The Top Honeymoon Trends and Destinations for 2021
The best honeymoon destinations of 2021 differ slightly from previous years' picks due to a seismic shift in travel and hospitality. Some areas of the world are reopening to visitors with proof of vaccinations, while travel to global honeymoon spots are expected to reopen in the near future. For now, couples have turned to closer pockets of paradise, many of the best honeymoon destinations of 2021 only a flight away for the vast majority of the country.
Travel experts affirm the best honeymoon destinations of 2021 are naturally socially distanced while providing extra layers of privacy and safety. "Resorts with free-standing villas or bungalow-style accommodations remain popular," says Virtuoso Advisor Beth Washington of Getaway Guild. "[That way,] honeymooners can travel abroad and still comfortably social distance." Below, explore the best honeymoon destinations to consider as you embark on honeymoon planning with your S.O. After all—following a year of pivoting and planning a wedding during COVID, congrats! You're ready to set off for your honeymoon as newlyweds.
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The Best Honeymoon Destinations of 2021
Hawaii has consistently secured its place among the best honeymoon destinations for couples. But, with global restrictions during COVID, the six islands of Hawaii (Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the Big Island) have landed at the top of the list for honeymoons. Hawaii particularly speaks to couples seeking luxurious, off-the-beaten-path and tropical destinations (think: Bora Bora or the Maldives). The islands offer a cultural and sensory experience unlike anything else in the US with rugged volcanic terrain, rewarding hikes, culinary tastings and splendid opportunities for romance. For the purposes of honeymoons in 2021, set your sights on Maui as each island has its own quarantine restrictions and testing between inter-island travel is required. Just don't forget the pua (flower) on your left ear—since it signifies you're taken.
What to Do: Enjoy a sunset sail or a romantic helicopter tour; Visit the Seven Sacred Pools and the Road to Hana at Haleakala National Park; Enjoy a day excursion to upcountry for Maui Wine or a self-guided tour of craft brewery Maui Brewing Company; Book reservations for a romantic dinner at the famed Mama's Fish House or in Maui.
Requirements: Under Hawaii's Safe Travel Program, all visitors must register and complete an application for travel to the state. A negative COVID test is also required to be uploaded into your account no more than 72 hours before your arrival to Hawaii. Once approved, the Safe Travel program will email you a QR code to be utilized at the airport and resorts; Masks are required; View updated requirements here.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort at Wailea (Maui); Mauna Lani Auberge (Hawaii); Montage Kapalua Bay (Maui); Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa (Kauai); The Wailea Beach Resort–Marriott (Maui); Andaz Maui at Wailea (Maui)
A morning drive in Big Sur along Highway 1 offers unparalleled views of the rugged California coast with looming Redwoods framed against the roaring Pacific. It's a peace seeker's paradise and the nature-loving couple will revel in all that the region has to offer. Drive a few hours north and you'll come across 17 Mile Drive, home to one of the world's most acclaimed golf destinations, Pebble Beach, and the charming cottages of nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea. After a few days of sightseeing, venture inland to Sonoma and further north to Napa Valley for fine dining and wine-tasting experiences to round out your honeymoon.
What to Do: Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway; Run along the bluffs of Pfeiffer Beach for a Big Little Lies experience; Tour renowned Napa Valley wineries like Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, Pine Ridge Vineyards; Make reservations for world-class fine dining experiences.
Requirements: Masks are required. View updated requirements here.
A haven for luxury ecotourism, this lush Central American country is known for its Pura Vida lifestyle. Featuring stunning beaches along both the Atlantic and Pacific, Costa Rica is also home to multiple active volcanoes (Arenal, Poas and Tenorio). The land has diverse vegetation, steep ranges of climates and landscapes, including its incredible cloud forests awaiting exploration by adventurous couples. Romantic activities abound for to-be-weds, such as mineral volcanic massages, waterfall swims, surf classes and luxurious tented accommodations to sleep under the stars. Wildlife adorers will also be delighted by the range of flora and fauna with the country's abundance of hummingbirds, colorful macaws and over 15 types of sloths. For a full Pura Vida experience, book a property known for open-air suites facing the rainforest, indulge in the inland way of activity, then head to either coast to unwind. The country is also known for its top culinary offerings with organic, coursed meals offered at top resorts.
