September 1, 2015

Africa and the Indian Ocean in April

In the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles will be enjoying 30°C temperatures, 8 hours of sunshine, low rainfall, calm seas and good underwater visibility. These islands are incredibly well geared up for honeymooners with romantic packages and a sophisticated setup for weddings too if you want to tie the knot there. For barefoot luxury in the Seychelles, try Denis Private Island. On a budget, look at Coco de Mer and Black Parrot Suites on Praslin Island, or L’Habitation on Cerf Island.

In the Maldives you can expect 32°C temperatures and 9 hours of sunshine, though humidity will be high. You can get some good deals if you go all-inclusive. One of the most popular destinations for honeymooners is the four-star Kuredu Island Resort where 6 nights all-inclusive cost from £1,259 per person including flights. It has 3km of white sand beaches, two pools, four restaurants, fabulous diving and snorkelling and a range of beautiful villas and bungalows.

If you want all-out luxury, check out NIYAMA Maldives which has 87 studios and pavilions – most with a private pool – dotted across two gorgeous islands, plus an underwater nightclub and a chance to spend a night at sea with a butler and private chef in a traditional sail boat.

In South Africa it’s the end of the hot season: after doing Cape Town (22°C temperatures, 7 hours of sunshine), the wine route and a safari you could arrange a nice relaxing break on an Indian Ocean beach.

In Namibia it’s the start of the dry season with temperatures of around 25ºC with 9 hours of sunshine. You’ll be awe-struck by the wild desolate beauty of this country, where you can take a hot air balloon ride over vast swathes of desert, visit the Skeleton Coast, track the endangered Black Rhino, climb the world’s tallest sand dunes and gaze up at velvety night skies. Stay at intimate lodges and tented camps, such as the Wolwedans Dune Camp and Ongava Tented Camp.

April is a great month to visit Botswana where the skies are clear, the countryside is lush and temperatures are just right (28°C temperatures, 8 hours of sunshine). The camps of the Okavango Delta are among the most romantic in Africa –  Pom Pom Camp and Selinda Camp. For the ultimate in luxury take a look at Zarafa Camp.

Madagascar – one of the hottest honeymoon destinations right now – is ideal in April with 25°C temperatures and 7 hours of sunshine. The rainy season has just ended and the forests will be sparkling, and the beaches pearly white.

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August 31, 2015

America and the Caribbean in April

Many young honeymooners love the idea of a road trip across America – perhaps with a few luxuries thrown in. The most popular itinerary is a classic California fly-drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles: 10 nights costs from just £1,925 per person, including flights and car hire. If you want to discover the Wild West, head to Grand Canyon and the Rockies. American Sky has some budget-level California honeymoons.

Miami promises 27°C temperatures and 10 hours of sunshine in April, plus beaches, chic bars, shopping and dreamy sunsets. Stay in fashionable South Beach, then spend a few days in the Keys or on the Gulf Coast. Best hotels include the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island and Cheeca Lodge on Islamorada.

In the Caribbean the weather is superb with temperatures of around 30°C with 8 hours of daily sunshine, but once Easter passes you are in low season, so prices drop dramatically.You can also in the get married in the Caribbean – Tropical Sky has a dedicated team of specialists who can find exclusive deals including free wedding packages.

In Mexico,Check out the award-winning Secrets Capri Resort & Spa near Playa del Carmen (32°C temperatures, 8 hours of sunshine), which has a Jacuzzi in every room, or Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun on one of Mexico’s finest beaches.

Sandals is the market leader in adults-only all-inclusives, and you can even get married for free at Sandals Barbados. On tiny Grenada, the newly-opened Sandals LaSource Grenada Resort & Spa is set on a stunning beach and has an emphasis on wellness.

For culture, beach and romance it’s hard to beat Cuba. Try the adult-only Melia Cayo Coco, which has cottages built on stilts over a lagoon or the five-star Paradisus Rio del Oro which offers complimentary scuba diving.

For a cool, stylish Caribbean hideaway, Laluna on Grenada which combines Italian and Balinese style on a perfect beach.

Jamaica is a beautiful and fascinating island with much more to offer than beaches (although the beaches are pretty good). There is a superb range of hotels but you should certainly consider the small stylish and cosy Jamaica Inn – it’s one of the island’s best.

Beach bums should consider the small coral island of Anguilla which boasts beautiful powder white sands, superb hotels and charming local restaurants. Best places to stay include Cap Juluca, the Viceroy  and CuisinArt which has an excellent spa.

You can experience the thrill and romance of sailing on a tall ship exploring the small ports of the Caribbean with Star Clippers. Or set sail on one of the new generation of small intimate luxury cruise lines such as SeaDream Yacht Club and Seabourn, where you’ll be spoilt rotten.

Costa Rica is a great destination for adventurous, outdoors types. Stay in luxury eco lodges, trek in the rainforest, see wildlife, surf beaches, cloud forests and volcanoes. Great places to stay include La Paloma Lodge, set in jungle foliage beside Corcovado National Park with spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean.

Nearby Guatemala and Belize allow you to combine adventure with beach: see lakes and mountains, explore jungle-clad Mayan ruins, trek through the forest, then kick back at dreamy Caribbean beaches. This brilliant twin-centre honeymoon combines stays at Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha Lodge and Mata Chica Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye.

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August 28, 2015

Short Haul Honeymoons in April

If you want guaranteed high temperatures, you will need to fly just a little further. It’s about five hours to Egypt, where the weather will be stunning. I recommend a few days in Cairo (29°C temperatures and 9 hours of sunshine) combined with a Nile cruise.

Morocco is a little nearer – less than four hours flying time from London – but still offers guaranteed sunshine with hot days and pleasantly cool evenings – not too oppressive for sightseeing or trekking in the Atlas Mountains. Marrakech has temperatures of 24°C and 9 hours of daily sunshine.

