The pandemic put marriage plans on pause, but now, wedding season has morphed into a year-round affair. And the best part of all that time waiting to finally tie the knot? All the money you saved can be put toward an even more lavish honeymoon—according to wedding planning site Zola, 77% of today’s couples are focusing their finances on post-ceremony festivities. A majority of the world’s most romantic places are up and running once again, so you can wanderlust about (and actually book) dreamy overwater bungalows in Bora Bora or a medieval villa in the vines in Tuscany—or skip the crowds entirely and land in a more underrated destination.
But after all of that (extended) wedding prep, the last thing you want to stress about is the part that’s actually supposed to be relaxing. Need a few ideas to help jumpstart the planning process? This is when it’s best to leave the heavy lifting to the experts. Zola, essentially the engagement handbook, let Thrillist in on a recent poll covering the most-requested honeymoon destinations for 2022, and—no surprise—the Hawaiian Islands top the list.
More than half of the couples surveyed said their ideal honeymoon is a beach locale, somewhere where they can focus on each other sans distractions—and all eight of the top-requested destinations just so happen to be fantastic islands or have coastlines where you won’t be lacking in options of photo-worthy places to post up in the sand.
Here are the most popular honeymoon spots around the world and the must-do activities (besides the obvious) when you get there.
Where to go: Lahaina, the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and a historic whaling village once home to sailors and writers like Herman Melville (of Moby Dick fame)
What to do there: When you’re not lounging on the beach, go whale-spotting; traipse around the city’s museums; and check out the architecture of the Courthouse and old missionary homes.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Find a nook in the city’s picturesque Library Grounds; with oceanside views, you can appreciate a beachy setting without having to get sand in your nether-regions.
Where to go: Playa del Carmen, on the Riviera Maya, is as trendy as Tulum but has much better beaches. Despite it being one of the largest resort towns in the region, you’ll still find plenty of authentic taquerias.
What to do there: Walk along the colonial town’s streets, or laze about one of the beachfront resorts; check out the Maya ruins, or spend a day hiking through the surrounding jungle.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Explore an isolated cenote (an underground cave) in Riviera Maya—and pray there are no bats lurking in the darkness.
Where to go: Fly into Miami and make the scenic road trip to the southernmost point in the continental U.S., Key West, stopping for conch fritters and mermaid roadside shows along the way.
What to do: Snorkel on a boat trip to the country’s only living coral barrier reef; take a sunset sail on a historic schooner; and linger over brunch at Blue Heaven, known for the best key lime pie in Key West.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: The Balinese-inspired, adults-only private island resort Little Palm is a honeymoon favorite for multiple reasons—one being its phone-free policy.
Where to go: Montego Bay (or MoBay, as locals call it) is exactly how it looks in the postcards—endless, white-sand beaches a day trip away from sites like Dunn’s River Falls. Plus, you don’t have to search long to find killer jerk chicken.
What to do there: Raft down the Martha Brae River; hit Church Street to check out the local architecture; or go diving off Cornwall Beach.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: If you can afford it, on a yacht docked at the prestigious Montego Bay Yacht Club. Or, if you want a version of Tahiti minus the flight, stay in one of Sandals’s over-the-water bungalows with sea-facing soaking tubs designed for two.
Where to go: Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, is dotted with coastal towns each more charming than the next and chic beach clubs on par with what you’d find on Capri.
What to do there: Cruise through the olive groves in a vintage convertible; eat your way around the perched “white city” of Ostuni; or linger over local rosé in the ancient seaside town of Polignano a Mare.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Many of the elf-like trulli, or conical-topped circular stone cottages in Alberobello, double as hotels of the rustic variety that feel very Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
Where to go: Castries may be the island’s capital and main cruise port, but a better place to post up is on the west coast, in the town of Soufrière, where you’re guaranteed swoonworthy sunset views from your room in the rainforest.
What to do there: Go whale- and dolphin-spotting; visit Castries Market for a taste of local cuisine and crafts; or bathe in the mud at the world’s only drive-in volcano.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Sneak behind the stacks at Central Library on Derek Walcott Square, for some literary lovemaking. If you’re willing to splurge, hole up in a villa at Sugar Beach or in one of the three-walled rooms at Jade Mountain, where your private infinity pool shows off spectacular views of the island’s landmark twin peaks.
Where to go: Bora Bora is what helped put Tahiti on honeymooners’ maps. The island is surrounded by a ring of coral reef, which you can easily swim around right off the balcony of your overwater bungalow.
What to do there: Shop for Tahitian pearls; canoe to a small private motu (islet) for a picnic; and snorkel with sharks and stingrays.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Just about any overwater bungalow will do—preferably one with a plunge pool that’s out of sight of the other thatched-roof villas.
Where to go: The Exumas are part of a chain of 365 islands in the Bahamas where you’re more likely to run into a swimming pig on the secluded beaches than other tourists.
What to do there: Sip spiced rum cocktails at a bar above the dock; visit the infamous Pig Beach to swim with the star residents; or cruise through the crystal-clear water around the many cays.
Most interesting place to consummate the marriage: Thunderball Grotto was a backdrop in two James Bond films, so you can say you were somewhere famous—that is, if you can find the entrance of the underwater cave.
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