Where should we go on our honeymoon?
December 12, 2011 6:35 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I will be going on our honeymoon (6 months after the wedding) in mid-February. We originally wanted to go to Molokai, but the airfare from Boston is prohibitively expensive. We are now thinking Puerto Rico, but we aren't 100% certain. Help us decide where we should go, where we should stay, and what we should do. Our specific preferences and requirements inside.

1. Must be warm (good weather for swimming). We actually love northern winters but will be wanting a break from it.
2. Must be by the ocean.
3. Must NOT be in a place where we will have to second guess every glass of water, piece of fruit and uncooked salad that comes our way. I have traveled extensively to places that require an antibiotic prescription and lots of caution with food and drink, and those have been wonderful trips, but I don't want to have to exercise that kind of caution (or deal with those consequences!) on my honeymoon.
4. Airfare must not be more than $1100 per person, round trip, and on the higher end, the location itself shouldn't be too expensive.

1. I went snorkeling in Culebra (off Puerto Rico) as a teenager and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I DEFINITELY want to snorkel. I am SCUBA certified but my husband is not (and he's not particularly keen on it). On that same trip I also was thrilled by El Yunque, Arecibo Observatory and a canoe trip through a bioluminescent bay.
2. Neither of us enjoys clubs and we are not big drinkers, so destinations where club culture prevails are not going to be ideal for us. We once visited South Beach for a day and thought it was awful.
3. We are both big nature lovers. Hiking or walking through beautiful places is our idea of fun. The smaller the crowd, the better.
4. We are both vegetarians (yes dairy and eggs, NO seafood or poultry). We are fine with eating what other people may consider "side dishes", but we want tasty food!
5. We have zero interest in shopping of any kind (except going to grocery stores, I guess!).
6. We WOULD find historical or cultural sites interesting.

We are both somewhat-rusty-but-formerly-fluent Spanish speakers (we both speak Spanish to some people at our workplaces and have very little trouble reading in Spanish, but we have difficulty speaking fluently now).

We definitely don't require "luxury accommodations", but in addition to not wanting to worry about water safety excessively, we also don't want to exercise tons of caution about personal safety, bedbugs, etc. I know that may seem small-minded and limiting, but this honeymoon will occur in the middle of an extraordinarily busy time and while we love adventure, relaxation is key for this trip.

So, if we go to Puerto Rico, where should we stay? What other places should we consider? Other Caribbean locations? Southern Europe?

Thanks everybody:)
posted by Cygnet to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I went to Rincon as our first vacation together and then went back for our honeymoon. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the area. It's very laid back, the food and drink are great. You shouldn't have any real issues with the food/water thing, especially in a city of some kind. There are little bars littered around Rincon, but the focus is more about the sitting around chatting than the club scene. If you're a chatty person, you'll likely make new friends, if you're not, folks will leave you alone.

Rincon is a little surfing town and there should even be a surfing competition there in February. That's when we went the first time. It was beautiful and a great deal of fun. It's fairly close to to the Dry Rainforest and you can get to the biobays quite easily. There are humpback whales off the coast during mating season (which is also February) and sitting outside at night listening to the coqui (frogs) is probably one of the most relaxing things I've ever experienced. It was very quiet, and we were told more than once that Rincon was where Puerto Ricans go for vacation because of these things.

There was a good bit of English, and everyone was really sweet. We stayed at the Lazy Parrot the first time and the Horned Dorset for the honeymoon (we managed to get an amazing deal). I would strongly recommend either. The Parrot is a bit of a walk from the beach, but their restaurant is amazing. The Dorset can be crazy expensive if you don't find the deals, but I've never stayed at a nicer place, and it's right on the beach.

The only real drawback was that as you get out away from the cities like San Juan, the labeling of roads and street signs gets less and less. We got lost a bunch but stopping and asking folks for directions was fairly easy, if you saw anybody. They do drive quite aggressively in the city and the roads are really twisty in the mountains, but it was fine. Honestly, if I can find a way, I plan on retiring to PR. It's a stunningly beautiful island, the people are nice, the cost of living away from the big cities is reasonable and it's where I fell in love with my husband. Also, the beer is cheap and the food is fabulous.
posted by teleri025 at 7:10 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would consider Jamaica and Punta Cana. Water and food are safe and delicious. Airfare should be reasonable with direct flights from your area. Snorkeling, horseback riding, hiking are possible. Beautiful beaches, perfect water. Now I want to go!
posted by maxg94 at 7:10 AM on December 12, 2011

I think Maho Bay would fit your requirements wonderfully. I enjoyed a week at Maho Bay proper (they have 2 other sites on the island), in their eco-tents. Snorkeling, great food, sugar mill ruins to explore, hiking trails, crafts, much more.

posted by Hobgoblin at 7:40 AM on December 12, 2011

Best answer: Puerto Rico, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) are both fine places. Rincon is a fairly well known surfing destination now. Both of those places are well visted and established.

