Real Honeymoon: Antigua

There haven’t been too many Caribbean honeymoons on the blog yet, so I’m really excited to share this really great one from Antigua! Stephanie and Matt knew they needed to escape this winter’s polar vortex by honeymooning in a warm and beachy location, but Stephanie left it up to Matt to decide the exact destination. Read all about how he surprised her with an amazing honeymoon in Antigua:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We stayed at the Galley Bay Resort in Antigua.  We got married on 12-27-13 and traveled from January 2-January 11th, 2014.

antigua honeymoon

How long was your trip?

8 amazing days!

antigua honeymoon

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

I loved every minute of planning our wedding, but with all the little details that goes on with a wedding, I asked my fiance if he would be interested in planning the honeymoon for us.  He was more than happy, and really took time to do his research on resorts and locations.  I gave him my top three that I was interested in… St. Lucia, Hawaii, and Antigua.  At first, it was going to be a surprise, and I’d find out at the airport where we were going.  But… I couldn’t wait, and wanted to do more research on possibly “trashing the dress” photos too.  One afternoon he put the resort on the screen of his computer and then flipped it around.  I was so so excited!  I think once we were about a month away, I was visiting the Galley Bay website daily filled with anticipation!

antigua honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Oh my goodness everything…!  Matt and I wanted a relaxing vacation filled with sun, reading, food and drinks.  The food at Galley Bay was so gourmet and delicious.  I’d have to say overall though, our daily visit to the deck to sit in an adirondack chairs, sip on an island cocktail, and look out into the ocean, was probably my favorite part of the trip.  The food is a super close second!  I highly recommend taking the sunset cruise by Captain Sean too.  We did this our last day/night at Galley Bay and it was beautiful.  It was fun seeing the island from a different perspective.

antigua honeymoon

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

Bringing bug spray!  I wore a lot of dresses and skirts, and by the end of the trip, I had quite a few bug bites.  Definitely pack some of this and carry it with you throughout the day/night.  Other than that, just adding more days to the trip too would have been a great change!

antigua honeymoon

How much planning did you do in advance?

Matt did all of it!  He called various travel websites, and looked online at the top honeymoon resorts and locations.  He went above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  I looked into different places to visit on the island too, but we were such beach bums, we didn’t want to leave the resort.  We were so pleased with our location, and beyond grateful we got the opportunity to take such a beautiful vacation!

antigua honeymoon

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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: Jamaica

Karman and Jaime are big fans of the Caribbean, so they decided to honeymoon in Jamaica! Read all about their awesome honeymoon full of beach cocktails, cliff diving, and beautiful sunsets below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

For our honeymoon, we went to Negril, Jamaica [in August, 2013].

Jamaica honeymoon

How long was your trip?

We were there for 6 nights.

Jamaica honeymoon

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

We decided on our destination because we have been to the Caribbean a few times and were in love with the water and the laid back island vibe. We had never been to Jamaica, but got a lot of good recommendations, so we decided to give it a try. While our usual vacation style is more adventurous, we decided to take it to the other extreme and stay at an all inclusive resort so we could fully relax after planning and executing our wedding.

jamaica honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

… night snorkeling in the sea, about one mile off the coast of Negril. We could hear a Reggae band playing from the shore, and were able to swim around with spotlights and explore a sunken ship and the diverse fish and animals that “only come out at night…” It was really amazing! We also had a great time just being together, since the weeks leading up to our wedding were pretty crazy!

jamaica honeymoon

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

If I knew then what I know now, we would have stayed in Jamaica longer and planned ahead better — we fully embraced our relaxation, but would have loved to explore more of the island itself. We went on a few day trips, went cliff diving and hung out with the locals, but we didn’t have a chance to really get to know Jamaica.

jamaica

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Real Honeymoon: Curacao & Aruba

A lot of the “Real Honeymoon” contributors on the blog so far live on the west coast, so that’s my guess as to why there have been so few posts about Caribbean honeymoons.  (Based on proximity alone, it seems like west coasters are more apt to book honeymoons in Hawaii while east coasters prefer the Caribbean.)  But fear not, because Shirine and Dave shared the following about their fun yet relaxing honeymoon in Curacao and Aruba:

When and where did you honeymoon?

July 2011: Hyatt Regency, Curacao* & Westin, Aruba.

Drinks by the pool


How long was your trip?

2 weeks (1 week in Curacao, 1 week in Aruba).

Willemstad, Curacao


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

We were looking for somewhere tropical that we both haven’t been before. We didn’t know anyone who had been to Curacao and Aruba, so we thought it would be a fun adventure and something new to experience.


The best part about our honeymoon was…

Getting pampered and relaxing on the beautiful beaches!

