For most engaged couples, the excitement leading up to a dream honeymoon getaway is just as thrilling as the anticipation of their wedding day. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is one of the few times newlyweds will not regret surpassing the budget.
According to a Conde Nast Bridal Infobank survey, the average romantic after-party for two exceeds $5000usd.
Couples understand the reality of a marriage partnership with goals of building a savings account and paying off mortgages. The honeymoon is meant to be 100% worry-free, an essential period to rejuvenate and focus on each other, without the stress of sticking to a budget.
An unforgettable honeymoon certainly helps to build a solid base for wedded bliss. As the two of you begin to discuss and research the destinations on your wish list, enthusiasm tends to skyrocket as you imagine spending quality time together in the most amazing places on the planet.
Do you dream of cruising along the Seine enjoying views of the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Would you like to have breakfast overlooking the waterfront on Italy’s Amalfi Coast? Maybe the idea of pressing past your comfort zones and exploring Asian temples or Turkish baths appeals to you? The world presents endless options for memorable trips.
Not surprisingly, the most popular type of honeymoon still remains a heavenly beach escape. After all, you are required to make hundreds of decisions as you prepare for the wedding. So once the main event is over, the most difficult choice most couples envision making is whether to lounge by the pool or at the beach.
The Caribbean appeals to many with its striking shorelines, casual summer dress code and shorter travel times. Some tropical island favorites include St. Kitts, The Virgin Islands and Anguilla.
One of the most diverse Caribbean destinations that manages to check all of the boxes with respect to a dream getaway is Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It not only sits along an expansive, white sand Caribbean coast, but also offers newlyweds convenient access to a bounty of history, adventure and culture.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located on the southeastern tip of Mexico and borders Belize. The states of Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo, where the Mayan Riviera is located, make up this vast region. It is the country’s most important economic area. Tourism has exploded over the last three decades in this award-winning region.
Due to its worldwide appeal, the government has spared no expense into creating a safe and well-designed road system throughout this sector. Flawless highways allow for comfortable travel between towns.
Cancun and Cozumel are widely known and generate most travel interest in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, there are dozens of other fascinating towns to consider for a honeymoon, each with unique aspects to entice every type of couple.
Since the Yucatan Peninsula is far reaching and covers three states, the foremost important factor to consider is time. The average honeymoon lasts eight days, not including travel time. For those who have only a few days, a full-fledged road trip across the region would not be practical.
Here are three sample itineraries to give you an idea of how you can customize a perfect honeymoon to suit your style as a couple. The options for luxurious indulgences, adventure and exploring the region’s history and culture are endless. Choose your ideal blend from the following examples and before you know it, you will be off to Mexico, making your dream honeymoon a reality.
One: Time Is Of The Essence, It’s Limited And You Want To Make The Most Of A Short Mexico Honeymoon
Type X: Beach-lovers looking to continue the party
If you’re the happy couple that plans on throwing the celebration of the century with family and friends and do not want the party to end on the honeymoon, then Cancun and Playa del Carmen should be at the top of your list.
Cancun is a much larger city and visitors tend to stick within the all-inclusive hotel zone. The beaches are wide and the Caribbean waters are picture-perfect. The public transit system in the hotel zone is reliable and buses are conveniently available to transport you to and from the downtown nightclub scene.
While Playa del Carmen’s nightlife and breathtaking coastline are similar in comparison, the city is not as large or as spread out as Cancun. There is one main dining, shopping and entertainment district in Playa called 5th Avenue. This lively pedestrian-only street is where you will find every variety of international cuisine, artisan shops, galleries, boutique stores and bars.
Look for a hotel or vacation rental near the downtown core or in Playacar, a quieter gated community on the south end of the city. Most hotels and rentals in these areas are close to restaurants and the beach. You can conveniently walk everywhere and have the chance to experience the glorious, laid-back essence of the city.