Or fly west to sun-baked Madeira where you can stay in a historic country house (quinta) and enjoy fine dining and gorgeous walks.

Another option is to honeymoon in a European city. April in Paris is so perfect, they wrote a song about it. Arrive in style on First Class Eurostar and stay in a stylish boutique hotel such as the Lancaster just off the Champs-Elysées, or the beautiful Relais Christine hidden away on the Left Bank.

Or how about combining the Italian cities of Florence, Rome and Siena. And of course there is Venice which is wonderful in April and has a wide range of hotels – some magnificent, others not so great. It’s worth booking dinner at the legendary Danieli even if you don’t stay there.

The train is a wonderfully romantic way to travel in Europe. You can tour Venice, Florence and Rome, travelling by train from London via Lucerne. See a full selection of honeymoons by rail.

Or make tracks to Andalucia to tour three of Spain’s greatest cities. Stay at the Hospes Las Casas Del Rey de Baeza in Seville, the chic Hospes Palacio del Bailio in Cordoba and the charming Hospes Palacio de los Patos in Granada. You can expect temperatures of 23°C temperatures and 8 hours of daily sunshine.

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August 27, 2015

Mediterranean Honeymoons in April

This is a wonderful time to be in the Mediterranean as you can expect long sunny days, uncrowded resorts and rested locals gearing up for the summer season. Hillsides will be carpeted in wild flowers and beaches will be empty, though you may have to stick to the heated hotel pool as the sea will still be a bit chilly.

Turkey is a great honeymoon choice and far enough south to ensure temperatures in the low 20s and 9 hours of daily sunshine (compared with 13°C and 5 hours of sunshine in London). Combine a few nights in the fascinating city of Istanbul with a lovely boutique hideaway on the coast, such as the impossibly romantic Hotel Villa Mahal in Kalkan or the secluded rustic Bordubet near Datca.

Also in Turkey, how about the Mandarin Boutique Hotel, a romantic adults-only hideaway with just 8 rooms set in remote countryside. It’s well-priced and boasts four-poster beds and Jacuzzis for two.

In Italy you will have the resorts to yourselves, as the locals wait until August for their summer break. For the best beaches head to the island of Sardinia and fabulous hotels like Forte Village, renowned for its top quality sports and thalasso spa, or the minimalist boutique Coluccia Hotel & Beach Club.

For old-school glamour without the crowds, head to the Amalfi Coast or the Italian island of Capri. Bag a deal at a top hotel and let all that island charm wash over you.

Puglia in the south of Italy will be warming up nicely in April. It’s a great destination for touring historic sites and lazing on uncrowded beaches. Stay at the five-star Borgo Egnazia Hotel which has 63 rooms and suites – some with private pools – set in 49 acres of olive groves. Equally stylish is Masseria Torre Maizza which has 26 rooms, an Aveda spa, cookery school and private beach club.

If you love the great outdoors, take advantage of the mild temperatures with an easy cycling tour of Italy – a great way to discover quiet backroads and, after a day’s gentle pedalling, indulge in delicious food and wine.

The French island of Corsica is unfairly overlooked by honeymooners. In fact, it has beautiful beaches, wonderful restaurants and rugged countryside where you can take long romantic walks. Several of my recommended hotels have Michelin-starred restaurants including the cool and contemporary Casadelmar, the luxurious Grand Hotel de la Cala Rossa and the elegant Hotel la Villa.

The Adriatic coast of Croatia has dozens of pristine islands where you’ll find classy hotels, great food and glamorous boat trips. Best places to stay for honeymooners include Hotel Podstine which looks down on the waterfront just outside funky Hvar Town, and Hotel More which has just 35 rooms gazing across to the Elaphiti Islands.

Few Greek islands are more romantic than Santorini (20°C temperatures, 8 hours of sunshine), a black volcanic caldera with stunning white-cube boutique hotels carved into sheer rock faces. My favourite places to stay include Hotel Grace and these hideaway houses for two.

Although it’s not strictly in the Med, the Algarve offers fine weather in April with 20°C temperatures and 8 hours of daily sunshine. The region has many gorgeous hotels for honeymooners such as Vila Vita Parc in Porches and the contemporary-styled Tivoli Victoria.

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August 22, 2015

Africa and the Indian Ocean in March

Safaris in Africa are increasingly popular with British honeymooners, and there are great opportunities to combine bush and beach for a fabulous, unforgettable experience.

Botswana is home to some of the most romantic safari camps on the planet, including Selinda Camp and Zarafa Camp in the Okavango Delta where you can view big game from a mokoro canoe. You can even take a riding safari, a walking safari or go quad biking on Kubu Island.

Tanzania is a good choice in March and its luxury camps combine very nicely with the exotic island of Zanzibar. A classic combination might be Selous Safari Camp where you can enjoy bush walks and boat trips along the Rufiji River, and Fumba Beach Lodge set on a long white sand beach.

Another inspired choice for honeymooners is The Residence Zanzibar, which is set in 80 acres of lush forest, tropical gardens with a mile of pristine beach.

In South Africa, the Western Cape is at its best, while East Africa is enjoying its dry season. You could enjoy a safari in Kenya then take a direct onward flight to the Seychelles where the turquoise waters will be calm and clear.

You should avoid Mauritius at this time of year where cyclones are possible.

In the Maldives, you can bag a great value honeymoon by going all-inclusive. Popular choices include the four-star Kuredu Island Resort which has a choice of villas, suites and bungalows set on 3km of white sand beach, plus two pools and four restaurants. Six nights all-inclusive start at just £1,259 per person including flights.

