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Honeymoons

 

Fantasy Islands in the South Pacific

By: 
Joe Yogerst

Fact: There are more than a thousand islands spread across an area of the Pacific Ocean that’s 10 times larger than the United States. Stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand and Easter Island and collectively known as the South Pacific (or Polynesian Triangle), this corner of the world has spawned innumerable screensavers, holiday fantasies and romantic honeymoon dreams. But as with so many alluring destination choices, it may be a bit daunting to select your preferred paradise. Enter our all-you-need-to- know guide to choosing the right island mate for you. Whether your ideal honeymoon itinerary includes totally kicking back on a remote strand of sparkling sand or imbibing at one of the chicest restaurants, you’ll discover it here. Bon voyage and welcome to paradise. 

bride and groom in the cook islands
Photo courtesy of Cook Island Tourism Corporation

Cook Islands: Totally Off the Grid

A throwback to an age when travel was slow and savory rather than get-there-now, the Cook islands are for couples seeking the untainted and undiscovered south pacific. Located about halfway between Fiji and Tahiti, this english-speaking archipelago comprises two main islands — Rarotonga and Aitutaki —that could not be more different from each other. Beautiful Raro (as it is locally known) is dominated by a jagged volcanic peak that’s often wrapped in clouds, while Aitutaki is a classic coral atoll with a massive turquoise lagoon surrounded by a reef.

While other islands clamor for more tourism, the Cooks are content to let things evolve in a more natural way. There are no high-rise hotels, mega-resorts or any chains, for that matter. There’s zero tipping, a single golf course and nothing that could really be called a disco or music club. This is the place to relish the laid-back ambience and the freedom to walk on a beach where yours are the only footsteps.

cook islands
Photo courtesy of Cook Island Tourism Corporation

Although you’ll no doubt spend most of your time on the beach or in the water, Raro does have other worthwhile distractions. Storytelling guides lead bicycle, horseback and walking trips along the ancient stone road that rings the island. Jungle walks and volcano climbs are another option. And check out Cook island’s traditional dance, the fastest, hottest, most sensual moves in the entire pacific. Browse for local handicrafts and foods at the Saturday morning Punanga Nui Street market, also don’t miss the rowdy Friday evening happy hour with live entertainment at Trader Jack’s waterfront saloon.

A seductive, swept-away vibe prevails at Manuia Beach Resort on the west side of Rarotonga. Set along the edge of the beach and amid tropical gardens, the resort’s 24 thatched- roof bungalows blend barefoot island amenities like outdoor showers and modern creature comforts like Ipod docks, wireless internet and comfy beds. Grab a mask, fins and snorkel and wade into the adjacent lagoon to spy all sorts of tropical fish. Manuia’s rustic restaurant with its ocean views and sandy floor specializes in super-fresh seafood (room rates start at about $330 a night; manuia.co.ck).

Next: Hawaii ►

Hawaii: Cosmopolitan and Chic

As the largest city between Los Angeles and Sydney, Honolulu is the best place in the tropical Pacific for an urban island honeymoon. another reason to visit is Waikiki Beach — possibly the world’s most celebrated strand — which is smack dab in the middle of the Hawaiian capital with Diamond Head as its backdrop.

In addition to posh hotels, Honolulu offers a ton of activities. Learn how to surf at Waikiki — widely celebrated as one of the places where the sport was born. Explore ancient Hawaiian history at the Bishop museum and tour the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. tour cool neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Arts District and Kaka’ako, shop at the high-end stores in Ala Moana and experience the celebrated eateries along King Street. Favorites include Chiang Mai’s luscious Thai food, Alan Wong’s award-winning Hawaiian cuisine and the Japanese fare at Imanas Tei.

hawaii
Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Hawaii’s smaller cities and towns are excellent complements to your tropical getaway. On the Big island, one of the last strongholds of royal Hawaii, Kona is renowned for its coffee. On the opposite coast, Hilo is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the world’s most active lava flow. Old Hawaii lives on in Lahaina, the old whaling port on Maui’s west coast. Kehei, also on Maui, offers the state’s sunniest climate and loads of seaside bars, clubs and cafés.

Designer boutique hotels abound in Honolulu, especially in and around Waikiki Beach. The Modern Honolulu is such a luxury hideaway overlooking Ala Wai yacht harbor. Sleek, white minimalism is the primary design vibe, and all of the rooms have private furnished terraces with beach or city views. and both sandals or stilettos are the dress code of choice. Kick back by the rooftop sunset pool or unwind with a lomi lomi massage in the hotel spa. Masaharu Morimoto, the original Iron Chef, helms the hotel’s eponymous restaurant (room rates start at $280 a night; themodernhonolulu.com).

hawaiian hotel room
Photo courtesy of The Modern Honolulu

Next: Fiji ►

Fiji: Adventure Bound

The largest island group in the South Pacific in terms of both population and land area, Fiji is an eclectic destination with resorts and activities that appeal to just about every vacation taste. But Fiji excels at outdoor adventure pursuits.

fiji
Photo 
courtesy of Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

It’s the site of one of the globe’s legendary surfing breaks, in particular the Mamanuca islands in the northwest where spots like Cloudbreak and Restaurants attract some of the world’s best boardsmen. The surf is great year-round, but the big waves (20 feet) are more prevalent from April to October. That’s not the only way to get your adrenalin flowing in Fiji — there’s rafting the whitewater rivers through rainforest that’s been there for a million years, dune buggy rides along a jungle track to an isolated waterfall and diving with sharks. You can also learn how to wakeboard, explore limestone caverns and swoosh through the jungle on the longest zipline in the South Pacific. Then swim the Blue Lagoon of movie fame and while away the hours at a deserted island beach. And if you’re really brave, try joining a rugby match with some of the locals.

Fiji’s accommodation options run the gamut from surf camps and scuba resorts to private island resorts and sprawling golf resorts. Viti Levu, the main island, boasts more than 80 hotels. For the true Fijian experience it’s best to stay on one of the smaller outer islands. Yasawa Island Resort & Spa shares its seahorse-shaped island with a couple of local villages but no other hotels. The family-run resort features 18 thatched bures (villas) set around an infinity pool or scattered along a palm-fringed beach. The spacious honeymoon bure, with its own plunge pool, sundeck and two-person hammock, is perfectly perched at the very end of the beach. From fresh lobster to mango panna cotta, the food is superb, especially when you consider the remoteness of the location (room rates start at $800 a night and are all inclusive; yasawa.com).

fiji yasawa island resort
Photo courtesy of Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

Next: Easter Island ►

Easter Island: Cultural Expeditions

Polynesia meets South America on this mysterious island, known across the globe for its giant stone heads and mysterious history. Most of the 5,000 islanders are of Polynesian ancestry, but they speak Spanish because the island has long been part of Chile. The only way to reach Easter (or Rapa Nui, its ancient name) is to fly from either Santiago or Papeete, which means a multiple-leg honeymoon that includes Chile or Tahiti.

