There are only a few times in life when you can throw caution to the wind and indulge in a purely hedonistic pursuit. Honeymoons are one of them. It's the ultimate excuse to plan the trip of a lifetime—the vacation you've been dreaming about for years but haven't had a chance to tick off your bucket list.
While 2016 saw the emergence of "adventure-moons," whereby newlyweds ditched classic resorts in favor of adrenaline-pumping activities, experts predict 2017 will take an entirely new turn. Thanks to economic changes in Europe and a new fleet of luxury hotels in the Caribbean, now is the time to book a once-in-a-lifetime luxury trip for a fraction of the price.
Brace yourselves—these out-of-this-world honeymoon destinations will give you serious armchair wanderlust. Update your bucket list accordingly.
Hawaii constantly tops the list of desirable honeymoon destinations, and Brooke Porter Katz, senior travel editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, says one island will steal the limelight in 2017. "Oahu is a popular island for its mix of beaches (go watch the surfers on the North Shore), history (Pearl Harbor), hiking (Diamond Head), and culture (Chinatown is home to a number of art galleries)," she tells MyDomaine.
Multiple new hotels and big renovations make Oahu the place to be. "The 1960s-inspired Surfjack is really the first hip property in town, with 112 design-forward rooms," she explains. Her other top pick is the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach, formerly The Pacific Beach Hotel. Time your visit when it relaunches in fall 2017 after a $115 makeover "which will add two pools and two restaurants from Masaharu Morimoto," she says.
Unsure when to book your trip? Tom Spagnola, SVP of supplier relations at CheapOair, says June through August are the most popular months each year. "There has been quite a bit of capacity increase into the Hawaiian Islands from the USA in the past two years, so this helps honeymooners be able to get to Hawaii for more reasonable flight costs," he says.
"Europe's debt crisis actually worked wonders for Portugal: Lower hotel prices means you'll pay a lot less for a luxury hotel room than you would in, say, Rome or Paris," explains Porter Katz. She notes that airlift has increased, with a ton of nonstop flights from eight U.S. cities.
If you're looking to avoid high-season crowds, visit in the shoulder season from March to May. "Its location in southern Europe means it's relatively warm even in the winter," she notes, with the average high temperature sitting at 61 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooler months.
If you're poised to book a flight, follow her itinerary: "There's something for everyone: world-class culture in Lisbon, including the recently opened Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, laid-back beaches and amazing seafood in Comporta, shopping and Art Deco architecture in Porto, and incredible wine in the Douro Valley, where there's a new Six Senses resort."
Venice, Rome, and Florence tend to dominate lists of romantic Italian travel destinations, but Mahesh Chaddah, co-founder of Reservations.com, says honeymooners will turn their attention to a different hot spot in 2017. "For newlyweds obsessed with food, the Piedmont region of Italy is the place to be," he tells MyDomaine. "Recently named Italy's new food capital, the destination is speckled with wineries, spas, and the region's first new-build luxury hotel, the Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, opening in March."
The best honeymoons don't necessarily involve a grueling long-haul flight. In fact, 75% of American couples chose to celebrate their nuptials close to home in the U.S. and Canada over the past five years, according to research by Westin Hotels.
If you'd prefer to maximize your vacation time, Spagnola says Sedona, Arizona, should top your list. "I believe you'll see an increase in Sedona for honeymoons in 2017. [It] has beautiful and unique scenery that caters to both the adventurous and those who simply want to relax."
Outdoor types should explore the region via the torrent of activities available in Sedona. "Hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, hiking, tennis, and swimming cover just about everything a honeymoon couple would like to do for outdoor activities," he says. End an action-packed day with a spa treatment at Miiamo, a leading resort set against the dramatic backdrop of Sedona's red rocks.
"With millennial honeymooners seeking more experiential travel, there's no need for them look further than Marrakech," says Mahesh. "The Moroccan city's mix of old and new charm is the perfect destination for an adventurous couple."
If your honeymoon spans more than a few days, be sure to explore Morocco's other thriving cities. Relax by the seaside in Essaouira, wander the leather markets in Fez, and get lost in the winding powdery alleyways of the blue city, Chefchaouen.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
If you've ever dreamed of staying in a postcard-perfect overwater bungalow but have been deterred by the cost of jetting to the Maldives or Bora Bora, Mexico's latest luxury addition is worth considering. El Dorado Maroma has launched Mexico's first-ever overwater bungalows, making the experience more accessible and affordable than ever.
Perched on Riviera Maya's Maroma Beach—voted by Travel Channel as one of the top 10 beaches in the world—each bungalow has access to pristine turquoise water and stellar sunset views. March and April are the driest months to visit, where the temperature rests at a pleasant 77 degrees.
"The spotlight on this Caribbean jet-set hideaway is even brighter, thanks to some new hotel openings," says Porter Katz. "Villa Marie, which has 18 boho-style bungalows and villas set among a tropical garden, and Le Barthélemy, with chic, light-filled rooms and food by Michelin-starred French chef Guy Martin, and Le Carl Gustaf from the Hôtel Barrière group is opening in October 2017."
If you tire of mojitos by the resort pool (doubtful), she recommends exploring the myriad of pristine beaches. "You could go for a week, and visit a different beach every day." Her top pick? "Colombier, accessible only by hiking there."
What's your dream honeymoon? Take a look at our favorite lesser-known destinations for more inspiration.