For a step up in luxury, NIYAMA Maldives has gorgeous pavilions with private pools and an underwater nightclub. You can spend a night at sea in a luxuriously-fitted traditional sail boat, complete with a personal chef and butler.

If you’re up for a major adventure and don’t mind the long flight, New Zealand is just at the end of its summer in March, a lovely time to go and explore the luxurious lodges and natural wonders of this unique country.

In Australia, Hayman Island Resort is a gorgeous beachfront hideaway, which can easily be combined with Sydney, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

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August 21, 2015

March Honeymoons in the Americas

For romance it’s hard to beat a road trip across America – especially with a few luxuries added along the way. You could even rent a convertible Mustang. The most popular itinerary is the classic 10-night California Highlights Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Or spend time exploring America’s National Parks on this Grand Canyon and the Rockies private tour.

Head to Hawaii where you can surf on the island of Oahu, explore volcanoes and rainforests on Big Island and enjoy secluded beaches, natural springs and whale watching on Maui. Or head south to Florida where fashionable South Beach and gorgeous seafront hotels such as Ocean Key Resort & Spa and South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island are best combined on a fly-drive.

March is a great time to visit Central America. For something out of the ordinary, I recommend Guatemala and Belize – both fascinating and beautiful countries. The dreamy lakes, dramatic volcanoes and jungle-clad Mayan ruins of Guatemala combine perfectly with the laid-back Caribbean beaches of Belize to create a fantastic twin-centre honeymoon. You’ll stay at Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha Lodge in the jungle, and Mata Chica Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye.

There is never a bad time for a honeymoon in Brazil. I would start with a few days in Rio de Janeiro before crashing on the beach in Bahia for some stylish rest and relaxation.

Maybe you’re not into beaches or luxury hotels? Explore, the adventure holiday specialist, offers an exciting choice of honeymoons in destinations such as Argentina and Peru. You can join an escorted group or ask the team of experts to design a private tour to suit your needs.

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August 20, 2015

Caribbean Honeymoons in March

It’s high season in the Caribbean and a great time to enjoy the glorious beaches, warm hospitality and superb hotels.

Mexico combines great beaches with vibrant culture and ancient Mayan ruins – you should combine time on the beach with some intoxicating sightseeing. Some five-star hotels are great value, including Secrets Aura Cozumel on the tropical island of Cozumel, and the award-winning Secrets Capri Resort & Spa which has a Jacuzzi in every room.

If you want to indulge yourselves in an adults-only, stress-free environment, look at Sandals which has a great collection of all-inclusive resorts including recently-opened properties in Barbados and Grenada.

Beach babes should consider the long thin coral island of Anguilla which has more than 30 perfect white-sand beaches, some fantastic hotels and a great collection of restaurants. Top hotels include the Moorish-styled Cap Juluca, the Viceroy (which has stunning rooftop suites with private pools) and CuisinArt which has an excellent spa.

Jamaica has it all: magnificent beaches, verdant mountains, local culture, busy nightspots, great food and stylish hotels, the best of which is Jamaica Inn.

Other outstanding Caribbean hotels include Anse Chastanet on one of the prettiest beaches in St Lucia, and the chic and laid-back Laluna on tiny Grenada.

Cuba is another exciting Caribbean honeymoon destination. Great beachfront hotels include Melia Cayo Coco, a five-star adults-only resort, and Paradisus Rio del Oro which is set in tropical gardens and offers complimentary scuba diving.

March is a good time to go to the Bahamas (it’s a bit too chilly in December and January). You can go island hopping staying at a couple of boutique beach hotels.

Another way to explore the Caribbean is on a cruise. There are dozens of ships plying the region but I would recommend a small intimate luxury ship such as SeaDream Yacht Club or Seabourn, where all the cabins are suites with a private balcony.

For old-school romance on the ocean waves, you could take a tall ship cruise with Star Clippers. Or rent your own private villa for two on a small charming island such as French-speaking St Barths or tiny friendly Bequia.

If your budget is modest but you crave an authentic West Indian experience, see Essence of the Caribbean which has a charming collection of B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels such as Rosalie Bay in Dominica, Fond Doux Estate on a working cocoa plantation in St Lucia, A Stone’s Throw Away in the Bahamas and The Blue House B&B in Jamaica.

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August 19, 2015

Mid Haul Honeymoons in March

Mid haul – a flying time of between 3 and 7 hours – offers the best value-for-money honeymoon if you’re looking for guaranteed sunshine without spending too much money on flights, or too long in the air.

Egypt and Morocco are both romantic destinations that are warming up nicely in March. It’s 5 hours flying time to Egypt where you can take a Nile cruise, explore the Valley of the Kings and laze on a beach on the Red Sea. Kick off your honeymoon with a few nights in Cairo to see the Pyramids.

It’s only a 3-hour flight to Morocco where you’ll find warm sunny days and pleasantly cool evenings. Combine a stay at the fabulous Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains with the souks and mosques of Marrakech. You could even arrange a surprise hot-air balloon ride at sunrise.

Alternatively, fly west into the Atlantic where Tenerife will be enjoying superb weather. It’s only a 4-hour flight and once you get away from the package resorts you’ll find lovely hotels such as the ABAMA Golf & Spa Resort.

Nearly, Madeira offers perfect conditions for an outdoorsy honeymoon with accommodation in romantic restored quintas.

If you are happy to fly for 6 hours you can get to the Arabian Gulf. For glamour and buzz you can’t beat Dubai and its fabulous array of hotels.Away from the crowds of Dubai, the Fairmont Ajman and the all-inclusive Iberotel Miramar Al Aqah Fujairah are both exciting options.