Hyatt Beach, Curacao

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

We would have stayed longer in Curacao (The Hyatt was amazing – great service, beautiful hotel and privacy), and we would have either skipped Aruba altogether or stayed at the Hyatt in Aruba (not the Westin, if we go back we will stay at the Hyatt).

Shor at the Hyatt, Curacao


How much planning did you do in advance?

We didn’t do too much planning in advance, although we booked the flights/hotels a good 6-8 months before our trip to get better rates. We didn’t want the honeymoon to be planned in advance so we pretty much waited until we arrived in both locations and went with the flow which worked out perfectly for us.

Aruba Water

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Real Honeymoon: Bahamas

While some couples love to plan all of the details of their honeymoons to a tee, others feel burned out by all of the actual wedding planning that they have to do at the same time.  I don’t blame them – I felt the same way!  Alyssa and Brian decided to make things easy for themselves and chose the all-inclusive route for their honeymoon in the Bahamas.  Read all about their wonderfully relaxing honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in the Bahamas in January of 2012.

Sandals Bahamas

How long was your trip?

We spent 9 days at the resort.

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

It was a difficult decision for us. We knew we wanted a relaxing trip in a tropical location. In the end, we decided on Sandals because it met those expectations and it was all-inclusive.

Bahamas

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Relaxing by the pool for days on end!

Sandals Bahamas

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

I wouldn’t travel as far — it took us a day to get there and a day to get back. I think there are tropical locations closer to us!

How much planning did you do in advance?

Sandals made it very simple — one booking and everything was taken care of.

Sandals Bahamas

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Real Honeymoon: Turks and Caicos

When Danielle first contacted me about her honeymoon in Turks and Caicos, I was really excited to hear about her trip because I haven’t been there yet and it’s definitely on my travel to-do list.  But by the time I finished reading her draft, I was shocked/totally impressed by how ballsy she and her husband Gary were to plan a Caribbean vacation smack dab in the middle of hurricane season!  If you don’t recall, a recent real honeymoon post featured Sarah and Patrick, who had to cancel their September 2007 honeymoon in Aruba at the last minute due to a hurricane, and ended up going to Hawaii instead.  Fortunately though for Danielle and Gary, their risk paid off and they enjoyed great weather and off-season discounts.  Am I brave enough to plan a similar trip during September?  I doubt it, but I’m so glad that everything worked out in their favor.  Read all about their incredibly relaxing honeymoon below, and check our Danielle’s super cute blog Les Bon Enfants as well!

When and where did you honeymoon?

Turks and Caicos, September 2011.

Turks and Caicos

How long was your trip?

Two weeks.

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

We did a lot of thinking about what we wanted our honeymoon to be. We love to travel, and we want to see the world, but the thought of planning a huge wedding, and immediately after embarking out on a major sight-seeing vacation (and all the meticulous planning that goes into such a trip)  sounded more exhausting than relaxing, and we needed to relax! Something tropical, romantic and luxurious was in order. I have been all over the Caribbean many times with my parents, and really wanted to go back to St. Bart’s with my new husband – I knew he would love it – but mom made a comment that made me think twice about my decision: she said our honeymoon should be a place neither of us has ever been before. That way, over time the memories won’t get tangled up in the memories of our family vacations. It will be our own special place. With that in mind, we decided on Turks and Caicos, and it really fit the bill for us.

Turks and Caicos

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Our hotel, The Regent Palms. It looked like an old plantation house! The rooms were huge with a pretty patio and a little kitchenette (which we used to make espresso every morning and stored Caribbean beers in the fridge). The staff was amazing and really went out of our way to make us feel pampered and at home. It was right on Grace Bay Beach, arguably the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, so we never even felt like we had to leave the hotel grounds.

I was also happy that we booked such a long time (two whole weeks!.) It took the pressure off of having to cram in things we wanted to do and count the days until it was over. We could truly chill out and unwind without even having to worry about what day it was!

The Regent Palms

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

Not. A. Thing. A few of my friends thought we were nuts for planning a trip to the Caribbean during hurricane season, but really, I’ve done it before and I’d do it again. The hotels and airlines are so great about re-booking you for a hurricane-related delay (or offering a full refund) since they know days ahead of time that when they are coming that we felt totally comfortable taking a chance. Prices are a fraction of what they are during high season, the beaches are way less crowded, and the weather is perfect.

Turks and Caicos

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Honeymoon Destination Recommendations For… Serious Beach Bums

You know how the surfers in the Endless Summer movies spent their days searching for the perfect wave?  Well, I wish I had more time to travel the globe in search of the perfect beach.