More than 800 moai (stone heads) are scattered around the volcanic isle. Symbolic of both the Polynesian culture and the incredible heights that prehistoric civilizations were able to reach without the aid of modern technology, these structures are the hallmark attraction of the island. However, not even the most gifted archeologist can say for certain how the giant statues were erected, what their exact purpose was or why bygone islanders just decided one day to stop making them.

stone heads easter island
Photo courtesy of Explora Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui is small enough that you can rent a car and explore the archeological sites on your own via the two-lane paved road that circles the island. Most are located inside a national park with trails that lead to the major moai sites as well as black and white sand beaches, volcanic lakes and stupendous cliffs overlooking the sea.

With more than 90 percent of Rapa Nui set aside as a national park, almost everyone lives in laid-back Hanga Roa, the island’s tiny capital. The town centers around a busy fishing harbor and a daily farmer’s market along Avenida Atamu Tekena. Almost all of the island’s hotels, restaurants and craft shops are located in Hanga Roa.

easter island
Photo courtesy of Explora Rapa Nui

The best place to stay is Explora Lodge, the only hotel inside the national park. The resort offers a variety of half and full day adventure excursions lead by local guides. The sleek, modern design is straight out of Architectural Digest, and the guest rooms are rustic-chic with large picture windows looking out onto the romantic island landscape. There’s also a swimming pool and small spa (room rates start at $1,458 a night and are all inclusive; explora.com).

Next: Tahiti ►

Tahiti: Picture Perfect Ideal

Imagine a tropical paradise and chances are it’ll be pretty close to the reality that is Tahiti. Here, coconut palms sway over white sands, lagoons boast innumerable shades of blue, coral gardens teem with a gazillion kinds of marine life and cloud-capped volcanoes seem to shoot straight up from the ocean. Hideaways boast rooms that hang out over the water, with windows in the floor so you can watch the fish.

tahiti
Photo courtesy of La Taha'a Island Resort & Spa

Tahiti is both a large island and a pseudonym for the society islands, that dreamy part of French Polynesia that also includes the legendary Bora Bora, Moorea, three other large islands and endless islets called motus. these are the isles — and the culture — that prompted Fletcher Christian to risk all by organizing the infamous mutiny on the Bounty. They are the landfalls that enchanted Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin. And it’s the place where Marlon Brando fell in love and lived for some time. A French accent adds to their allure, especially in Papeete, the bustling capital city on Tahiti island, which is lined with sidewalk cafés offering freshly baked baguettes and vanilla crème brûlée.

Most visitors spend a day in Papeete and then wing off to one of the other isles. Moorea and Bora Bora are like super-models — you can’t help gazing upon them, wondering how nature could create something so visually perfect. These two also boast the lion’s share of resorts. But all of the islands have something special. Taha’a is a veritable floating garden known for its fragrant vanilla plantations and offshore pearl farms. One of the cradles of polynesian civilization, Huahine is famed for its ancient coral-rock ruins. And giant Raiatea is ripe for hiking and horseback riding through a jungle-shrouded landscape.

Tahiti pioneered the over-water bungalow, and more than 20 resorts on five different islands offer such accommodations. Among the most stunning are those at Le Taha’a Private Island & Spa for the simple reason that the view from your private balcony includes Bora Bora across the channel. That’s not all that makes this one of the best hotels in Tahiti. Sink into a guided snorkel tour through the adjacent coral gardens, an adventure that culminates with a fresh sashimi and ceviche lunch on a sand bar. Hop a helicopter over to Bora Bora for the day or book a Polynesian spa ritual for two (room rates start at $746 a night; lethahaa.com.

Next: Marquesas 

Marquesas: Sail Away

This far-flung huddle of islets is one of the most remote parts of the South Pacific. It's also one of the wildest, featuring volcanic islands with black sand beaches, towering waterfalls and a rainforest that seems to stretch forever. Imagine Jurassic Park with beaches and sans the dinosaurs and you'll have a pretty clear picture of the Marquesan vibe. 

For more than a century, Western travelers have journeyed to the Marquesas to drop out, get away and disappear into the jungle. This is where Gauguin came to live and paint when Tahiti got too crowded (and puritanical), and where the Belgian superstar singer Jacques Brel settled when he tired of the limelight in Europe. The archipelago is still far off the grid and sparsely populated, making it an ideal place for lovers who not only cherish their privacy but also seek an authentic experience. 

The Marquesas also offer plenty of adventure. You can snorkel with manta rays and scuba dive with hammerhead sharks in the deep bays around the islands. Hike the lush Hakaui Valley and swim around a cool jungle pool at the bottom of Ahuii Falls, one of the world's highest waterfalls, which plunges 1,148 feet (about the height of the Empire State Building). Visit the Paul Gaugin Cultural Center to see a reproduction of the "House of Pleasure" he built in the Marquesas.

There are only two ways to reach the Marquesas: daily flights from Papeete (Tahiti) to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa or via a steam ship that makes the two-week passage from Papeete each month. The accommodations are equally limited to modest bed & breakfast inns or two small resorts. Keikahanui Pearl Lounge overlooks a wide bay on the south side of Nuku Hiva Island. Enjoy the view while lounging in the resort's infinity pool or descend 50 steps to a private black sand beach. Fashioned from wood, thatch and other local materials, the 20 bungalows blend ancient Polynesian motifs with a comfy bed and sundeck (room rates start at $300 a night; pearlodge.com).

Author: online
Posted: September 16, 2014, 2:45 pm

Live the Lush Life in the Caribbean

By: 
Jill Fergus

A lounge chair and frozen cocktails may be essentials for those honeymooning in a beach destination, but if you’re the type that likes to get a bit more adventurous, you’re in luck. These Caribbean Sea-facing countries boast lush rainforests and tropical jungles in addition to gorgeous beaches. In these nature-rich places, you can take a walk on the wild side — literally. Hike amid tropical foliage to waterfalls, zipline above mango trees and swim in sulphur springs beside an active volcano. Here’s where to climb to new heights.

ramons village belize
Photo Credit: Conch Creative

Belize 

Tucked beneath Mexico, this small Central American country has the world’s second largest barrier reef, attracting snorkelers and divers. It’s also home to a rich Mayan history with fascinating stone ruins set in remote corners of the jungle.

What to Do: 
On day-long tours of Caracol, the largest Mayan site in Belize (rediscovered in 1937), you’ll explore its central pyramid-shaped temple called Caana (or Sky Palace), which rises 135 feet, excavated tombs and other unique Mayan structures. Marvel at the natural beauty in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, Belize’s oldest national park. First stop is 1,000 Foot Falls, Central America’s highest waterfall, followed by a visit to Rio Frio Cave, an ancient Mayan place of worship with stalactites and stalagmites.

belize
Photo courtesy of Blancaneaux Lodge

Where to Stay:
Owned by Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola, Blancaneaux Lodge is a luxury 20-room jungle outpost in the Cayo District. After a day climbing up Mayan ruins, treat yourself to a Thai massage in the spa and sip wine from Coppola’s vineyard (room rates start at $279 a night; coppolaresorts.com).