What to Do: Enjoy a day trip to Monteverde; Go horseback riding in the cloud forest and along the coast; See nesting turtles in Tortuguero National Park; Zipline above the Arenal or Tenorio Parks; Hike through the jungle to reach paradise at Manuel Antonio National Park; Swim at the base of the Rio Celeste waterfall; Visit the jade and gold museums in San Jose.
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR within 72 hours of stepping on flight; Must have travel insurance covering COVID-19; Must have proof of residency from your respective country; Must complete Health Declaration Form; Must complete negative COVID test before returning to the US; View updated requirements here.
Where to Stay: ORIGINS Luxury Lodge by Mantis (Tenorio Volcano Park); Costa Rica by Four Seasons (Peninsula Papagayo); El Silencio Lodge & Spa (Poas Volcano National Park); InterContinental Costa Rica (San Jose)
The Bahamas has a bit of everything for every kind of couple. Those seeking an all-inclusive, mega-resort experience will turn to the convenience and fun of Atlantis or Baha Mar (a massive development of three properties). Atlantis even offers its own honeymoon experiences at a fixed cost depending on the length of stay.
The more discreet couples will consider the more off-the-beaten-path "Out Islands" for a truly private and secluded getaway. "Eleuthera and Harbour Island boasts pink sand beaches," explains Freda Malcolm, Director of Weddings and Honeymoons for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. "Exuma is the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, with some of the most beautiful waters in the world and Andros is the ideal quiet escape." The couples who want an even more exclusive honeymoon experience should head to the Southern islands including Cat Island, Mayaguana, as well as Long Island.
What to Do: Snorkel or dive through the Andros Barrier Reef; Get beachside massages in Eleuthera or Harbour Island; Relax on Cable Beach; Golf at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Baha Mar; Go biking on Harbour Island; Island hop by chartering boats for the day; "Flamingle" with flamingos at Flamingo Cay; Swim with pigs in Exuma.
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR test five days before stepping on flight to the Bahamas; Must sign all relevant docs through Tourism Board; Must obtain a Bahamas Health Visa; Must complete negative COVID test before returning to the US; View updated requirements here.
Where to Stay: Caerula Mar (South Andros); The Dunmore Hotel (Harbour Island); Pink Sands Resort (Harbour Island); Rosewood Baha Mar (Nassau); The Cove at Atlantis; Grand Isle Resort (Exuma); French Leave Resort (Eleuthera)
A haven for adventurous couples seeking a top-notch, all-inclusive resort, Jamaica is home to a diverse range of terrain. From mountainous and hilly regions to pristine sandy beaches along its southern coast, the country is also world-renowned for producing the likes of Bob Marley, Blue Mountain Coffee and Ian Fleming's 14 James Bond novels. Couples can enjoy everything from waterfall hikes to bamboo rafting and ocean water sports. Plus, it helps that multiple all-inclusive resorts, catering specifically to honeymooners, have prime, oceanfront real estate all around the country.
What to Do: Explore the Bob Marley Museum; Swim and hike Dunn's River Falls; Take in Seven Mile Beach; Explore a haunted house at Rose Hall Great Hall; Enjoy sunrise at Blue Mountain Peak.
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR or rapid test before stepping on the flight; Must sign all relevant docs through Jamaican Tourism Board; Must provide negative COVID test before returning home; View updated requirements here.
Welcome to "America's Paradise." A short boat ride or seaplane combination away, the US Virgin Islands remain a sought-after honeymoon destination. After back-to-back hurricanes slammed the region in 2017, islanders and local resorts quickly regrouped to bring the destination to its full splendor. Numerous resorts across the main islands (St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix) have reopened and the water and wildlife sightseeing is still among the most pristine in the Caribbean.
What to Do: Lounge and relax at Trunk Bay, Davis Bay Beach and Buck Island; Hike along the many trails in Virgin Islands National Park; Snorkel with turtles and other wildlife; Reserve a sunset boat tour.
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR or rapid test within 120 hours before departure; Masks required; View updated requirements here.
