Divine destinations to ensure the ultimate honeymoon.
If you’re one of those spirited souls who believes beginning your life together should start with an all-out celebration of style and adventure, we’ve assembled a collection of off-the-chart odysseys that will create enough memories to last a lifetime.
British Virgin Islands
The Setting: Known as “Nature’s Little Secrets” the dozens of islands, islets and cays that make up the BVI in the Caribbean’s Leeward group have for centuries attracted a steady stream of adventurers, buccaneers, sailors and now, pleasure-seekers. They may have come for different reasons, but you can be sure all were smitten by the idyllic coves, powdery beaches and gin-clear waters teeming with fish in jewel box colors that are trademarks of the BVI experience. What these islands are also known for is a sublime way with laid-back luxury: private islands, gorgeous vistas from villas and suites, day-sails and yacht soirées.
Where to Stay and Play: The long history of visits by British royals and celebrities ensure that services and standards are world-class. One of the most coveted destinations is Sir Richard Branson’s private retreat, Necker Island. Limited to only 28 guests at a time (either exclusively or during certain weeks, individual rooms are available), “idle worship” is the operative phrase here. A languid beachfront pool bordered by a profusion of tropical growth and stoic Buddhas only hint at the serenity within. Accommodations range from the hilltop Great House filled with one-of-a-kind Balinese art and furnishings, to six individual Balinese-style houses. Indulge in the spa; private beaches, where the only footprints are yours; hiking trails; and water sports, such as diving and kite surfing.
Private suites with plunge pools, expansive verandas, oversized soaking tubs and tropical chic furnishings create an aura of relaxed sophistication at Biras Creek Resort on Virgin Gorda. Accessible only be helicopter or boat, the 140-acre resort straddles the wave-tossed Atlantic on one side and the calm Caribbean on the other. Attractions here include a full-service spa; candlelit dinners prepared by a lauded local chef; and day trips to scuba, snorkel and sail.
Showcasing the BVI’s nautical spirit, the Bitter End Yacht Club is the preferred pick for active couples. Arriving at your suite involves a cardio bump as you navigate up a series of connecting stairs, but once at your private hillside aerie, the vistas overlooking North Sound will leave you spell-bound. Once you leave the island-ambiance of your room with its hardwood furnishings and generous balcony, adventure awaits. A large fleet of sea kayaks, Hobie Cats, stand-up paddleboards and other craft are here for your use, or charter a sailboat and be delivered to an isolated beach for a picnic and snorkel. After a day on the water, we recommend a seaside spa treatment.Necker Island, neckerisland.virgin.com, 877.577.8777; 212.994.3070, email@example.com | Biras Creek Resort, biras.com, 877.883.0756 | Bitter End Yacht Club, beyc.com, 800.872.2392
The Setting: When you first catch sight of Bora Bora’s jagged Mount Otemanu vaulting into the piercing blue sky you are forever hooked on French Polynesia. And that’s before you’ve even landed. Once you begin exploring this tiare-scented fleet of islands, strewn about an area the size of Europe, you become even more seduced by their combination of French élan and Polynesian culture and customs. It’s here that Paul Gauguin painted his memorable images of a paradise found and where ever since, generations of modern souls have sought the ultimate escape. The most famous refuge of all—and deservedly so—is Bora Bora, comprised of a main island surrounded by a necklace of smaller islets called motus, where swank five-star properties lay ensconced among towering coconut palms.
Where To Stay and Play: The newest resort, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, is also one that seems to have perfected all that is best about romantic retreats here: spacious over-water bungalows, exceptional dining, a world-class spa and lush grounds laced with serene paths that always seem to keep you within sight of Bora’s verdant jade peaks. Suites themselves are an artful blend of teak wood; soaring ceilings of thatched pandanus leaves; and high-tech, high-touch amenities like flatscreen TVs, spacious tubs with lagoon views and Tahitian artifacts.
