Winter Break 2013

happy holidays

Remember how great Winter Break was back when we were in school?  Well I unfortunately don’t get much of a break from work around the holidays, but I have decided to at least give myself some time off from blogging until the new year.  Feel free to submit new Real Honeymoon posts in the meantime though!  I’m looking forward to reading about some great honeymoons in 2014.

Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones, wherever in the world you may be!  Although I won’t be there physically, I’ll *mentally* be on that beach in Hawaii ; )

xx

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December Dream Vacations

The holiday season always makes me appreciate all of the wonderful people I have in my life, and I’m very fortunate that so many of them live near me in the San Francisco Bay Area.  However, some of the most important important people, for some reason, prefer living in a not-so-moderate climate.  That’s right, we’re off to Minnesota next week to freeze our butts off spend Christmas with my in-laws!

Don’t get me wrong, my husband’s family is totally great.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that they’ve always been incredibly welcoming ever since I first met them.  I’m especially looking forward to a Cinderella-themed slumber party with my 2 1/2 year old niece, playing with my sister-in-laws’ awesome pups, catching up with my husband’s adorable grandparents, and spending time with everyone else… but, man will it be cold!

Although I’m going to freeze in Minnesota this year, here’s a list of warmer places that I’d like to visit during future Decembers:

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

1) Southern Africa + Mauritius: it would be an absolute dream vacation to go on safari in South Africa or Tanzania, visit Mozambique and Zanzibar, then relax on Mauritius.

2) Australia + New Zealand: although I’ve already spent lots of time in Oz and NZ, I cannot wait to go back with my husband to sail the Whitsundays again, visit Milford Sound, and hoard Tim Tams.  I’m pretty sure that he’ll like it there as much as I do :)

3) Turks and Caicos: my husband hasn’t been to the Caribbean before, and since we’ve heard such fabulous things about Turks and Caicos especially, I think we’d have to go their first.

4) Malaysia: I’d love to relax on Langkawi and explore the other gorgeous islands in Malaysia.  Friends have told us that Turtle Island is a must-see, too.

Wherever you spend your holidays this year, I hope you and your loved ones are warm and happy!

Real Honeymoon: Belize

My friends Allison and CK first celebrated their wedding with a Sedona mini-moon back in October, but they were especially excited about honeymooning in Belize.  Looks like their wait paid off, because they had a fantastic time in Placencia where they enjoyed the beach and went on some pretty awesome excursions.  Read all about their relaxing yet adventurous Belize honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned to Placencia, Belize November 14-21. We stayed at Robert’s Grove Beach Resort.

belize honeymoon

How long was your trip?

We stayed for 7 nights/8 days. We bought a Living Social deal online for the resort we stayed at. It was for 6 nights and we added an extra night. It was the perfect amount of time there. We felt that we were able to get everything in that we wanted to and had enough time to relax on the beach.

belize honeymoon

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

My husband was interested in Belize and had wanted to go there for a while now. After doing research and seeing some beautiful pictures, we decided it would be a wonderful place for our honeymoon. We prefer something a little off the beaten path. Travel time was only about 6 hours, so we could spend more time on the beach! Initially we wanted to go to Tahiti or Bora Bora, but it takes up so much travel time, and we could not get off enough work to enjoy our time there (another time!). Plus, we were able to get a good deal with Living Social, and since it was the end of the rainy season, the rates were lower.

belize honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Relaxing and spending time together, of course. We spent plenty of time soaking up the sun on the beach, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and riding bikes.

belize honeymoon

We went on a few different excursions that we really enjoyed. Our favorite was the snorkeling trip. Belize is known for its beautiful blue water and has second largest barrier reef in the world. We took a two-hour boat ride to a tiny island that looked like it was straight out of a Corona commercial. The water was so blue and beautiful. We saw a lot of different fish and swam with sharks, sea turtles, and manta rays. Swimming with the sea turtles was my favorite part. We also went on a jungle/river tour where we saw crocodiles, howler monkeys, and manatees.

belize sea turtles

Lastly, we went on a tour of the Mayan ruins and went cave swimming. The cave swimming was very exciting and adventurous. We swam/rock-climbed upstream into the cave. The water level was higher than normal so it was a struggle to make it very far, but it was definitely a thrill.

