Joanna Booth plans a honeymoon calendar to help you pick the right place at the right time
The Maldives, Kuoni’s number-one honeymoon hot spot, is at its most perfect at this time of year – the weather warm and dry, the water clear, and the hotels, with tranquil overwater villas, designed for the downtime many desire after the whirlwind of a wedding.
Travel 2 suggests a stay at Lux Maldives, which has plenty of secluded spots to hide away in, couples spa treatments, activities including sunset cruises, and discounted accommodation rates for honeymooners. Seven nights’ bed and breakfast in a beach pavilion starts from £2,139 including flights and transfers.
For those looking for a more adventurous trip of a lifetime, suggest the Galapagos. Spring brings the islands to life – green shoots appear, birds nest, iguanas begin their mating season and green turtles arrive to lay eggs.
Sunvil Traveller suggests an alternative to the more common cruise option with a luxurious land stay at the tented Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz, where three nights’ half-board starts from £969, including flights from Ecuador.
Dubai provides fertile honeymooning ground for those who wed in Feb but don’t want to fly long haul. With temperatures in the mid-20s, couples can fly-and-flop in one of the emirate’s high-quality hotels, and make memories with daytime adventures in the desert and evenings spent trying the full gamut of the emirate’s renowned restaurants. The Private Travel Company recommends a two-centre between swish and central One&Only The Palm and Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, set out in seclusion in the dunes.
A package including three nights’ full-board at the latter and five nights’ half-board at the former starts from £3,055.Otherwise, suggest the ultimate long-haul honeymoon – Australia. February brings fewer overseas tourists than January, and they can avoid the Aussie school holidays too by travelling in the latter half of the month.
It’s a great time for the classic Sydney, Rock and Reef itinerary, or for second-timers, suggest a foodie-focused self-drive around Perth and Margaret River, or a wine and wildlife trip taking in Melbourne and Adelaide.
The February to March crossover marks the start of lent, heralding carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations around the world. The most famous of all, perhaps, is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and if anything warrants a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this event it’s a honeymoon.
Sri Lanka is a genuinely year-round destination, but for many months you have to pick your spot – two separate monsoons hit different areas of the island at different times. During a window between March and mid-April however, the whole island is generally dry, so this is a safe bet for those who want to experience not only the country’s beautiful beaches, but also its rainforests, hill country and the Unesco sites in its cultural triangle.
From Annie Hall to When Harry Met Sally, we’re used to seeing silver-screen couples fall in love in New York. Send springtime honeymooners to the Big Apple for Instagram-worthy experiences including a stroll through Central Park, a cruise around Manhattan, a visit to the Empire State Building and a helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view of that famous skyline.
Virgin Holidays’ springtime ‘don’t miss’ is the cherry blossom festival in Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the operator offers three nights’ at the five-star The London NYC and flights from £820.
April is one of the best times to visit the South Pacific – it’s the beginning of the dry season but prices haven’t climbed to peak levels. Fiji’s gorgeous beaches, lush rainforest and legendary friendliness make it a honeymoon favourite for those who want to get away from the rat-race.
Gold Medal recommends Likuliku Lagoon Resort, an adult-only property where clients can snorkel and swim from their over-water villa. Diving and bush walks will occupy their time if they can bear to leave the infinity pool.
Botswana has a reputation for providing some of Africa’s most luxurious safari experiences, and May is a great time to go.
It’s the beginning of the dry season, so wildlife flocks to the flooded areas of the Okavango Delta (pictured below). Twin a safari with a visit to the nearby Zambia/Zimbabwe border to see Victoria Falls, which is still living up to its ‘smoke that thunders’ reputation just post-wet season, and for a beach add-on, consider Mozambique.
For white-washed walls, azure sea, cobbled streets and short-haul sun, think Greece. It is already hotting up in May, especially in the southern islands of Crete and Rhodes. On the latter, Planet Holidays suggests the adults-only Lindos Blu, or the boutique Melenos Lindos, where a week starts from £1,386 and £1,217 respectively.
Bucket-list honeymoons don’t get much better than Peru, where adventurous couples can trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and add-on adventures in the Andes or the Amazon.
June is in the midst of the dry season, so days are sunny and warm, and Cox & Kings suggests an 11-day private tour staying, where possible, in Orient-Express hotels, from £3,402.
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge now offers a service conducted by a shaman for those who want to cement their wedding vows, Inca-style.
Send beach-lovers to Mauritius in June, where the weather is perfect and it’s still pre-school holidays, so the island won’t be as heavy with families as a month later. It doesn’t all have to be about lazing by the pool – Angsana Balaclava has a new ‘Romance and Skyfall’ package including a tandem skydive for newlyweds.