As beautiful as the sunsets are from Bora Bora, there is something absolutely breathtaking about watching the sun sink into the night behind Bora’s legendary profile. That’s one good reason to visit sister island Taha’a. Another is the Relais & Chateau five-star Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa. Here, Tahitian culture is integrated in every aspect of the compound, from the authentic seafaring canoe anchored in the open-air lobby to pirogue-shaped tubs that are strewn with flowers on your arrival. Other attractions include a spa specializing in local taurumi treatments, an on-site shop featuring a luminous array of Tahitian pearls, and a superb restaurant, designed to feel as though it’s perched in the trees, featuring dishes like grilled lobster medallions with coconut.
If the wandering spirit of the Polynesians has you inspired, look no further than Tahitian-owned Nomade Yachting’s Ti’a Moana motor yacht. At 230 feet, with only 30 cabins, the feeling onboard is of being on your own private mega-yacht, with a fly-deck Jacuzzi, classically-trained French chef and onboard spa. Its smaller size also means unrivalled access to isolated islands with lyrical names like Huahine and Raiatea, and days spent snorkeling over their sparkling reefs. Sailing the Ti’a Moana also gives you VIP seating for perhaps the most romantic dining experience you will ever encounter: a white linen, torch-lit setting on an isolated beach while a gourmet meal is served for you under the stars—shoes optional—for the ultimate in barefoot elegance.Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, fourseason.com/borabora, 800.819.5053 | Le Taha a Resort, letahaa.com, 800.735.2478, firstname.lastname@example.org | Nomade Yachting, boraboracruises.com
The Setting: The cheers from the 2010 World Cup may have died down, but the spotlight will stay on South Africa for a long time to come as a truly world-class travel destination. There aren’t many places in the world that can claim to have such a wealth and diversity of experiences. Indeed, a honeymoon in South Africa may leave you feeling as if you’ve visited several countries, maybe even continents, as you return home with tales of epic vistas of sophisticated Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, inhaling the bracing sea air on a drive along the spectacular Garden Route, tasting a refined Shiraz at Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch or capturing wildlife images you’ll cherish forever (all the “Big 5” are here) at private preserves like Lion Sands in Mpumalanga.
Where to Stay and Play: Cape Town represents the country at its most cosmopolitan, and Cape Grace Hotel in the city’s heart on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is one of its most prized addresses. Refined touches such as chandeliers, Regency-style furnishings, superb service, luxurious rooms and suites fitted with marble bathrooms and French doors, that open to spectacular views of moored yachts and Table Mountain, await. The hotel’s ideal location also puts you right in the heart of the city’s vibrant dining, shopping and entertainment scene.
The Garden Route on the Western Cape Coast is one of South Africa’s most scenic coastal corridors. And no resort can claim a more privileged perch than Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, located on a secluded beach considered one the country’s finest. Recent guests here include the French National Soccer Team, who, like everyone else, were drawn by the resort’s sleek design incorporating contemporary African art, a championship golf course, sophisticated organic dining prepared by executive chef Geoffrey Murray and luxe accommodations in detached villas. But the ultimate stay here is in the Private Castle complex, consisting of the Main Castle, Honeymoon Castle and Cliff Castle. Designed as the ultimate retreat for special events such as weddings and family reunions, amenities at this fantasy retreat include a fully equipped chef’s kitchen, wine cellar, enormous luxury suites and a dedicated staff.
No visit to the country, however, is complete without experiencing the abundant wildlife, as South Africa provides some of the very best opportunities on the continent. We can’t think of a more complete experience than Lion Sands Private Game Reserve. Family-owned for three generations, Lion Sands features exquisite detached villas (we recommend the Ivory Lodge or, for groups, the 1933 Villa); a superlative, attentive staff; fine dining including local dishes like springbok; and in-suite spa treatments where your soundtrack will be the calls of the wild. Knowledgeable guides lead bush tours in custom Land Rovers where you will most likely encounter the majestic Big Five: elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards and Cape buffalo—a sublime way to begin your adventure in life together.Cape Grace, capegrace.com, 184.108.40.2060.7100 | Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, pezula.com, pezulaprivatecastle.com, 220.127.116.112.5332 | Waterford Estate, waterfordestate.co.za, 18.104.22.1680.0496 | Lion Sands Private Game Reserve, lionsands.com, 22.214.171.1244.9911