3 Picks for a Tropical Honeymoon Getaway

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

A tropical honeymoon destination needs to have it all: amazing views, pristine white beaches and superb accommodations. This once-in-a-lifetime trip should be something you look forward to with your significant other throughout the entire wedding-planning process, and it's imperative you have the right location to kick off your newly wedded bliss. We chose three tropical locations you can trust to fulfill your heart's desire for a stress-free, relaxing honeymoon.

When to visit: Seeking an all-encompassing, beautiful and adventurous vacation? This popular city on the southeast coast of Mexico is perfect year-round. Stunning sandy beaches make ideal relaxation spots, and when you want to explore, you can do so at one of the many archeological sites in the area.

Must-see sites: Lisa Baldridge of Creative Vacations recommends exploring Tulum Maya ruins along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. A well-known tourist location, the ruins are one of the best-preserved examples of a city built by the Mayans. Take advantage of the unique sunrise view, as the ruins face east toward the Caribbean Sea. (Trust us: You'll be happy you woke up early.) History buffs should consider a visit to Chichen Itza, another city built by the Mayans. It's one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. There's also Xcaret Park, an eco-archeological park where park-goers can snorkel, swim in underground rivers, enjoy nature and learn about Mexican cultural heritage. Xel-Ha Park is a natural aquarium park that offers a swim-with-the-dolphins option.

Where to stay: If you're looking for an adults-only hotel, check out Excellence Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive resort where you'll enjoy yoga on the beach, sample fine cuisine or relax at the spa. Bonus: No appointments are needed, as you're free to follow your own schedule during your stay. Located just five minutes from Playa del Carmen, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers guests the chance to take a culinary tour around the world through their wide variety of restaurants.

Average cost for two: $3,500 to $5,000 for seven nights

Alternative: Sonoma Valley in Sonoma County, California, offers a variety of activities both wine-related and otherwise. In the San Francisco Bay area, take advantage of the nearby water with surfing and kite boarding, or explore the area for its rich history and beautiful buildings.

When to visit: You can book your hotel in Jamaica just about any time of the year, Baldridge says. This small town on the western tip of the country caters to the resort crowd, so you can expect hospitality, beautiful locations and plenty of opportunities to relax.

Must-see sites: Negril is well-known for its 7-mile beach-the long stretch of beach facing west is famous for its sunsets, beautiful white sand and gentle water. Combine relaxation with adventure by trying one of the many water-sport rentals located up and down the beach. Make a visit to Rick's Cafe, a cliff-side restaurant where you can jump 35 feet into the water. The restaurant offers pools and lounge areas if you're looking to stay awhile while imbibing and soaking in the friendly, upbeat atmosphere. Hoping to bring back more than just a tan? There's also the Taj Mahal for shopping-specifically for jewelry.

Where to stay: Couples Swept Away offers newlyweds a stay focused on tranquility. Open-air restaurants and a peaceful spa are just part of the resort's romantic atmosphere. Rooms were designed to enhance relaxation and, for those planning a destination wedding, the resort offers wedding ceremonies against the backdrop of the incomparable sunset. One of the well-known Sandals resorts, Sandals Negril boasts top-notch service and accommodations. The resort was awarded the EarthCheck Double Platinum Certification for their commitment to environmental excellence, and one of the many perks is unlimited scuba diving. Nightly entertainment ensures every day of your stay will include the opportunity to live it up and party on the beach.

Average cost for two: $3,000 to $5,000 for seven nights

Alternative: If you're seeking the beauty of the sea along with the freedom to visit a variety of other spots without worrying about transportation, consider a cruise.

When to visit: If you've always wanted to experience Greece, make plans to head to the island from May to early September, says Laura Frazier of Bliss Honeymoons. The stunning views only enhance the romantic atmosphere, giving you the chance to explore the islands, lie out on the beaches and experience the nightlife.

Must-see sites: You have the choice of well-known tourist locations including Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes and Lesbos. For transportation, consider renting an ATV to zip around the island, which will be faster than constantly waiting on public transportation-and a lot easier to park and maneuver through the hills. Thinking of trading in the traditional white-sand beach for something else? Perivolos Beach is a black-sand beach located in Santorini, on the southern end of the island. Windsurfing and scuba diving are fun alternatives to sunbathing. Located off the northwestern part of Crete lies Gramvousa Island, accessible only by boat. You'll be stunned by the crystal-clear blue waters and can explore the remains of a Venetian fort.

Where to stay: Astra Suites is located atop the hills of Santorini. Taking advantage of its spot on the cliffs, the hotel is built in such a way that it offers-in addition to an amazing view of the Aegean Sea-a variety of multi-level rooms from which you can choose. Rooms feature private balconies, personal swimming pools and more, but the most enticing aspect is arguably the unrivaled view. Astra Suites also offers wedding ceremonies, an on-site restaurant and a spa.

Average cost for two: $5,000 to $8,000 for seven nights

Alternative: Florida's Gulf Coast is perfect for those looking to escape to their own little slice of paradise without leaving the country. Check out Sanibel Island, Marco Island and Naples for top-notch resorts and beautiful beaches.