After the perfect wedding, the perfect honeymoon awaits. While all of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Palm Beaches provide an abundance of wonderful alternatives to wander and wonder, statistically speaking, there are more honeymooners that travel out of town than remain for the weeks following their nuptials. Following are some of their favorite choices, with our own personal recommendations to keep the sunshine at your side.
Before compiling this list, we chatted with Richard Safaty of Freedom Travel, who is used to helping LGBT couples plan their honeymoons. “Couples usually seek a destination that neither have been to before. They want to share a new experience together. That is one of the main things that is important. Also, safety. They want to travel somewhere where they are going to be in a comfortable, gay friendly atmosphere where above all else they feel safe.”
Maui and Kauai
When it comes to visions of paradise, few places in the world can outdo the islands of Maui and Kauai in Hawaii. King Kamehameha was the first ruling monarch to approve of same-sex unions for his army warriors back in 1812. With the passage of Hawaii Marriage Equality Act in 2013, Hawaii’s reputation as the most popular honeymoon destination for gay couples was born. While Maui has more nightlife, Kauai has more dramatic scenery including the peaks of the Na Pali Coast, primeval rainforest, red-rock cliffs of Waimea Canyon, and Wailua Falls. Best hotel deal on either island is to be found on Maui at the Wailea Grand Champions.
While not the first place you might think to honeymoon, Uruguay is very gay friendly, having voted for same-sex marriage in 2010. The exotic Punta del Este and the boho-chic enclave of José Ignacio are less than a hundred miles up the stunning coastline from the capital of Montevideo and primed for gay business. The boutique, gay-owned Casa Sarandi guesthouse is a great starting point for exploring the city or try one of the surprisingly affordable rooms of Casapueblo, the whitewashed cement citadel created by the late artist Carlos Páez Vilaró.
Johanna Sigurdardottir was the first openly gay head of state in the world. The divorced former prime minister entered a civil union with Icelanic novelist Jónína Leósdóttir, who Johanna married in 2010, when same-sex marriage was legalized in Iceland. The liberal Nordic country makes a perfect honeymoon for gays and lesbians, with most of the action naturally centered in the capital town of Reykjavik. There you can find a handful of gay owned and operated bed and breakfasts, as well as the luxurious 101 Hotel, which boasts nice views of the harbor and old town. Another perk: Iceland has some of the lowest airfares in the world. A flight from Boston to Reykjavik has been known to go as low as $99.
Though Provincetown is better known, the coast of Maine is far more untouched and charming.The state voted for same-sex marriage in 2012, and every part of the coastline has romance written in the rocks and sand. The White Barn Inn in the seaside village of Kennebunkport shouldn’t be missed. Historically a shipbuilding and fishing village for well over a century, the town has been a popular summer colony and seaside tourist destination. You’ll remember it also has the Summer White House of George W. Bush. Just north of Kennebunkport is Old Orchard Beach with Dickinson’s Candy Factory at 42 Old Orchard Street. It’s the kind of place that exists only in films. Its quaint, its romantic, and home to Michael Dickinson. For a honeymoon that’s a party.
As a territory of the U.S., the island of Vieques, eight miles off the Puerto Rican coast, has the advantage of using U.S. currency and pricing, taking some of the mystery out of the honeymoon budget. While Vieques is hardly cheap, it does have extraordinary beaches. Splurge on lodgings at the W Retreat and Spa, or splurge even further and rent an entire Prouve-style villa, in the form of the Casa de Crystal, for $439 a night. Either way, you can take short day trips back to the mainland to explore Old San Juan, or to spend the night bouncing around the city’s many gay bars and clubs.
Plan your honeymoon in Amsterdam during the summer, and time it to see the Drag Queen Olympics, running from late July to early August coupled with the Pride Parade which floats down the canals. There’s excursions to the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, shopping along P.C. Hooftstraat, or people-watching in the city’s trendy Jordaan District. There’s any number of designer hotels carved into heritage spaces; the Hoxton, in five former canal houses, or the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, in what was once a library, and is now a wonderland designed by the inimitable Netherlands-born designer Marcel Wanders.
Though you’ve probably never heard of Moorea, it’s one of the most beautiful spots on earth. If the thought of dropping off the radar for your entire honeymoon pleases you, there is no better place than this less popular sister of Bora-Bora. By far the best hotel on this island of great hotels is the Hilton Moorea Lagoon and Spa. There’s overwater bungalows or in hotel suites, each with its own particular selling points. Like Tahiti and Bora-Bora, which are just a short ferry boat ride away, Moorea has granted LGBT travelers full protection status since France passed marriage equality in 2013.
One of the gayest cities in all of Spain, Sitges sits on the seaside where the Platjador holds reign right across from the gay beach. The town is full of cathedrals and museums, while the beach is sexy with clothing optional sections. Making things muy perfecto, the hotel’s restaurant serves brunch until noon every day. So civilized. P.S. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
Though LGBT activists in Greece are still fighting for marriage equality, there is nothing discriminatory about Santorini. From one end of the Greek island to the other, the country remains a gay travel hotspot. Actually formed from five islands that have been filled in with volcanic lava, Santorini is a international honeymoon destination best reached by plane or ship from Piraeus. The gayest avenue is the Tropical in the capital city of Fira, with its amazing view of the Caldera and the steep cliffs that drop into the deep blue ocean. Full of very familiar celebrities and politicians looking for an escape, the nightclubs in Fira are the perfect place to work up a sweat for honeymoon activities later on in the night. Our favorite place to stay is the Petit Palace Suites Hotel, overlooking the Aegean Sea.
Despite its recent terrorist activities, the charm of Paris is both seductive and enduring. Honeymoon in this city and expect to pay a premium, but this kind of romance is priceless. The high-ceilinged rooms full of endless toile and Louis XV-style details at the Hôtel Lancaster come highly recommended and the hotel gets our nod for the best honeymoon suite in town. This luxury hotel is in an 1889 townhouse that sits a block from Avenue des Champs-Élysées–perfect for an after dinner stroll or that must-have shopping excursion. Most gay bars are located in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement of Paris in an area called Le Marais. Drop into any of its restaurants or small shops, and meet other gays and lesbians from around the world celebrating their honeymoons as well.
Photo credit: hawaiipictureoftheday.com