Where to Stay During Your Honeymoon in Kauai

I published a post last week about where to stay during an Italian honeymoon, and this week I’m going to focus on one of the most popular islands for honeymooners: Kauai!

honeymoon in kauai

If you decide to honeymoon in Kauai, I’d recommend staying in more than one hotel so you can check out different parts of the island, or just so you can maybe splurge a little at one hotel and then find a more reasonable place to stay throughout the rest of your trip.

Below is a list of hotels that that Real Honeymooners who’ve contributed to the blog would recommend:

Happy travel planning, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Real Destination Wedding: Mexico

It’s time for another first on Peonies to Palm Trees!  This time it’s the very first REAL DESTINATION WEDDING post, brought to you by Erika and Chris who decided to get married in Mexico.  My brother was lucky enough to attend this amazing destination wedding, and said that it was an absolute blast.  If you’re considering planning a destination wedding, make sure to read all of Erika’s wonderful advice below (and go for it!):

When and where was your destination wedding?

We were married on October 27th, 2013 in Troncones, Mexico (a small fishing village and resort town near Ixtapa).

Mexico wedding

How long were you there?

We stayed for a week with our family and on the 4th day the rest of our guests joined us.

troncones wedding

How did you decide on doing a destination wedding?

We fell in love in Costa Rica, we got engaged in El Salvador, and we wanted to share our love of adventure and travel with our family and friends. Also, we all get caught up in this fast paced world. We were hoping that our wedding would be a chance for everyone to slow down, step away, and really enjoy our time together.

group yoga in mexico

Pre-wedding yoga sesh

The best part about our destination wedding was…

It was intimate and genuine. All our friends and family spent days together. Those who didn’t know each other became friends, those who hadn’t seen each other in a while reconnected….Our parents call each other on the phone now. It was so special for all the people we love to come together for us.

troncones wedding

Surf’s up!

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I had this grand idea that, because we had kitchens, we’d all want to cook in the days leading up to the wedding. We did crazy grocery shopping and I created a menu and cookbook. But we were all so excited to be in a new place and all together that we wanted to explore and hang out, not cook. That was a wasted effort and more trouble than it was worth. Go out to eat, it’s good for the local economy, it adds to the adventure, and it allows you and your guests to get to know the local people.

troncones wedding

What was the hardest part about planning a destination wedding?

Our wedding planners miraculously got it all done almost like we’d planned…and “almost” was plenty close enough for us. But, there was plenty of not really knowing if things were actually going to happen. The planners made it interesting, they were often unresponsive to our emails and then they’d only answer a couple of our many questions. In fact, they never actually confirmed our plans and contract until we were already in Mexico, two days before the wedding. Chris and I learned to just laugh it off, and go with the flow. Also, mother nature served us up some complications, there was a hurricane..thankfully, it stayed off shore, and a downpour/thunderstorm during the reception. But heck, it makes for a great story to tell our kids one day.

troncones wedding

What are your tips for other couples who are considering planning a destination wedding?

It’s STRESSFUL but absolutely, completely worth it. The intimacy, sincerity, and simplicity of the day and ceremony was inexplicable. It was magical and we will never ever forget it. So just take a deep breath, let things happen, relax if it’s not picture perfect because the imperfections, oh man, that’s where the memories happen, the memories you get to cherish together for the rest of your lives. Like when it poured down rain and we all ran to the covered patio, cramped together, no clue what to do, as our tables and chairs got soaked, there was a brief moment of panic and then we looked around at all our friends and family laughing and dancing we knew what to do….time to dance in the rain.

troncones wedding

So so awesome

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Where to Stay During Your Honeymoon in Italy

I’m excited to share a new series of posts about where real honeymooners have enjoyed staying in some of the most popular destinations.  First up, Italy!

honeymoon in italy

As mentioned in my first anniversary post, Italy was the most popular honeymoon destination on the blog last year.  I’ve aggregated the notes from all of those honeymoons and compiled the following list of hotel recommendations.*

For couples who have never been to Italy before, visiting Rome and/or Florence is a must.  The history, art, food, and architecture are unparalleled.  Below are some of the hotels that real honeymooners enjoyed staying in last year.



