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The 9 Most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations on Earth

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The 9 Most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations on Earth
Much like beauty, romance is in the eyes of the beholder. Whether it’s a chilly winter evening spent snuggling under blankets or dipping into an infinity pool in a sultry tropical paradise, there are myriad honeymoon experiences that can quicken a couple’s pulses. But when it comes to finding these spots, the expert is Abbie Kozolchyk, who literally wrote the book on the most romantic places in the world. (It’s actually called The World’s Most Romantic Destinations, published by National Geographic.) Expect waterfalls, enchanted forests, and remote islands, yes—but beauty in and of itself is not why Kozolchyk chose these destinations. “In the book, I tried to give each place a historical context, literary context, art context—something that could take it beyond just romantic fluff,” she says. That’s the kind of romance we can get behind. Click on for nine of her favorite romantic places for a honeymoon.
By Danielle Walsh, AFAR Staff
Nelo Hotsuma/Flickr
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    “Curacao is an interesting blend of incredible straight-up Caribbean gorgeousness and history. You could spend your entire time on the beach or diving, sure. It has beautiful water and incredible undersea life. At the same time, it has this wonderful historic Dutch town center. There are all these interesting parts of the downtown. There’s a Venezuelan cultural influence because of its proximity to Venezuelan coast. There’s a subculture of fisherman and mercantile people who sail between Curacao and Venezuela on a pretty regular basis. You can go to their water markets. The island just has a little more cultural and historical heft than your typical Caribbean destination. A fun quirk, a kind of only-in-Curacao experience, is the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. It’s one of the longest of its kind in the world. The bridge has to swing open several times a day to allow big ships to sail through. People line the shore with cocktails to watch the whole thing happen. It’s this curiosity right in the heart of downtown.”

    Plan your trip: Curacao
    Nelo Hotsuma/Flickr
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    Saint Lucia
    “Saint Lucia is a close second, if not a tie with Curacao, for the most romantic honeymoon destination in the world. From a topographical standpoint, Saint Lucia is stunning. It has these two peaks next to each other, the Pitons, and they’re the icons of the island. They’re lushly forested and the water around their base is a great place to snorkel, boat, and dive. Saint Lucia was also the home to Derek Walcott, the late playwright and poet. If you read any of his stuff, you can have a literary entree into the island. His work gives a nice cultural context to a trip there. He says, ‘Come to a place that likes grandeur.’ Go here for a beach vacation with a more interesting cultural standpoint.”

    Plan your trip: Saint Lucia
    Photo by Ron Kroetz/Flickr
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    “Kauai is a perfect place for couples who love hiking and outdoorsy activities. It’s absolutely stunning, and of the places I’ve been in Hawaii, it’s the most striking—especially the Napali coast. It’s called the garden isle, and it’s blanketed with this gorgeous emerald color. It has that magical element and a less-crowded feel than other places in the Hawaiian islands. There’s a place called secret beach that is at the end of an unmarked path—and in all likelihood, if you find the beach, you’ll probably be the only people there. There’s also the kind of funny Elvis history in Kauai. There’s this old legendary resort called Coco Palms, where the Hawaiian wedding song was sung to Elvis’s onscreen love in Blue Hawaii. It’s no longer open as a resort but you can actually go take tours there. Room #56 is known as the king’s cottage and that’s where Elvis stayed. There’s also Waimea Canyon, the so-called Grand Canyon of the Pacific, which is another stunning piece of landscape.”

    Plan your trip: Hawaii
    Courtesy of Unsplash
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    Easter Island
    “I included Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui to its residents, in the Pacific/South Pacific section part of the book because it is a nice blend of raw, natural beauty and at least one natural beach where you can swim. It’s not the most beachy island, per se, but there’s the amazing, mysterious history of the moai. There’s even more Chilean influence than people imagine; it’s certainly more prevalent than I had imagined before I went there. It’s kind of interesting that you’re in the South Pacific, but the street is full of little carts and shops serving arepas. It’s an interesting blend.”

    Plan your trip: Easter Island
    Photo by Lee Coursey/Flickr
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    Chile and Bolivia
    “I wanted to make sure there were nontraditional ideas of romance represented in the book, too. Not everybody wants a beach or a vineyard. I was also trying to pick some really gorgeously stark landscapes that are almost ethereal and lunar. This desert area between Bolivia and Chile is one of those places. The salt flat of Uyuni is one of the most stunning landscapes I’ve seen in my life. Just completely surreal. The earth is constantly bubbling and smoking. There are crazy rock formations. The whole landscape is so surreal that you want a partner to experience it with you, just to confirm that it’s actually real and your eyes are not deceiving you. There’s a company called Explora that has what we call a ‘desert chic’ property on the Chilean side of the border in the Atacama. You can set up your base there and do all these hikes and horseback rides into this landscape and then return to pisco sours at night. They have an observatory that’s quite beautiful. Explora also runs these mobile adventures: They offer an option to go from Chile to Bolivia on one of their adventures. They call them travesías. Basically, you’re going from point A to point B doing amazing activities each day and staying in really cool lodgings each night. You stay in these shipping containers that have been turned into glamping spaces along the route.”