Type Y: Beach-goers seeking nature and serenity
When your honeymoon days are numbered, the two of you will probably want to squeeze in every bit of quality time together. Peace and tranquility are your number one requirements, and oh yes, let’s not forget the turquoise backdrop. The picture you’ve painted in your mind looks something like this – a quaint cabana along a palm-fringed shoreline or a beachfront hotel, days spent soaking up the sun and no pumping dance music or traffic. The only sound you hear is the waves lapping the shore.
If this fits your style, then Tulum, Puerto Morelos, Isla Mujeres or Isla Holbox are excellent options. These sleepy little coastal towns and charming islands are the polar opposites of life in the fast lane. Laze in a hammock in the shallow, blue-green waters. Dine in intimate eateries amidst verdant jungle settings and get to and from in the ultimate island ride, a golf cart. While all of these magical destinations offer simplicity and an easy-breezy pace, each delivers unique gifts waiting to be discovered.
Type Z: Sightseers
For those of you that have had your fill of beaches and prefer to see the sights, then some fascinating Yucatan Peninsula cities to consider are Merida, Campeche or Valladolid. These destinations are true, authentic Mexican towns where you can find restored, boutique hotels, colonial cathedrals and a rich history. Expect to see the beauty of these cities through the eyes of a local. Tourists are welcomed, but you will not encounter enthusiastic tour salesmen vying for your attention on every corner.
Two: Time Is On Your Side; You Have One To Two Weeks To Spend In Paradise
If you are able to book a week or two in the Riviera Maya after the big day, this is the preferred choice. Anywhere you go along this arresting seventy-mile stretch of scenic coastline, you will experience a slice of heaven. Mexico’s Riviera Maya offers a smorgasbord of luxury, relaxation, exploration and culinary delight.
As you come down from your wedding day high, there is a good possibility that exhaustion will set in. The best way to manage a wedding hangover is by spending two or three nights in a lavish, all-inclusive resort. Count on being catered to every waking hour during your stay.
There are dozens of exceptional resorts to consider, but these three are considered top-notch for honeymooners – El Dorado Maroma, The Fairmont at Mayakoba or Valentin Imperial Maya. Your time at any one of these elegant hotel properties will be infused with upscale amenities such as superior quality restaurants, premium liquor and a staff that will treat you like a king and queen.
Once the two of you have been pampered and have had a chance to rejuvenate, it is time to see another side of paradise in Playa del Carmen. A vacation rental with breathtaking ocean views and your own roof terrace is the ideal retreat with all the privacy a honeymooning couple needs.
You will love the added benefits of a vacation home such as being on your own schedule for meals, less crowds at the pool and you’ll be encouraged to get into the local mix. Furthermore, many vacation rental companies provide cleaning and concierge services to take care of every detail of your stay.
Vacation rentals in Playa del Carmen may not be the perfect fit for all couples. You may want to consider spending your time in a boutique hotel that acts as a tranquil oasis while still being near the action.
Penthouse Rental by BRIC Vacation Rentals
Although Playa del Carmen is not the small fishing village it once was, it remains small enough to explore by foot. 5th Avenue, or La Quinta in Spanish, is a vibrant thoroughfare that is closed to traffic. Stroll the cobblestone street and you’ll find amazing boutique stores and artisan shops, restaurants constructed within a jungle setting, dive shops and bars showcasing superb live performers.
Walk the length of this famous avenue and you’ll eventually come upon Parque Los Fundaores (Founding Fathers Park.) Here you can see the city’s iconic Portal Maya structure that stands tall in front of picturesque Caribbean Sea and catch the Mayan ceremonial Papantla Dancers.
Tip: Pez Vela on Calle 2 and 5th Avenue is an optimal spot to sip on a cold beverage and people-watch while sitting on one of the swings surrounding the bar.
