Planning a wedding is seriously stressful. The process is particularly tough when you’re trying to save money on your wedding – cutting corners here, making compromises there, haggling and bargain-hunting everywhere.
Besides raw fear that the wedding would be a disaster, our single biggest motivation during the sprint to the ceremony was the romantic honeymoon we’d planned for the week immediately following. The thought of getting away to Hawaii or Costa Rica was truly the light at the end of our nuptial tunnel. While the honeymoon wasn’t a life-changing experience by any means, it largely lived up to our lofty expectations. More importantly, it gave us a much-needed opportunity to rest and recharge after a chaotic few months.
Our honeymoon wasn’t cheap, and many other newlyweds’ aren’t either. According to the Newlywed Survey from WeddingWire, the average U.S. couple spends $3,882 on their honeymoon. That’s approximately 7.2% of the 2014 U.S. median household income of $53,567, per the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s quite a lot to spend on a trip that often lasts just a few days to a week.
On the other hand, honeymoons are meant to be once-in-a-lifetime experiences. They’re not typical weekend getaways, family road trips, or outdoor vacations. Newlyweds can be forgiven for budgeting more for their honeymoons than for more pedestrian getaways.
Best Locations for an Unforgettable Honeymoon
While you can take a honeymoon anywhere, the following list draws from an elite group of truly unforgettable – and in most cases, quite luxurious – tropical resorts and lodges. Most are on islands, some hundreds of miles from the mainland. The few mainland options are in beautiful onshore settings with stunning water views and easy water access. The larger options have more than 100 rooms or units on the property, while the smallest have just a handful – less than 10 in some cases.
Many of these properties, though not all, are luxurious and exclusive – in some cases, cited by multiple well-regarded travel publications (such as Conde Nast Traveler, Frommers, and Fodors) as among the world’s top tropical destinations. Their rooms are often comparable in quality and luxury to those of high-end urban hotels, but with a distinctive tropical flair. Many offer overwater bungalows or villas, which sit directly above shallow lagoons and provide panoramic water views. Their amenities and perks often include full-service spas, well-appointed fitness centers, dive centers, water sports equipment for hire, guided excursions to nearby points of interest (including known fishing spots), fine restaurants and lounges, and attentive staffs willing to wait on guests hand and foot.
Given the sometimes small, often remote, and usually exclusive nature of these properties, it’s no surprise that they come at a cost. Properties on the more private and luxurious end routinely advertise accommodations at $1,000 per night or more. At the most exclusive properties, it’s rare to find rooms for less than $1,500 per night. On the other hand, less expensive properties can charge as little as $150 to $200 for a room night. Unless otherwise noted, room rates were obtained directly from hotel websites or third-party booking websites such as Expedia. Your exact price is likely to vary based on room choice, travel dates, customized add-ons, current exchange rates, and other factors.
Many properties offer optional meal plans and all-inclusive options, which raise the nightly cost anywhere from $50 (if just meals) to several hundred dollars (including drinks, spa treatments, and excursions or special experiences). At more remote properties, all-inclusive may be the default option. Also, many properties offer package deals (including those specifically for honeymooners) and time-limited promotions that significantly reduce room rates – especially during the off-season, which varies by location.
With all this in mind, here’s a look at some of the world’s most luxurious, romantic places to honeymoon.
Polynesia and Melanesia
Polynesia is a vast region in the Pacific Ocean that comprises more than 1,000 islands and atolls and contains more than a dozen independent nations and territories. For honeymooners, one of the region’s top destinations is French Polynesia, a French administrative territory that contains well-known islands and island groups such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.
Melanesia is a smaller (but still huge) island region to the west of Polynesia, roughly north of New Zealand. It’s home to Fiji, among other tourist-friendly islands.
These vast island regions are known for luxurious but culturally and ecologically attuned resorts. Many properties occupy private islands with shallow, crystal-clear lagoons, high-end overwater accommodations, and incredible views. The geography here is quite variable: Some islands have dramatic cliffs and mountains, such as Tahiti and Bora Bora, while others are little more than elevated sand spits.
In French Polynesia, the high season runs from May through October. Prices drop considerably during the low season due to an increased risk of inclement weather. Fiji’s high season is shorter, roughly July through September. The same principle applies – the low season is cheap but often stormy.
1. InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is a stunning property on Motu Piti Aau, one of the islands ringing Bora Bora’s beautiful lagoon. It’s eco-friendly, with an electric generator that runs on seawater. It has just over 80 rooms, the vast majority of which are overwater bungalows and villas in various configurations. There’s a full-service spa and several fine dining options too. Sweeping views of the lagoon, tree-lined beach, and Bora Bora’s central peak – not to mention unbelievable sunsets in clear weather – make this a romantic, unforgettable honeymoon destination, so you shouldn’t feel any pressure to leave your room.
Room rates range from less than $1,000 per night for standard overwater bungalows with king beds to nearly $2,000 per night for an overwater suite. The resort offers a discount for nonrefundable advance bookings – bookings that can be canceled until shortly before arrival typically cost a few hundred dollars more. Rates are denominated in CFP francs, the local currency, so it’s best to check the current exchange rate before you book.
Before you visit, consider signing up for the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, whose hefty sign-up bonus can help reduce the cost of your stay.
2. St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, a Starwood property, is a super-luxurious resort on Bora Bora’s Motu Ome’e island, not far from the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. It has approximately 90 rooms, with more variety than the InterContinental – plenty of spacious overwater bungalows, but also beach and garden villas. There are four high-end dining options and a swanky bar-lounge, plus a quiet spa. And, as this property is tucked away in a secluded part of Bora Bora, it truly feels like a romantic world unto its own – perfect for an intimate honeymoon.
