We’ve done the holiday homework so you can reap the romantic rewards. The only hard part? Deciding on the destination of your dreams...
United States of America
Everything is bigger in the USA – including your options for honeymooning. With so many iconic cities, charming small towns and natural delights – and often a vast expanse of country between them – it can be tricky to narrow the field. A good starting point is to consider what the nation’s east and west coasts can offer. New York City sits on the east coast, and is the consummate American experience in itself – the neon of Times Square and the theatre on Broadway, the imposing Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and hip Brooklyn – and that’s just the start. Plus, you’re also in the best position to check out other eastern cities: from Maine or Boston, to the Carolinas and further south to Georgia. Then there’s Washington DC, just a short flight or scenic train ride away, where you can visit the White House and historic Gettysburg en route. Bustling Philadelphia is a relatively easy train ride from NYC, too.
At the southernmost point of the east coast sits the sun-drenched state of Florida, home of Miami’s famed Art Deco streets, busy Ocean Drive, and an Hispanic influence thanks to its proximity to Cuba and Mexico. Florida is also known for beautiful beaches, and of course, the one and only DisneyWorld in Orlando.
The west coast is a different experience altogether. Here you’ll find California – home of San Francisco, with its famous hilly streets, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison. Los Angeles is further south down the stunning coastline, with Santa Monica, Malibu, the shopping mecca of Rodeo Drive and Hollywood. Take in all the must-see sights, such as the Chinese Theatre, and the Walk of Fame, try a hike in the hills or a bus ride past celebrity homes, and don’t miss the renaissance of LA’s cool Downtown district.
Four hours drive inland sits Nevada and the bright lights of Las Vegas. Head further in to Arizona for a helicopter ride over the breathtaking Grand Canyon... The possibilities in the USA are endless. Can’t decide? If you’re flying to New York, you’ll need to change planes in Los Angeles or San Francisco – so you’ll have a ready-made chance to check out the west coast before you head east, or break up your journey home with some Cali sun.
Location: The continental United States are located between Mexico and Canada.
Currency: American Dollar.
Popular Honeymoon spots: San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles.
How to get there: It takes 15 hours to fly from Sydney to LA or San Francisco. Add another 7-8 hours on top of that (and a stop in either LA or San Fran) if you’re travelling on to New York.
Who flies there: Qantas, American Airlines, Virgin, United Airlines. Hawaiian (with an Honolulu stopover).
Best time to go: It depends on what you’re looking for. New York at Christmas time is a veritable Winter Wonderland, but it’s cold! Summer is June-September. The best time to visit California is from March to May, or September to December.
There are too many reasons New York should be on your bucket list. The city has it all: one of the world’s best food scenes; the foot-tapping shows on Broadway; renowned galleries and museums; more shopping than you’ll ever have time to fit in; the flavours of Chinatown (try Nom Wah Tea Parlor, est. 1920); the Staten Island Ferry cruising past the Statue of Liberty; the vastness of Central Park; the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings; and clubs and bars that are the reason this city never sleeps. It’s busy, beautiful, bewildering and not to be missed.
The Greenwich Hotel, TriBeCa: In TriBeCa, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Manhattan, this Robert DeNiro-owned property mixes old-world interiors with modern convenience, in the hip heart of the city. With only 88 suites and rooms, it’s an exclusive address, and Chef Andrew Carmellini oversees the hotel’s restaurant, Locanda Verde, which has become a favourite local hang out.
Sprawling down the west coast of the continent, California is one of the largest states in the USA. From Los Angeles in the south to San Francisco up north and the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway linking the two, it’s a part of the country blessed with diverse and spectacular landscapes. The desert city of Palm Springs was a mid-century Hollywood hangout; Joshua Tree National Park is hauntingly beautiful; San Diego has its world-class zoo and nerd-famous Comic-Con; plus, drive far enough south and you can cross the border in to Tijuana, Mexico.
Beverly Hills Hotel, Los Angeles: Known as ‘The Pink Palace’, this luxe hotel is old-school Hollywood at its best. In the heart of Beverly Hills, on Sunset Boulevard, the iconic property has hosted Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda and other acting luminaries. The Polo Lounge is the perfect place to celeb-spot and the palm-tree lined pool could only be more Hollywood if you saw an Oscar-winner swimming laps.
This southern state is a seaside fantasy: filled with soft sandy beaches, the brilliant blues of the Florida Keys, dynamically different Miami and the romantic, moss-draped estuaries and wetlands of the Nature Coast. Then, of course, there’s Disneyworld in Orlando. With a fascinating culture all its own, Florida equals fun, whether you’re kicking back with a cocktail on glamourous South Beach in Miami, kayaking the breathtaking Everglades at sunset – or maybe getting your very own pair of Mickey Mouse ears as a memento of the Disney magic and your new marriage.
The Setai, Miami Beach: A playground for the rich and famous, a world-renowned Art Deco enclave, sun trap of epic proportions and a vibrant melting pot of Latin-American culture: no wonder Miami is a must-visit. The ocean-front Setai is the epitome of Miami Beach glamour, a sleek and sexy hotel with three pools, three acclaimed restaurants and more celeb sightings than an awards night.