Hit the beach at Ramon’s Village Resort, a Polynesian-style resort with thatched cabanas on the nearby laid-back island of Ambergris Caye (room rates start at $145 a night; ramons.com).

Next: Dominican Republic ►

Dominican Republic

All-inclusive resort areas like Punta Cana in the south and Puerto Plata in the north make a DR beach getaway super easy. However, the country’s interior offerings are just as rich. Be sure to explore the island’s national parks, replete with historic caves, Taino Indian sites and colorful tropical butterflies and birds.

dominican republic
Photo courtesy of the All Inclusive Collection

What to Do:
National Park Del Este near Punta Cana skirts the coast and boasts inland jungle terrain. Eco-tours take you to the remains of Taino Indian sites and unique cave systems including Cueva de Chicha with a large underground lake (check out the petroglyphs at the entrance). A Chavon River cruise through the jungle gorge in a traditional thatched-roof boat is another popular outing. On the northern coast, near Puerto Plata, you can zoom across the jungle valley on a zipline tour in El Choco National Park, which is also home to caves and lagoons that attract hikers and bikers.

dominican republic
Photo courtesy of Casa Colonial
 

Where to Stay: 
It’s hard not to have fun at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Splash poolside (love those waterslides and underwater tunes piped in), dine in one of 10 restaurants, including a steakhouse, and party on in the club and casino. There are even guitar rentals for the rock ‘n rollers (room rates start at $200 per person, per night and are all inclusive; hardrockhotelpuntacana.com).

The posh Casa Colonial in Puerto Plata has stylish rooms with beautiful four-poster beds topped with Frette linens, and a rooftop infinity pool (room rates start at $295 a night; casacolonialhotel.com).

Next: Jamaica ►

Jamaica

Negril and Montego Bay are top beach resort areas, but this chill-out island also boasts a lush interior with mist-laced mountains and endless coffee plantations. you can find many of these sights near Ocho Rios on the northern coast. And don’t worry, mon, no matter where you are, reggae and a Red Stripe are never too far behind.

sandals royal plantation jamaica
Photo Credit: Sandals Resorts

What to Do:
In Mystic Mountain Adventure Park, take a chairlift past fruit trees and tropical birds to the summit. Then enjoy an exhilarating zipline tour across the rainforest canopy. Another must-do is a trek up Dunn’s River Falls, a series of waterfalls that drop a total of 695 feet. In the mystical Blue Mountains, biking tours take in the area’s exotic flora and fauna, fruit farms and coffee plantations.

Where to Stay:
The exclusive Strawberry Hill, high in the Blue Mountains, has just 14 colonial-style cottages. After a day hiking to remote villages, kick back in the infinity pool with heavenly mountain views or take a nap in one of the hammocks (room rates start at $270 a night; islandoutpost.com).

Unwind at the beautifully manicured Sandals Royal Plantation, an all-butler, 74-suite beachfront resort with luxury perks like scuba diving, candlelight dinners, couples’ spa treatments such as coffee wraps and hot stone massages, in addition to the island’s only caviar and champagne bar (room rates start at $263 per person, per night and are all inclusive; sandals.com).

Next: Puerto Rico ►

Puerto Rico

A honeymoon to Puerto Rico is a cinch — English is widely spoken, U.S. dollars are accepted and the island is serviced by loads of non-stop flights. In addition to fab beaches, a sizzling nightlife and historic Old San Juan, there are rainforest adventures that will satisfy thrill-seekers.

puerto rico
Photo courtesy of La Concha Resorts

What to Do:
Replete with plenty of lush foliage and cascading waterfalls, El Yunque, about an hour’s drive from San Juan, is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. All levels of hiking trails crisscross the 28,000-acre park. One of the most popular paths is La Mina, which winds up at beautiful La Mina Falls (the reward is a refreshing dip, so be sure to wear your bathing suit). Along the way, keep an eye out for animals found only here, including the coqui tree frog and the Puerto Rican parrot.

Where to Stay:
In the heart of Old San Juan, with its Spanish colonial buildings and cobblestone streets, Hotel El Convento is a 17th-century convent-turned-luxury boutique hotel whose 58 rooms feature wood-beamed ceilings and wrought-iron chandeliers. The courtyard houses a popular tapas bar (room rates start at $210 a night; elconvento.com). 

If you prefer to stay right on the beach, check into La Concha Resort, with 485 rooms and a 24-hour casino, located on a prime waterfront stretch in the hip Condado district (room rates start at $199 a night; laconcharesort.com).

Next: Guadeloupe ►

Guadeloupe

This butterfly-shaped French West Indian island has it all — black sand beaches, sprawling sugarcane fields, historic forts and mouthwatering Creole cuisine. And did we mention Guadeloupe National Park, home to Soufrière, the island’s active volcano?

What to Do:
Guadeloupe’s 54,000-acre national park offers hikers a treasure trove of scenic trails for every level throughout its rainforest. Take one that leads to the park’s mineral-rich sulphur spring pools and cascading waterfalls.

Hint: The most famous waterfall is the three-tiered Les Chutes du Caret. And trek up the island’s dormant volcano to its summit and crater. Though it’s often mist-covered, on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with views of the surrounding emerald mountains and the sea beyond.

Where to Stay:
After a day traipsing through the jungle, you’ll look forward to getting back to the Langley Resort Fort Royal in Deshaies, where you can take a refreshing dip in the sea just steps from your bungalow or in the hourglass-shaped pool (room rates start at $279 a night; fortroyal.eu).

Activities include tennis, kayaking and beach volleyball and there’s also the always-buzzing Kawaan beach bar. Located in the former Great House of a sugar plantation, nine-room Habitation du Comte is a charming colonial-style hideaway amid flamboyant, palm and mango trees (room rates start at $152 a night; hotelducomte.com).

Author: online
Posted: September 16, 2014, 2:31 pm

How to Pack Lighter for Your Honeymoon

By: 
Jenna Mahoney

There’s a reason it’s called luggage: You lug around enormous bags filled with too many outfits, shoes you won’t wear, a pile of beauty products you’ll never use and endless "just-in-case" items. With baggage loss at an all-time high and fees for checked luggage climbing faster than the price of oil, it pays to streamline your packing.

suitcases for honeymoon
Photo Credit: Belmond

The Bags
Most seasoned travelers refuse to check their luggage — but you need the right stuff: A compact rolling bag with enough depth to insure no wrinkles and an oversized tote are your best bets. I use a soft-sided bag by Swiss Army, which is roomy enough for a ton of clothing options (I got in two weeks’ worth of outfits for my honeymoon in Africa). The suitcase has lots of interior and exterior pockets for a laptop,flip-flops and crushable hats. Lately, it seems that the size allocation for rolling bags varies on different carriers, so I keep a bag lock in my documents pouch in case I need to gate check my bag.