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is one of the spendiest properties on this list. Expect to pay at least $1,000 per night for an overwater bungalow, and perhaps more during the high season. For the fanciest rooms and most generous cancellation policies, expect to shell out $3,000 per night, though package deals and Starwood Preferred Guest rewards (if you’re an SPG member or credit card holder) may reduce your final cost. For a truly unforgettable honeymoon experience, consider signing up for St. Regis’s Honeymoon Registry, which allows loved ones and wedding guests to gift romantic items and experiences, such as couples’ massages, during your time at the resort.
Consider reducing your expenses at this one-of-a-kind honeymoon spot with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.
3. Le Meridien Bora Bora
Le Meridien Bora Bora, another luxurious Starwood property, occupies a prime piece of Motu Piti Aau, facing Bora Bora’s iconic central peak across the sparkling lagoon. It has approximately 100 rooms, including intimate overwater bungalows and larger, more private (though pricier) premium overwater bungalows. Three high-end restaurants, two bars, a turtle sanctuary, ecological programming, and a “wellness center” (spa) round out the activities and attractions here. Of course, with 24-hour room service, you don’t have to feel obligated to leave your bungalow at all.
Le Meridien Bora Bora’s room prices range from approximately $500 to well over $1,000, depending on room type and season – so, compared to other luxury options on Bora Bora, it’s a pretty good deal. Again, an SPG membership is worth looking into. If you have excellent credit, so is the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
4. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is a super-luxe property located on Motu Tehotu, a secluded island across the lagoon from Bora Bora’s main island. Many of its approximately 110 rooms are overwater bungalows, the most isolated (and romantic) of which are located hundreds of yards from shore. With tennis courts, an infinity pool, well-equipped fitness center, a great beach, and private plunge pools at some overwater bungalows, this is a great choice for honeymooners seeking a rejuvenating fitness vacation. Plus, there’s a wildlife sanctuary on the lagoon, a luxurious spa, three full-service restaurants, and private dining.
The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora’s jaw-dropping luxury doesn’t come cheap. Expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per night for an overwater bungalow, depending on room type and season.
5. Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort & Private Island
Located near Matira Point, on the Bora Boran “mainland,” Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort is a bit less secluded than some of Bora Bora’s other luxury resorts. However, with just 55 rooms, it’s considerably smaller and more intimate – perfect for a romantic getaway. There’s one main restaurant option (with nightly “show cooking” events) and one main bar, both of which are quite upscale and offer stunning water views. Nightly room rates start at less than $400, which is a steal compared to more secluded Bora Bora properties.
For an even more intimate experience, check out this property’s sister resort: Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island. Located on a tiny islet in Bora Bora’s main lagoon, just across from Marara Beach Resort, it has just 21 rooms (including overwater bungalows and beach villas). Room rates are higher here, but still affordable by luxury Bora Bora standards – it’s possible to spend the night for less than $700.
6. Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort
Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort is a French-inspired, high-end resort in Moorea, a Polynesian island chain relatively close to Tahiti and Bora Bora. Though there’s some debate about the veracity of these claims, Moorea touts itself as the birthplace of the overwater bungalow, and it should shock no one that the Ia Ora Beach Resort has plenty of bungalows to choose from – and more than 110 rooms in all. The most secluded bungalows jut hundreds of yards out into the water, providing a perfect honeymoon setting.
For a more affordable (but still romantic and private) alternative, check out the property’s beachside huts. Two restaurants, two bars, a full-service spa (Le Spa), and a dive center round out the property’s amenities.
Ia Ora is moderately priced by Polynesian standards. Overwater bungalows start as low as $400 and range up to $1,200, depending on the season and room type. Onshore bungalows are typically cheaper but lack the novelty and stunning views of the overwater options.
7. InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
With nearly 150 rooms, the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa is one of the largest luxury properties in French Polynesia. It boasts an infinity pool with swim-up bar, dolphin and turtle care centers, a dive center, a water sports hub, and a small, luxurious spa. Three restaurants and two bars complement romantic in-room and private dining service, and periodic dinner entertainment is perfect for honeymooners who enjoy some excitement with their meals.
The InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa’s overwater bungalows, of which there are about 50, start at approximately $400 to $500 and can range north of $1,000 per night for premium overwater bungalows – the most private. Onshore rooms can cost less than $300 per night during the low season, though the rooms in the main building are considerably less romantic and private than those out on the water or along the beach.
If you have excellent credit, consider reducing the cost of your stay by applying for the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card.
8. Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa is a visually stunning property on a long, outwardly curving beach at the foot of a gorgeous Moorean mountain. With panoramic views of the lagoon and ocean, it’s one of the few places on Moorea where it’s possible to see the sunrise and sunset with equal ease. Approximately 105 rooms, many of which are spacious overwater bungalows perched over a blue-green lagoon, complement a modern fitness center, infinity pool, tennis courts, and unusually well-kept tropical flower gardens. Two restaurants and one bar, along with periodic live entertainment, round out the offerings here.
The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa isn’t as costly as the swankiest Polynesian resorts. Still, expect to pay at least $500 per night for an overwater bungalow. Luxury suites can easily exceed $1,000 per night. Before your trip, consider applying for a Hilton credit card, such as the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card – which offers two free weekend nights at any Hilton property when you spend at least $2,500 within three months of signing up.