As amazing as Rome and Florence are though, you’ll probably want to get out of the big cities at some point to relax along the coast or to (literally) drink in the beauty of wine country.  Luckily the train system within Italy is convenient and efficient, so you can easily check out multiple regions within the country.  Below are some of the other cities that real honeymooners recommended, and the hotels that they liked best.



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Real Honeymoon: Bora Bora

After getting married in Croatia (which is totally amazing in and of itself), Yasemin and McLain jetted down to French Polynesia for the ultimate Bora Bora honeymoon.  Overwater bungalow?  Check.  ATV tour around the island?  Check.  Swimming with sharks and rays?  Check check.  Read all about their absolutely incredible Bora Bora honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, in July 2013.

bora bora honeymoon

The Four Seasons, Bora Bora

How long was your trip?

One night in Tahiti and eight nights in Bora Bora.

bora bora atv

ATV ride

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to go somewhere warm and tropical, where we could just lie on the beach, relax, and do water sports. We were deciding between the Maldives and Bora Bora for our honeymoon destination, and we ended up picking Bora Bora because the weather was better at that time of year.

bora bora honeymoon

Champagne on the deck of the bungalow

The best part about our honeymoon was…

So many things! Swimming with sharks and manta rays while they were feeding, scuba diving, and doing a jetski and ATV island tour were among our favorite activities. Also, our overwater bungalow was so peaceful, the view was amazing, and the staff members at the Four Seasons Fesort in Bora Bora were very kind, hospitable, and genuine. Everyone on staff knew us by name and greeted us whenever they saw us.

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Swimming with manta rays

sharks and rays bora bora


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

The date of our return flight, so that we could have stayed longer ;-)

bora bora honeymoon

Gorgeous Bora Bora

cannon ball bora bora

Cannon ball!

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Feature Your Honeymoon on Peonies to Palm Trees!

It’s that time again when I remind the blogosphere to keep sending me awesome new Real Honeymoon posts!  All of the info you need is on this page.

Have you, or someone you know, gone on an exciting and unique honeymoon?  I want to read about it!  Think I’m sick of reading about honeymoons in the more popular destinations like Italy or Hawaii?  No chance!  All honeymoons big and small are welcome for submission.

Contact me if you have any questions — hope to hear from you soon!

Real Mini-moon: Sedona

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Real Mini-moon post, so I was extra excited when my friends CK and Allison told me that they were going on a mini-moon in Sedona.  Read all about their amazing pet-friendly getaway below:

When and where did you mini-moon?

We traveled to Sedona, Arizona for our minimoon October 14-17th [2013]. After getting married in Scottsdale, we wanted to take a little getaway after our wedding since we are not going on our actual honeymoon until middle of November. Sedona is a popular tourist town known for its red rock formations, outdoor activities, and beautiful fall weather.


sedona pup

How long was your trip?

We stayed for three nights. We initially were only going to stay for two, but we are definitely glad we stayed for three. We have both been to Sedona a few times before and have explored most of the things to do there, so this was more of a relaxing trip. For someone’s first time, I would definitely recommend a minimum of three nights, but four to five nights would probably be best.


sedona hiking

How did you decide on your mini-moon destination?

Sedona is great because it is only about an hour and a half drive from Phoenix. You also get a welcome change in temperature and we were able to see the start of some fall colors. One or two weeks later would have been perfect to view the fall leaves. We knew that Sedona would be the perfect escape as a nice resort town; it is quiet, has great restaurants, and plenty of hiking opportunities.


We chose to stay at the Amara Resort and Spa. The Amara resort was wonderful. Perfect location, located right off main street/uptown Sedona where all of the shops and restaurants are and is also located right on the beautiful Oak Creek. Another main reason is that it is pet friendly – we couldn’t leave our pet behind knowing we would be going on multiple hikes, she would not be happy with us. It is part of the Kimpton line of hotels which I have learned are all pet friendly. We opened our room to a welcome sign for our dog Molly, a nice dog bed and food/water bowls setup. (They also had champagne and strawberries for us).