For carrying books, magazines and toiletries, I like the nylon totes by Longchamp and L.L. Bean. I also put in extra undies, a tank top, a scarf, pumps, a black dress and some yoga pants. So if my luggage gets lost, I’ve got enough to get me through a day and a night. On a trip to Cyprus, I looked so polished in my dress and scarf that a fellow reporter mistook me for a local who’d dressed from her closet!

Tip: If you’ve flown internationally within the last 24 hours, domestic baggage fees are waived by most major airlines.

The Basics
Organization experts suggest laying out your clothing options a few weeks before your trip, adding and subtracting as needed. But I’m usually so overscheduled before departure that I’m lucky I make it to the gate on time. Instead, I keep an arsenal of comfy travel clothes that look good on the go and manage to be work appropriate. Most are mid-weight dresses in lengths just- above-to-just-below the knee. I also have some cardigans, a pair of dark rinse jeans and a bunch of tanks, which work for layering, exercising and sleeping.

On the plane, I always wear leggings and a blazer, both of which can amp up any outfit. I tend to pack more shoes than necessary, but a single pair of heels, flip-flops and a sneaker-like shoe are really all you need. I love Toms shoes; the rubber-soled slip-ons are easy to get off and on for security, have enough support for trekking — I climbed Machu Picchu and Table Mountain in mine — and look cool for city touring.

Accessories
"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Olympia Dukakis said that in Steel Magnolias, and I agree. Scarves add interest to an outfit. Belts transform day dresses into night. And a wrap looks chic no matter the setting.

Beauty Products
I know you want to look your best on your honeymoon, but take into consideration the extra security hassle your favorite products can cause. I keep a tin of lip-hydrating Rosebud Salve (it also works overtime as a paper-cut soother and eyebrow tamer) and a solid perfume in my bag, along with a bunch of hairsheets and elastics to tame my messy head. Sunscreen is a must for beach destinations or places where I’ll do some city strolling and sight- seeing. I keep a shimmer stick for legs, arms and décolletage, sometimes for face highlighting as well. For makeup, I limit myself to three items: a mascara, a two-in-one lip-and-cheek stain and a tinted moisturizer with SPF.

Extras
Don’t forget to carry on your medications, as well as little helpers like aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, anti-itch cream for those darn mosquito bites and friction-balm to combat blisters from your new vacation sandals. I also stash antibacterial wipes and packs of tissues. And remember to carry about $50 in singles for tipping and small purchases like iced coffees and water on the go.

Author: web
Posted: September 16, 2014, 2:24 pm

Farm-to-Table Restaurants You've Got to Try on Your Honeymoon

By: 
Jenna Mahoney

Waldorf Astoria

It may be called the Big Apple, but New York City isn’t exactly synonymous with produce producing farms. However, the Waldorf Astoria New York, one of the city’s most treasured hotels, is changing that perception with an organic garden and apiary housed atop the storied Park Avenue tower.

tiger eyes flowers
Photo Credit: Waldorf Astoria New York

Not only can guests enjoy fruits and veggies from the rooftop orchard in the hotel’s restaurants and spa —the honey-based facial is nothing short of life changing — they can also have first-hand experiences. The romantic rooftop dinner for two is an alfresco, customized meal complete with wine pairings and the twinkling lights of the city that never sleeps. Or see what the buzz is about with a beekeeping class (room rates start at $339 a night; waldorfastoria.com).

waldorf astoria new york
Photo Credit: Waldorf Astoria New York

Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa

This 97-room and villa retreat set by a Greg Norman golf course and on the sugar sands of Anguilla is considered by many travel experts to be the granddaddy of the farm-to-table dining experience. The resort’s famed hydroponic gardens, which span over a half-acre of land, have been producing delectable organic goodies for decades. In addition to the crown jewel crop of cherry tomatoes, the non-soil, pesticide- and pollutant-free greenhouse boasts lettuce, bok choy, pepper, cucumber, eggplant and broccoli rabe. All are showcased in the property’s three restaurants. 

cuisinart golf resort and spa
Photo Credit: Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa

tomatoes
Photo Credit: Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa

The herbs, which include lavender, lemongrass, mint and more, are utilized in the eateries and the resort’s celebrated Venus Spa. We love the hydroponic cucumber and aloe wrap. Additional spa experiences include a variety of hydrotherapy treatments and couples’ offerings (room rates start at $475 a night; cuisinartresort.com).

cuisinart golf resort and spa
Photo Credit: Cuisinart Golf Resort & Spa

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a Rosewood Resort

This aptly named hideaway on the golden shores of Mexico’s tony Los Cabos region is an oasis of barefoot luxury that also honors the country’s traditions. Cuisine here is a celebration of the local surroundings, excelling in seafood and authentic Mexican fare at the four restaurants. And the property’s herb garden is cultivated to enhance the dishes.

herbs
Photo Credit: Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Cooking classes are held in the organic garden, which houses a demo kitchen. Book into a new beachfront villa, which comes with a personal pool and Jacuzzi, three bathrooms, a kitchen, endless patio space, separate indoor/outdoor living room, butler service and more for an unforgettably posh experience. The freshly made in-villa margaritas and guacamole are exceptional (room rates start at $812 a night; lasventanas.com).

las ventanas al paraiso
Photo Credit: Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Atlas Kasbah

A dream of creating a fully sustainable hideaway in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco has nearly been realized by husband and wife Hassan and Helene Aboutayeb. The eightroom castle-like eco-lodge boasts solar-powered showers, traditional Moroccan beauty products like black soap and is fronted by organic gardens that are cultivated and harvested for the hotel’s meals.

lemon tree
Photo Credit: Atlas Kasbah

There are also chickens for eggs and meat, and bees to help pollinate the entire operation. On-site activities include pottery classes and evening lectures on local traditions hosted by the couple. Hiking in the surrounding mountains is also popular (room rates start at about $125 a night and include breakfast; atlaskasbah.com).

Author: ssainato
Posted: September 16, 2014, 2:23 pm

Super Savers: Top Destinations Around the World

By: 
Sandra Ramani

There are certain destinations in the world that are classics. They appeal to every traveler in search of amazing food, grand hotels, abundant cultural activities and an inherent sense of romance. But these idyllic locales are so revered that they often come with crowds and hefty price tags. So we scoured the globe in search of some new classics, a collection of destinations that promises authentic cuisine, amazing accommodations and spicy romance, all at alluring prices.

seychelles
Photo courtesy of Raffles Praslin Seychelles

If You Like The Caribbean, Try:The Seychelles

When it comes to wide, powder-soft beaches, North Americans are spoiled by the sandy havens of the Caribbean. In the island nation of The Seychelles, you are guaranteed a similarly post-card-perfect tropical paradise — stunning beaches, clear waters — along with a relaxed charm missing from some of the more over-developed hot spots.

banyan tree seychelles
Photo courtesy of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts

What to Do: 
Set in the blue-green waters of the Indian Ocean, about 930 miles east of Africa, this archipelago is made up of 116 granite and coralline islands. The international airport is on main island Mahé, which also has luxury resorts and outdoor attractions. Praslin, the second-largest isle, is dotted with colorful villages, a couple of noted resorts and less-crowded beaches. Throughout, you’ll find a unique mix of native Creole, British, French and Indian cultures, natural wonders and some of the world’s most unique flora and fauna. The Seychelles has ferry service linking several islands, so it’s easy to explore.

helicopter tour raffles praslin seychelles
Photo courtesy of Raffles Praslin Seychelles

In the heart of Praslin, the Valle de Mai Nature Reserve is a palm forest that’s changed little since prehistoric times. Walk the trails among several types of palm trees and the coco de mer, a super-sized, double-shell nut that’s only found here. Also on Praslin is sugary Anse Lazio beach, often voted one of the best in world. Despite the hype, you won’t have to fight crowds to find a shaded spot from which to sun, swim and lounge. On smaller La Digue Island, rent a bike to explore spice plantations, a reserve for giant sea turtles and hidden beaches. Grab a Creole lunch at one of the cafés along the marina and pick up souvenirs like scented coconut oil and freshly harvested cinnamon and vanilla.