9. Royal Huahine
As the only overwater bungalow resort on the small Polynesian island of Huahine, Royal Huahine Hotel offers privacy and intimacy in spades – an experience heightened by the fact that it’s not accessible by road. With just 40 rooms, including 11 overwater bungalows, Royal Huahine puts you at the center of your honeymoon experience.
It’s important to note that although there is a fine dining restaurant and pool on the property, the quality and quantity of Royal Huahine’s amenities don’t match up to the more luxurious resorts on nearby Tahiti and Bora Bora. If sumptuous luxury is your top priority, rather than quiet romance, look elsewhere. On the other hand, you get what you pay for: Overwater bungalow rates are reliably under $400 per night.
10. Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort
Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort occupies the better part of a tiny island in Tikehau Atoll, in an isolated part of French Polynesia. Even by South Pacific standards, it’s remote – and that’s great news for honeymooners seeking a quiet, rejuvenating place far away from the modern world.
Approximately two dozen overwater bungalows compliment about one dozen beach bungalows, with lagoon and ocean views galore. An excellent dive center, small but luxurious spa, teeming lagoon, and one restaurant and bar each round out the main attractions.
Standard overwater bungalows range from less than $500 per night to north of $700 per night. Beach bungalows can be cheaper, though there’s a big difference (30% or more) between high and low season pricing.
11. Vahine Private Island Resort
Vahine Private Island Resort is exactly as it sounds – a resort on a private Polynesian island. The resort covers the island’s entire 23-acre landmass, with a handful of overwater bungalows extending out into the small but beautiful lagoon. The whole place has just nine rooms, making it a dream destination for honeymooners who crave nothing more than privacy (and an uncrowded beach). Nevertheless, there’s a full-service restaurant and bar here.
Despite the intimate setting, accommodations at Vahine Private Island Resort aren’t noticeably more expensive than nearby Polynesian properties. Expect to pay less than $500 per night for a beach bungalow in the low season, and less than $800 per night for an overwater bungalow during the high season.
12. Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Likuliku Lagoon Resort occupies a private island in Fiji, a fabled South Pacific destination with a pleasant climate and stunningly clear waters. It’s Fiji’s only resort-hotel with overwater bungalows, and they don’t disappoint – they’re arrayed more than 50 yards offshore, facing the open water, and offer easy, direct access to the sparkling lagoon. The entire property has 45 rooms, 10 of which are overwater. There’s also a fine dining restaurant, full-service spa, well-equipped fitness center, diving tours, island tours (there are dozens of small islands in the vicinity), and cultural programming, such as local ceremonies and entertainment.
Likuliku Lagoon isn’t cheap, however. Expect an overwater bungalow to cost $1,500 per night during the high season. Garden and beachfront bungalows are somewhat more affordable, on the order of $900 to $1,200 per night. Still, the seclusion and romance may well be worth it.
The Republic of Maldives – or simply “Maldives” or “the Maldives” – is an island nation in the northern Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka. It consists entirely of coral atolls, circular structures consisting of central lagoons and (often, but not always) narrow, low-lying islands along their outer rims.
Though many of the Maldives’ islands are thinly inhabited or completely uninhabited, a fair number of high-end resorts thrive here, relying on panoramic ocean views, a tropical climate, and luxurious amenities (including the world’s highest concentration of overwater bungalows) to attract a steady stream of guests from all over the world. Maldives resorts do tend to be pricey, with higher-end properties advertising rates at upwards of $500 per night. Also, getting here can be a challenge, as there’s only one international airport in the country. On the other hand, the Maldives’ remoteness and serenity make it an amazing honeymoon destination.
The Maldives’ high season runs from December through March, while the low season runs from May through October. Prices can be significantly lower during the low season, but that’s because it tends to be wetter (though it can rain year round).
13. Kuredu Island Resort
Located on a tiny private island, Kuredu Island Resort is nothing short of a tropical paradise. It’s one of the largest resorts of its kind – nearly 400 rooms, including approximately 50 overwater bungalows.
Its size allows it to offer amenities lacking at most other island resorts, including a six-hole golf course. Kuredu also has a dive center, modern gym, full-service spa, three high-end restaurants, four buffet restaurants, multiple bars, and an extensive wine cellar. However, given the resort’s size and layout, these amenities come at the expense of some privacy.
Kuredu has many different room types and configurations. The cheapest options are garden and beach bungalows, which can cost less than $300 per night. Larger spaces, such as poolside villas, cost $500 to $1,000 per night, and overwater bungalows can cost even more.
14. Veligandu Island Resort
Like Kuredu, Veligandu Island Resort occupies a private island in the central Maldives. However, it has a much different, and more intimate, character – definitely a couples’ resort.
Most of its approximately 75 rooms sit over the water, offering stunning sunrise, sunset, and daytime views. Additionally, much of the island is comprised of a long, narrow sand spit with open water on both sides – a perfect environment for lounging on the beach. Two restaurants, multiple bars, a dive center, watersports center, a full-service spa, and other amenities are sure to keep more active visitors engaged.
Many Veligandu visitors choose all-inclusive packages that provide meals and some activities at no additional charge, though extra payment may be required for upgrades (such as premium drinks) or special activities. All-inclusive water villa packages start around $500, with a 10% discount for early bookings.
15. Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort
Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort is located on a private island – a recurring theme in the Maldives. Of some 165 total rooms, approximately 60 are overwater bungalows and villas. Though the resort’s overwater section is densely built, the sunset views more than compensate for any loss of privacy. Elsewhere, five restaurants, multiple bars, a full-service spa, an above-average beach, and world-class diving excursions make for an unforgettable experience.