Where to Stay: Ritz Carlton (St. Thomas); The Buccaneer (St. Croix); Marriott's Frenchman's Cove (St. Thomas), Gallows Point Resort (St. John)
Couples are reminded of Tahiti or another exotic, far-flung destination when they arrive in Saint Lucia, an eastern Caribbean destination that's secluded with just about the perfect number of upscale properties and adventurous activities. Its hulking volcanic Pitons provide a picturesque escape, while local luxury properties (think: open-air, three-walled layouts facing the Caribbean) make Saint Lucia one of the steamiest honeymoon destinations in the region. The island features everything from rainforests to pristine beaches to meet the activity needs of every type of couple.
What to Do: Hike up Gros Piton Mountain and Petit Piton; Bike through the jungle; Unwind along Seven Mile Beach or Marigot Bay; Swim at the base of a rainforest waterfall; Bathe in the Sulphur Springs in Soufrière, the world's only drive-in volcano; Go rum tasting.
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR five days before arrival; Must complete travel registration form; Must be transferred privately to COVID approved resort; Must provide negative COVID test before returning home; View updated requirements here.
A slice of heaven in the Caribbean, Antigua is a reef island that has some of the most prized beaches in the world (imagine soft white sand, gentle breezes and crystal clear water). It's no wonder top luxury properties have set up shop on the island while artfully creating a relaxed atmosphere that any couple would appreciate after wedding planning.
What to Do: Explore Fryes Beach, Darkwood Beach and Galley Bay Beach; Hole up at Dickenson Bay; Venture to Prickly Pear Island for an excursion day
Requirements: Must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR test seven days before flight; Must take additional COVID test upon arrival at hotel/resort; Must complete Health Declaration Form; Must complete negative COVID test before returning to the US; View updated requirements here.
Considered the most popular destination for honeymooning couples, Aruba is a Dutch island nation that's located directly off the coast of Venezuela. It's outside of the path of hurricane alley, making the odds of inclement weather a bit lower at this tropical haven. It also offers the most incentives to newlyweds through its honeymoon program.
What to Do: Swim in the Arikok National Park Natural Pool; Relax at the pristine Eagle Beach; Explore the desert by ATV
Requirements: All couples must test negative within 72 hours of departure; Couples who fly on JetBlue must test negative prior to travel through Vault Health or a certified health provider or lab. Those JetBlue passengers not choosing to test prior to travel can take a PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport in Aruba; Must complete a negative COVID test before returning to the US; View updated requirements here.
If you plan to stay domestic and you're looking for a slice of heaven within the US, look no further than the Florida Keys, a coral cay archipelago off the peninsula of Florida. A marine sanctuary, this destination offers adventure and beauty. Couples are invited to lounge poolside at their trendy boutique hotels or to partake in activities like swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and boating. The culinary and bar experiences are also a reflection of the nearby Caribbean culture, where day drinking and lounging in the sun are perfectly acceptable activities for visitors.
What to Do: Take a day excursion to Dry Tortugas National Park; Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum; Snorkel and see wildlife at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Requirements: Masks are suggested; View updated requirements here.
Manicured lawns, dune-backed beaches and gorgeous shuttered homes are all part of the Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard experience. It's no surprise multiple former US presidents and dignitaries have called these two islands their vacation havens. The islands ooze lowkey luxury and a sense of escape off the coast of Massachusetts. The color of the water is an inexplicable blue especially during high season between Memorial Day to Labor Day. September is also an option for those who want to shy away from large crowds.
What to Do: Lounge on private, adults-only beaches; Enjoy dinner and an extensive wine list at Topper's; Explore the clay cliffs of Aquinas; Bike along the trails; Golf at Farm Neck Golf Course or Mink Meadows; Dig into seafood at Nancy's on the Vineyard; Play tennis
Requirements: Masks are required. View updated requirements here.
Where to Stay: Harbor View Hotel (Martha's Vineyard); The Wauwinet (Nantucket); White Elephant (Nantucket); The Nantucket Hotel & Resort; The Christopher at the Edgartown Collection (Martha's Vineyard)
The Top Honeymoon Trends for 2021
There are travel trends and there are honeymoon trends. Like most wedding planning experiences, the stakes are oftentimes higher with the honeymoon because it's often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Honeymoon trends in 2021 include several twists on traditional travel options among other surprising statistics. Our 2020 study of more than 900 respondents found a few themes involving this grand getaway. Plus, we did the research for you, so all you have to do is book a stay at the destinations above, unwind and relax. You deserve it.