Where to Stay:
The Raffles Praslin resort features 86 cliffside villas, each with private decks, plunge pools and butler service; many overlook the ocean and private beach where you can snorkel and stand-up paddleboard. There’s also a 13-villa spa offering an island-inspired menu (room rates start at $716 a night; raffles.com).

raffles praslin cliffside cabana
Photo courtesy of Raffles Praslin Seychelles

Banyan Tree Seychelles on Intendance Bay on Mahé has 60 villas with private pools, local textiles and artwork inspired by the coco de mer nut. The restaurants and spa showcase Banyan Tree’s Southeast Asian roots and the best local ingredients (room rates start at $948 a night; banyantree.com). 

banyan tree seychelles
Photo courtesy of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts 

Next: A budget-friendly alternative to Thailand 

If You Like Thailand, Try: Vietnam

History, culture, food, beaches — Vietnam shares many of the same attributes as Thailand, minus the crowds and with more bang for your buck. Split your stay between city sites and the beach. 

nam hai hotel vietnam
Photo coutesy of The Nam Hai

What to Do:
Though close to seven million people call the Hanoi area home, Vietnam’s capital retains an easy charm, with French Colonial mansions and leafy streets dotting the Old Quarter. Spend a couple of days exploring the top sites, including the Presidential Palace complex, home to a Beaux-Arts mansion, gardens and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House and the Temple of Literature, a stunning 11th-century, five-courtyard complex dedicated to scholars. Browse the shops tucked along the narrow streets for lacquer tableware, embroidered silk robes and artwork. And join locals to indulge in Hanoi specialties like pho (a rice noodle soup made with chicken or beef) and bánh cuon (thick rice rolls stuffed with pork, mushrooms and shallots).

hotel metropole vietnam
Photo courtesy of Hotel Metropole

Get a feel of the conflux of Vietnam’s early history, its French Colonial period and post-war lifestyle in the southern town of Hue. Tour the sprawling Imperial Citadel complex of temples, moats, museums and pavilions in the Old Town area. Just out of town are the Tombs of the Emperors, a collection of royal resting places from the 19th and 20th centuries, set around peaceful lakes and gardens. Back in Hue, enjoy a sunset stroll along the riverside boardwalks, the area’s signature bún bò hu (noodle soup) and traditional Vietnamese coffee with sweet condensed milk.

End with a stay at the famous Nam Hai resort area on the South China Sea. Along with beach time, you can explore the town of Hoi An, an important trade port from the 15th to the 19th centuries hat still boasts the eclectic buildings of those times. Wander around the car-free Old Town, checking out the ornate temples, historic homes (some with ceramic or antique museums), and riverside cafés. Hoi An is known for silk, pearls, jade and fine linens. And the town is full of tailors who can whip up dresses and suits in just days for reasonable prices.

Where to Stay:
In Hanoi, the Sofitel Legend Metropole, built in 1901 has hosted everyone from Jane Fonda and John McCain to Mick Jagger. Rooms are spread over the colonial Metropole wing — with classic French-Asian furnishings and Vietnamese silks — and the modern Opera Wing (room rates start at $230 a night; sofitel.com).

bar at the hotel metropole in vietnam
Photo courtesy of Hotel Metropole

In Hue, check into La Residence Hotel & Spa, a colonial villa-style spot with gardens, a retro- chic lounge, and 122 rooms, many of which overlook the Perfume River (room rates start at $182 a night; la-residence- hue.com).

At The Nam Hai, repose in chic villas inspired by traditional Vietnamese homes (complete with indoor-outdoor spaces), a three-tiered pool and wide Ha My Beach. Every room has bikes to explore the grounds (room rates start at $570 a night; thenamhai.com).

nam hai hotel room in vietnam
Photo coutesy of The Nam Hai

Next: A budget-friendly alternative to Istria 

If You Like Tuscany, Try: Istria
Where do Italians go when looking for deals on wine, cuisine and gourmet treats? Over the Adriatic Sea to Istria, the far-west region of Croatia that boasts many historic, cultural and culinary ties to its neighbor.

sunset in istria
Photo courtesy of Hotel Monte Mulini

What to Do:
While away a week visiting charming towns replete with stone houses, twisty cobblestoned streets and the odd castle or two. In hilltop Motovun, tour medieval walls and gates (some with Venetian carvings) and enjoy a coffee with sweeping views of the surrounding forest. Groznjan, another hilltop spot, is known for its art galleries and artisan workshops, while in charming Bale, the quirky Kamene Price bar/café is the epi-center of the lively Open Jazz Fest. Hitting the coast is another popular Istrian pastime. Explore small fishing villages and islands via private boats available at the marina. Enjoy a seafood lunch at a local restaurant, then walk or bike along the shore.

istria croatia
Photo courtesy of National Tourism Board/ Renco Kosinozi

The Istria peninsula is home to several noted wineries turning out respected whites (the most popular varietal is Malvasia) and reds (deep, bold Terans). At picturesque Kabola, tour the winery and taste their unique Amfora wine, an aromatic, richly colored white that’s created using ancient techniques. The Mediterranean climate and soil that make area so great for wines is also ideal for growing olives, and many of the wineries also make their own oils — Meneghetti is known for both. Another signature gourmet product are truffles — both black and white versions of the mushroom grow in the region’s fertile Mirna River valley. Truffles are so abundant here that they’re on nearly every menu, topping pastas and eggs, baked into breads and even flavoring ice creams.

villa meneghetti
Photo coutesy of Relais Chateaux

Where to Stay:
In Rovinj check into the waterside Hotel Monte Mulini, a stylish and comfortable spot with a noted restaurant and vast wine cellar (room rates start at $215 a night; montemulinihotel.com). Next door is the modern and sleek sister property, Hotel Lone (room rates start at $153; lonehotel.com). To evoke more of the Tuscan experience, stay at Villa Meneghetti set among vineyards and olive groves (room rates start at $305 a night; meneghetti.info).

