After the frenzy of wedding planning and a certain element of stress leading up to the big day, what newlyweds need more than ever is some downtime together in a quiet and relaxing locale. My new friend Matt at Dubai-based luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel has put together some of their top picks for beach honeymoons around the world. His knowledge for travel is incredible and I’m very excited to be partnering with Lightfoot Travel to bring a new element of travel to My Lovely Wedding. So if you’re about to plan your honeymoon then this one’s for you!
The recently launched Emirates flights direct to Bali have really opened up this spectacular island destination to UAE residents. Bali is certainly not new to tourism, but it’s a large island with distinct regions that appeal to a wide range of traveller tastes. Stylish Seminyak is full of boutiques, beach clubs and trendy restaurants; laidback Canggu provides easy access to Seminyak, but is quieter and more relaxed with healthy cafes and quirky shops; Uluwatu is a surfer’s paradise located in the south with some of the most striking cliffside resorts on the island; and lastly, the cultural hub of Ubud is utterly peaceful with lush green rice paddies, rolling hills, and winding rivers. Activity-wise, aside from kicking back at any of the beautiful beaches, there is plenty of hiking, snorkelling and dive trips, in addition to interesting visits to local coffee plantations. Lightfoot recommends dividing your time between at least two different locations in order to really get a feel for the island and experience just how unique it is.
When to go: April to October. Unlike some Southeast Asian nations, Bali’s rainy season is actually very wet, so we don’t recommend travel during the winter months.
Where to stay: Alila Villas Uluwatu
One of the island’s most iconic properties perched atop a cliff on the southwest coast, Alila Villas Uluwatu is the ultimate honeymoon resort. The villas are amongst the biggest we’ve seen on the island, and all come with private pools.
Just under five hours from Dubai, the Maldives is the perfect spot for those looking to escape without a long flight. Pristine, dazzlingly beautiful and deliciously serene, with some of the most lavish resorts in the world, it’s almost as if the Maldives was made for honeymooners! Properties in the Maldives can be split between those on nearby islands that are accessible by speedboat, mid-range islands that can be reached by seaplane, and those that are on the remote fringes and require a scheduled domestic flight from Malé. You can also opt for the freedom of the seas, sailing through the archipelago aboard a liveaboard or yacht – an option most appealing to serious divers. The Maldives is one of the rare destinations where selecting the right resort is actually crucial to the success of your trip, so it helps to speak to someone who has visited the various properties and has that important first-hand information. Enter Lightfoot Travel!
When to go: November to April is the dry season in the Maldives. However, we recommend it year round as the rains are often merely intermittent during the rainy season, as opposed to day-long downpours that you might find elsewhere.
Where to stay: Cocoa Island by COMO
Overwater villas shaped like traditional dhoni boats, the exceptional COMO Shambhala spa and a huge amount of privacy make Cocoa Island a real favourite amongst honeymooners. For those who love barefoot luxury (it is neither flashy nor achingly modern, but you could spend months here), this is the place for you!
A short 4.5-hour flight from Dubai, the Seychelles consists of 115 islands (only 16 of which are inhabited) dotted throughout the Indian Ocean. We like to divide the Seychelles into three categories – Mahé, Praslin and the more remote outer islands. Mahé is the largest in the archipelago and home to 90% of the country’s population, with a host of luxury resorts lining private stretches of white sandy coastline. Because of its size, there are more options to explore and dine beyond the resort – wander the French colonial streets, stroll through the botanical gardens of the capital Victoria, or hike to the peak of Morne Seychellois for panoramic views of the island and its surrounds. Mahé also offers exceptional scuba diving, with fantastic coral reefs, whale sharks and dolphins.
UNESCO-listed Praslin is home to the World Heritage site of Vallée de Mai, a nature sanctuary full of rare birds and exotic plants that is ideal for hikers. This island is for those who want talcum powdered beaches and exceptional marine life, but also the rugged hills and national parks that make up the island’s interior.
Lastly, the Outer Islands are for honeymooners looking for ultimate seclusion. Diving and snorkelling are definitely the main activities here, and guides can take guests out to dive spots that tourists rarely get to see. Expect to see giant turtles, countless fish species and some of the most colourful coral in the country. For those with a budget to burn, there are two of the most untouched and picture perfect private island retreats imaginable, both combining excessive luxury with unique, unspolied nature: North Island and Fregate Island.
When to go: The Seychelles is one of those rare places that tends to enjoy good weather year round, although there are some rainier times to take note of (usually July and August). Mar-May and Sept-Nov are the best months for diving, and enthusiasts can check out Lightfoot’s handy guide to Diving in the Seychelles.
Where to stay: Desroches Island Resort
Located in the remote Outer Islands, Desroches is just a 40-minute flight from Mahé, set on 14km of powdery beach and protected by its own coral reef. With only 17 beach villas and 34 suites, it’s a small and intimate resort that offers phenomenal diving, fishing and island hopping excursions.
Coastal Mozambique either works as a stand-alone beach paradise honeymoon, or provides the perfect relaxing end to an African safari holiday. It can easily be paired with destinations such as South Africa, Zambia, Botswana or Tanzania, for those looking for a combination of adventure and relaxation on their honeymoon. The country is famed for its dune-fringed beaches, strikingly turquoise seas and excellent diving and snorkelling. Additionally, the resorts are few and far between, giving it that added element of remoteness that is perfect for honeymooners. These accommodations are almost operated more like safari lodges than traditional hotels: small and intimate (only 10 rooms is about standard), with all meals and drinks often included and nowhere really to wander off and spend time elsewhere! Set off on a sunset dolphin cruise on a dhoni boat with billowing sails, dive the pristine coral reefs amongst dugongs, turtles and over 2,000 species of fish, or go birding within the Bazaruto National Park full of dozens of bird species and even Nile crocodiles!
When to go: May to November is when temperatures are cooler and there is the least amount of rain. We recommend avoiding travel during Jan and Feb, which is the cyclone season in Southern Mozambique.
Where to stay: Azura Benguerra Island
Built by the local community entirely by hand, Azura lies within the beautiful Bazaruto National Park, and is rustic luxury at its best. There are only 14 pool villas and each comes with a welcoming private host from the surrounding villages. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy when you’re not catching the sun, and the cuisine at Azura is exceptional. I spent some of my own honeymoon here and can heartily recommend everything about it, including the lobster burgers for lunch!
Lightfoot Travel is a Dubai-based luxury tour operator specialising in tailor-made honeymoons, family holidays, private villas and corporate travel to countries spanning all seven continents. To start planning your bespoke itinerary, contact them at +971 4 455 8788 or visit lightfoottravel.com.