10 Dreamy Honeymoon Destinations That Are Cheaper Than You Think

Ready to take a splurge-worthy honeymoon without actually splurging? Here's how to make it happen.
by Jen Murphy
Couple paddle boarding
Courtesy of Tahiti Tourism

A honeymoon doesn't have to break the bank. Even typical splurge-destinations like Bora Bora and Greece are within reach if you're savvy. With the right mix of price-conscious hotels, low-rey restaurants and shoulder season travel months, even the dreamiest getaways become accessible. Here's how to get the most out of these honeymoon hot spots.

1. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston charms visitors with genuine Southern hospitality, Lowcountry cuisine and oak-lined, cobblestone streets.

When to Visit

The magnolias and honeysuckles are in bloom April through June and the temperatures won’t be sweltering yet.

Where to Stay

The 155-room Dewberry has a mid-century Modern vibe and one of the city’s buzziest restaurants. A killer location, just off Marion Square in the Upper King District, puts you within walking distance from the best boutiques. From $350.

What to Eat

Start with cocktails at Husk Bar, before moving next door to Husk, chef Sean Brock’s shrine to Southern ingredients. Set within a converted, Victorian-era home, the restaurant pays homages to regional farmers and traditions with dishes such as skillet cornbread with Benton’s bacon crumble and RC Cola-glazed duck with Anson Mills heirloom grits.

Splurge-Worthy Experience

Kiawah Island is just 20 miles south of Charleston. Spend a night at the Sanctuary, a 255-room seaside mansion that evokes Tara, the fictional plantation in Gone with the Wind. From $535.

2. Halkidiki, Greece

Halkidiki may not have the cache of Mykonos and Santorini, but its beaches are just as pretty. Located in off-the-tourist radar northern Greece, Halkidiki’s three peninsulas are blanketed in lush pine forest and surrounded by the warm waters of the Aegean Sea.

When to Visit

Go during mid-April to early-June and September to mid-October to avoid heat waves and the summer holiday crowds.

Where to Stay

Eco-friendly Ekies All Senses Resort is set on an unspoiled beach in the village of Vourvourou on Halkidiki’s second peninsula, Sithonia. The new Evergreen and Pine suites are stunning, with private pools and gardens, but if you’re on a budget, standard double rooms are super comfy too and have balconies. From $186. 

What to Eat

Michelin-trained chef Dimitris Pamporis reimagines traditional dishes (his Greek salad is topped with feta mousse and olive soil) at Búbo. His inventive tasting menu can be enjoyed in a treehouse.

Splurge-Worthy Experience

The hotel can arrange a boat for a day of island hopping. Picnic at Diaporos Island and hike past the scattered ancient ruins of Agios Isidoros.

3. Kauai, Hawaii

Tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, emerald valleys and golden sand beaches cast a spell over anyone who visits the Garden Isle.

When to Visit

Beach-perfect weather and good deals can be found in the shoulder seasons, April through May and August through early October. November through March are the rainiest months.

Where to Stay

Aqua Kauai Beach Resort is one of Kauai’s best oceanfront values. The 25-acre property sits on a 3-mile beach on the island’s eastern Coconut Coast. With four pools, a lava-tube waterslide and complimentary cultural activities, including hula shows and ocean navigation, Aqua is a great option for couples who get antsy lounging in the sun. Plantation-style guest rooms were recently renovated; all 350 accommodations feature private lanai. From $199.

What to Do

Don't miss the dramatic cliffs and endless trails of the 17-mile Napali Coast. The Kalalau Trail—11 miles from Ha'ena State Park to Kalalau Beach—is a bucket list hike. 

Splurge-Worthy Experience

Learn to hang 10 with pro surfer and Kauai native Evan Valiere at the North Shore's legendary Hanalei Bay. $400 for private lessons for two. 

4. The Seychelles

Sugar white beaches, pristine waters and secluded five-star resorts make the Seychelles archipelago a favorite honeymoon escape for A-listers.

When to Visit

Just seven degrees south of the Equator, the Seychelles is blessed with year-round, 80-degree temps. April-May and October-November are the best months for diving.

Where to Stay

In a destination known for $1,000-a-night luxury stays, Le Repaire is a beachfront gem. Located on La Digue, the smallest of the archipelago’s inhabited islands, this cute boutique hotel a legit Italian restaurant. From $290.

What to Do

Cycle to Anse Source D’Argent on La Digue. This stunning stretch of sand is considered one of the Seychelles’ most beautiful beaches. Don’t forget a mask and fins for snorkeling.

Splurge-Worthy Experience

The waters off the coast of Mahé island are a scuba diving paradise. Four wreck dives offer the chance to spot marine life like nurse sharks, turtles and rays. From $115 per person.

5. Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is easily accessible (90 minutes from Phoenix) yet feels worlds away, surrounded by mystical Red Rock formations and national forest. Outdoor enthusiasts can find 100 hiking trails within a 20-mile radius while culture lovers are steps from art galleries and terrific restaurants.

When to Visit

Active couples will love the cool temperatures of fall. Desert flowers are in full bloom March through May.

Where to Stay

The 100-room Kimpton Amara Resort & Spa is walking distance of Uptown Sedona’s galleries and shops. An infinity-edge pool and outdoor fire pits make it easy to fall into vacation mode. From $200.

What to Do

Don’t just gaze at the area’s iconic red rock sandstone spires, get out and explore them. Little Horse is an easy 3.4-mile round-trip trail with views of Cathedral Rock. Feeling lazy? Take in the rust-colored scenery on a Jeep tour. From $59.