hotel lorne in istria
Photo courtesy of Hotel Lone

Next: A budget-friendly alternative to New Orleans 

If You Like Paris, Try: New Orleans

If you love the style, flavors and bon temps vibe of the French capital, see how its ancestors influenced the New World. A French explorer in the late 1600s claimed large chunks of land along the Mississippi River and named parts of it “Louisiane,” in honor of his king, Louis XIV. A few decades later, a site for a new settlement was chosen on the mighty river, and was given a name in appreciation of the Duc d’Orleans.

band playing in new orleans
Photo Credit: Jen Amato

What to Do:
Evidence of France — and the ensuing establishment of French-Canadian (Acadian) and French-Spanish (Creole) cultures—holds strong. Wander the streets of the French Quarter with its central square, street names honoring historic reigns and noted religious structures like the church of St. Louis and the Ursuline convent. Today, the architecture of the French Quarter is a mix of several styles, since much of the original neighborhood was burned down in the fires of 1788 and 1794. The iconic wrought-iron latticework balconies, for example, take their cues from Spain. To see the nabe’s signature fusion style, head to the Gallier House, once the home of 19th-century father-and-son Gallier architects. Nearby is the Degas House, once the home of the Parisian-born artist’s maternal relatives. Degas spent a significant amount of time here crafting 22 family portraits. Now a museum, it’s the only known home or studio of Degas that is open to the public.

While New Orleans cuisine has become a category of its own, many places still highlight the French connection. Opened in 1840 by Frenchman Antoine Alciatore, and one of the country’s oldest family-run restaurants, Antoine’s serves classics like escargots a la bordelaise (snails in wine sauce), eggs Sardou (a Benedict-like dish named for a French dramatist) and pommes de terre soufflés (puffed potatoes). Arnaud’s was opened in 1918 by a French wine salesman, and boasts a lively history of jazz, Prohibition-era bars and even a ghost story or two. Menu signatures include alligator sausage, oysters Bienville (baked stuffed oysters) and frog legs Provençal. Finally, nurse your late-nights with the café au lait and sugary beignets at beloved Café du Monde.

grand pavillion in new orleans
Photo coutesy of The Pavillion Hotel

Where to Stay:
Le Pavillon was built in 1907 and retains the feeling of an ornate Old World hotel with fine art and antiques, Czech-crystal chandeliers, Italian statues and Siena marble railings rescued from the lobby of Paris’s Grand Hotel (room rates start at $175 a night; lepavillon.com). Formed by joining five historic townhouses, the boutique Maison Dupuy has a lush courtyard, gas lamp-lit-paths, wrought-iron balconies and plush bedding (room rates start at $140 a night; maisondupuy.com)

Author: online
Posted: June 25, 2014, 3:32 pm

Make a Splash: Fun Activities in Mexico

By: 
Joe Yogerst

There is something about the beach that is inherently vacationy. Perhaps it's the calming lull of the waves or the invitation to do absolutely nothing. But the beach also calls to action-loving vacationers who jump at the chance to have an active getaway. 

Flanked by the inky Pacific Ocean and the glittering Caribbean Sea, and blessed with one of the world's longest coastlines, Mexico offers plenty of ways for a honeymoon couple to get wet. Liquid adventures range from swimming with some of the world’s largest fish and scuba diving the largest coral reef in the Americas, to boating off Baja, surfing the waves and rafting down secluded jungle rivers. Here’s where to make a splash in Mexico.

mexico pool view
Photo courtesy of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts

Surf in Riviera Nayarit
The vibe of the sun-splashed coast north of Puerto Vallarta, a region known as the Riviera Nayarit, is laid-back and beachy, but serious about the surf. In fact, the 10 miles of beachfront include some of the top surfing spots in Mexico. Set at the same latitude as Hawaii, the ocean water hovers between 75 and 85 degrees year round, which means you can leave your wetsuit at home. The coastal villages are rife with après-surf spots including beachside bars and palapa-topped restaurants where the beer is always ice cold and the tequila primo for shots or margaritas.

Punta Mita Surf Shop in the village of the same name stocks everything you need for your own Blue Crush vacation including rash guards, reef shoes, board shorts and bikinis, sunscreen, board wax and rental boards. They also offer beginner surfing lessons and boat trips to some of the best local breaks. The north swell during the winter and spring throws up the most consistent surf, but there are good waves throughout the year. Among the favored breaks are El Faro, Punta Burros, La Lancha and Los Veneros.

Where to Stay: 
The brand new Iberostar Playa Mita, on the coast between Sayulita and Punta de Mita, two of the region’s main beach and surf towns, is set on its own stretch of golden sand. And its position makes it the ideal place to enjoy local water-sports activities — longboarding, windsurfing, scuba diving and sea kayaking.

Iberostar guests have special access to the adjacent Litibu Golf Course. The all-inclusive resort boasts five restaurants and eight different bars, plus around-the-clock room service. The 452 rooms are about equally split between garden view and ocean view, and all are equipped with balconies. Splurge on one of the 18 spa rooms,or access to a private, sun-filled sanctuary and a secluded relaxation garden with two whirlpools (room rates start at $242 a night and are all-inclusive; iberostarpuertovallarta.com).

Next: Dive in on Cozumel ►

Dive in on Cozumel
Just off the Yucatan coast, the island of Cozumel lies near the northern end of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world. The reef system is home to more than 500 fish species, upwards of 60 different types of hard coral, four species of sea turtles and the world’s largest manatee population. All that makes the old Mayan island a perfect jumping-off spot for scuba adventures into the deep blue sea and an optimal locale for dive instruction and certification.

Among the iconic dive sites around Cozumel are Palancar Reef with its coral tunnels and towers, the spectacular Santa Rosa Wall and El Paso del Cedro Reef for “fly by” drift diving. Diver Down offers PADI certified beginner, open water, advanced and dive master courses, as well as boat dives, shore dives and night dives for those who are already certified. They also have eagle ray migration and swim with sea turtle dives.

mexico boats
Photo courtesy of Ruta Huasteca Expediciones 

Where to Stay: 
Playa Azul is an intimate resort perched on one of the best beaches in Cozumel. Lodged in a four-story tower, guest rooms overlook a swimming pool, a beach and a small turquoise cove. Even the most basic rooms are outfitted with private balconies or terraces. Savia Spa affords number of different face and body treatments, from hot stone massages to green clay and chocolate body wraps.

The resort has its own water-sports center with scuba lessons and boat dives. Guests can also enjoy golf at the Cozumel Country Club free of charge — the only hotel on the island that offers this service. Ceviche, mahi-mahi and lobster are among the specialties at the Beach Club restaurant in the sand (room rates start at $155 a night and include breakfast and green fees; playa-azul.com).

Next: Go Boating Off Los Cabos ►

Go Boating Off Los Cabos
Thanks to its being surrounded by waters, the bottom tip of the Baja Peninsula is a paradise for boaters. And from kayaks to mega yachts, there’s some kind of watercraft for every style and price range. The best way to get your bearings is a half-day cruise off the coast of Cabo San Lucas that includes stops by the legendary Los Arcos rock formation and at beaches along the town’s west coast. Cabo Sailing Ocean Adventures offers a wide variety of boat trips including romantic sunset cruises, snorkeling adventures, whale-watching tours and even overnight charters for couples.