Fortunately, I’ve already visited some pretty spectacular beaches over the past 28 years, so I am going to share with you a list of some of my favorites*.  Hopefully the list will help the beach bums out there decide where to go on your honeymoon:

1) Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach via Damien Dempsey

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Whitehaven Beach.  Located in the Whitsunday Islands (which is FULL of incredible beaches), Whitehaven is quite aptly named because it has the softest, whitest sand that I’ve ever seen in the world.  My friends and I were told that brushing our teeth with the sand acts as a whitener, but in retrospect that probably wasn’t the best idea for us to do.  That aside, it is the most spectacular beach I’ve ever seen.

2) Cap Juluca, Anguilla

Cap Juluca

Cap Juluca via Tiarescott

Popular with celebrities like Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, the pristine beach at the Cap Juluca resort makes it a quintessential honeymoon destination.  It’s also just a short boat ride away from nearby St. Maarten, so you can just check it out for a day if you don’t want to stay at the resort.  Okay, okay, I know we all WANT to stay there, but it’s just really expensive, that’s all.

3) Playa Cristal, Colombia

I was blown away by Playa Cristal because of the clearness of the water and the beautiful backdrop of the lush jungle.  You can hire a boat in Taganga to take you to the beach.  Unfortunately I couldn’t bring a camera with me to the beach because our next stop was Playa Brava where we actually swam to shore, slept on the beach overnight, then hiked out of Parque Tayrona the next day and hitched a ride back to Santa Marta, so bringing electronics along was a no-no.  You’ll just have to trust me that the beach was so wonderful that it made my list of top 3 beaches in the world.

4) Playa Blanca, Colombia

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca, land of magical beagle puppies

Yes, yes, another Colombian beach.  I don’t know if I’ve expressed how much my husband and I love Colombia yet on the blog, but we highly recommend going there if you love beaches, friendly people, and good food.  You can reach Playa Blanca from Cartagena in one of two ways: hire a private boat down by the fish market (just hold your nose while you’re there – it really stinks), or sign up for an “organized” day tour.  It seems like the organized day tour is less than ideal though because it only brings you to the crowded part of the beach, so go with the private boat for a more relaxing experience.

For honeymooners who want to rough it, you can spend the night in hammocks at Hugo’s.  My husband and I thought it was the greatest place ever because 1) it was BEAUTIFUL, 2) it was the first time we slept in hammocks during that trip so the novelty made it fun and not back-breaking yet, and 3) we woke up in the morning to a litter of beagle puppies that were born overnight.  Beagle.  Puppies.  In.  Paradise.  Probably one of the best days of my life.

5) Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island, Australia

Lake Mckenzie Beach via Sensenmann

The colors of Lake Mckenzie look totally fake, but I assure you, this is really, really what the lake looks like.

6) Lanikai, Oahu, Hawaii

Lanikai

Lanikai Beach via Cristo Vlahos

A friend of mine who was living in Honolulu at the time took my husband and me to Lanikai, a beautiful beach that isn’t terribly overcrowded with tourists.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some Leonard’s malasadas to eat when you get to the beach.  A perfect combination.

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Real Honeymoon: St. Lucia & Anguilla

Just like planning a trip to the Greek Islands, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which islands to visit in the Caribbean since they are all so different.  While some islands are full of things to do and see, some islands are just better suited for luxurious relaxation.  Ali and Sean chose to split their honeymoon between active St. Lucia and super-chill Anguilla.  Check out their comments and gorgeous photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

May 11-15, 2011: Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia; May 15-20, 2011: The Viceroy, Anguilla

How long was your trip?

9 nights

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

I wanted luxury, relaxation, and somewhere exotic without too much travel.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The hotel rooms (hehehehehe). We stayed in the most beautiful hotels in really cool suites.  We definitely splurged on the hotels.  I also loved the beaches.  I am a big reader and Sean is not, so I got him books on tape to listen to on his iPod while we laid out on the beach.

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

It ended up being too much travel to get there and between the islands.  I would pay the extra money to fly direct.  On our way there, our second of three flights was delayed so we missed our connection to St. Lucia. We ended up having to spend the first night of our honeymoon in a crappy hotel room in Antigua close to the airport so that we could catch a 4 am flight to St. Lucia.  Also, we flew into the wrong airport in St. Lucia (on the other side of the island) so we had to take a 1.5 hour cab to our hotel.  That being said, the first night of our honeymoon was very memorable.  We were just so happy to be married and together that it ended up not mattering.

How much planning did you do in advance?

Since I planned the wedding, Sean was responsible for the honeymoon.  He definitely started planning at least 6 months in advance.  We wanted to use miles/hotel points, so it took some extra planning to make that work.

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