2013's Most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations
You've spent months planning every detail of your dream wedding. Finally, your chance to relax has arrived: It's honeymoon time! Whether your idea of a romantic interlude involves lying together in the lap of beachfront luxury, diving hand-in-hand into an action-filled adventure or soaking in some of history's most extraordinary moments, we've highlighted 2013's most romantic honeymoon destinations.
5. The Maldives
The Maldives are quite possibly the most romantic archipelago on earth, with perfectly placed, palm tree-cloaked islands, pearly white beaches -- surrounded by crystal-clear, warm turquoise waters, no less -- along with private, overwater bungalows strung over the sea. Many of the Maldives tiny islands have been converted into luxury resorts, where your every whim is met, and where romance seems to blaze out from each tiki torch that lines the beach.
While it's difficult to find a resort in the Maldives that isn't exceptional, seek out an adults-only accommodation, such as Komandoo Maldives Island Resort, and thank us later when your daily swims aren't interrupted by screaming, splashing children. Upon arriving on the island via float plane, you'll be greeted by the entire staff singing a traditional welcome song, and given a delightful cup of coconut ice cream as you wait for your paperwork and room key to be assigned. Be sure to ditch your shoes -- you'll never wear them -- grab a bikini, and head for your own private bungalow, set behind your private strip of beach (unless of course, you've chosen one of the overwater bungalows), then dip into the ocean straight from your private porch.
For the ultimate romantic evening in the Maldives, plan a private, beachside, candlelit dinner, designing the menu with the resort's executive chef. Then relax as you sip cocktails with your spouse while looking upon a blazing pink and orange sunset in barefooted bliss, recalling the extraordinary snorkeling trip you took together earlier that afternoon.
4. Maui, Hawaii
Newlyweds seeking romance and adventure will have their fantasies fulfilled on a honeymoon trip to Maui. The island's magnificent natural setting -- complete with rainforests, one of Hawaii's grandest volcanoes and picturesque, palm-fringed beaches -- inspire both. Drive the famed Road to Hana, stopping to admire crashing waterfalls and enjoying a secluded picnic lunch alongside a stunning seascape of crashing waves. Or take a horseback ride along the spine of Haleakala Volcano, enjoying the sweeping vistas of jungles, waterfalls and mist-covered mountainsides. Be sure to explore the island's secluded, "secret" beaches, where you can share an amorous moment, possibly even alone on the sand: Secret Cove (between Makena Beach and Ahihi Bay) and Paia's Secret Beach both fit the bill.
Plan a honeymoon stay at one of the island's most luxe accommodations, the Grand Wailea. This sprawling Waldorf Astoria resort features a 45,000-square-foot adults-only pool, private poolside massage cabanas, a swim-up grotto bar and a 50,000-square-foot spa. Book the “Romance Me Maui” package, which includes 4 nights stay, 2 120-minute spa-pampering treatments, turndown service with rose petals on the bed and in the bathroom tub, and a 4-course meal with wine pairing at the resort's signature, overwater restaurant Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.
With 322 pristine islands, Fiji offers as much (or as little) to do as you desire. Enjoy an afternoon of scuba diving or snorkeling; get your adrenaline pumping whitewater rafting or windsurfing, or simply hike along rugged cliffs or explore a native village and watch a traditional fire-walking ceremony.
At night, check into of the Fiji's premier resorts -- trust us, you can hardly go wrong at any of the islands' luxurious resorts, and will be delighted to discover a true paradise on earth near bursting with sun-soaked silken sands, surrounded by sapphire and cerulean waters, and covered with lush palm trees, plus the occasional set of jagged cliffs to lend to the postcard-worthy setting. Among the must-stay places is the Royal Davui Island Resort, an adults-only island resort with a mission of making your romantic dreams come true. The resort offers the utmost in privacy; a mere 16 villas dot the 10-acre island tucked into Beqa Lagoon.
Enjoy intimate moments in your villa's private outdoor plunge pools, or seek solace in an in-room couples' spa massage. The resort offers a series of honeymoon packages, including the “Romance Honeymoon,” complete with his and hers sarongs, private beach picnics and a 1-hour couples’ massage; the “Adventure Honeymoon,” featuring a scuba course, zip-line adventure and private beach picnic; and the “Indulgence Honeymoon,” where each day you're treated to an indulgence such as a 60-minute massage, 30-minute facial or body scrub.
2. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The Caribbean is often a convenient destination for US-based couples. Wander farther afield from the oft-crowded US Virgin Islands and seek solace on the shores of one of the British Virgin Islands, such as Virgin Gorda. A mere 8.5 square miles, the island makes for an intimate destination in the midst of stunning environs: unspoiled and secluded beaches, like Savannah Bay, Devil's Bay and Maho Bay, as well as national parks including The Baths, a wondrous spot where granite boulders create mysterious grottos, caves and saltwater pools, perfect for exploring and snorkeling. The island, which happens to be the third largest of the BVIs, also offers diverse cultural attractions, such as the Spanish ruins at Little Fort National Park.
Lay your newly married heads down at one of the island's luxe resorts, like Rosewood Little Dix Bay, set amid a picturesque, crescent-shaped stretch of sand and featuring a selection of high-end rooms, suites, beach houses and villa accommodations. While its own beach is a delight, the hotel also lies in proximity to a number of other spectacular beaches accessible only by sea; the hotel’s "Beach Drops" program shuttles guests by boat to these various shores. Honeymooners can book the resort's "Romance 7-Night Package for 2," which includes full breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, welcome champagne, a torch-lit beach dinner for 2, a day trip to a secluded beach with picnic, and a selection of spa treatments.
Few places in the world blend history and culture with romance like Italy. Couples may find themselves meandering the streets of Rome and tossing coins over their shoulders into the Trevi Fountain, being serenaded on a gondola ride along Venice's canals, snapping photos overlooking Florence's Arno River, or simply taking pause to tuck into a sweet gelato and sipping a steaming espresso. History and arts lovers will want to explore the ruins of Rome's ancient Forum and Colosseum, ogle some of the world's finest art and sculpture in the halls of Florence's extraordinary museums or discover wonders of the ancient world so perfectly preserved by volcanic eruption at Pompeii. And for honeymooners seeking the chance to unwind by the sea, the sunny shores of the Amalfi Coast provide respite from these larger, bustling cities.
Whether you stay in cities, villages or along the coast, you both will suffer no shortage of romantic accommodations in bella Italia. You'll feel every bit like Audrey Hepburn on Roman holiday at the Inn at the Spanish Steps, located in Rome’s city center at -- you guessed it -- the Spanish Steps. Guests can stay in rooms with views of the famed stairs, and will be steps away from one of Rome's most luxe shopping streets, Via del Babuino. Head to the rooftop terrace to enjoy an apertivo at sunset, and embrace the City of Love. Or if you’re in Florence, book a stay at the ultra-mod Hotel Continentale. The hotel offers guests a honeymoon special that includes 2 nights’ accommodations, a cocktail at the Sky Lounge Bar overlooking the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River, a 3-course dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants, and a massage treatment at the hotel’s new White Iris Spa.