belize honeymoon

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

We loved everything about our trip, the location, resort and excursions. The amount of time spent was also just right. If we had a few more days we would have liked to explore the other side of Belize. Placencia is becoming more popular but is definitely a small, quiet rural town. There is always the option to rent a car or travel by small plane to different areas. Ambergris Caye is an island in the northern part of Belize that is definitely more popular and touristy. It would have been neat to spend a few nights there just to explore a different part of the country.

belize honeymoon

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Where to Stay During Your Honeymoon in Greece

Honeymoon in Greece

The stunning vistas from the Greek Isles have attracted honeymooners for years, and it’s very easy to see why.  The combination of the bright blue waters with the white sun-bleached buildings is gorgeous, the cuisine is fresh and delicious, and the variety of the different islands keeps things interesting.

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

Athens:

Santorini:

Mykonos:

Rhodes:

Real Honeymoon: Hawaii

My sister’s friends Ashley and David really knew their priorities when it came to planning their honeymoon: tropical weather and absolute relaxation.  They got what they wanted by honeymooning on the Big Island of Hawaii, and it sounds like they were blown away by everything that their resort had to offer.  Read all about their amazing Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned on the big island of Hawaii from October 28th- November 7th [2013]. We stayed on the Kohala coast which is about 25 min from Kona International Airport.

Hawaii Honeymoon

How long was your trip?

We were on our trip for 10 amazing nights
.

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

Originally when we began discussing our honeymoon we were dead set on going to Spain. After telling several of our friends and family about our desire to travel abroad they suggested that we think about the amount of travel time that is involved in going to Europe as well as what level of relaxation we were trying to accomplish on our trip. We knew that we wanted to spend as much quality time together as possible, and that we did in fact only want to relax. We had to be honest with ourselves and know that we are the go-go-go type, and if we went to Europe we would be on our feet all day trying to see every single thing we could. That is when the discussion of Hawaii began.

Hawaii honeymoon

I was initially hesitant and thought maybe Hawaii wasn’t exotic or unique enough for our honeymoon. I expressed these feelings to one of my close friends, and my bridesmaid Melanie, who had gone to Hawaii on her honeymoon. She shared with me that she too was hesitant about Hawaii as a honeymoon destination, but that it wound up being her most favorite vacation of her life. That reassured me, and shortly thereafter David and I booked our trip to Hawaii. We knew that it would be the perfect locale: tropical weather, beautiful landscapes, and a place that would offer us the opportunity to decompress and relax after all of the wedding craziness.


The best part about our honeymoon was…

Oh my goodness, I do not know how I can possibly choose. I really loved almost everything about our trip, but if I had to choose my favorite aspect it would be the resort where we stayed and the amenities that were offered. We stayed at the Fairmont Orchid. It is the most gorgeous property I have ever seen. The resort is located in a secluded part of the Kohala Coast which offers a lot of privacy. From the moment you walk into the hotel and are greeted with a Kekui nut Lei you instantly feel like you are in paradise.

Hawaii honeymoon

The lobby opens up to a view of expansive lawns with gorgeous flowers, a beautiful pool, and the ocean. The staff at the Orchid are incredible, everyone is so kind and helpful. The staff really goes out of their way to make sure that you have a perfect trip. The rooms are beautiful, the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, turn down service is offered every night, and they leave water bottles on your night stands.

The food at the resort is fabulous as well. There is casual dining at Hale Kai Restaurant,  fine dining at Brown’s Beach House, amazing breakfast at The Orchid Court, and quick and easy snacks and sandwiches at Brown’s Deli (we loved the staff at the deli and visited them every day). We ate at all of the aforementioned places and were never disappointed. Some of our favorite items were the vegetable quiche at the deli, the burger at HaleKai, and the crab crusted Kompachi at Brown’s. Brown’s is one of the premiere restaurants on the island of Hawaii, and it overlooks the ocean. I recommend making a reservation at sunset, it was magical.

The resort offers a plethora of options for daytime activities. We spent so much time at the pool, and rented a cabana a few times which was so awesome! The cost of renting a cabana is minimal and it provides you with a day of comfort, optional shade, and snacks. I would have rented a cabana every day if David would have let me. David loved the activity pass that he purchased for $75.00 which included unlimited rentals of stand up paddle boards, boogie boards, kayaks, rafts, and snorkel gear for our entire stay. I loved using his paddle board and even did some yoga on the water. The snorkeling was awesome as the water is very calm on the Kohala Coast, and the resort has a private lagoon. We snorkeled a lot and I wish we would have done it even more. We saw thousands of fish, and several sea turtles every day.