Olhuveli is relatively affordable by Maldivian standards. On-land rooms start at just over $200 per night, while overwater bungalows (many of which have hot tubs) range between $400 and $1,000 per night (the most expensive, and most romantic, are the spacious Honeymoon Water Villas). This resort does offer tons of limited-time deals, so you may be able to snag a water villa for far less than full price.
16. Lily Beach Resort & Spa
Lily Beach Resort & Spa is an upscale and exclusive property that sits on a long, narrow private island. About half of its approximately 120 rooms are overwater bungalows and villas (including many with hot tubs), though about 20 of those are “partial” overwater bungalows, as they straddle the beach and lagoon. Thanks to an unusually shaped lagoon, some bungalows sit hundreds of yards offshore, nearly surrounded by open water.
Lily Beach Resort & Spa specializes in all-inclusive packages – the Platinum Plan includes room, board, food, beverages, facilities, and many activities, though some special excursions may cost extra. Choose from three restaurants, four bars, a full-service spa, a world-class dive center, and water sports galore – or simply relax on the resort’s private beach.
In keeping with the luxurious surroundings, Lily Beach is pricey. Expect to spend at least $600 per night for a beach villa, and upwards of $1,100 (sometimes much more, depending on season) for a water villa. You do get a 15% discount when you stay 12 nights or more.
17. Vakarufalhi Island Resort
Vakarufalhi Island Resort, just 50 miles from the Maldives’ main international airport, is located on a small private island with a relatively large, crystal-clear lagoon. This is a smaller, more traditional – and thus more affordable – property. However, the 25 overwater bungalows are relatively new, so they boast modern furnishings and plenty of creature comforts. Most packages are all-inclusive, though certain activities, private dining, and premium beverages may cost extra. There’s one restaurant, one bar, a small but luxurious spa, a dive center, and fishing excursions on the property too.
Expect to spend about $300 per night for a beach villa and upwards of $500 per night for an overwater bungalow. If available, the overwater honeymoon suites – though pricier at $600 per night and up – are definitely worth snagging.
18. Cocoa Island Resort
Cocoa Island Resort is a small, intimate, couples-friendly Maldives property that emphasizes privacy – perfect for newlyweds seeking a traditional, romantic honeymoon. Its private island’s landmass is modest, but the lagoon is ample, and the 30-plus overwater bungalows cover an impressively large footprint.
There’s one restaurant, one bar, a private dining service, full spa with multiple private suites for couples’ treatments, and guided snorkeling and fishing expeditions. The property is also in the process of restoring the coral reef surrounding the island, so the view from your room is only going to get better.
Compared with many other overwater bungalows and villas, Cocoa Island’s accommodations are quite spacious and airy. Many have extensive, secluded outdoor seating and sleeping areas with excellent sea views. Accordingly, depending on your choice of room, you should expect to spend anywhere from $800 to more than $1,500 per night. However, the resort does offer online deals that can significantly reduce your room and activity costs.
19. Baros Resort
Baros Resort is a larger, more luxurious, conveniently located (just 25 minutes by boat from the main airport) Maldives resort on a private island. Despite its size, Baros is very much a couples’ resort – privacy and discretion are watchwords here. Of 75 total rooms, 30 are overwater bungalows or villas, all of which are spacious, modern, and built for romance. On land, there’s a deluxe, full-service spa, three restaurants, two bars, all-island drink and food service (staff comes to you, wherever you are), a dive center, and a separate marine life center.
Baros Resort’s rooms don’t come cheap, though. For an overwater bungalow or villa, expect to spend anywhere from $700 to $2,000 per night. Onshore rooms can be cheaper – less than $500 per night, in some cases. Package deals and special promotions may further reduce room costs.
20. Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Resort
Gili Lankanfushi is a very luxurious Maldives property in an exceptionally beautiful private island setting. Blessed with an unusually large lagoon, the property spreads its 45 overwater bungalows and villas over a huge footprint. In fact, nearly a dozen of these overwater units are accessible only by boat. It’s hard to get more private than that. There’s plenty to do on Gili’s island, though: two restaurants (specializing in fresh local seafood), a bar, a full-service spa, a host of water sports activities, regular yoga sessions, and much more.
Gili’s tagline is “delightful excess,” and it’s not hard to see why. An overwater bungalow or suite sets you back at least $1,000 per night, and possibly as much as $2,000. The most luxurious units, such as the Crusoe Residence, are significantly more expensive. However, Gili routinely offers package and all-inclusive deals that can reduce your per-night and activity costs.
21. Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is a luxurious Maldives resort with easy access to the country’s main airport and an unusual configuration that, despite the property’s size, allows honeymooning couples to relax and do their own thing without bumping into fellow guests left and right. Its 60-plus rooms include overwater bungalows in several different configurations, many with stunning sunrise and sunset views. Two restaurants, one bar, 24-hour private dining service, a full-service indoor/outdoor spa, snorkeling, diving, boating, and different water sports combine to keep guests occupied and entertained.
Taj Exotica’s overwater rooms typically cost more than $800 per night. Depending on the room and season, you could wind up paying $1,000 per night or more. However, package deals and special promotions can trim total trip costs.