Summer Romeo and Juliets will find a host of options in Italy, and in July they’ll get truly hot temperatures, but before the summer shutdown in August.
Couples short on time can take a romantic city break in Rome, Florence or Venice; those who like to get away from it all can choose a villa or luxury hotel in the countryside of Tuscany, Umbria or Puglia, and the see-and-be-seen crowd will love the Amalfi Coast or the Italian Lakes.
If clients are more cutting-edge than classic, try Colombia for a taste of Latino life during the summer dry season. Bogota is vibrant and modern, Cartagena historic and picturesque, and eco-lodges by beaches and on coffee plantations offer places to kick back and relax. Rainbow Tours offers a 12-night Colombia and Caribbean Beach itinerary from £3,895.
Any safari-goer worth their salt will know why Kenya is popular in August – it’s time for the Great Migration. Prices are high as visitors flock to see this movement of millions of wildebeest and zebra, but if clients are willing to splash out a little it will provide an unforgettable honeymoon.
After sending clients to the Masai Mara for the migration, they can head up to the quieter Laikipia plateau – suggest Loisaba, which has two open-air Star Beds, where they can sleep under the stars without losing any luxury, in a four-poster bed on wheels.
August is also one of the best times to go to Bali, with the dry season in full swing and temperatures more comfortable than in the humid wet. However, demand for flights is high, so book early.
To see the island at its most romantic, direct honeymooners away from the Aussie backpackers in Kuta and suggest swanky Seminyak instead, or sleepy Jimbaran Bay or Nusa Dua – and pair a beach stay at one of these coastal resorts with time in Ubud, Bali’s cultural hub, where stunning hotels are nestled among green mountains and rice paddies.
September is a popular month for weddings, but it’s hardly the best time to visit the Caribbean.
For something similar, suggest Bermuda – the weather is fantastic, the beaches are famed for soft, pink sand and the hotels are high-end. As an added bonus, the flight – daily non-stop from Gatwick – is only seven hours.
A week at Rosewood Tucker’s Point start from £2,135 with Caribtours, which offers an exclusive offer for honeymooners including a bottle of champagne on arrival and a 20% discount on spa treatments.
South Africa has so much to offer – and clients really can make the most of it in September. At this time of year, as well as seeing the big five on safari (where a lack of vegetation and plenty of newborns make this a great time for sightings), they can spot whales off the coast around Hermanus, and the Garden Route will look particularly spectacular, as the Cape will be in bloom.
Jacada Travel points out that temperatures are perfect, that it’s shoulder season, so it won’t be too crowded, and recommends twinning Cape Town and the coast with a safari at Sabi Sands.
As autumn starts here in the UK, the monsoon lets up in northern India, and it’s a great time to see one of the world’s greatest monuments to love.
The classic Golden Triangle itinerary visits the Taj Mahal, plus Jaipur and Delhi. For a longer trip, include tiger safaris in Ranthambore or a trip to the colourful desert cities of Rajasthan.
For a bit more glitz, suggest Las Vegas. Temperatures on the Strip are bearable, and after the couple has had their fill of city slicking, it’s a great time to hire car and explore the canyonlands of Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
The Caribbean – and more recently Mexico – are honeymoon favourites, with a laidback lifestyle and luxury beach hotels. Suggest clients get in before peak season prices kick in and the Christmas crowds descend and travel in November – though it’s still technically hurricane season it’s the very tail end so a storm is less likely than in September.
Kuoni offers seven nights at Ocean Two Resort & Residence in Barbados from £1,340, with a honeymoon offer including an upgrade, a spa treatment and $150 restaurant credit.
A shorter haul, more off-the-beaten-track option in November is Oman. Extremely high-quality beachside hotels near Muscat mean fly-and-flopping can be supplemented with a city visit, and luxurious desert camps provide Lawrence of Arabia-style romance.
Christmas makes December high season nearly everywhere, so prices rise.
Thailand is no exception, especially as the weather is at its best on the Andaman Coast too, but there’s such a glut of lovely hotels that it takes longer for demand to match supply. Suggest a triple-centre with Bangkok, Chiang Mai and one of the more secluded Thai beach resorts.
For those who want to follow a winter wedding with a wintry honeymoon, consider the option of going north to Iceland or Lapland. Dancing northern lights, husky sledding and picture-perfect snowscapes can be just as conducive to romance as beaches and palm trees.
Transun offers a three-night Northern Lights Tour in Finnish Lapland from £869, including half-board accommodation, excursions and thermal suits and boots.
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