Hawaii honeymoon

Another gem at the Fairmont Orchid is their spa. The Spa Without Walls is an oasis of relaxation. The spa is located outside in a private location of the resort. Your services are performed in private huts, or you can opt to have your service in an oceanfront cabana. We had an ocean front couple’s massage that was gifted to us by David’s parents. The experience of being mere feet from the ocean, at sunset, getting the most fantastic massage I have ever had with the love of my life was just perfect! The spa has wonderful amenities for before and after your service, and we loved enjoying a cup of tea together after our service.

hawaii honeymoon

I could really go on for days about how perfect our time at the Fairmont Orchid was. I think any couple traveling to Hawaii must stay at this resort.

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Even Honeymoon Bloggers Get the Flu

Winter has officially arrived in San Francisco, and so has flu season.  The virus got me good this week, so I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to write a good supplemental post.

But never fear, I’ll be back in action on Monday with an excellent Real Honeymoon from Hawaii.  So with that in mind I’m just sharing a photo that my sister took this week at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of two palm trees and a hammock smiling:

smiling palm trees

Stay warm and healthy out there!

Real Honeymoon: Fiji & Australia

Oh man, I am way too excited to share this Real Honeymoon.  Let me break it down for you: 1) a super awesome couple (Stephanie and Matt), 2) one of my favorite countries ever (Australia), and 3) as if Australia wasn’t exotic enough enough, they added Fiji, too.  Seriously, how cool is that?  Read all about their amazing honeymoon in Fiji and Australia below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Fiji and Australia (Sydney and the Hunter Valley wine region) [November 2013].

Sydney honeymoon

How long was your trip?

We left Tuesday November 5th and returned Sunday November 12th. With the international date line and travel days, we had roughly a total of 10 days at our destinations. We spent 4 days/3 nights in Fiji, 5 days/4 nights in Sydney, and 3 days/2 nights in Hunter Valley.

Fiji honeymoon

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

Matt only gets 10 days of PTO a year, and he convinced his company to let him use all of it at once. Both of us have always wanted to go to Australia and since we had the time off, we went for it. If Matt had his choice, he’d be on the beach for all 10 days. I go crazy sitting still for that long, so our honeymoon was our compromise (aahh marriage!) on trips: beach, city exploring, and wine.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Too many things to list, but…

1) In Fiji, the Tokoriki resort was beyond amazing. We actually had to take a charter boat to a motor boat that then brought us to the beach of our hotel where the hotel staff was playing the local welcome song. The staff was incredible, and I don’t think I’ve met happier/nicer people.

fiji honeymoon

I’ve never been keen on all-inclusive resorts as I like to explore local places, but Tokoriki had a rotating lunch and dinner menu, many of which would include local dishes. The meal plan consisted of breakfast, a two-course lunch, and a three-course dinner. Every night at dinner and happy hour, the local musicians (all self-taught) played music  for each table and the food was amazing every night. I also thought I’ve seen blue water before and I was clearly wrong until I went to Fiji.

2) I love to get my bearings in a city that I’m visiting, so our very first day in Sydney we went on a four hour bike tour (through Bonza Bike Tours). Unfortunately it was pouring, but we actually had a blast with it. It made our group even smaller and we got an extended tour because of it. The tour took us by all the major sites (we even rode across the harbor bridge) and got the full history behind each site.

sydney bridge

3) One of my ultimate goals in going to Australia was to be near a koala and I totally got my wish with our behind the scenes tour of Taronga Zoo. The zoo is a ten minute ferry ride from Circular Quay and right on the water. This got in our ferry ride around the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. The zoo tour itself included going into the koala cages, feeding wallabies, going into a wombat cage, and seeing how the food is prepared for the animals, just to name a few of the amazing experiences.

koala

4) The group tour I booked for the Hunter Valley was a fabulous decision. Gary, our driver through the Vineyard Shuttle Service, was amazing and brought us to whatever wineries we would like and had recommendations if we didn’t know. We even fit in a brewery tasting and a vodka distillery.

hunter valley honeymoon

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