22. Anantara Veli Maldives Resort
Anantara Veli Maldives Resort sits on South Male Atoll, about 35 minutes from the country’s main airport. Its modest size, adults-only policy, and sprawling layout make it attractive to honeymooners, though it does also advertise itself as suitable for “groups of friends” – and thus may be a bit less tranquil than couples-only resorts.
The property has nearly 70 overwater/beach bungalows, three restaurants, a stunning infinity pool, a modern gym, top-notch diving facilities, and a host of excursion and activity opportunities. There’s also an incredible spa and a protected coral reef in the early stages of a resort-sponsored regeneration program.
Expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,200 per night for an overwater bungalow, depending on room size, configuration, and season. Anantara Veli offers special honeymoon package deals that significantly increase room costs, but include luxury perks such as breakfast in bed, discounted spa treatments, and a complimentary private dining session.
23. One&Only Reethi Rah
Located on a rather large private island not far from the country’s main airport, the unusually named One&Only Reethi Rah is a super-luxurious Maldives resort whose edgy, dynamic image caters to affluent millennials and Gen Xers. In addition to pristine beaches and stunning water views in every direction, One&Only has several different overwater bungalow and villa clusters with rooms in multiple configurations – including high-end suites that stand among the Maldives’ fanciest. A full-service spa, a diving and snorkeling center, a well-appointed fitness center (including a synthetic soccer field), four restaurants, three bar-lounges, and a private dining service round out the amenities here.
Unsurprisingly, One&Only Reethi Rah is one of the Maldives’ more expensive honeymoon properties. Overwater bungalows and villas start at $1,150 per night and can exceed $4,000 per night, though special deals and promotions may lower your final cost.
Definitions of the Caribbean vary. For our purposes, the Caribbean includes any islands or mainland coastal areas fronting the shallow portion of the western Atlantic, bounded by the mainland United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.
With dozens of independent nations and administrative territories, the Caribbean is an extremely diverse place that is not uniformly hospitable to tourists. However, this region has plenty of tourist-friendly areas with luxurious hotels and resorts: St. Lucia, St. Barts, and the Virgin Islands, to name a few.
Unlike Polynesia and the Maldives, which tend to be pricey as a rule, the Caribbean has a wider variety of price points – for every super-expensive, ultra-luxe pamper-fest, there’s a rough-and-tumble, off-the-beaten-path eco-lodge or jungle outpost for budget-conscious honeymooners. In most cases, it’s also easier and quicker to reach from the continental United States.
The Caribbean high season roughly corresponds with the Northern Hemisphere winter, extending into the traditional March-through-April spring break period. The low season, when prices are often reduced by 25% to 50% relative to the high season, covers most of the rest of the year.
24. Le Sereno
Located on a “virtually private” beach – a rarity in tiny St. Barts – Le Sereno is a luxurious, intimate resort with approximately 40 total units, including 36 suites and three oversized, four-bedroom villas. According to Le Sereno, this is the first St. Barts property to achieve five-star status “under the newly revised French standards.”
Luxurious appointments aside, the ocean is visible from pretty much everywhere on Le Sereno – from the pool, the full-service spa, the fine restaurant, and the sundeck, to name but several choice locales. There’s also a top-notch fitness center, complimentary water sports equipment, and 24-hour room service.
Virtually every room at Le Sereno has a unique layout, plus its own private terrace or patio. Some have private hot tubs or small pools as well. For a poolside bungalow, expect to pay at least $500 per night, depending on season and exchange rates (St. Barts uses the euro). For ocean view suites, $800 to $1,000 is the norm. Villas go for at least $1,000, but may be too large for honeymooning couples anyway.
25. Hotel Christopher
In terms of exclusivity and romance, Hotel Christopher is right up there with Le Sereno. The property’s full-service spa is a major highlight – it touts its ultra-modern treatment rooms and unique “phyto-aromatic treatments.” There’s also an ocean-view fitness center and an infinity pool surrounded by lush jungle vegetation. Rooms have private terraces or balconies, many of which boast ocean views.
Hotel Christopher offers some different packages and specials. If you’re planning to visit the spa, consider the Sisley Romance Package, which bundles a couples’ spa treatment, sunset cruise, romantic beach picnic, and other perks with the cost of any Hotel Christopher room. Expect to pay at least $400 per night for a standard room and $700 per night for a suite. Prices double (or more) during the end-of-year holidays, so avoid visiting then if at all possible.
26. Jade Mountain Resort
Named for the stunning peak that towers above its clear blue bay, Jade Mountain is a super-luxurious resort on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The resort’s high points include 24 “sanctuaries” with spectacular mountain-and-water views and private infinity pools, a “Total Romance” package specifically for honeymooners, and world-beating cuisine, even by luxury resort standards. There’s also a high-end spa, multiple restaurants and bars, a diving center (though not on the resort property itself), great beaches, and – it bears repeating – amazing views.
At Jade Mountain, you get what you pay for. The cheapest room costs more than $1,000 per night, the most luxurious more than $3,000.
27. Rosewood Mayakoba Resort
Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on the so-called Mayan Riviera, Rosewood Mayakoba Resort is a relatively accessible – but super-luxurious – honeymooner’s resort. It occupies a stunning 1,600-acre waterfront parcel with gorgeous views of turquoise waters and a dazzling array of flora and fauna. There are three full-service restaurants on the property, plus several high-end restaurants in the nearby town.
In addition to the usual amenities, such as the expansive beach and a full-service spa, there’s a golf course and equestrian center. Rooms range from relatively modest beachside units, to overwater suites, to multi-room houses.