I do have to tout Belize, though, as a wonderfully fabulous place to go to get off the beaten path. Belize also has the best snorkling/scuba you'll find.

Although scuba folks and nightlife abound on the Cayes (Keys, barrier reef islands) such as Ambergris, I highly recommend the Almond Bay Beach Resort / Jaguar Reef Resort (one in the same, they merged together).

From Hopkins village you can take a day trip to the reef and snorkle or scuba all day. Also, you can take day trips into the rainforest, Mayan ruins, tube through cave formations, and a few other things.

It's a British Commonwealth nation, as well, which I found simplified many of the travel issues around language and costs.
posted by rich at 7:47 AM on December 12, 2011

We originally wanted to go to Molokai, but the airfare from Boston is prohibitively expensive.

Out of curiosity, I searched on Kayak. BOS to MKK was as cheap as $904. BOS to HNL was as low as $694. HNL to MKK is $128 rt every day. You could actually see the cool stuff on Oahu and kick it to Molokai for most of the trip that way and pay $822 for airfare.

Days searched: BOS-HNL $694 departing 2/13 or 2/14, returning 2/21-2/23 or 2/29-3/2. HNL-MKK is $128 round trip every day I searched. Booking the BOS-HNL leg separate from the HNL-MKK leg appears to be cheaper every time. Also, the different days of the week makes a huge difference. Arriving/departing on the wrong days will change the fare by over $400 per person.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:28 AM on December 12, 2011

Stopping by to second teleri025; Rincon is charming.

Also, I never had a problem with food/water in Puerto Rico and I went all over the island.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:33 AM on December 12, 2011

Turks and Caicos might be an option. I haven't gone but my parents loved it and were looking for quiet, relaxation, and beaches. I'm not positive it fits your water requirements, though. My parents mainly stayed at the hotel/resort area and all of that had good food/water, but if you venture out you need to find bottled water. (It looks like Jet Blue flies there.)
posted by ejaned8 at 8:34 AM on December 12, 2011

Best answer: Seconding Belize. Placencia is a small little town that is a bit grungy, but the water is drinkable, the food is good, english is primary and currency is both BZD and USD.

You could easily rent an apartment for a good price in Placencia, walk to the grocery store for staples, and buy fresh produce at the local farm stand (all of their produce is local from BZ farms).

I also researched some very nice looking bed & breakfast places in the area before we went, (although our plans took us on a sailboat for 10 days, I looked at a few places to get an idea of resources in the area).

Depending on your timeframe, mid-end-February they have a 'lobster festival' in Placencia to celebrate the end of lobster season there - which I realize the lobster doesn't interest you, but the festival brings a very nice craft fair and other festivities to the town for a weekend (or week?). We caught a bit of this festival before setting sail and it there was some beautiful art to see and buy.

Everyone we encountered was helpful and friendly. I'd go again in a heartbeat.
posted by CorporateHippy at 12:07 PM on December 12, 2011

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

Pros: It's basically everything you want. It's a marine reserve surrounding a mountainous island. There is diving. There is hiking. There is a small village with amazing food. It will not be touristy. It's where the Filipinos vacation when they want to get away from the tourists at Boracay.

Cons: It's far away and flights there might be pricey. But we stayed on the beach in a VERY nice place (no AC though) for about $30 a day, including board, and ate for less than $5 in the village when we wanted a change. Literally one of the best beach vacations I've ever had, and I've also been to French Polynesia and Thailand.
posted by Brittanie at 3:54 PM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you so much, everybody.

We ended up deciding on Placencia, Belize! :)
posted by Cygnet at 1:20 PM on February 4, 2012

Response by poster: Whoops.

We decided on Placencia, Belize... and then chickened out because it was so expensive.

Then we ACTUALLY decided on Vieques, Puerto Rico. We went a few weeks ago and had an amazing trip. We went snorkeling just about every day at a new beach, checked out some historical sites on the island, rode bikes, saw the biobay, took a fantastic kayaking tour, and went horseback riding. Since we're vegetarians, our approach to food was basically to sample every restaurant's rice and beans and arepas or tostones. Yum! Neither of us got sick, we didn't go in to a single retail shop, and the weather was perfect. We stayed at a lovely little guest house for less than $90 a night. The only downside was the need for us to apply SPF 100 every 2 hours. We got sunburned anyway.
posted by Cygnet at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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