A trio of destination specialists help set our sails for islands that promise—and deliver—many of the most idyllic and romantic client-pleasing honeymoons.
Two on the Isles: Naxos & Santorini
Greece, the land of love, seems a natural destination for idyllic honeymoons. After all, it was in Greece where Eros—a.k.a. Cupid—united the hearts of lovers, and where Aphrodite—a.k.a. Venus, the goddess of love—first inspired mankind with her beauty. Among some 2,000 islands sprinkled across the turquoise seas around Greece, the Greek isle of Santorini wins top slots year after year in honeymoon polls. “Santorini indeed maintains its super-star ranking, followed by Mykonos, with Crete running close to that in second place,” says Cally Papas, president of Cloud Tours, whose signature products have long been honeymoons and destination weddings lists. According to Papas, the hottest new island for honeymooners is “fantastic, romantic Naxos, distinguished by its rolling green hills and valleys with clusters of Byzantine churches, long sand beaches, and a capital that has its own Venetian castle.”
Cloud Tours’ new 7-day package features three nights in Naxos and three nights in Santorini. A top resort choice on Naxos is the Naxian Collection located two miles from Naxos town and less than a half-mile from St. Prokopios Beach. Accenting premier amenities and sweeping Aegean Sea views, the resort’s villas and suites boast private pools and expansive terraces, espresso machines and free WiFi. On Santorini, the hotel pick might be the Astra Suites, built into the cliffs above Imerovigli village. Astra’s suites come with romantic outdoor jacuzzis for two with panoramas embracing the caldera and facing evening sunsets. Priced from $1,455 pp, the Naxos-Santorini Honeymoon includes a wine and cheese tasting in Naxos, a bottle of wine, fresh fruit, flowers on arrival in the suite in Santorini, a bottle of champagne with chocolates the second day, domestic air and business class hydrofoil transport, and private transfers. On the new Cloud Tours website is the full roster of memory-making 7- and 10-day honeymoon packages, combining two or three islands in both the Aegean and Ionian seas.
Smitten by Sicily
It’s easy to fall head over heels in love with Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean and a wondrous, one-stop destination—unless you add those offshore islands called the “Seven Pearls of the Mediterranean Sea” to come up with The Ultimate Honeymoon in Italy: Sicily, Taormina & the Aeolian Islands. And this is just what Discover Your Italy has done in designing this plus-perfect, 10-night sojourn, ensuring newlyweds a unique and thoughtful mix of history and nature, relaxation and private times. “Customizing Italy trips, enriching each journey, offering local insights and crafting great experiences are all #1 priorities when planning itineraries,” according to Matteo Della Grazia, owner of Discover Your Italy, a boutique tour company based in Perugia. “For when tailoring itineraries of extra special interest—art, history, culinary, wine and certainly romance—we hope to enable our guests to truly discover ‘their Italy.’”
On the Ultimate Honeymoon, couples spend five nights in Taormina, where arrangements include a private walking tour of this beautiful and historic town; a private jeep excursion on the Etna Volcano, stopping for wine tastings and a delicious lunch; and a full-day excursion to ancient Siracusa-Ortigia. From Sicily, they head out to sea on a hydrofoil, docking at Lipari, the liveliest of the scenic Aeolian Islands, for a 4-night stay, plenty of time to explore all the islands: swimming and sailing, exploring volcanoes, bathing in thermal waters and mud of Stromboli, then spend the final night in history-rich Catania celebrating with a farewell dinner. Priced at $3,070, the program includes four-star boutique accommodations—Villa Angela in Taormina and Hotel Mea in Lipari, both with terraced rooms, pools, stunning sunsets and free Internet, and the Hotel Liberty, beautifully restored in Catania; honeymooners can upgrade to super-luxury five-star properties like the Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea in Taormina. Also included are full buffet breakfasts, a farewell dinner, private-guided touring, roundtrip hydrofoil transport to Lipari, private transfers and professional assistance available 24/7. And a unique feature included in all Discover Your Italy arrangements: a welcome pack containing a smart phone with a pre-paid Italian sim card to be used during the trip to stay in touch with local hosts at all times, Internet access, use of maps, etc.
Croatia: Eastern Europe’s Riviera
Newly-chic Croatia beckons honeymooners to the Adriatic Sea and its 1,200 islands, known for their pristine beaches, picturesque villages and good-times living along on the historic Dalmatian coast. “Croatia,” says Jay Ternavan, president of JayWay Travel, specialists in Central and Eastern Europe, “continues to be our best-selling destination, one popular enough and wonderfully honeymoon-friendly for us to launch a special croatiahoneymoon.com site. Featured here are six Croatian destinations, which we have woven into 1- to 2-week suggested itineraries, made for customizing precisely to newlywed’s wishes and expectations.”
This writer picked what seemed a quintessential honeymoon program, full of magical moments and experiences: a 10-night Dalmatian Coast and Islands itinerary. Start with a 3-night stay in Dubrovnik, with time to walk the fortified city walls, take a short boat ride to the National Park on Lokrum Island, or perhaps take a cooking lesson or a day trip into neighboring Montenegro. Next take the ferry to beautifully scenic Korcula, whose capital is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Croatia. Excursion options here include a private sailing trip, touring the lavender fields and vineyards by bike, and a visit to the quaint fishing village of Lumbarda, famous for its white wines and sandy beaches. Then take a high-speed ferry to Hvar Island for a 3-night stay, with time to visit the medieval fortress, cruise to the Pakleni Islands, tour the lavender fields and vineyards by bike, and swing out in this party-capital of the Adriatic. The final two nights are spent in Trogir whose top sights are a great food market and the Old Town; the major, all-day excursion here is the wondrous Plitvice National Park.
This itinerary covers all transfers by boat, ferry and car, as well as accommodations, and assistance by local JayWay representatives along the way. And there are many ways to tailor this trip to each couple’s expectations, including hotel choices (three- to five-star) such as Hotel Korsal in Korcula or Hotel Villa Nora Hvar. In Dubrovnik, a splurge-stay pick might be the Hotel Villa Dubrovnik and in Trogir the Lesic Dimitri Palace. Rates start at $1,200 pp for the itinerary with three-star hotels.