These days planning a wedding can be so stressful, brides and grooms deserve a long and relaxing honeymoon to recuperate after the big day. Fortunately, there are tons of options for happy couples to kick off their life together. From tranquil to thrill-seeking, here are some of the best honeymoon destinations for 2016:
- Punta Mita, Mexico
Travel time: 6.5-hour flight (with connection) from Charlotte to Puerto Vallarta, then 45 minute drive to Punta Mita
Best time to go: early summer or mid-fall
This 1,500-acre beachfront fishing town has gained a cult-like following from celebrities like Vince Vaughn, Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian, who celebrated her second honeymoon there with Kanye West. The village is located at roughly the same latitude as the Hawaiian islands, so its climate is tropical yet breezy with average summer temperatures around 85 degrees. TAKE NOTE however, the rainy season runs from June to October. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport, and features your typical coastal Mexican honeymoon activities like paddle boarding, tequila-tasting and hiking. Kim K. loved the place so much that she added it to her game app, but to experience it the way she did, get ready to drop at least $12,000 a night at Casa Aramara, a resort built by Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis. For those of us without our own reality shows, there are a few other hotels and resorts including the Four Seasons.
- Guadeloupe and Martinique
Travel time: 7-hour flight time (with connection) from Charlotte to Martinique, 21+hour flight time (with connections) from Charlotte to Guadeloupe
Best time to go: Between December and April
These two islands in the French West Indies feature a stunning blend of Caribbean and French cultures. Martinique has a variety of different kinds of beaches, from sugar white sand to slippery and rocky. Guadeloupe is filled with landmarks, such as the Museum at Fort Napoleon, which the history buffs will love. Insiders say the islands’ French-Caribbean food is to die for, and the islands’ close proximity to one another allows you to hop a ferry (or a plane) and check out what you’re missing on the other side. Miles Away has a great post for helping decide which of these islands will be perfect for you and your sweetheart. Travel from Charlotte to Guadeloupe is a little tough, but if you can get to New York, Norwegian Air offers a relatively inexpensive 4.5-hour direct flight (plus you could spend a day or two in the Big Apple with your new spouse!)
Travel time: 11-hour flight time (with connections) from Charlotte
Best time to go: June or September to avoid peak season but take advantage of warmer temps
Croatia is the up-and-coming European destination for couples thanks to its beautiful mountains, ancient architecture, clear waters and location along the Adriatic coast. The folks at Harper’s Bazaar tout its “lack of major must-see landmarks that in any other European city would make traveling there just for the beaches something your friends would hold against you.” Dubrovnik is widely considered one of the most romantic cities in the world right now thanks to its gorgeous views, luxurious hotels, medieval town center and more. Bridal Guide has lots more information on how to plan a Croatian honeymoon that you and your love will never forget. Beyonce and Jay-Z are rumored to frequent this country, and if it’s good enough for America’s royal family, it’s good enough for us.
- Florence, Italy
Travel time: 11+ hour flight time from Charlotte (with connections)
Best time to go: Late February to April (spring comes early to Florence). Don’t go in August, when most of Italy shuts down for Ferragosto, or August holiday, with only some museums and other tourist attractions remaining open.
Florence is having a major moment right now for honeymoons — thousands of couples flock there each year for its medieval streets and castles, delicious cuisine and proximity to Tuscany’s vineyards. During the day you and your beloved can check out iconic masterpieces like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi at the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David at Accademia (book reservations online to avoid waiting in line). At night, dine alfresco at one of the city’s world-famous cafes.
Travel time: less than 7 hours to most Montana airports from Charlotte
Best time to go: spring or fall
This wild western state has been a celeb favorite for romantic getaways for awhile now (remember when Justin Timberlake proposed to Jessica Biel there?) but now the rest of us can get in on the action. “Luxury ranches” like The Ranch at Rock Creek offer “glamping” – glamorous camping — inside surprisingly luxurious canvas cabins. That sounds like a great compromise for the outdoorsy and the squeamish-about-sleeping-on-the-ground. Take in the serene, mountainous views from the saddle of a horse or even a hot air balloon if you stay at The Resort at Paws Up. Bonus: No one will bat an eye when you wear those trendy cowboy boots you impulse bought last season (they are actually encouraged!). This BRIDES blog has lots more ideas for a your romantic western honeymoon.
- Kennebunkport, Maine
Travel time: 2 hour, 10 minute direct flight from CLT to Portland, then a 30-minute drive to Kennebunkport
Best time to go: Between June and October
You may have heard of Kennebunkport as the summer home of former President George W. Bush, but this charming coastal Maine town has lots to offer young couples of all political leanings. Snuggle up with your honey in one of Kennebunkport’s charming bed and breakfasts like the chic riverside Captain Fairfield Inn. Ask the concierge to help set you two up with a whale watching tour or a mixology class before heading out to sample lobster rolls and walk the beach. Soon you’ll see why celebrities like Taylor Swift and Quentin Tarrantino often sneak away to this hidden gem.