It was a question we pondered for months – so much so that we left ourselves in danger of everything being booked up! Where should a couple of travel bloggers go on their honeymoon?
We struggled with where to begin. Our options ranged from Japan to New Zealand to Colombia to Madagascar to California and everywhere in between. All we knew was that we wanted it to be somewhere special – and somewhere we hadn’t been together. It was a tough call as we’ve already been to quite a lot of honeymoon-worthy destinations!
The first things to consider when planning a honeymoon
So how did we whittle it down? Planning a honeymoon is tough and demands all sorts of questions! We had a set time frame for when we could go – three weeks from the end of August to mid-September (sadly not the never-ending honeymoon of the Honey Trek-ers). As it’s our honeymoon, we didn’t fancy putting up with off-season weather so that helped exclude pretty much all of the Caribbean and Central America where hurricane season would be raging. We also wanted to go further afield than Europe, but not quite as far as New Zealand, which struck a few places including Hawaii off the list.
Next we started to think about how we wanted to spend our honeymoon. Did we simply want to be on a beach for three weeks straight or were we looking for adventure, culture or city life? Did we want a roadtrip or to stay still? We travel often but we’re rarely on holiday so we had to change the way we thought. Whereas wi-fi would normally be high on our list of “must haves”, we wouldn’t prioritise that at all for our honeymoon – in fact our computers would stay at home. This was a time for pure relaxation, which raised the question: “What does relaxation look like to us?”.
What does relaxation look like to us?
We realised that although beach time was a must, we didn’t want to spend our entire three weeks on a beach. We craved something more. On the other hand, we didn’t want to spend the whole time sightseeing and trying to cram everything in. That helped us rule out Japan. And while we love exploring cities, we live in London and were eager for some time in nature. We also wanted luxury – when we travel, we always love to find special places, but they’re not always typically luxurious – and for this trip we wanted luxury. It’s our honeymoon so the perfect time to justify a splurge.
Another consideration was food. It’s one of our greatest loves and we didn’t want to find ourselves somewhere that would be difficult for two vegetarians. Normally this is fine but for our honeymoon we wanted to dine in style. So this meant that some of the remote islands we were considering started to look less appealing. We don’t eat fish and that was the staple of most island hotels’ fine dining. It did, however, make Asia look very appealing and we considered Sri Lanka a lot. The problem was, I went to Sri Lanka for two months when I was 18. It’s the first place I backpacked alone to, so it already holds a special place in my heart. We decided we wanted to go somewhere new.
So as we slowly began to hone in on what we wanted, we decided to spend an afternoon in the travel section of Waterstones to see what sparked our inspiration. It was such a fun way to research – eschewing the internet and sitting down with weighty guidebooks (*sigh* for the good old days).
This is when we started to focus on Southern Africa – Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. I’ve been to Tanzania and we’ve both been to Morrocco, but other than that Africa has largely been off our map, but firmly on our radar. Photos of white sand beaches and safari lodges started to make us think that perhaps somewhere in Africa could be it.
Our initial inclination was Madagascar, not in small part because of its name(!), but we slowly realised that it would be quite difficult to travel around and the food wasn’t really what we were looking for. We definitely want to go there one day, but for our honeymoon we ruled it out. We also decided against Malawi as we wanted a beach over a lake (although Malawi is now very high on our list of places we want to visit).
And so South Africa topped our list. Once we chose it, it seemed obvious, ticking all of our honeymoon boxes. Cape Town would give us city time, the Winelands are famous for good food, and safari would provide adventure. The only thing missing was beachtime, because although South Africa has a gorgeous coastline, it wouldn’t be summertime and we still had our heart set on tropical paradise. That’s when we realised that lots of people pair a holiday to South Africa with a beach break somewhere else, such as the Seychelles, Mozambique or Mauritius. It was the perfect solution for us!
We also started to realise that there was a proliferation of honeymoon travel agents. We normally arrange every last detail ourselves but as it was our honeymoon we decided that maybe getting some help would be pretty nice. I did a little research and found that a lot of the travel agents get great deals as they have relationships with different hotels. It would save us some hassle and save us some money – win win!
Halleluiah for honeymoon deals
And our favourite discovery of all – lots of places offer incredible honeymoon deals with up to 50 per cent off hotels. And before you get ideas, it’s not a trick you can easily pull as you have to show a copy of your marriage certificate dated within the past six months. These deals ended up saving us many pounds.
So what itinerary did we finally choose? We shopped around a bit for different tour operators, which wasn’t an altogether pleasant experience as they all put a lot of effort into putting together a quote so we felt rubbish when we had to turn some down – but I guess it’s a necessary part of the process. We also considered doing some sponsored stays (writing about the hotels in return for a discounted stay) but we decided that we’d prefer not to do that on our honeymoon, and relied on the honeymoon discounts instead (although, in the spirit of full disclosure, our final chosen tour operator – the lovely Yellow Zebra Safaris – did waive their fee in return for me writing a blog for them, and one of the hotels gave us an upgrade – but other than that, it’s all our own expense.)
Our chosen honeymoon destinations
For the South Africa part of our trip, we honed in on Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, and Kruger for safari. We’ve also added a couple of nights in Johannesburg as we really want to see the city. Choosing the beach part was a lot more tricky. Through speaking with the tour operators, we learned that Mozambique would be the best for seclusion and the Seychelles for barefoot luxury. However, both had their drawbacks – mostly because of cost. The Seychelles are expensive in every way – the hotels, the flights, and all activities on the islands. There are no direct flights there from the UK, and the same goes for Mozambique, which makes the flights quite expensive. Mozambique, however, does have some beautiful and affordable luxury options. The only drawback for us was the food, because although seclusion was appealing, it also meant lack of choice and we were concerned that if the food wasn’t great, we’d have no other options.
So Mauritius became the front-runner. We had initially been put off by the island’s focus on big resorts. This isn’t normally our style – we prefer quieter, quirky options. But as we thought about it more, we realised that although it may not be our usual style, being pampered in five-star luxury for a week would be a wonderful honeymoon treat. It’s also pretty darn gorgeous!
And so finally our itinerary was set. My cousin gets married the week after us so we’re going to spend some time in Devon straight after the wedding, and then we go to the airport straight from the reception! Every place we’ve chosen sounds incredible and we’re so excited about every last bit! All the documents arrived last week with the first line: “Africa is just around the corner, you should be expecting the holiday of a lifetime!” and I think that sounds about right!
Our wedding is this Saturday (!), so from now until we return from our honeymoon in September, I’ll be staying mostly offline and won’t be blogging while I’m away. I will, however, be sure to update you on all the details when we get back, and I’ll be posting to Instagram now and then, so be sure to follow us there. And in the meantime, I have scheduled some posts for while we’re away.
See you in September when I’ll have added Kennedy to my name (we’re going to be the Watts Kennedys)!