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August 18, 2015

Short Haul Honeymoons in January

Dubai is a great option in January as you only need to fly 6 hours for guaranteed beach weather: 24ºC and 8 hours of sunshine. There’s a huge selection of hotels although  the One&Only Royal Mirage Arabian Court which is intimate, stylish and has great facilities.

Neighbouring Oman is seriously romantic. You’ll want to combine some snorkelling (or diving) in the Damaniyat Islands with a hike in the Hajar Mountains and a five-star desert camp amid the dunes of the Wahiba Sands.

Morocco is only three hours flying time from the UK, and you can expect sunny days and cool evenings: 18ºC in Marrakech with 7 hours of sun. Check out Sir Richard Branson’s ultra luxurious Kasbah Tamadot and this 8-night coast and desert honeymoon.

It’s a five-hour flight to Egypt where Cairo promises 19ºC and 7 hours of sunshine. You could start with a few days exploring the sights of Cairo including a visit to the pyramids at sunset. Follow that with a luxury cruise on the Nile.

Go to Iceland in January and you’ll have a very good chance. Stay a couple of days in the capital Reykjavik before heading to the Hotel Ranga on the banks of a salmon river, surrounded by glaciers and mountains. After dark, soak up a breathtaking view of the night sky while reclining in the hotel’s own outdoor geothermal hot tubs.

The White Circle which has a great selection of winter honeymoons in the Arctic Circle. You could ride snowmobiles, take a husky safari and go snowshoeing at the Luosto Log Cabins or take this package which includes a night at The Ice Hotel in Sweden.

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August 14, 2015

Long Haul Destinations in Janauary

If you’ve always hankered after a honeymoon on the other side of the world, Australia and New Zealand are at their finest in January. The end of the Christmas and New Year holidays sees the crowds thin, with glorious weather for sightseeing, sunbathing and romancing. Best spots in Australia include Hayman Island Resort in the Whitsundays. Another option is to plan a round-the-world itinerary and include some cracking stopovers Down Under.

In New Zealand  a self-drive honeymoon where you could be heli-hiking on glaciers, kayaking with dolphins, horse riding through the bush and bathing in natural hot springs. It’s much more affordable than you might think.

Guatemala and Belize are both amazing destinations. This two-week twin-centre honeymoon cherry-picks the best of both countries including magical lakes, volcanoes and the colonial Spanish city of Antigua Guatemala, and the Caribbean beach and jungle of Belize. Stay at Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha Lodge and Mata Chica Beach Resort. Expect 27ºC and 6 hours of sun on the coast.

Also in Central America, Costa Rica is a dazzling destination offering a combination of luxury eco-hotels, wildlife and adventure. There are active volcanoes, rainforest adventures and pristine beaches set in national parks. This two-week coast-to-coast self-drive tour lets you see all the main sights, or if you’re on a budget this 11-night Value Costa Rica tour starts at just £1,018 per person including flights. You can also combine Costa Rica with neighbouring Nicaragua on this amazing trip.

How about a luxury honeymoon in Hawaii where you can combine superb beaches with stunning scenery. Head to Oahu for Waikiki Beach surfing and nightlife, Big Island for active volcanoes and rainforests and Maui for secluded beaches, whale watching and the natural pools of Oheo Gorge.

Another option is an adventure honeymoon in one of the world’s most exciting destinations – how about Uganda, Chile or Botswana.

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August 13, 2015

Asia Honeymoons in January

January is one of the best months to visit Southeast Asia. Thailand has reliable temperatures of around 30ºC. With great beaches, delicious food and value for money, it’s a guaranteed, though you should avoid the east Gulf coast in January, when heavy rainfall is possible. The Andaman coast – Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Khao Lak – is the place to go.

Or how about a romantic train journey – travel from Singapore to Bangkok on board the Eastern & Oriental Express with stopovers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands, Penang and the River Kwai. See more honeymoons by rail.

Vietnam is a good winter honeymoon getaway, particularly now that there are direct flights from the UK. You can enjoy a two-week private tour taking in all the main sites, or if you want to go more slowly try this Luxury Saigon, Mekong and Beach option. You could also combine Cambodia and Vietnam or stay at the luxury barefoot Six Senses Hideaway.

Cambodia is emerging as a wonderful honeymoon destination and is at its best in January (32ºC and 9 hours of sun). Top of most people’s lists are the jungle-clad temples of Angkor Wat but you can also walk with elephants and sleep on a floating river lodge.

If you’ve got your heart set on Bali, January is a lovely month to visit (30ºC, 8 hours of sun) but be prepared for a few rain showers. This gentle island won’t disappoint with its welcoming people, rich culture, fabulous food and ultra romantic hotels. Best places to stay include the Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali, Puri Ganesha, a laid-back luxury hideaway in the north of the island and the great-value Gajah Mina Beach Resort on a surf beach in the south-west.

The Maldives has its dry season in January (30ºC, 9 hours of sun) and resorts are falling over themselves to be the most romantic in the world with overwater villas, underwater spas and even 24-hour spas. If you’re on a budget, there are some fabulous all-inclusive options which mean you don’t have to worry about the final bill on checkout.

NIYAMA Maldives is a sexy new blow-the-budget resort. It offers a selection of water studios and pavilions – most with a private pool – plus an underwater nightclub and the chance to spend a night at sea in a luxuriously-fitted traditional sail boat, complete with your own personal chef and butler.

You can also very easily combine the Maldives with a week in Sri Lanka on this fabulous twin-centre honeymoon. You can get married in Sri Lanka (though not in the Maldives). The two destinations are just an hour’s flight apart.

Colourful India is also all about culture, adventure and great food and in January honeymooners can head to northern India or Rajasthan for mild temperatures making it ideal for sightseeing – with Delhi at around 20°C. Try this Classic Rajasthan private tour.

