mare’s Spa merges personalised service with health and beauty, and promises to nourish the body, mind and spirit.
Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife Elsa Pataky recently visited Tavarua Island, aka ‘Heart Island’, an intimate all-inclusive resort close to the main Fijian island Viti Levu and surrounded by natural reef and pristine underwater seascapes. With eight world-class surf breaks within just 20 minutes from the resort and a host of water sports, the tiny 29-acre island attracts couples looking for luxury and active adventures.
If you want some excitement and rock star excess on your honeymoon, head to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. This five-star resort overlooks a natural river with secluded lagoons and its luxurious tropical surroundings are the perfect setting for romantic honeymoon. Soak up the sunshine on a Bali bed listening to live music, relax with a variety of treatments at the ultra-pampering Rock Spa, before dancing the night away at the nightclub or having a flutter at the casino.
Crete is the Mediterranean’s fifth largest island and has plenty of space for all kinds of experiences. Named after a mythological king, the five-star Asterion Suites & Spa sits on the waterfront of Pyrgos Psiloneros, and is a great base from which to explore the wonders of Western Crete. Its 67 chic suites have incredible views over the sparkling blue Aegean Sea and Saint Theodore Island’s nature reserve, and in keeping with Asterion’s story, they all have names inspired by astronomy.
Reopening in May this year, Sandals Dunn’s River has cascading waters running right through the resort and all water features, including those in the Red Lane Spa, are sourced from the river’s natural reserves. The brand-new suites feature glass panels for a cascading infinity effect out to the Caribbean Sea, as well as vast open-air rooftops and private soaking tubs. The 12 global gourmet restaurants include L’Amande, which serves an exquisite mélange of French delicacy and Jamaican fare in a chic setting.
Steeped in rich history and timeless elegance, the award-winning Danna Langkawi Resort & Beach Villas is nestled in a lush tropical enclave with sandy beaches overlooking the Andaman Sea. The resort features colonial oceanfront rooms, exclusively designed villas each with a private pool, intimate seaside dining and a soothing spa. The Danna has also introduced a new romance package including a floating breakfast, a romantic room setup and bubble bath, floating champagne for two during turndown, decadent afternoon tea, and an intimate BBQ dinner.
The word ‘paradise’ is often overused, but the collection of 1,200 Indian Ocean islands is just that. If you’re after bubbly on arrival, therapeutic spa treatments for two, private dining on the beach and the best sunrises and sunsets on the planet, head to the newlywed heaven of Gili Lankanfushi in the North Male Atoll. This five-star eco resort has 45 storybook overwater villas including the flamboyant Private Reserve, a four-bedroom floating paradise with its very own spa, gym, cinema, infinity pool and waterslide.
Riviera Maya is a stunning stretch of Caribbean coastline on Mexico’s north-eastern Yucatán Peninsula. The designers of the UNICO 20°87° resort have managed to retain an authentic Mexican feel, while also incorporating a modern and high level of North American-style service. Among the restaurants are the Mexican-themed Cueva Siete, Mediterranean-inspired Mi Carisa and Unico’s signature steak house, 20.87 Restaurant. You can also indulge in a wine-tasting session with the sommelier at La Botella or a chocolate-sampling session at Soól.