The Minimoon Is Still Trending
About one-third of couples typically enjoy a minimoon first before embarking on a full honeymoon. Similar to the minimony before the sequel wedding, the decision is influenced by a variety of factors. Since the nature of minimoons is relatively cost-effective and requires less time off from work or other commitments, most couples ventured within the US (including Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands) for this type of trip with 88 percent specifically remaining in the country.
As travel was a priority for millennials and Gen Z prior to COVID, about 13 percent of couples said they either enjoyed both a honeymoon and a minimoon or were planning both.
Couples Are Saving… Or Registering
According to our survey, the cost of a honeymoon was of utmost importance when determining a destination. About 60 percent of couples ended up paying for the honeymoon via personal savings, while another 55 percent of couples either used money gifted from their wedding or from their honeymoon registry funds to pay for their getaways.
Of course, a honeymoon doesn't necessarily have to be lavish to be luxurious. In 2020,U.S. News and World Report outlined the Best Cheap Honeymoons in the U.S. and in Europe with quite some lovely locales for to-be-weds to consider. Topping the list of affordable honeymoon destinations in the country was the placid and scenic region of Ogunquit, Maine, where the beaches are splendid and there's a cozy feel to the properties in the area. Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts (and one of the best honeymoon destinations of 2021), was another affordable alternative for those remaining in the states. Glacier National Park in Montana was the second top choice in the country, especially for nature dwellers in search of diverse wildlife and magnificent American sightseeing.
What Honeymoon Season?
The amount of time spent in a honeymoon destination is important because sometimes, it involves a place so far-reaching and remote that it requires multiple days of travel just to get to the location. Our survey found in 2020 that most couples were still adhering to traditional honeymoon timelines, meaning they will depart for their trip up to two days after the wedding and will enjoy, on average, a honeymoon of about eight days. Given COVID, this behavior has been upended.
While in the past, the most popular time for couples to depart for their honeymoons was between the months of April to the end of June (about 30 percent of all respondents said as much), there is no definitive "honeymoon season" in 2021. Some couples are booking their trips at the last minute, while others are planning for a more lavish getaway in late 2021 or sometime even in 2022. With so many postponements of weddings, the traditional sense of the honeymoon season has been upended in 2021.
Ecotourism Honeymoons Are on the Rise
That idyllic picture of you and your partner on some remote island, floppy hat in hand with a side of vacation drinks or relaxing with spa massages in a lush jungle at sunset? That's probably what the majority of couples are envisioning too, making ecotourism honeymoons a new type of preferred getaway for newlyweds. Destinations like Costa Rica, Hawaii (Kauai and Maui) and even Iceland are trending spots for ecotourism honeymoons.
Bungalows and Villas Are Preferred
With destinations like St. Lucia landing in the top spot in 2020, followed by Bora Bora in French Polynesia, a remote island close to Tahiti (No. 6 on the list), tropical areas known for its sexy accommodations remain tops for honeymooners. The ratings previously were based on offerings like exotic beaches, high-end resorts with exceptional service, overwater bungalows and experiences like swim-in brunches with spa time galore. In 2021, it's now based on the additional need to socially distance and maintain safety while traveling.
Shorter Flights Are Appreciated
With breathtaking resorts and experiences a quick plane ride away, what's not to love about the Caribbean and Central America? With most airlines now offering direct flights to these locations, The Knot found that about one in four of our surveyed couples were heading to the Caribbean for their honeymoons in 2020, a number that has certainly shifted further in 2021.
Previously, hot spots included St. Lucia, the Bahamas and Jamaica, while Nassau had reemerged in 2020 as a honeymoon spot. Other lowkey options in the Caribbean include Virgin Gorda, Tortola and the friendly island of St. John, a protected region that you can only reach by boat. Of course, there are many spots in this part of the world to visit. According to U.S. News, the best islands in the Caribbean for honeymooners include Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Kitts or Nevis.
There is, of course, something for all couples a short flight away, even those craving unique cultural experiences they would've received in, say, Bali or Fiji. In 2021, the colorful surf communities of Punta Mita, Mexico, the rich history of San Miguel de Allende or the intense culinary growth in Mexico City are all up for consideration too. Wherever and whenever you choose to honeymoon, make it safe and make it yours.