    Plan your trip: The Atacama Desert
    Photo by Jenn Dyer/Flickr
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    “I included four safaris in the book, one of which is a gorilla trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. I remember being completely shocked by how beautiful Rwanda is. I was embarrassed about how little I knew about the landscape there before I went. It was the most incongruously lush, gorgeous place. It has this bucolic tranquility—in parts, there’s this terraced, really green landscape that could be in Bali. The gorilla experience is one of the most intimate wildlife experiences you can have in Africa. You’re rightly kept to very small groups and the exposure is pretty brief. Because so few people go out at a time and there are so many rules governing your outings, you really do get to go shockingly close to these mind-blowing animals. It’s another one of these surreal experiences you really want to have with a partner. Then you retreat to these really lovely lodges that are comfortable and have gorgeous views. But I don’t think that anyone can go to that part of the world without going to the museum dedicated to genocide in Kigali. It’s one of the most powerful museums of its kind I’ve ever seen. Nobody equates genocide museums with romance, but it’s something a conscientious traveler would think about in Rwanda, whether you’re on your honeymoon or not. You can’t go there and ignore the history.”

    Plan your trip: Rwanda
    Photo by Adam Cohn/Flickr
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    “Peru is another special romantic place. I specifically love it in the Sacred Valley, right between Machu Picchu and Cusco. Again, it’s one of those places where you can experience dreamy, romantic landscapes, but everything is so impregnated with history. Even as you’re roaming these ancient misty green Andean paths, you realize you’re taking the same routes that the local Quechua under the Inca rulers did for hundreds of years. You still find such a strong living Quechua culture. A couple of my favorite hotels in the world are in this area as well. The Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, which is an Inkaterra property, just feels like this secret garden escape right near Machu Picchu. In Cusco, there are two Belmont hotels—Hotel Monasterio and Palacio Nazarenas—that are sister properties and are right next to each other. They’re both in converted old religious institutions, a monastery and a convent respectively. I recommend that couples go into both of them; at the very least, have a drink at Hotel Monasterio, and have a look around the grounds and the art collection and the cloistered gardens and fountains. At the sister property next door, Palacio Nazarenas, you can go get couples’ treatments there. There’s a treatment where when you’re face-down and looking through a glass cutout in the floor onto an Inca channel that still functions, there’s still water running through it. I think it’s certainly one of the most remarkable spa treatments.”

    Plan your trip: Peru

    Courtesy of Unsplash
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    “A personal favorite of mine is Kerala, a state in India. It has amazing natural beauty, especially in the backwaters. You can have the most dreamy overnight cruise—a boat trip on a converted old rice boat—and it’s just the most ethereal experience. It’s so green and you’re passing through villages of stilt houses. It’s so peaceful. When you’re in some of the cities of Kerala, you have the most incredible cultural mix. In Cochin, specifically, there’s a great mix of Jewish history, Arab history, Chinese history, Dutch history, and, of course, Indian history. It’s the most remarkable melting pot with elements of all of these cultures and religions that have blended together over the centuries. It’s on the old historic spice route and the soil is so fertile that you have the spiciest, freshest food. It’s the perfect place for people who are interested in these ethereal, peaceful settings away from the crowds but also having interesting culture close at hand. I cried when I left Kerala. It’s just the most absorbing place.”

    Plan your trip: Kerala
    Photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel/Flickr
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    Swedish Lapland
    “In the winter section of the book, we included some winter wonderland type places. One of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had was traveling in the Swedish Lapland. Even when it’s blizzarding and you’re in the middle of a crazy storm, as has to be expected in winter, the place has such a Narnia-like feel. It feels like a sea of glittering trees that are perfectly dusted in snow and icicles. The winter light there, even though it could be abbreviated depending on when exactly in the winter you go, has this magical pinkish, peachy color to it that really makes you feel that you’ve stepped into some sort of magical place. It’s an alternate universe. From a cultural standpoint, there’s still a Sami presence there. I traveled with a company called Off the Map Travel. They handle experiences with the Sami culture really well. They also concoct the most romantic experiences whereby you are taken out on a sleigh into middle of the forest and you stretch out on reindeer skin drinking champagne waiting for the Northern Lights to appear.”

    Plan your trip: Swedish Lapland
    Photo by Béatrice Karjalainen/Flickr
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