The charming state of Kerala in Southern India sees warmer temperatures – 32°C with 9 hours of daily sun – and it’s also one of the best months for elephant spotting. Try this private 14-day tour, Kerala – God’s Own Country, which includes visits to historic towns, rainforest, temples, spice plantations and elephants, along with time on the beach.

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August 12, 2015

Africa Honeymoons in January

Safari honeymoons are becoming increasingly popular, as couples decide to opt for a trip-of-a-lifetime rather than a conventional beach break. Africa promises not only breathtaking wildlife experiences, but vast pristine wildnerness, vast skies and magical places to stay.

January is a great time to visit Tanzania as this is peak migration season. Expect 32ºC temperatures and 8 hours of sunshine. At Selous Safari Camp you’ll be enjoying game drives in open safari vehicles, bush walks and boat trips along the Rufiji River. You can easily combine this with a beach stay in Zanzibar, perhaps at the remote Fumba Beach Lodge.

Many honeymooners head straight to Zanzibar, which is as exotic as it sounds and a great place to chill out after a stressful wedding. Expect 32ºC and 8 hours of sun. One of the best places to stay is The Residence Zanzibar, which has 66 pool villas set in 80 acres of lush forest and tropical gardens on a mile of pristine white sand beach.

Kenya is another hot favourite in January and offers game viewing, some of the world’s most romantic lodges and stunning white sand coastal retreats all in one go. One of the most popular trips for honeymooners is this 12-night Safari and Beach combination featuring Amboseli Porini Amboseli Safari Camp, the Porini Mara Camp and the Serena Beach Resort and Spa. Expect 32ºC and 9 hours of sun on the coast.

January means mid summer for South Africa which is at its driest, warmest and most popular so remember to book early especially if you want to spend part of your honeymoon in cosmopolitan Cape Town (25ºC, 11 hours of sun). South Africa and Mauritius also make a great combination.

There are some fantastic safari lodges in South Africa including Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, where a fantastic wedding can also be arranged and it’s easy to escape to Mauritius or the Seychelles for some beach time afterwards.

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August 11, 2015

Caribbean Honeymoons in January

January is a wonderful month to honeymoon in the Caribbean There’s a buzz in the air and the weather across the region is reliably hot and dry. Only the Bahamas and Bermuda are to be avoided in January – both can be a bit too chilly. Elsewhere you can expect temperatures of around 28ºC and an average 9 hours of daily sunshine.

January does bring high-season prices to the Caribbean, but there are ways of cutting costs. You could go all-inclusive at a less expensive destination such as the Dominican Republic – it is rich is beaches, culture and natural beauty.

Mexico is another good-value destination in January – there is so much to see and experience, the cuisine is delicious, there’s a great hotel choice from boutique haciendas to beachfront all-inclusives, plus the beaches are stunning.

Cuba is good value for money, even in high season and if you’re looking for more than a white sand beach, this is the place to head. Spend a few days at the historic Hotel Saratoga to explore the atmospheric streets of Old Havana, then combine it with a beach stay, perhaps at Melia Cayo Coco.

Other islands where there’s plenty to see and do include Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados and Jamaica, all with direct flights from the UK. In St Lucia you can go zip-wiring in the rainforest, cycling on former sugar plantations and visit a walk-in volcano. The best places to stay include Anse Chastanet, a gorgeous beachfront hotel.

Jamaica has character and style in spades, and there is lots to see whether you rent a car or join organised excursions.

Grenada, known as the Spice Island, is a lovely hideaway destination with gorgeous hotels and a gentle pace of life.

Sandals is the place to go for adults-only all-inclusive resorts. It has recently opened hotels in both Barbados and Grenada where you can even get married for free.

If want to get even further from the crowds, you could head to the stunning island of Anguilla which measures less than 35 square miles and is lined with pristine platinum-sand beaches. Best places to stay include the Moorish-styled Cap Juluca, the Viceroy (check out the Rooftop Suites with private pool) and CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa.

If you want to blow the budget and head for a private island, Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island sets the bar very high.

If you have a more modest budget and crave an authentic taste of the Caribbean, see this collection of hideaway hotels including Fond Doux Estate on a working cocoa plantation in St Lucia, A Stone’s Throw Away – a lovely B&B in the Bahamas – and the charming beachfront cottages of Petite Bacaye in Grenada.

You can also rent a private villa for two on some of my personal favourite islands including French St Barths and Bequia in the Grenadines.

You could opt to see a selection of islands on a cruise. Avoid the huge noisy floating hotels in favour of one of the new generation of high-end vessels, which are more like luxury yachts than hulking ships.

Another way to beat the crowds in high summer is to take a romantic cruise on a tall sailing ship with the upmarket Star Clippers. Its Caribbean cruises gets to the small ports that big ships cannot reach, and casting off at sunset with the giant sails flapping overhead is a truly special experience.

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August 10, 2015

Avoid a Hurricane on Your Vacation

  1. August is peak hurricane season.
  2. Not all Caribbean islands are subject to hurricanes.
  3. Islands least likely to get hit are ones located furthest south.
  4. These include Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Curaçao, and Turks and Caicos.
  5. If you're determined to visit Florida or the Caribbean during this time (when rates are temptingly low), find out if your hotel has ahurricane guarantee.
  6. Acquaint yourself with the National Weather Service's Hurricane Awareness site.
  7. If you can't bear the idea of stormy weather (or worse), go someplace else.
  8. If you do get caught in a hurricane, seek shelter on high ground and follow instructions.

Tips:

  1. Insist on going to the tropics in August anyway?
  2. Pack a raincoat but keep your fingers crossed.
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August 8, 2015

Long Haul Honeymoons in May

May is a great month to explore California – it’s 23ºC with 9 hours of sunshine in Los Angeles. Exsus has a lovely range of classic US fly drive honeymoons including this classic California Highlights Trip from San Francisco to LA in 10 nights, staying at Yosemite National Park, Carmel, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica.