The tranquil bays and desert landscapes of the coast between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are perfect for paddleboarding and kayaking. Baja Outback hosts guided paddle excursions. On the half-day Seaside Cliff adventure you’ll kayak between Bahia Santa Maria and Bahia Chileno and hike along wave-sculpted cliffs to secluded caves that seem a million miles away from Cabo’s glitzy party scene. At the end of the paddle there’s plenty of time for a snooze on the beach or a snorkel around the reef on the western edge of Chileno Bay.

mexico sail boat
Photo courtesy of terramardestinations.com

Where to Stay: 
"Endless Privilege" is the motto of the all-suite Zoëtry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos, located just five miles up the shore from Bahia Chileno. With its red-tiled roofs, archways and marble fountains, the boutique resort looks like it’s been around since Spanish colonial days, yet the guest room interiors are stunningly modern, with earth-tone furnishings accentuated by colorful textiles and ocean views off the balconies.

Among the privileges that guests enjoy at Zoëtry are Bulgari bath products, premium tequila, complimentary laundry service and a free 20-minute massage. Other amenities include horseback riding on the beach, a sea turtle reserve, tennis courts and the “guilt free” El Tapanco restaurant with its health-conscious menu (room rates startat $653 a night and are all-inclusive; zoetryresorts.com).


Photo courtesy of Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts 

Next: Swim with Sharks in Cancun ►

Swim with sharks in Cancun
At the opposite end of the underwater spectrum from the fearsome man-eater in Jaws, the lumbering whale shark is known for its beautiful spotted patterns (unique to each animal) and mild manner. The huge plankton eaters gather in large numbers in the warm waters off the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, especially around the untouristy Holbox Island. The best time to see them is between May and September. Local outfitters like Cancun Whale Shark Tours offer daytrips from Cancun that include snorkeling or swimming with the gentle giants of the deep, as well as a chance to spot dolphins, rays, flamingos and other local marine creatures.

mexico girl and shark
Photo courtesy of Cancun Whale Shark Tours

Where to Stay:
Luxuriate at the grand all-inclusive Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort in Cancun. The sprawling resort features more than 2,400 rooms spread along 2,000 feet of a Caribbean white-sand strand. Moon Palace is divided into three distinct life-style zones, with “Sunrise” the most active and edgy with its simulated wave pool and a younger, hipper clientele than the other two sections.

In addition to golf and spa treatments, the resort also features tennis, beach volleyball, theme parties, a dance club, a comedy club and eight swimming pools (six of them with swim-up bars). Sunrise has its own Mexican, Asian and Italian eateries, but guests are free to dine at any of Moon Palace’s 14 restaurants or order from 24/7 room service. The rooms are spacious and modern, many with Caribbean views and include large-enough-for-two Jacuzzis (room rates start at $427 a night and are all-inclusive; moonpalacecancun.com).

The beaches of Cancun and Tulum are among the world's top 10 strands of sand, according to a survey conducted by TripAdvisor.'s>

Next: Ride the Rapids in San Luis Potosi ►

Ride the rapids in San Luis Potosi
The Mexican coast isn’t the only place where you can dip into liquid adventure. The mountainous Huasteca region of the San Luis Potosí state is criss-crossed with waterfalls, under-ground lakes and rivers rushing down narrow canyons through the rugged Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. Adventure outfitters have introduced several get-wet sports in the region like rappelling down waterfalls and white-water rafting down boulder-strewn rivers.
 
Ruta Huasteca organizes boat trips down the Río Tampaón between November and March and on the Río Micos between July and October. Their outdoor menu also includes several spectacular rappelling experiences including the 300-foot-high Cascada de Tamul falls.
 

Where to Stay: 
Base yourselves in San Luis Potosí city, where a lovely 19th-century hacienda has been transformed into the boutique Hotel la Malanca. Set on the banks of the Río Verde, the eight-room hotel features its own restaurant and spa, as well as a swimming pool and traditional temazcal sweat lodge and riding stables. With their bright-colored walls and wooden furnishings, the rooms and suites seem to channel the spirit of Frida Kahlo and her Coyoacán house (room rates start at $74 a night; hotellamalanca.com).

Author: online
Posted: June 24, 2014, 7:47 pm

Island-Hopping Caribbean Honeymoons

By: 
Susan Moynihan

With its crystalline turquoise waters and powdered sands, the islands of the Caribbean are a perennial favorite among honeymooners. The region beckons with lazy days, water sports à go-go and fruity rum punch, but we understand that settling on a single island may seem a bit constricting.

Why not jump around? Go island hopping and you’ll double your enjoyment and choice of beaches. And it’s easy to do: You can go by ferry, prop plane, even helicopter. The trick is finding islands that are conveniently close, but different enough in vibe that it feels like an adventure. Here are our top picks, whether you have two weeks or a day.

pool at antiquas cap juluca
Photo courtesy of Cap Juluca 

If You Have Two Weeks:

It’s said that time is the biggest luxury we have, but we think a gorgeous hotel comes in a close second. Indulge in both by spending a long, lazy honeymoon at two of the Caribbean’s sexiest resorts.

Start on Anguilla
Arriving to the tiny island takes some maneuvering (you need to connect by boat via neighboring St. Martin) but it’s well worth it, for the pristine beaches and unparalleled luxury service. Cap Juluca is the island’s most iconic hotel, a striking display of white Moorish-style architecture fronting one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches. Rooms are oversized and airy, with plantation-shuttered doors that open to wide patios or balconies facing the sea. Opt for the oceanfront luxury category and you’ll find another sweet perk: an oversized bathroom with an adjacent open-roofed solarium for private sunning.

There’s tennis onsite and golf five minutes away, but most couples stick close to home, enjoying the water and retreating back to their umbrella-covered chairs when the sun gets too high. Come evening, reserve a table steps from the crashing waves at Pimm’s, set on a promontory that juts into the sea. When it’s time for sightseeing, hire a taxi for a tour of the island’s art galleries or hit the friendly beach bars in Sandy Ground (room rates start at $495 a night; capjuluca.com).

beach la semana on st martin
Photo courtesy of Belmond

Hop to St. Martin
A ferry runs the 25 minutes from Anguilla to the Caribbean’s only dual-nation island: St. Maarten/St. Martin. (The former is annexed by the Netherlands; the latter is a territory of France). Keep the luxury going when you check into La Samanna. This 81-room Belmond hotel is located on the French side of island, yet close to the Dutch border so it’s an ideal spot to enjoy both. All of the rooms and suites here have patios or balconies facing the long, tawny Baie Longue beach. Upgrade to Baie royale suite, and you’ll have three balconies and a private plunge pool.