We had a courtyard suite, which I definitely recommend. Well worth it for the better view of the courtyard, pool and creek. The salt water pool that has a negative edge overlooking the creek was also a nice place to relax and enjoy the view. Oh, and don’t forget the free wine tasting every evening, that was a plus! Lastly, the famous L’Auberge de Sedona resort is located right next door. This place is amazing, you are able to walk right over, they basically share the same grounds. They have adorable little cottages and an amazing restaurant, queue the next question…

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Cheap and Adventurous Honeymoon Ideas

Some friends of mine recently got married in Mexico (blog post coming soon!), and now they’ve asked me for recommendations on where to go on their honeymoon.   Their two biggest requirements?  Adventurous and inexpensive.

Since this couple lives in California, I immediately thought that they have two major options: Asia or Central America.  Here’s why:

1) SE Asia: The yes-the-flight-is-expensive-but-everything-else-is-cheap option.

If your honeymoon is 10+ days, I’d definitely recommend going to SE Asia, specifically certain parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia*, and Cambodia*.  Although your flights will most likely be $1000 or more per person, your money is going to go a very long way once you’re there.  You can stay at incredible resorts for less than $200 a night, domestic flights are super cheap, fancy dinners can be had for $30 or less, and spa splurges like massages are around $15.

Morning sunrise hike in Bali

Morning sunrise hike in Bali

SE Asia also offers a lot of cool options for adventure lovers.  You can trek with elephants in Thailand, go water rafting in Bali, hike mountains in Borneo – the list is endless (and pretty damn awesome).


Alexis and Andrew riding elephants in Thailand

If you want to stay on budget, just make sure that you avoid the most touristy areas and “name brand” hotels.  In other words, if you think that the Four Seasons in Koh Samui will be a steal just because it’s in Thailand, think again.  (Because the cheapest rooms are about $1000 USD a night!)

2) Central America: The flights-are-short-and-inexpensive-but-you’ll-pay-a-decent-amount-for-everything-else option.

Remember when I was deciding whether to go to Belize, Nicaragua, or Panama last Memorial Day weekend?  Well, the flights from SFO to all three countries were basically the same price: $600.  And compared to flights to Asia, they’re really short which makes them perfect for honeymoons that are less than 10 days.

panama snorkeling

Snorkeling in Panama

While Costa Rica is great for honeymooners, it will certainly not be your cheapest bet.  Belize*, on the other hand, has great “beach + jungle” resort combo packages at all different price points, and our neighbors raved about the amazing diving resorts in Honduras.*  Panama is a major up-and-coming surf destination, as well.

Belize horseback riding

Agnes and Matt horseback riding in Belize

Again, you may save money if you stay away from the big name hotel chains and choose boutique hotels instead.

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Real Honeymoon: Kauai

After their beautiful wedding in Lake Tahoe, Matt and Amy chose to honeymoon in Kauai where they knew they’d be able to relax and still find tons of fun things to do.  They also kept things interesting by staying in hotels in three different parts of the island.  Read all about their amazing honeymoon in Kauai, and make sure to check out their great restaurants and activities tips at the end:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Kauai in Early August [2013].


How long was your trip?

We were there for 10 days.


How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We both wanted a place where we could relax and unwind after the wedding festivities. Somewhere warm, with beaches, and warm water. The place also needed to offer areas to explore and a plethora of outdoor activities. We also wanted it to be a place neither of us had visited before, so it could be a new experience together.


The best part about our honeymoon was…

You mean aside from spending 10 days in paradise with the one you love, relaxing and soaking up the tropical sun? The best part was not having to stick to a schedule. Our days were just about perfect. First, enjoy some morning coffee and breakfast, then embark on activity for some adventure and exercise. Then beach time, then a great dinner.


If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

We split our time between the north and south sides of the island. In the North, we stayed in Princeville, which was absolutely gorgeous. The frequent, very quick rain spells kept everything lush and green and also provided some a quick refuge from the hot tropical sun. A five minute drive down the hill and over a one lane bridge took us straight into Hanalei, where we spent fair amount of time. Hanalei Bay and the town of Hanalei proved to be a perfect match for everything we enjoyed. On the south side of the island, we stayed in sunny Poipu. Poipu was dry, had more strip malls and had more of a large resort feel to it. We decided that we really enjoyed Princeville more and would have spent more time there.


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