The honeymoon as we know it is over, says Amanda Morison, who explores the rising popularity of family-friendly, adrenaline-fuelled and health-conscious post-nuptial travel — and tells you exactly where to go.
You can guess the decade from a wedding photograph: meringue dresses in the 1980s, orchid bouquets in the 1950s, and were you even married if your wedding breakfast didn’t start with a prawn cocktail in the 1970s? And as a barometer of everything from the state of the economy to societal change, statisticians could do worse than check the stamp marks on honeymoon postcards.
Travel became an empty suitcase of an industry during covid, but as Tom Barber of Original Travel explains, ‘honeymoons boomed as restrictions lifted and couples pushed the boat out with epic trips’.
The majority of happy couples now plan not one, but two trips. A mini-moon, immediately after the wedding, followed by a once-in-a-lifetime trip when time, funds and the right time of year allow. Although the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean are still the popular destinations, the types of trips are changing, too.
In 2021, more children were born out of marriage than within it, leading to a boom in ‘familymoons’. Sometimes, it’s not only a baby on board. One in four couples now has a destination wedding with celebrations bleeding into the honeymoon, parents, bridesmaids and more in tow.
Marrying later and more than once has had an effect, too. In 1920, the average matrimonial age was 23, today, it’s 31. About 42% of marriages end in divorce, meaning second and third weddings, and honeymoons, are increasingly common—and more mature couples tend to have more money, which equates to bigger holidays.
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Regardless, ‘honeymoons are the opportunity to achieve long-held, wish-list goals,’ says Red Savannah’s Sarah-Leigh Shenton. If you love giving back, rock-climbing, surfing or wine tasting, why not do it on your honeymoon?
Adrenaline and adventure
Aardvark Safaris’s eight-day VIP Kilimanjaro Climb to the ‘roof’ of Africa is followed by downtime in Arusha and costs from £4,579 per person. Wilderness has a new mobile camp in Tanzania, Usawa Serengeti, from which you can follow migratory herds. Prices from $950 (about £760) per person, a night.
Finland’s Kuru Private Resort is an 20-villa, adults-only retreat in Saimaa. Seasonal experiences include ice swimming (winter and spring) and jet-ski safaris (summer and autumn). Rooms from €294 a night. Or, how about a three-day, driven trip through Iceland in search of the Northern Lights? Prices from £2,255 per person with Abercrombie and Kent.
Not everyone goes as far as Sausage Tree founder Lu Chignell — who honeymooned in Zambia and went on to raise more than £500,000 for three local schools — but the ‘volun-moon’ is here to stay. Sri Lankan hotel chain Resplendent Ceylon donates 15% of earnings to local charities and at its beachfront villa hotel, Cape Weligama, honeymooners can volunteer at a local pre-school and aid rangers in logging wild leopard and elephant. Rooms from £375 per night.
Friends and family
Beaches reign supreme when it comes to keeping travellers of all ages happy. Islas Secas, a private archipelago off Panama’s wild Pacific Coast, offers child-friendly Nature activities free of charge and whole family excursions include swimming over one of the largest reefs in the Pacific. Tented rooms from $2,500 (about £2,000) a night, on an all-inclusive basis.
In the Maldives, Soneva Fushi (main image) is a dab hand at organising intimate ceremonies and the selection of multi-room beach and over-water villas make accommodating guests a doddle. Turquoise offer seven-night trips for a family of six from £29,000.
Stand-alone villas — with all the hotel amenities, plus extra privacy — are a smart choice for larger groups. Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (above) in the Old French Quarter of Siem Reap, Cambodia, has a two-bedroom Royal Villa from $4,060 (about £3,255 a night on a bed-and-breakfast basis). Importantly, there’s plenty to do to keep everyone entertained, from watching the sunset over Tonlé Sap Lake to exploring the Angkor’s citadels, including Angkor Thom.
Health and happiness
After all the chaos that comes with planning a wedding, it’s no surprise that some couples need a week — or two — of total relaxation. FZeen is an adults-only wellness retreat in Kefalonia, Greece. The sprawling paradise has its own organic kitchen garden, knock-out spa and thatch-roofed yoga deck and gym. Rooms from €300 a night.
If you and your partner have the same hobbies, why not do them on your honeymoon? Oenophiles should plump for Château Troplong Mondot — in France’s Saint-Emilion region — which blends grand cru wine with Michelin-starred cuisine and views of the UNESCO World Heritage village to great effect. Stay in the Château’s Vineyard House for maximum privacy. Rooms from £300 a night on a bed-and-breakfast basis.
Seasoned sailors should look no further than Red Savannah’s Senja vessel, a traditional phinisi plying the waters off Indonesia’s Raja Ampat (one of the world’s finest dive sites) and Komodo archipelagos. It has one master cabin and comes with a full crew, including a chef. From £3,913 a night.
Keen skiers can get more out of Austria’s St Anton resort with a local guide or heli-skiing adventure, expertly organised by Scott Dunn. Wannabe golf pros can perfect their swing at Verdura Resort in Sicily, Italy. Elegant Resorts offer seven-night stays from £1,009 per person.