Dining is an event at Trellis, where Caribbean-influenced French cuisine is paired with selections from one of the region’s best wine cellars. When you want to explore the island, take a taxi to Dutch St. Maarten for casino gaming and duty-free shopping on Front Street in Phillipsburg, or head into Marigot for art galleries and the best pastries this side of Paris at Serafina’s (room rates start at $445 a night; lasamanna.com).

Next: If You Have One Week ►

If You Have One Week: 

Island hopping has long been a tradition in the Virgin Islands, from the 18th-century’s golden age of piracy (Blackbeard, Bluebeard and Captain Morgan all plied these waters) to today, when charter yachts bar-hop from isle to isle. This itinerary takes you from the British Virgin Islands to American’s own slice of the Caribbean dream.

Start on Peter Island 
Set on a private island just across the bay from Road Town, Tortola, Peter Island spans 1,800 acres—and a maximum of 130 guests means a lot of places to be alone. The best digs are the beachfront Junior Suites, which come with king-sizebeds, oversize Jacuzzi bathtubs and wide patios overlooking the sea. Most of the action centers on Deadman’s Beach, a mile-long stretch dotted with tiki huts that’s home to the watersports center (sailing, scuba, kayaking and paddle-boarding) and a beach-bar restaurant.

For something more private, enjoy your personal slice of sand for the day. Reserve Honeymoon Beach and staffers will drop you off in the morning with a picnic, chairs and towels, then return that afternoon to pick you up. Tradewinds at the marina is a popular stop for island-hopping yachts, especially for Saturday night’s Seafood Gala dinner. Book a land-and-sea package that combines your stay with two nights aboard a 41-foot sailboat (room rates start at $400 a night; peterisland.com).

beach at caneel bay
Photo courtesy of Caneel Bay Resort 

Hop to St. John 
There’s regular ferry service from Tortola to St. Thomas, but we suggest you get off one stop early, at the more intimate island of St. John. From here, a 15-minute private launch takes you to Caneel Bay, St. John’s premier resort. Set on its own peninsula adjacent to Virgin Islands National Park, this classic beach resort takes advantage of one of the Caribbean’s prettiest settings, with seven beaches and walking trails that wind through the landscape. It’s big, so choose your room based on what you want to be near: oceanview near the tennis courts, fitness center and pool; beachfront on main Caneel Beach near the lobby and watersports area; or secluded on one of the quieter beaches like Scott or Paradise Beach.

There are five restaurants and a variety of meal plans to keep budgeting easy. For a unique souvenir, spend a session with Caneel’s onsite artist-in-residence, who will provide the materials and instruction while you make the masterpiece. Don’t miss an outing to the charming town of Cruz Bay, home to cute shops and friendly beach bars worthy of a Kenny Chesney song—the avowed U.S.V.I. fan has a home on the island (room rates start at $459 a night; caneelbay.com).

Next: If You Have Four Days 

If You Have Four Days: 

What’s not to love about the Bahamas? The closest Caribbean country to the United States (only 50 miles from Florida at its closest point), this archipelago is home to hundreds of low-lying islets and cays, and the prettiest water this side of Tahiti. Close proximity between islands makes it an easy place to hop around, even with a limited amount of time.

Start on New Providence 
Most international flights arrive in New Providence, the Bahamas’ most populous island and home to its capital, Nassau. You’ll technically be island hopping when you cross the bridge from Nassau to Paradise Island, home to the Caribbean’s largest, glitziest resort, Atlantis. This mega-hotel with more than 3,000 rooms spread across three separate towers boasts a Las Vegas-style casino, multiple bars and restaurants, the beautiful Mandara Spa and a lavish 141-acre waterpark with themed high-speed water slides and a mile-long lazy river. There are also multiple swimming pools, beaches and 14 different aquarium-style lagoons showcasing stingrays, sharks and every hue of tropical fish.

Stay close to the fun but apart from the crowd by checking into The Cove, a hip resort-within-a-resort set apart on the western edge of the complex. Elegant rooms come with marble-clad interiors and French balconies facing the sea. Just outside is Cain at the Cove, Atlantis’s sole adults-only pool area complete with outdoor bar, a house D.J., casino tables and decked-out cabanas. A quick stroll (or shuttle service if you’re feeling lazy) takes you to the resort’s central complex for nightlife from dining at Nobu to clubbing at Aura (room rates start at $959 a night; atlantis.com).

hotel room at the atlantis
Photo courtesy of The Cove Atlantis

Hop to Andros 
South Andros may only be a 15-minute charter flight from Nassau, but it feels like another planet. Once you arrive, a taxi and quick boat transfer take to you to Kamalame Cay. (The resort now offers helicopter service from Nassau if you want to speed things up.) Life moves at a much slower pace in the Out Islands, and this secluded private-island resort is a great place to mellow out after the energy of the capital.

Your agenda here is simple: sunning and strolling on three miles of white-sand beach and exploring the island’s unique limestone caverns on a hiking or diving tour. Don’t miss a couple’s massage at the over-water spa, set on a long pier jutting out into the sea. Dinners are presented at The Great House. Thirteen plush guest rooms are tucked inside Bahamian-style cottages with pastel exteriors and wooden verandas. Each is stocked with board games and stereos in lieu of TVs and telephones. Or spread out in one of the new luxury villas for a barefoot-chic experience with the emphasis on chic (room rates start at $407 a night; kamalame.com).

kamalme cay
Photo Credit: Anais Ganouna

Next: Day Trips 

Day Trips 

Don’t want to switch hotels on your honeymoon? Plan an island-hopping day trip instead. Here are our favorites:

1. Antigua to Barbuda 
It’s just 90 minutes by boat, or 20 minutes by air, to Antigua’s sparsely populated sister isle. Start off with a boat excursion to the Frigate Bird Island Sanctuary, tucked inside a protected lagoon; the sight of so many creatures in one place is unforgettable, as is your first glimpse of a miles-long stretch of pink sand, another of the isle’s hallmark sights.

2. St. Martin to St. Barths 
A semi-circle of red-roofed buildings surrounding a tidy marina, Gustavia is one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque ports. Spend the morning exploring the chic boutiques and galleries downtown before heading out on an ATV excursion that takes you up and down the island’s hills, past stunning villas and down into narrow coves for a cooling dip.

3. St. Vincent to The Tobago Cays 
Island hopping is a natural in the Grenadines, where great ferry and water-taxi service make it a cinch to get around. Multiple charter companies on the capital island of St. Vincent offer day trips with stops on Mayreau, Palm Island and the Tobago Cays for snorkeling and picnicing. Do the vistas look familiar? You likely saw them in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, parts of which were filmed here.

4. Virgin Gorda to Anegada 
This coral atoll 15 miles north of Virgin Gorda is a favorite destination of Caribbean-faring yachties. Dive boats and charter catamarans make the trek daily (as does the ferry from Tortola), lured by stellar snorkeling and diving. After you hit the reef, head topside to spy on the resident flamingo colony and indulge in the local specialty, grilled crayfish washed down with a Painkiller, the B.V.I.’s signature rum cocktail.

Author: online
Posted: June 13, 2014, 6:56 pm