It may be part of the USA, but this paradise of islands nestled in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a world apart. An easy flight from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, the archipelego of natural wonders has become increasingly popular with Australians over the last decade. Why do we love it so much? With temperatures hovering around 29 degrees in the summer period and a beautiful sea breeze almost anywhere you go, it’s tropical, relaxed and exotic, yet easy to navigate. The six main Hawaiian islands, each with their own charms, are O’ahu, Hawai’i (or The Big Island, as it’s commonly known), Maui, Lana’i, Moloka’i and Kaua’i. The islands of Hawaii are a cultural melting pot, with Polynesian ancestry, early European influences, a large Japanese migration around the 1920s and long-held ties to mainland America (it only became an official state of the USA in 1959). Because of this, the food is a delicious mix of fresh island ingredients and Polynesian fare, coupled with Japanese flavours and good old-fashioned American dishes. Oh, and don’t forget the favourite local treat, shave ice – what we’d call a snow cone.
O’ahu is home to Honolulu, famous Waikiki (the birthplace of surfing and the mecca of outlet shoppers), historic Pearl Harbour and, about an hour’s drive away, the laid-back surf town of Haleiwa on the island’s North Shore, which offers an off-the-beaten-track take on the island. Stunning Maui is a popular haunt for the rich and famous, and its beaches, famous Road to Hana, and quaint towns make it well worth a visit.
Location: Hawaii is an American state and is located in the central Pacific Ocean. It is the northern-most group of islands within Polynesia.
Language: English and Hawaiian.
Currency: US dollar.
Popular Honeymoon spots: The islands of Maui, Lana’i, Kaua’i, O’ahu and Hawai’i.
How to get there: It’s about a 10-hour flight from Sydney to Honolulu. You’ll need a domestic flight to continue on to the other islands.
Who flies there: Qantas, Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines.
Best time to go April to October.
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, Oahu
On the spectacular western coast of Oahu, the island where you’ll find Waikiki and Diamond Head, Ko Olina offers a blissful 5-star retreat. With four restaurants to choose from, as well as a casual lobby lounge, family and adult-only pools, fitness and tennis centres, plus a neighbouring 18-hole golf course, you could stay for months without getting bored. And who wouldn’t want to relax by the pool, sample the indulgent spa menu and recharge in the Hawaiian sun for as long as possible? After the intensity of planning your big day, and to stave off the post-wedding blues, a honeymoon at Four Seasons Ko Olina is exactly what you and your new spouse need to rest and restore.
Think of Mexico and margaritas and mariachi music might come to mind, but this diverse and sophisticated country is so much more (although, yes, the margaritas are great). Rich in ancient Mayan and Aztec history, bursting at the seams with art and culture both traditional and contemporary, and boasting a culinary scene that goes way beyond tacos, those looking for a blend of beach holiday and cultural experience are spoilt for choice in this sprawling nation. Mexico City, once a danger zone in the centre of the country, is experiencing a renaissance as a chic, cosmopolitan city that culture vultures would do well to visit for the architecture alone. The east of the country offers more than one visit can cover: the Yucatan Peninsula spoils visitors with history, culture and white-sand beaches. Pay a visit to Coba (40 minutes from Tulum) where you can rent bicycles (or hire a bicycle taxi) to get around, and climb the ancient pyramid. Ek Balam, north of Valladolid, is not as popular with tourists and has beautiful Mayan carvings, plus the ancient city of Chitzen Itza, although touristy, is spectacular and one of the best preserved Mayan ruins. Cancun once had a reputation as a singles destination, but 45 minutes south of the city lies the River Maya – the ultimate honeymoon hot spot. At Akumel Beach you can snorkel with turtles, or hop on the ferry to Mexico’s largest Caribbean island, Cozumel.
At nearby Playa Del Carmen, you can shop ‘til you drop for souvenirs – bargaining with your pesos is both expected and welcomed.
Cabo San Lucas, in the west, is a party hot spot when the ‘Spring Breakers’ are in town (March) but is otherwise ideal for honeymooners looking for plentiful sun, sand and sea. Besides relaxing on the beach and drinking cocktails, there is much to do – Cabo is known for its golf, spas and shopping – perfect honeymoon fodder.
Location: Mexico borders the North American states of California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Currency: Mexican Peso, although many shops accept US dollars.
Popular Honeymoon spots: Acapulco, Tulum, Cabo San Lucas.
How to get there: From Australia, you have to fly via the USA to get to Mexico. Los Cabos International Airport is a two-hour flight from Los Angeles, and Cancun just 3.5 hours from New York.
Who flies there: American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta from the USA. Aeromexico for domestic flights.
Best time to go: June to September. Avoid Cabo San Lucas in March.
Condesa DF, Mexico City
Ground zero for urban cool in the hip Condesa neighbourhood, the design-centric boutique hotel, Condesa DF, is the perfect place to explore one of Mexico City’s trendiest, and treasured, neighbourhoods. At dusk, the rooftop bar, set among the treetops, becomes a social hub for chic Condesans; join them for a craft cocktail or three. Centred on Parque Mexico, a racecourse until the 1920s, the area is an ode to Art Deco architecture; circle your way around the park for some of the best examples and head to Tuesday’s fresh food markets for street food – and a taste of a tradition that harks back to Aztec times.