The park sits steps away from the ferry terminal with service to the island of Cozumel. After you have shopped for a memento, taken in the sights and sounds at Parque Los Fundadores, and refreshed yourself with an icy margarita or cerveza, head down to the powdery-soft sand. As you make your way back, you can savor the turquoise views that continue on forever as the waves spill over your toes. If you are heading in the direction of Playa’s north end from the park, it’s approximately a 1½-2 mile walk (3-4 kilometers). You may need to rehydrate again and Zenzi or Wah Wah Beach Bar are ideal watering holes.
Still continuing north, the two of you can put your feet up at Mamitas Beach Club. This city hotspot is where the beautiful fashionistas of the world tend to gather. Take advantage of the pool, DJs sets, beach beds as well as the food and beverage service. Find a spot to relax into, take a dip in the warm Caribbean waters and enjoy the beautiful vista and people.
If the heat and too many margaritas have gotten the better of you, it might be a good idea to head back to your seaside condo for an afternoon siesta (nap). You will need it if you are going to get out and experience Playa del Carmen’s phenomenal restaurant and nightclub scene later on.
Venture out on an incredible gastronomical journey where an impressive menu and extraordinary ambiance will set the tone for one of your most memorable nights. Playa del Carmen presents an enormous catalogue of delicious eateries, from hidden taco joints to upscale steakhouses. Five restaurants to consider that will inspire not only your sense of taste, but also stimulate romance are Alux, Imprevist, Oh La La, Catch and Plank.
After enjoying an exquisite dinner, Playa’s sizzling dance floors and renowned DJs invite the two of you to dance until dawn. From raw contemporary live artists, to Cuban salsa bands to DJs spinning the best in popular dance music, you should have no problem finding your scene.
On Calle 12, you’ll encounter two of the city’s most popular clubs, Coco Bongo and Mandala. Purchase your all-inclusive bracelets and be mesmerized by impersonators of music industry icons, while confetti and acrobats fly through the air at Coco Bongo. It’s an interactive party experience and a feast for the eyes.
You can be sure the folks at Mandala know how to throw a party. This club brand has made their mark in such fabulous locations as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos. Take your pick of top DJs stationed on the first and second floor as well as on the swank rooftop.
Although you can find a happening club scene on any night of the week in Playa del Carmen there is so much more to see and do. Spending a day at one of the area’s first-rate eco-parks will have you laughing together and sharing once-in-a-lifetime adventures. It would be a sin to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula and not go on at least one thrilling excursion.
Three adventure options to consider that all fun-loving couples would enjoy
Emotions – This half-day tour offered by Alltournative is just ten minutes from Playa del Carmen. Roar over jungle trails on your own ATV or choose to ride side-by-side, zip line over the lush canopy and swim in the glistening waters of the park’s private cenote. Alltournative provides door-to-door service and the duration of the excursion is four hours.
Xplor – An adrenaline-pumping adventure park just five minutes outside of Playa del Carmen. During this jaw-dropping experience, you’ll find yourselves paddling through caverns on a raft over a crystal clear blue river. You’ll travel across the park on a series of 6 exhilarating ziplines, explore the flora and fauna while riding amphibious vehicles, discover what spelunking and the hammock splash are all about and much more. For a truly unique encounter, try Xplor Fuego at night, which opens from 5:30 – 11:30p.m.
Xenses – This newest addition to the area opened in 2016. It too takes only three to four hours to explore the park’s fifteen activities. You’ll have a chance to feel what a bird feels as you soar in a harness through the air. Slide into a refreshing cenote and wade in a mud river. Challenge your sense of perception in Xenses’ makeshift town. It’s an intriguing concept where nothing is as it seems.
On the final leg of your honeymoon, before you are required to get back to the reality of work and daily life, we recommend immersing yourselves into the peace and tranquility of Tulum or Isla Holbox. Passing two or three nights in either of these laid-back paradises will allow the two of you soak in the rays of warm Mexican sunshine while lounging on their glorious beaches. Plus, you can use the stress-free time and easy-breezy vibe to further connect as a married couple.