Or head down to South America, where Peru is at its best – this is a wonderful time of year to combine beach, jungle and a trip to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

May is the perfect time to visit Japan. Temperatures in Tokyo will be mild (23ºC, 6 hours of sunshine), the gardens are in full bloom and the mountains are green.

It’s also a good time to visit Vietnam where this classic two-week private tour is one of the most popular for honeymooners, ticking off Saigon (33ºC, 5 hours sunshine), Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, the Mekong Delta and Halong Bay. For something a little more relaxed, this Vietnam and Luxury Beach includes the main cultural highlights plus a few unique twists and three nights of indulgence on the beach at the Nam Hai hotel.

It’s also a good time to honeymoon in the Indian Ocean. In Mauritius the humid summer months (December to April) have passed, but the winds of July and August are months away. Expect 27ºC and 7 hours of sunshine. Check into such gems as the newly re-opened Trou aux Biches.

The Seychelles (29ºC, 8 hours of sunshine) are beautiful in May but prices are lower before the high season of July and August. There are plenty of boutique hotels such as Coco de Mer and Black Parrot Suites on Praslin Island or you can push the boat out with a stay at Banyan Tree Seychelles on Male or a private island like Denis.

It’s not such a great time in the Maldives but Mozambique (27ºC, 8 hours of sunshine) is a superb alternative. The remote silky white beaches are as beautiful as any in the world and you can combine it with sailing cruises on traditional dhows and wildlife safaris.

In Bali, May is the beginning of the dry season (30ºC, 10 hours of sunshine), so this spiritual island will be looking particularly lush after the rains. Here are some of the world’s most romantic hotels such as Bambu Indah, with antique houses set amongst rice paddies, the laid-back luxury hideaway of Puri Ganesha and the pampering haven of Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali.

There’s more – much more – to Indonesia than the beaches of Bali. How about a romantic adventure through Java and Lombok, which includes trekking in Yogyakarta and a stay at the Plataran Borobudur Resort & Spa plus orang-utans and proboscis monkeys in the Kalimantan rainforest, a stay at Surabaya’s Java Banana beneath an active volcano and a beach stay at the stunning Lombok Lodge.

Head to the Gulf of Siam where the dreamy island of Koh Samui enjoys great weather in May (32ºC, 6 hours of sunshine). It has many gorgeous hotels where you can dine barefoot on the beach and enjoy cut-price Thai massages for two.

In Africa, May is an excellent time to visit Botswana where the weather is fine (25ºC and 9 hours of sunshine) and the trees are green. Botswana is home to some of the most opulent camps in Africa such as Pom Pom Camp and Zarafa Camp in the Okavango Delta and Jack’s Camp in the Kalahari Desert.

It’s the dry season Namibia with temperatures of 23ºC and 10 hours of daily sunshine. Take a hot air balloon ride over the desert, see shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast, climb the world’s tallest sand dunes and track the endangered Black Rhino. Namibia has superb lodges and tented camps, such as the Wolwedans Dune Camp and Ongava Tented Camp. This Ultimate Namibia itinerary is popular with honeymooners.

It’s also a perfect time to visit Zambia and Malawi for this chilled-out and exciting honeymoon package. It kicks off with three nights at Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone (28ºC and 10 hours of sunshine) where you’ll enjoy Victoria Falls and take trips on the Zambezi River, before heading to Luangwa River Camp where you’ll have ringside seats viewing elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, giraffe and hippo. After all that excitement, wind down with four nights relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi National Park at Pumulani.

Madagascar is emerging as one of the fastest-growing and most exciting honeymoon destinations, thanks to its unique wildlife and stunning white-sand beaches. You can expect 23ºC temperatures and 7 hours of daily sunshine. This 11-night honeymoon features stays at Vakona Forest Lodge where you can spot lemurs in the rainforest, and the secluded beachfront Anjajavy Hotel.

If you want to experience total relaxation in a sublime natural setting, head to Ananda in the Himalayas which is set beside the Ganges River in the foothills of the world’s greatest mountain range. Built on a royal estate, it offers superb food and spa treatments, plus the option to try treks, nature walks and white water rafting.

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August 6, 2015

UK Honeymoons in May

If you want a romantic, rustic and chic experience – and are looking for a honeymoon bargain – try Sheepskin which has a collection of cottages in Wales. Include Tailor’s Cottage in Snowdonia, Cider House in the Brecon Beacons and Hafod Glan Gwy on the banks of the River Wye.

Or head to gorgeous Scotland where you can enjoy a 5-night self-drive Luxury Scottish Honeymoon that includes stays at a five-star hotel in Edinburgh, a lodge on the shores of Loch Ness and a private island off the coast of Argyll. From only £885 per person – plus you can upgrade to a classic car.

You can expect good weather in England’s southwest. In Devon you can pamper yourselves with great food and spa treatments at The Cary Arms in Babbacombe Bay. Set in fabulous grounds close to Bath, Lucknam Park has a world-class spa and Michelin-starred restaurant, The Park. If you want a secluded self-catering hideaway try somewhere like Barnacles in Fowey, Cornwall.

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August 5, 2015

Caribbean Honeymoon Destinations in May

This is a superb time to head to the Caribbean. The islands are winding down after the high season, and hotel rates and airfares are great value. But the weather is still great with temperatures in the high 20s and perhaps the occasional short rain shower at night or in the late afternoon. You can also in the get married in the Caribbean with great deals including free wedding packages.

Each of the islands has its own character and charms, so your choice should depend on what you’re looking for in a honeymoon – and your budget.

