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Let our destination inspiration whet your wanderlust and provide a guide to the most romantic cities, idyllic islands and wilderness escapes. LUCY FENNINGS rounds up a worldwide hot-list of honeymoon destinations…

01 Kruger National Park

LUXURY SAFARI STAYS
Countryside South African wilderness
Country life Eye-spy the Big Five

Why to go Safaris epitomise romance, with spine-tingling safari drives, the thrill of a close encounter with nature’s biggest and strongest beasts and tall tales told round the campfire. In the spectacular Kruger National Park, wildlife abounds: there are white rhino and buffalo in the densely wooded southwest; and the eastern plains play home to wildebeest, impala and zebra – in turn attracting prides of lions. After a few days of safari drives, you’d have to have been pretty unlucky not to have seen the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.

When to go Winter (July–September) is the dry season and is the best time to spot game, although it will be cold at night; there’ll be plenty of newborns in summer (November–December) but it will be hot and humid.

Where to stay Safari honeymoon hotels in Kruger include luxury lodge Lion Sands; modern-among-the-trees Singita Lebombo; and safari-and-spa stay Tintswalo. See more safari lodges

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02 Koh Samui

THE CLASSIC BEACH HANGOUT

Coastline Lush, sun-kissed Thailand
Coast life Beach-basking and bar-hopping

Why to go Providing the blueprint for the perfect honeymoon getaway, this tropical Thai island ticks all the white-sand, blue-sky boxes and promises a hedonistic fortnight of sun-lounging, spa pampering, sundowners and fragrantly spiced food. If you’re feeling energetic, rent a boat and explore the hidden coves of the Ang Thong National Marine Park, or kayak off gorgeous Cheong Mon beach.

When to go
Koh Samui’s hot-weather high season is from May to November, ideally coinciding with the late-summer wedding window. It’s still pleasantly sunny during the off-peak periods, although be prepared for rain.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Koh Samui include hilltop spa retreat Six Senses Hideaway Samui; secluded seaside stay Anantara; designer beach bolthole The Library.

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03 Venice

THE WORLD’S MOST ROMANTIC CITY
Cityscape Archipelago of alleyways
City life Walking on water

Why to go Mist rising over silvery lagoons; the rhythmic ‘doop’ of gondola oars striking the canal floor; masked figures darting behind Byzantine and Baroque buildings… Venice is a visual, sensual, historical treat, and if its maze of alleyways and many surprising sights fails to quicken your pulse, you may as well call it a day right now. Stray off the beaten track and you’ll discover your own classic Venetian vignette.

When to go Avoid August, which is hot, sticky and crowded. Autumn is our favourite time to visit; November is quietly fabulous when the city is cloaked in fog. February is great, especially if you’re going to a carnival ball, but you’ll have to book your hotel well in advance. Spring in Venice is also lovely.
Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Venice include Baroque boutique hotel Ca Maria Adele.

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04 Indian Ocean

DESERT-ISLAND FANTASY
Coastline Nothin’ but blue skies
Coast life Coconuts, cocktails and coral reefs

Why to go When you dream of sailing into the sunset on a deep, glassy sea, it’s probably the Indian Ocean you’re imagining. Whichever island archipelago you choose, you’ll be rewarded with the classic escape-from-it-all tropical-island dream, with floating palm fronds, kingfisher-coloured lagoons, vanilla beaches and cornflower-blue skies. Scuba divers will be in seventh heaven on a Maldivian atoll; get a taste of the East in magical Mauritius; or go for untrammelled luxury on a Seychelloise private island.

When to go
Between April and October for Mauritius, when the mercury doesn’t shoot up too and the island is at its driest. It’s incredible humid from January to March: frizzy hair and fainting spells might spoil the mood a bit. In the Maldives, you’d be very unlucky to get more than a few days’ rain on the trot, even in the Monsoon season (mid-May–November). The Seychelles are good year-round, but the islands are at their driest May–October, their wettest December–February, and their most humid October–April.

Where to stay
Indian Ocean honeymoon hotels include Cocoa Island or Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives; Frégate Island Private, Round Island or Maia Luxury Resort & Spa in the Seychelles; Constance Le Prince Maurice or The Oberoi in Mauritius.

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05 The Garden Route

ADVENTURE ON A GRAND SCALE
Coastline South Africa‘s coastal wilderness
Coast life The greatest show on earth

Why to go Hugging South Africa’s rugged coastline and passing some of the continent’s most beautiful landscapes, this fertile swathe of country is astonishing in its natural diversity – it’s a feast for the eyes, with dramatic cliffs, dense bushland and mighty mountains. And whether your idea of fun is whale-watching, beach barbecues or bravura bungee-jumping, one thing’s for sure: you won’t be short of things to do.

When to go
With about 300 days of sunshine a year, the Garden Route is a good choice at any time. Areas such as Plettenberg Bay do get crowded in peak season, particularly at Christmas and Easter. Winter days from May to September will still be warm but temperatures dip sharply at night. July to November is the best time for whale-watching.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in South Africa include private coast look-out, Castle on the Cliff; Nature’s Valley polo estate, Kurland; and East-meets-West escape, Ichibi Lakeside Lodge.

