Travel

5 iconic honeymoon experiences & where to find them

The Greek island of Santorini is an iconic draw for many honeymooners.

Getting married is one of life's biggest adventures, so what better way to begin than setting out on an adventure with your favorite person?

And while your honeymoon can't last forever, the memories can. Here are 5 iconic experiences that can put an exclamation point on your wedding (or anniversary, engagement, or whatever grand occasion calls for celebration) along with the indulgent locations where you can make them happen.

Tahiti's overwater bungalows let visitors stay right out on a tropical lagoon.

1. Stay in an overwater bungalow in Tahiti

These days, you can find overwater bungalows all around the world—the Caribbean, the Maldives, even Qatar. But if you're looking for the birthplace of the villa on the water, you'll find it in Tahiti. That's where the first overwater bungalows were built in 1967, on the island of Raiatea, as a way to get around the island's lack of white sand beaches.

Those accommodations were such a hit that you can now find them all around Tahiti, with the largest concentration on the paradisiacal Bora Bora. There are plenty of activities around the islands, of course—snorkeling among the coral, walking the beaches, exploring lagoons on paddleboards. But the best way to experience Tahiti may still be to simply take it slow in your bungalow, watching the fish through a glass floor or lounging in your own private plunge pool.

Resort recommendation: Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Set on a coral island whose name means "2 hearts" in Tahitian, the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa features great views of Mount Otemanu. Uniquely among the Bora Bora resorts, each overwater villa here includes a glass coffee table in the living room that looks down on the water—it can even be opened to feed the fish with resort-provided food.

Learn more about the Intercontinental Bora Bora, and book a stay online

Santorini's iconic white houses are host to many restaurants and spas.

2. Stroll among Santorini's white houses

One of the jewels of the Greek islands, Santorini's picturesque landscape sits on the slopes of an ancient volcano, a suitably dramatic setting for its hillside cave houses and blue domes. It's one of the most sought-after backdrops for a honeymoon photo shoot—everything from wedding dresses to hiking gear pops vibrantly against the white-sided buildings.

Whether or not you're taking pictures, the cave houses are worth touring on their own. They have a long history on the island, dating back to when merchants and sailors cut them directly into the rock. Take it to the next level with a romantic dinner at a cave restaurant, or treat yourself to a secluded caveside spa.

Resort recommendation: Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini

This Cycladic-style property is the modern incarnation of a 400-year-old winery in the medieval village of Megalohori. All of the resort's suites and villas have their own private terrace, and many have their own hot tub or pool. Its on-site restaurant, Alati, is in a medieval wine cave. A short walk away, visitors can find the "Heart of Santorini" rock formation.

Learn more about Vedema Resort Santorini, and book a stay online

Haleakala (Hawaiian for "house of the sun") is one of the most sought-after sunrise spots in the world.

3. See the sun rise over Maui's Haleakala volcano

For a celestial shared experience befitting newlyweds, travel to the summit of 10,000-foot-tall Haleakala. It's here that Hawaiian myth says the demigod Maui snared the sun to slow its course across the sky: Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian. You and your beloved can catch the sun yourselves every morning, watching as it climbs through the clouds and slowly colors the stark crater landscape with warm amber rays. (The rest of Haleakala National Park is no slouch, either.)

Reservations are required for the sunrise. Make your own through Recreation.gov, or sign on with a tour company that'll handle reservation, transport, and breakfast. You'll want to dress for cold temperatures, and to arrive especially early if you want a spot up front. Some recommend visiting Haleakala within your first couple days, while your body's internal clock is still ahead of Hawai‘i time.

Resort recommendation: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Haleakala is far from the only dramatic geography on Maui. Another is Pu‘u Keka‘a, a black rock formation at the end of Ka‘anapali Beach. That's where you'll find the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, which has a nightly tradition where a cliff diver ceremonially lights torches on Pu‘u Keka‘a before jumping from the rock into the sea.

Learn more about the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, and book a stay online

Moraine Lake and its turquoise waters provide breathtaking views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

4. Canoe around 2 of Canada's most iconic lakes

Pristine turquoise lakes are the biggest draws in Banff, Canada's first national park and one of its most popular destinations. The slow grinding of glaciers against the Canadian Rockies produces a fine material called "rock flour," which flows through meltwater into the lakes and turns them an almost unbelievably bright shade of blue.

Many of these lakes have canoe rentals for exploring. These include Lake Louise, home to the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise railway hotel; and nearby Moraine Lake, whose iconic mountains have been featured everywhere from computer and phone backgrounds to Canadian money. There are plenty of great views from shore, of course, but embarking on the turquoise waters offers a whole new perspective—make sure to bring a waterproof case with a secure lanyard if you're planning to take shots from the boat.

Resort recommendation: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

This is the resort that made Lake Louise famous. Built in 1890 by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a destination to encourage rail travel, its impossibly photogenic setting on the shore of the lake continues to draw visitors from around the world. A hike up the nearby Lake Agnes trail provides stunning views of the water, the resort, and the glacial valley beyond—as well as a chance to enjoy tea and sandwiches at the Lake Agnes Tea House in the summer.

Learn more about the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and book a stay online

Bridges in many areas around Monteverde allow visitors to see the canopy and animals up close.

5. Glide across cloud forest canopies in Costa Rica

Where other destinations in this list provide white sands or blue waters, Costa Rica's forests offer abundant greens. The trade winds bring lots of moisture to the country's mountains—more than 100 inches annually in most places—creating an abundant ecosystem of ferns, mosses, ficus trees, and charismatic animal species.

Especially memorable are the forests where you can literally go for a walk in the clouds. Monteverde is one: High above sea level, the area gets water directly from clouds before it can fall as rain. There are numerous canopy walkways and hanging bridges here, as well as aerial trams and ziplines for the adventurous. If you're looking to spot a special creature, keep an eye out here for the resplendent quetzal and its elegant emerald plumage.

Resort recommendation: The Springs Resort & Spa

Come to this resort for the stunning views of Arenal Volcano, which rises alone over the forested and frequently misty landscape. Stay for the mineral hot springs nestled in the jungle and heated by volcanic vents. Then spice things up at the resort's Club Rio Adventure Center, where you can take your pick from river tubing and kayaking, rock climbing, horseback tours, night excursion in the jungle, and a wildlife sanctuary.

Learn more about The Springs Resort & Spa, and book a stay online

Let AAA help you plan an iconic honeymoon

From picking the right destination, to flight and resort reservations, to activity bookings and the finer details, a AAA travel advisor can help make your vision a reality at every step of honeymoon planning. 

AAA Travel alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

 

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