If you’re trying to keep costs down, the Dominican Republic (30ºC and 8 hours of daily sunshine) is very competitive on price compared with elsewhere in the region, especially if you go all-inclusive, and the beaches are stunning.

Mexico is another bargain, and great if you want a five-star stay at affordable prices. Check out Secrets Capri Resort & Spa, which has a Jacuzzi in every room, and Secrets Aura Cozumel on the tropical island of Cozumel.

Cuba (30ºC, 9 hours sunshine) is well priced and ideal if you want to explore the country as well as flop on a beach. You should certainly spend a few days exploring the capital Havana (think mojitos, cigar factories, 1950s American cars and salsa clubs). You will then have earned yourselves a spell at a luxury beach hotel such as the Melia Cayo Coco or the Sol Cayo Largo, a four-star all-inclusive on an unspoilt island, 40 minutes flight south of the mainland.

If you crave privacy rather than the attentions of hotel staff, you can get a great out-of-season bargain renting a private villa for two on a small characterful island like St Barths or Bequia in the Grenadines.

Grenada, the spice island, is small, friendly and has many pretty coves tucked away behind forested hills. Honeymooners should head to the stylish boutique hideaway of Laluna.

Anguilla, on the other hand, is a perfectly flat coral island with miles of platinum-white beaches and some very stylish hotels including Cap Juluca, the Viceroy and CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa.

If you really want to get away from it all, head to the British Virgin Islands where Sir Rirchard Branson’s Necker Island is a fabulous treat. It runs Celebration Weeks during selected weeks of the year, when you can book a room rather than renting the whole island!

You can also explore the Caribbean on a Star Clippers cruise, setting sail on a magnificent tall ship. The vessels are small enough to feel intimate and stop at small ports inaccessible to big cruise ships. And what could be more romantic than a real sailing ship?

For an authentic – and inexpensive – experience, check out Essence of the Caribbean which has a wonderful choice of B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels such as Rosalie Bay in Dominica, A Stone’s Throw Away in the Bahamas and The Blue House B&B in Jamaica.

If you want a more conventional luxury hotel, I recommend this collection of 13 gorgeous small hotels and resorts.

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August 4, 2015

May Honeymoons in the Mediterranean

The best months to visit the Mediterranean are May, June, September and October. The main advantage of May is the weather – you can expect warm sunshine, low humidity and cool evenings – but you’ll also find the welcome is friendly as resort workers look forward to another summer season. In many places you’ll find hills carpeted with spring flowers.

On the French island of Corsica you can’t miss the scented Maquis, at its best in May. There’s a great choice of hotels, villas and apartments including some real gems such as the cool and contemporary Casadelmar and the elegant Hotel la Villa in Calvi. Alternatively hide away in a one-bedroom villa with its own private pool such as Le Hameau Sant’Andria.

It’s also a lovely time to be in Provence where this lovely collection of boutique hotels includes Domaine Les Roullets, a beautiful adults-only countryside B&B, and Metafort, a peaceful retreat in the hills of Vaucluse.

The countryside of Mallorca (21ºC and 9 hours of sunshine) is another great destination. Far from the cheap-and-nasty packaged resorts, you’ll find secret coves, picturesque villages, rugged walking paths and well-appointed villas for two such as Ca’n Pulit and Ca Na Xidoia. Prices in May will be much lower than in the peak summer period.

Want somewhere a bit different? Take a look at DDG Retreat, a gorgeous eco-friendly hideaway in the hills of Andalucia. It has just five individually designed casas – some with outdoor baths – plus a lovely restaurant, spa, infinity pool and hammam.

The Greek Islands are particularly attractive in spring. Head to the stunning volcanic island of Santorini (22ºC and 10 hours of sunshine) for chic boutique hotels such as Grace Santorini or these cosy hideaway houses for two.

The Dalmatian coast of Croatia offers sparkling turquoise seas, island escapes and superb food at sensible prices. Arrive by private water taxi at the glamorous Villa Vilina on the traffic-free island of Lopud, or check into Hotel Podstine which overlooks a sparkling bay near the hip town of Hvar. Discover more honeymoon ideas in Croatia plus these latest special offers. Expect 21ºC and 8 hours of sunshine in Dubrovnik.

Turkey has near-guaranteed good weather and a great collection of boutique hotels such as Hotel Villa Mahal described as the “most romantic hotel in Europe” by Condé Nast Johansens.

If you want solitude, head to the Mandarin Boutique Hotel, a charming adults-only hideaway with just eight rooms set in the Turkish countryside near the resort of Fethiye (25ºC, 10 hours of sunshine). Rates are very affordable and each room has a four-poster bed and Jacuzzi.

If you love all things Italian treat yourselves to a week on the island of Capri, perhaps combined with another week exploring the Amalfi coast. On Capri (21ºC, 8 hours of sunshine) you could stay at the glamorous Capri Palace Hotel & Spa.

Things will be warming up nicely on Sardinia (22ºC, 9 hours of sunshine) where you’ll find empty white sand beaches, clear turquoise seas and great hotels such as the sophisticated five-star Hotel Castello, the seafront Villa del Parco and the minimalist boutique Coluccia Hotel & Beach Club. In the far south region of Puglia you should check out the elegant five-star Borgo Egnazia Hotel which has villas with private pools, a first class spa and golf.

Further north, you could stay head to the rolling countryside of Tuscany where you’ll find some outstanding hotels that will particularly suit food lovers.

Other Tuscan treats include Villa Campestri, a country manor house surrounded by lawns and wooded parkland, and Relais la Suvera, a 16th-century Renaissance villa decorated with art and antiques.

More active honeymooners might like to take the opportunity of slightly cooler fine weather to take a cycling tour of Italy.