Rosewood Mayakoba Resort is expensive, but not out of line with other high-end resorts in the Americas. Expect to pay close to $1,000 per night for overwater accommodations, $500 to $700 for standard land accommodations, and north of $1,500 for land-based suites – the Beach Front Presidential Suite, a waterfront mansion, costs $8,500 per night.
28. Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Tucked away in the Panamanian jungle, Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge is an intimate eco-resort that caters to romantic couples who don’t mind roughing it a bit. The whole place is powered by solar panels and treated with a water-purifying “bio-digestor,” so visitors never have to worry about their trip’s environmental impact.
However, Punta Caracol is tiny – just nine overwater suites. There’s just one restaurant, and the surrounding area is either virgin jungle or protected reefs. Then again, that’s just what many newlyweds are looking for – peace, quiet, and seclusion. And, Punta Caracol is relatively affordable: Room costs range from just over $300 to just under $500 per night.
29. Eclypse de Mar Acqua Lodge
The vibe of Eclypse de Mar Acqua Lodge is similar to Punta Caracol’s. It’s an eco-friendly resort that emphasizes natural beauty and simple relaxation over elegant luxury. Like Punta Caracol, it’s powered by solar energy and operates independently of Panama’s sometimes-unreliable grid. It’s also tranquil and isolated, mostly surrounded by a pristine nature reserve.
There’s one casual restaurant on its island, and a number of similar restaurants on neighboring islands which are accessible by boat. Activities include diving, snorkeling, boat tours, and a jungle zip line.
With the deluxe honeymoon overwater suite starting at just over $250 per night, Eclypse is one of the most affordable properties on this list. Standard bungalows, which are smaller and clustered closer together, are even cheaper – less than $200 per night, depending on the season.
30. Thatch Caye Resort
Located on a private barrier island just off Belize’s Caribbean coast, Thatch Caye Resort is a small, secluded property that offers a nice balance of luxury, romance, and activity. With just 12 rooms on the entire island, it’s great for honeymooners looking to get away from it all. There’s one main restaurant and two bar lounges, along with a host of water sports opportunities, including scuba diving and snorkeling. If you want to get off the island and explore Belize’s coastal towns and cities, it’s relatively easy to do so.
Thatch Caye’s overwater bungalows cost about $300 per night (double occupancy), but that more than doubles when you select an all-inclusive package. Larger overwater villas, which are just bungalow clusters, cost $975 per night (plus $150 per person if you choose all-inclusive). Ask about the special honeymoon packages, which combine island activities, meals, beverages, turndown service, free use of water sports equipment, and other perks.
31. St. George’s Caye Resort
Not far from Thatch Caye, St. George’s Caye Resort is another great choice for a romantic Caribbean honeymoon. Though not at all luxurious, it’s an optimal place to disconnect and unwind, as there are no in-room TVs, WiFi routers, or phones. Even better, this is an adults-only resort, so you don’t have to worry about encountering noisy kids when you’re trying to kick back.
There are 12 oceanfront and overwater cabanas arrayed around a central lodge, which serves as the dining and entertainment hub. Diving, water sports, and a spa round out the available activities on the island. Pricing is very reasonable – the partially inclusive option (which includes unlimited water sports equipment use, but requires you to pay for meals) starts at approximately $280 per night for a double-occupancy overwater bungalow, and the meal plan option is just $60 more per person, per day.
32. Cayo Espanto Resort
Cayo Espanto is a very luxurious, super-secluded private island resort in a relatively remote part of Belize. It’s arguably the nicest resort in Belize, period. Highlights include a gorgeous full spa, a totally personalized private-chef dining experience (based on a survey you complete before arriving), scuba diving, private picnics on a nearby “deserted island,” and excursions to archaeological ruins around Belize. The entire resort has just seven beach villas, which it claims are “situated so that you may not see another guest for the duration of your stay.”
However, Cayo Espanto’s seclusion and luxury don’t come cheap. Expect to pay at least $1,100 per night for a basic room here. Nicer pads can cost upwards of $2,000 per night, particularly during the high season (roughly the Northern Hemisphere winter).
33. Couples Negril Resort
Located in laid-back Negril, Jamaica, Couples Negril is a large, but romantic, resort that explicitly caters to honeymooners. The resort’s in-house “romance concierge” can help you customize a truly unforgettable experience, or you can wing it on your own on an expansive property: five on-site bars (including a swim-up bar and beach service), five full-service restaurants, two pools, four hot tubs, periodic live entertainment, a full-service spa with private areas for couples treatments, high-end fitness center, tennis courts, golf, snorkeling and scuba excursions, and more. There’s also a secluded, “semi-private” au naturel beach just off the main stretch of sand.
Couples Negril’s accommodations aren’t world-beatingly luxurious, nor ultra-private – most are in larger buildings with garden or ocean views. However, virtually all have private outdoor patio or balcony areas. Additionally, the resort bundles free excursions, free golf, and some other on-site inclusions into its room rates. Expect to pay $350 or more for standard garden rooms, and $600 or more for deluxe oceanfront suites.
34. The Marker Key West
If you don’t feel like breaking out your passport, there are plenty of great honeymoon destinations in the continental U.S. One of the most popular is The Marker Key West, in Key West, Florida. Though it’s not as private or intimate as some of the other spots on this list, The Marker is certainly one of the nicest resorts in the Florida Keys.
Choose from standard rooms or suites, many of which surround the property’s three pools, and some of which offer tremendous overwater sunset views. A modern fitness center, poolside bar, and high-end restaurant add to the experience. Just south of the property lies Old Town Key West, a great place to people-watch and try local seafood. Depending on room configuration, size, and season, nightly pricing ranges from $250 to $550.