Tulum has become a posh playground over the last few years after it became a go-to destination for Hollywood’s rich and famous. The bohemian beach town has also garnered accolades from a plethora of media outlets for being a top-choice haven for honeymooners.
If you are not familiar with Tulum, this natural wonderland has many alluring properties. For one, its wide, white-sand beaches happen to be some of the best in the world. Fabulous boutique hotels offer all the privacy a newlywed couple could ever wish for. Upscale restaurants are built within verdant pockets of the jungle and it is still a very affordable destination compared to extravagant tropical getaways such as Bora Bora or Hawaii.
Three honeymoon friendly, beachfront hotels to consider
Coral Tulum: One of the reasons it is “Loved by guests” is its romantic, ocean view suites boasting private terraces with plunge pools.
Encantada: With only eight guest rooms nestled on the beach, this top choice boutique hotel in Tulum is a perfect, intimate option for newly married guests.
Mi Amor: An adult-only boutique hotel with seventeen guestrooms by the esteemed Colibri Hotels.
If time permits, the famous ancient Mayan city of Tulum sits perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and provides a fascinating look into the region’s history. Coba is another nearby archaeological site where you can witness the unbelievable workmanship of this culture that thrived centuries ago. Gran Cenote is located just five minutes from Tulum and is a picturesque fresh-water swimming hole.
It is almost impossible not to love Tulum. The turquoise seascape, spectacular beaches, fresh and healthy restaurant options, rare boutique and artisan shops as well as the casual-chic atmosphere never fails to cast a spell over lovebirds.
Beach Town Option Two: Holbox (pronounced Hole-bosh)
This quiet island located on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is a gem. Golf carts and bicycles are the preferred methods of transportation around Holbox. The absence of traffic, the dirt roads and the small, friendly population make it a relaxed utopia for a couple on their honeymoon.
Getting to the ferry in the town of Chiquila is not a complicated process. Private transfers can pick you up throughout the Peninsula and provide convenient door-to-door service. From Chiquila to Holbox, the ferry ride is twenty minutes. The pale teal green colors of the waters where the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico unite are stunning and are full of captivating marine life.
For a sleepy island that seems so off the grid, you will be surprised by the quality of blissful hotels and delicious restaurants. You can rest assured that the ceviche and grilled fish dishes are fresh as many of the locals make a living supplying the neighborhood restaurants with their catches of the day. There are a couple of island eateries famous for lobster pizzas and stingray tacos.
The beaches are wide and a prime spot for cuddling up in a hammock. For the active couple, paddleboard and bike rentals are available to explore this natural paradise. If you visit the island in the late spring to late summer months, do not pass up the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. Holbox is one of the few places on earth that offers guided tours to swim alongside these magnificent creatures of the deep.
Tip: If you decide to rent a golf cart to tour the tiny island, ask where to find the flamingos. Thousands of them flock to the island in the spring and summer months. The sea of pink covering an expansive sandbar is a fantastic sight to see.
The hotels on Isla Holbox are typically rustic, but these three provide a wonderful setting and every amenity needed for a comfortable stay
Casa Sandra: Rated superb and loved by guests, this charming eighteen-room hotel sits on a private beach. Your stay includes breakfast in the onsite restaurant.
Villas Flamingo: Guests rate the 29-guestroom property as exceptional and a free breakfast is included in the onsite restaurant.
Las Nubes de Holbox: Loved by guests and rated superb, this 27-guestroom hotel boasts its own private beach, a full-service spa, three outdoor pools, a restaurant, and breakfast is included in your stay.
Tip: Bring cash to Holbox. Many of the hotels accept credit cards, but the majority of the restaurants only take payment in pesos.
Three: You Have Plenty Of Time And You Are Eager To Explore
For the newlywed couple that has been to the beach and is looking for a more enriching cultural encounter, Yucatan’s Merida is a fanciful option. Sprawling haciendas on the outskirts of the city and historic, restored homes and hotels are creating a global attraction.