Splurge-Worthy Experience 

Indulge in a day of pampering at the spa at L’Auberge de Sedona. Start with a desert sage scrub, then join your spouse for a forest bathing ceremony.

6. Santa Barbara, California 

Santa Barbara embodies California dreaming with its mix of gorgeous beaches, vineyards and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

When to Visit

During shoulder season—early fall to late spring—you can find great deals on hotels and attractions, plus the weather is still warm and sunny.

Where to Stay

Rooms at Hotel Milo are on the smaller side, but you can’t beat the location across the street from West Beach. Iconic Sterns Wharf is a short bike ride away and the hotel’s Dutch-inspired cruisers are complimentary. Lounge by the pool, play bocce, and swirl, sniff and sip at the hotel’s daily wine tastings. From $199.

What to Do

Take an urban wine tour on foot or bike. Not to miss stops include Au Bon Climat for Pinots, Babock for single-vineyard Chardonnays and Margerum for their signature blends.

Splurge-Worthy Experience 

A helicopter ride over Santa Barbara takes in views of the Channel Islands, known as the Galapagos of North America. $300 for a 45-minute tour.

7. Paris, France

Arguably the capital of romance, the City of Lights has charmed the likes of Julia Child and Ernest Hemmingway with its cozy cafes, delicious cuisine and effortless style.

When to Visit

To experience Paris like a local, visit in April, May, October or November. The first Sunday of October to March, museums such as the Louvre are free.

Where to Stay

Situated in the 8th arrondissement, Le Pavillon des Lettres is a short walk from the Champs-Elysées and the shops of Rue Fabourg St Honoré. Each of the 26 snug rooms is dedicated to a writer, with lines from poetry, plays and text hand-stenciled above the bed. Two top-floor suites have Eiffel Tower views. From $220.

What to Eat

Paris is known for its temples of gastronomy, but incredible meals can also be had at tiny wine bars and unassuming bistros, such as Le Baratin and Clown Bar.

Splurge-Worthy Experience

No trip to Paris is complete without visiting the Eiffel Tower. Experience the architectural wonder from its second-floor, Michelin-star restaurant, Le Jules Verne. The Gift Box dinner experience includes bubbly, a six-course meal and a meet-and-greet with the chef. $1,170 for two.

8. Queenstown, New Zealand

Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is basically an outdoor playground. It's also the gateway to the Central Otago wine region. 

When to Visit

Summer (December-February) is perfect for hiking and enjoying Lake Wakatipu. Crowds thin out and flowers are in bloom September through November. Winters are heaven for skiers; just avoid July when schools are on holiday.

Where to Stay

The views from St. Moritz Queenstown-MGallery by Sofitel are unbeatable. Located in the heart of the city, the hotel looks across Lake Wakatipu at the Remarkables mountain range. An autumnal color scheme and natural materials (slate, exposed wood beams) give the hotel a retro, ski chalet feel. Lombardi restaurant is known for its hyper local menu, including the area’s top pinots. From $165. 

What to Eat

A tasty burger and fries are worth the wait in line at Fergburger. This low-key joint hs a cult following with its made-from-scratch, locally sourced ethos and creative takes on the humble burger. 

Splurge-Worthy Experience 

A day of activities should be rewarded with a steamy soak in the Onsen Hot Pools. Cedar tubs are perched on a high cliff with cinematic views of Shotover River. Treat yourself and add on a couple’s massage. $432 for two. 

9. Tuscany, Italy

Rolling vineyards and endless olive groves provide a dreamy backdrop for exploring ancient hill towns, Michelin-star restaurants and the art and architecture of Florence.

When to Visit

Mid-spring and early autumn bring perfect weather, but also higher prices. Fields are ablaze in golden sunflowers in summer. Winter can by chilly and some restaurants landscape is a vibrant green and tourist-free.

Where to Stay

A former farmhouse-turned B&B, Le Due Volpi has just four rooms. Garden-filled grounds and a swimming pool are ideal for lazy days; the museums of Florence are only 20 miles away. From $100. 

What to Do

Le Due Volpi’s owners, Cinzia and Aldo, are cycling geeks (ask to see their vintage bicycle collection) and know the area’s most scenic roads.

Splurge-Worthy Experience

Tuscany has 34 restaurants with Michelin status, but only Enoteca Pinchiorri boasts three stars. Foodies won’t want to miss the artful tasting menu, featuring dishes like roasted ravioli filled with Mascarpone and caviar. $340, without wine.

10. Bora Bora

Bora Bora has been called the most photogenic place on earth. The island’s dazzling sapphire- and turquoise-hued lagoon and sand-fringed motus (islets) are worth the extra 50-minute flight from Tahiti.

When to Visit

April and November are shoulder months. December through March can be hit or miss with rain.

Where to Stay

Bora Bora’s ubiquitous overwater bungalows usually cost a small fortune, but the overwater digs at Oa Oa Lodge cost $200 a night (garden bungalows start at $100). With just eight rooms total, a pool and a private beach, you’ll feel like you’re on your own private island. Bookings must be made directly with the lodge owner Heimiti Buchin.

What to Eat

Dining out in French Polynesia is pricey. For a local vibe and affordable eats, try local favorite, Fare Manuia.

Splurge-Worthy Experience 

Explore Bora Bora’s famed lagoon at your own pace on a private cruise. Your captain can take you to secret snorkel spots and deserted beaches for afternoon bubbly. Four hour cruise $600 for two.

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