Located way out in the tropical mid-Pacific, Hawaii requires at least one long flight to reach from anywhere on the U.S. mainland. However, the trip is worth it. Hawaii has an enviable tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, stunning volcanic landscapes, and a laid-back culture. It also has more than its fair share of luxurious beach resorts and eco-friendly accommodations. Plus, you don’t need a passport or visa to visit.
Like the Caribbean’s, Hawaii’s high season roughly corresponds with the Northern Hemisphere winter. Summer is a mini-high season, as most American kids are out of school. The best times to find great bargains are spring and fall.
35. Turtle Bay Resort
Located on the otherworldly north shore of Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort is an exclusive destination that attracts more than its fair share of celebrities and jet-setters. With more than 450 rooms and suites, Turtle Bay is not a small, intimate resort. However, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in once-in-a-lifetime romantic experiences here – horseback riding on the beach at sunset, coastal helicopter tours, private dining, couples massages at the full-service spa, and more.
Furthermore, Turtle Bay’s size is a big plus for active couples worried about getting bored: The property boasts two golf courses, two landscaped pools, nearby hiking trails, frequent live entertainment, multiple restaurants and bars, tours and excursions (including equestrian, helicopter, horseback, kayak, and Segway), and an endless supply of water sports.
Expect to spend at least $350 per night for a standard oceanfront room, at least $550 per night for a beachfront cottage, and at least $1,000 per night for an oceanfront villa. To reduce the cost of your stay, consider the Romance and Rendezvous package, which knocks $400 off your final bill when you stay at least four nights.
36. Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
One of Maui‘s most luxurious properties, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua occupies a prime stretch of waterfront on the island’s north shore. Its signature features include a spa that emphasizes traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian treatments, two championship golf courses, a well-regarded golf academy, a stunning beachfront, and an adjacent sacred site that regularly hosts native Hawaiian ceremonies. Though lush and exclusive, Kapalua isn’t small: It boasts 460-plus rooms, six fine dining options, basketball and tennis courts, and a host of water sports activities, among other recreational options.
Kapalua’s accommodations measure up to its public amenities. Even by high-end resort standards, they’re unusually spacious, and many boast expansive outdoor patios and terraces with ocean or mountain views. Expect to pay between $600 and $1,000 per night, depending on room selection and season.
If you have excellent credit and travel often enough to offset a rather high annual fee, consider offsetting part of the cost of your trip with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card from Chase.
37. Four Seasons Hualalai
Located on Hawaii’s volcanic Big Island, the Four Seasons Hualalai is a super-luxe resort with approximately 240 rooms and suites arranged in small (but not necessarily detached or private) bungalows, many of which boast ocean or mountain views, and about half of which have outdoor showers. The property’s public amenities include seven pools, three restaurants, two ocean-view lounges, a top-notch fitness center, a beach, and a full-service spa. For a truly romantic and personalized experience, look into the resort’s “romance inspiration” offerings, which include in-room spa services (such as couples’ massages and aromatherapy baths) and “love potion Martini kits” with ostensibly aphrodisiac ingredients.
Hualalai’s rooms are stunningly luxurious, with sleek bathrooms, luxuriant furniture, and spacious outdoor seating areas. For a standard room, expect to pay at least $1,000 per night, depending on the season. Suites go for $1,200 and up, and sometimes significantly more, depending on configuration.
Though the Mediterranean isn’t quite tropical, its climate is sunnier and milder than much of the continental United States – like southern California, without the traffic. Certain parts of the Mediterranean, such as southeastern Spain, Mallorca, and Greece, are known for high-end destination resorts that rival their Caribbean, Hawaiian, and South Pacific counterparts. Due to an ongoing economic crisis, Greece is particularly affordable for American travelers these days.
If you seek a more immersive cultural experience (this is Europe, after all), investigate boutique inns in coastal towns and villages. The Mediterranean is also an extremely popular cruise destination, thanks to its dramatic scenery and charming Old World cities.
The Mediterranean’s high season runs from mid-spring through early fall. Prices tend to be lower in winter, but you can also expect cooler and rainier weather then too.
38. St. Regis Mardavall Resort
St. Regis Mardavall Resort is an ultra-chic property on Mallorca, a beautiful, dramatic island in the western Mediterranean, near (but not too near) Spain and France. It has more than 120 rooms and suites, all of which come with complimentary butler service, and many of which boast excellent views of the island and sea. The property itself offers three full-service restaurants, including a super-fancy Michelin-starred restaurant, as well as a full-service spa, four golf courses, and a golf academy.
Expect to pay at least $400 per night for a standard room and $600 per night for a junior-sized suite. Larger suites go for upwards of $1,000 per night. Starwood Preferred Guest members get dining and activity discounts, so consider signing up for the rewards program (and/or applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express) before you book.
39. Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort
Located on the magical Greek island of Mykonos (sometimes spelled Mikonos), Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort is a luxurious beachfront property across a broad strait from the sacred island of Delos. The romantic location alone is worth a visit, but Mykonos Grand also boasts a private beach, a high-end fitness center and full-service spa, tennis and squash courts, a massive saltwater pool, two restaurants, three bars (including a pool bar), private dining service, and a sustainable philosophy befitting its truly special setting.