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06 Belize

FOR UNDERWATER EXPLORERS
Countryside A Central American beauty
Country life Piña coladas, getting caught in the rain

Why to go Belize offers not only glorious beaches and some of the best diving on our blue planet, but also jungle-clad mountains and Mayan ruins; it’s a stunning one-off, from its reef-adorned Caribbean coast to the inland Cayo, boasting lush rainforest, white-water rivers, sacred stalactite caves and plunging waterfalls.

When to go Belize has a year-round subtropical climate, but can be quite wet with brief but frequent showers and clouds outside of the driest months (January–May). August to October is hurricane season.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Belize include Francis Ford Coppola’s forest retreat Blancaneaux Lodge; private-island getaway Cayo Espanto; chic shore-shack Turtle Inn.

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07 Marrakech

EXOTIC AND EXCITING
Cityscape Minarets and mountains in Morocco
City life Mint tea, mules, medina mayhem

Why to go A three-hour flight from London transports you to North Africa; only a short hop from Spain across the straits of Gibraltar, but exotic, mysterious and a world away from modern Europe. A perennial favourite with the boho-chic jet-set, mediaeval Marrakech provides intrepid honeymooners with a glimpse of Berber, Arabic and Moorish heritage. A dawn hot-air balloon ride over rose-hued rooftops, with views of the ancient Atlas Mountains and Sahara Desert, has to be one of the most romantic experiences on earth.

When to go Marrakech can be too hot to handle from June to August; we love autumn and spring, when sunny days and balmy nights allow for rooftop sunbathing and starlit dining.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Marrakech include elegant Arabesque riad Noir d’Ivoire; Palmeraie retreat Ksar Char-Bagh; and boutique guesthouse P’tit Habibi.

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08 St Barths

COSMOPOLITAN CARIBBEAN
Coastline French-Caribbean jewel
Coast life A-list beach lounging

Why to go As chic as Paris, as cosmopolitan as Cannes… St Barths may be a French-flavoured island with a jet-set fan club, but make no mistake, it’s still as laid-back and gorgeous as its commonplace Caribbean counterparts. More brasseries than beach shacks? Bien sur. Croissants for breakfast? Mais oui… Blue skies, sugar-soft beaches and aquamarine seas? Yeah baby! This is sophisticated honeymoon heaven.

When to go At the tail end of high season (January–April), room rates drop and the beaches empty out; but if you want to be seen with the in-crowd, Christmas and New Year is when the party sails into town. September–October is ‘rainy season’; the rest of the year, trade winds keep the temperature hovering pleasantly around the 30ºC mark.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in St Barths include cottage retreat Hotel Guanahani & Spa; rarefied star stay Eden Rock; and jungle bungalow bolthole La Banane.

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09 Tuscany

RENAISSANCE ROMANCE
Countryside Cypress Hills of Italy
Country life Pleasures for every palate

Why to go Renaissance beauty Florence, mediaeval marvel Siena, cowboy country Maremma… why not go? Tuscany’s popularity might make you think it’s not the ideal place to get away from it all; but deep in the Chianti countryside, Tuscany’s glories can be enjoyed at every pace, from dozing in the shade of a tree to galloping cross-country with Maremma’s horsemen or hitting Florence’s fashion boutiques. Whatever your holiday wont, this corner of La Bella Italia won’t disappoint.

When to go The cities of Florence and Siena are best enjoyed outside the peak summer season; the countryside can be busy with tourists throughout summer, but once you’ve escaped to your honeymoon retreat, you won’t notice…

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Tuscany include Borgo Santo Pietro near Siena; L’Andana in Maremma; Villa Bordoni in Chianti; JK Place in Florence.

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10 Napa Valley

WINE, DINE & UNWIND
Countryside Fields of dreams
Country life Havin’ a vine time

Why to go Napa may have been the setting for an ill-conceived stag do in the film Sideways, but it makes a wonderful backdrop to a honeymoon of wine, wooing and wandering in California. With impeccable French-inspired cuisine, a benign climate and some beautiful scenery, it’s hardly surprising that couples flock from San Francisco for some refined R’n’R. If you’re feeling flash, you could of course always charter a helicopter to buzz you to your boutique hotel…

When to go The exciting autumn harvest is known locally as ‘the Crush’. You might want to time your visit and go just after or just before, when the weather is perfect and the crowds less madding.

Where to stay Honeymoon hotels in Napa include ravishing retreat Calistoga Ranch; modern-day pleasure-centre The Carneros Inn; and lyrical hideaway Poetry Inn. See also Hotel Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

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For more honeymoon-holiday eye candy, check out our Top 10 Honeymoon Hotels feature.

Still not seen anything that tickles your fancy? Really? What are you, some sort of stone-hearted misanthrope?! Find your fantasy honeymoon destination with Mr & Mrs Smith…

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