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August 3, 2015

European cities are ideal in May

European cities are ideal in May. Florence has just the right mix of high culture and fabulous food – plus temperatures of 23ºC and 8 hours of daily sunshine. One of the best hotels is the five star deluxe Helvetia e Bristol, and you can easily combine this with a stay in Rome and Siena.

It’s a perfect time to be in Paris – the spring sunshine puts a smile on everybody’s face, but the peak summer crowds have yet to arrive. Choose from this selection of luxury hotels including the five-star Lancaster set in a former private residence just off the Champs-Elysées, and the charming Relais Christine tucked away on the Left Bank.

Few cities are more romantic and evocative than Venice and May is a great month to visit, before the summer crowds descend. To make it extra special, you can travel by Orient-Express with an overnight stop in Switzerland. You’ll experience the beauty of the Alps and arrive in Venice next day to be whisked to your hotel by water taxi. Best hotels in Venice include the five-star deluxe Ca’ Sagrado overlooking the Grand Canal and the four-star Hotel Londra Palace near the Bridge of Sighs.

Spain has some of the most appealing cities in Europe if you’re looking for romance and culture. You can expect lots of warm sunshine – temperatures of 27ºC and 10 hours of sun in Seville – ideal for lounging at pavement cafes and dining al fresco.

The Cote d’Azur in France is home to the glamorous cities of Monte Carlo, Cannes and Nice, and glorious in May. Treat yourselves to a stay at Le Negresco in Nice or the Hotel Metropole in Monaco (18ºC and 8 hours of sunshine).

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August 1, 2015

Long Haul Honeymoons in August

While the monsoon season engulfs much of Asia, there are a few areas in this exotic part of the world that escape the rains. The Indian state of Kerala (29ºC temperatures, 6 hours of sunshine) is a great honeymoon destination in August. You can combine a stay in a charming boutique hotel with a rice boat cruise along the backwaters .

Bali is another good option for this time of year with 29ºC temperatures and 10 hours of daily sunshine. I recommend these hotels, including Puri Ganesha, a laid-back luxury hideaway with wonderful organic food, Bambu Indah, which has antique houses set amongst rice paddies, and the gorgeous Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali.

A third option is the island of Koh Samui – it’s a laidback, dreamy place where you can dine barefoot on the beach and enjoy Thai massages for two in stunning romantic hotels such as Napasai and the Four Seasons. Expect 31ºC temperatures and 6 hours of daily sunshine.

If you want a dash of adventure, consider Peru which is at its best during our summer. Try this best-selling 8-day Highlights of Peru private tour which costs from £2,660 per person including flights from the UK.

Try the California Highlights Trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 10 nights, with stays at Hotel Zetta in San Francisco, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park and the luxurious Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

American Sky has some well-priced USA honeymoons including Hawaii & San Francisco and a 23-day self-drive Grand Tour of the West.

One of the smart places for an exotic honeymoon in August is the Seychelles (27ºC, 9 hours of sunshine) has some of the world’s best beaches and doesn’t have to break the bank. Just Seychelles has found some charming small hotels such as Coco de Mer and Black Parrot Suites, along with gorgeous island resorts such as Denis Private Island.

Mauritius is another great choice with 26ºC temperatures and 8 hours of sunshine. At fab hotels such as LUX* Le Morne and Trou aux Biches, newlyweds are spoilt rotten.

Head to Kenya for an incredible safari honeymoon. The Masai Mara is at its best between July and September and if you get the dates right you might even witness the wildebeest migration. Romantic places to stay include Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp close to the Masai Mara and Segera Retreat on the Laikipia Plateau. Expect 28ºC temperatures and 8 hours of sunshine on the coast, but cooler at altitude.

Many honeymooners combine a safari and beach such as the Kenyan coast or Mauritius. Zanzibar and Tanzania is another fabulous option with Rainbow Tours.

August means warm sunny days and cool nights in Zambia and Malawi . It kicks off with three nights at Stanley Safari Lodge in Livingstone, Zambia, where you’ll enjoy Victoria Falls, take trips on the Zambezi River and see white rhino in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park. Then head to the intimate Luangwa River Camp in the unspoilt South Luangwa National Park in Zambia where you’ll see elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, giraffe, hippo. Top it all off with four nights of luxury relaxing on the shores of Lake Malawi National Park at Pumulani.

Or you could watch humpback whales off the coast of Madagascar, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most thrilling honeymoon destinations. Stay at the idyllic Vakona Forest Lodge and trek into the rainforest to spot lemurs, then flop on a pristine platinum beach at the secluded Anjajavy Hotel. Combine them on this 11-night Madagascar honeymoon. It’s not very hot in August: about 20ºC, with 7 hours of sunshine.

In Namibia the weather is ideal for touring (24ºC, 11 hours of sunshine) and it’s the best time of year to see desert elephant and black rhino. The country’s vast colourful desert scapes make for a cinematic and romantic backdrop. See shipwrecks dotted along the Skeleton Coast, climb the world’s tallest sand dunes, take a hot air balloon ride over the desert and stay at fabulous lodges such as Wolwedans Dune Camp and Ongava Tented Camp.

The East African island of Mozambique (26ºC temperatures, 8 hours of sunshine) is a chic feet-in-the-sand destination. You’ll love the squeaky white sand beaches, sailing trips on traditional dhows, sand dune camping and fresh seafood. Stay in a barefoot luxury lodge such as Ibo Island Lodge or Vamizi Island Lodge.

A dream honeymoon in the Maldives (30ºC, 7 hours of sunshine) can be quite affordable if you go all-inclusive. One of the most popular hotels for honeymooners is the Kuredu Island Resort where six nights all-inclusive cost from £1,259 per person including flights. It offers endless pearl white beaches, two pools, four restaurants, great diving and snorkelling and a choice of styllish villas and bungalows.

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