Merida has made its mark on the map as a favorable international travel destination with its remarkable blend of antiquated Mayan charm and an avant-garde community of artists. The city center showcases striking colonial architecture galore, an array of enticing restaurants such as Apoala or Kuuk for dinner and La Chaya Maya for breakfast.
An unforgettable honeymoon in Merida would consist of horse-drawn carriage rides past impressive revived theaters and cathedrals and walks along Paseo de Montejo, an antique ‘Street of Dreams’ constructed by the city’s wealthiest residents back in the early twentieth century.
Paseo de Montejo
Take time to acquaint yourselves with the traditional Mexican markets, Merida’s significant history and taste some delicious local cuisine. After a two or three day stay in such notable design hotels as Casa Lecanda, Casa Azul, Rosas y Xocolate and Coqui Coqui, you will be ready for a more relaxed pace at an immaculately restored hacienda.
The region surrounding Merida is exalted for its roster of some of the finest hacienda properties in the world. Most were constructed from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The extensive land, numerous buildings, and main mansions were bordered by massive walls and within, each hacienda operated as its own community.
On these estates grew agave plants from which henequen was produced. Henequen was used to make rope sold around the world. It became known in the Yucatan Peninsula as oro verde or “green gold” as its production yielded enormous profits during the second half of the 19th century.
Many of these historic haciendas have been renovated and converted into elegant hotels providing guests a truly unique experience.
For an exclusive and luxurious stay, the new 5-star Chable Resort and Spa features three restaurants designed by the acclaimed Chef Jorge Vallejo. He was recently honored as #12 best chef in the world and #1 in Mexico by the world’s 50 best restaurants.
Within two and half hours from Merida, these five outstanding haciendas have been included in “The Luxury Collection”
Hacienda San Jose – (40 minutes) –described as ‘a hidden luxe retreat that takes you back in time’, this vibrant property is immaculately maintained. Expect exceptional service as well as amenities such as an outdoor pool and private dining spaces.
Hacienda Temozon – (45 minutes) – described as ‘a rustic yet refined experience’, the property boasts its own exclusive cenote, private plunge pools, and delectable cuisine.
Hacienda Santa Rosa – (1 hour) – Prepare for your expectations to be exceeded. The staff goes above and beyond to provide a 5-star experience. Amenities include an outdoor pool, a library, bicycle rentals and spa services.
Hacienda Puerta Campeche – (2 hours) – rated as ‘the best place you can stay in old town Campeche. You will feel like royalty’, this intimate luxury hotel property features fully restored original buildings, a pool with private alcoves and modern, luxurious amenities such as pillow top mattresses, complimentary high-speed internet, and spa treatments.
Hacienda Uayamon – (2.5 hours) – described as ‘a jewel from the past…an intimate space for you and your loved one’, this luxury hacienda near Campeche presents a spa facility, an outdoor pool, and an exquisite garden view restaurant.
Sink back into the lap of luxury at a hacienda with your new spouse, but do consider the many highly recommended tour options, which present the chance to experience the magic of this diverse Mexican state.
- Explore ancient Mayan structures at Uxmal and visit the extraordinary grounds of Hacienda Sotuta del Peon.
- For nature lovers, spend a day in Celestun or Rio Lagartos for a close encounter with local wildlife such as flamingos and crocodiles. Also nearby you can admire the unique, pink-hued lake in Los Coloradas (seasonal).
- Admire the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Attraction, El Castillo at Chichen Itza then cool off in an inviting cenote. Later stop at the delightful town of Izaml, ‘The Yellow Town’ which is full of history and charm.
This spectacular region of Mexico will awe you with its rich cultural aspects, history and rare beauty. With an endless repertoire of romantic activities and hidden treasures, you are sure to receive everything your hearts desire on your memorable honeymoon.