Mykonos Grand’s garden view rooms start at $600 per night during the high season. Oceanview rooms start at $800 per night, and suites can cost upwards of $1,500 per night. Prices can be 25% to 50% lower during the off-season, and Mykonos Grand regularly offers honeymoon packages that can reduce the total cost of a stay.
40. St. John Mykonos Hotel
Not far from Mykonos Grand, St. John Mykonos Hotel isn’t quite as luxurious as its neighbor – but that’s probably fine by budget-conscious honeymooners. The property boasts a pristine private beach, a high-end gym, a full-service spa and luxurious infinity pool, private and semi-private island tours, three bars, and three restaurants, including the intimate, romantic 7th Heaven. It’s worth noting that St. John is a popular business conference destination – privacy may be lacking during busy periods.
Expect to pay at least $500 per night for a garden or ocean view room during the high season, and $800 or more for a suite. Villas go for upwards of $1,000 per night. As at Mykonos Grand, prices can be 25% to 50% lower during the low season.
Tips for Saving Money on Your Honeymoon
As noted, truly memorable and luxurious honeymoons tend by necessity to be more expensive than “regular” vacations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to trim your honeymoon’s cost wherever possible.
1. Look for Package Deals and Long Stay Discounts
Many popular honeymoon resorts are literally on the other side of the world – not just far from the U.S. mainland, but far from any population centers, period. Due to the expense and inconvenience of reaching them, even the most luxurious South Pacific resorts need to entice guests to choose them over more proximate competitors.
As such, most offer package deals, promotions, and low-season specials to keep rooms full year-round. Finding these deals is often as simple as checking individual properties’ websites or conducting a quick Google search for current offers at your chosen destination. For example, Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa offers “four nights for the price of three” – a fourth night free on your four-night stay. Package deals that bundle room costs with spa services, excursions, or dining are common at many properties as well.
2. Pay in Advance
Many luxury resorts book up well in advance, especially during the high season. To maximize room choice and minimize the cost of your stay, book – and pay – as far in advance as you can. Resorts commonly offer sizable discounts for advance payment – 20% or more, in some cases.
The catch is that, typically, advance payment is partially or fully nonrefundable, even if you cancel well ahead of your planned stay. So, either pay upfront only if you’re very confident that your plans won’t change or purchase trip insurance to protect your investment.
3. Visit During the Off-Season
Most popular honeymoon destinations have distinct high and low seasons. In the tropics, these tend to follow long-term weather patterns: The high season is the dry season, while the low season is the wet season. As a rule, room prices tend to be lower during the wet season, with more available package deals and specials, though the sharpness of the contrast varies by property and geography.
Before settling on a destination, research the local climate and pricing patterns to determine the most affordable time to visit – keeping in mind that it might not be the most pleasant time to visit. The wet season in some southerly destinations, such as French Polynesia (Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti), typically falls during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter – so you may be able to snag a cost-cutting double whammy with a cheap winter wedding and an off-season tropical honeymoon.
4. Save for a Last-Night Splurge
Overwater bungalows and secluded hillside huts are more private and romantic than garden villas or main building rooms. They’re also pricier. If you can’t afford to spend your whole trip in the most intimate or luxurious accommodations available, reserve a lesser room for the first few nights, and then splurge on better digs for the last night.
5. Use a Rewards Credit Card
If your honeymoon takes you to a property owned and operated by a major hospitality company, consider looking for a branded travel rewards credit card that can partially offset the cost of your trip or reduce the cost of future travels. When you pay for your room with a hotel rewards credit card, you earn points that can be redeemed for free or reduced-cost nights within that same hotel family. And some cards, such as the Hilton Honors Card from American Express, have additional benefits, such as a free fifth night or free night certificate on your cardmember anniversary.
Even if you don’t have enough points to redeem for a free honeymoon night – or, even better, an entire honeymoon trip – using a branded card to pay for your romantic getaway could pay off big time down the line. To get off on the right foot, look for a card with a generous sign-up bonus – whether it’s good toward free airfare, free hotel nights with a specific hotel family, or general travel purchases.
6. Take Advantage of Travel Booking Site Rewards
If you have trouble qualifying for a rewards credit card, or you’d simply prefer not to open a new credit line at the moment, consider joining a travel booking website’s rewards program instead. The potential outcomes are the same: free nights (or an entire free trip) on your honeymoon, or at least lots of points are redeemable for a free or reduced-cost trip in the future.
These free-to-join, no-annual-fee programs have earning power comparable to rewards credit cards – baseline rewards usually accumulate at 1% to 2% of total spend, while select categories can earn as much as 5% back. For instance, Orbitz Rewards earns 1% on flights and vacation packages, 3% on hotels booked by desktop, and 5% on hotels booked by mobile app. They also offer special member benefits, such as Hotels.com Rewards‘ “secret prices” (unadvertised hotel deals) and Expedia+‘s accelerated earning rate (up to 30% faster than the baseline) for frequent customers who achieve higher membership tiers.
My wife and I didn’t make it to any of these amazing honeymoon spots for our post-wedding getaway. We went to a cute, rustic lakeside inn in New Hampshire for a few days, then spent about 48 hours seeing the sights in Boston. As I said, it was not life-changing. But we didn’t care – we had each other.
If you can’t make any of these top-of-the-line honeymoon destinations, work on improving your budget. And even if you can’t afford to take a honeymoon at all, try to find your “honeymoon” somewhere else – in your backyard, local park, or favorite restaurant as part of a staycation. Or schedule it for a later date – maybe several months or a couple of years after your wedding, once you’ve fully recovered from the expense.
What’s your dream honeymoon spot?