Help us choose a honeymoon destination!
February 23, 2014 5:59 PM   Subscribe

My fiancée and I will be married at the end of July: Hooray! We've got the wedding (mostly) planned, but we have yet to choose a place for the honeymoon. We're looking for somewhere with great trails for hiking, and also great beaches for lounging about. So we'd really like to go to Hawaii, but we're not sure that we'd be able to afford that.

We've been thinking about the Caribbean. However, it's hard to choose between the islands, and we're not sure it's wise to go in late July / early August, during the hurricane season.

Can you recommend an alternative destination? We'll be flying from the DC area.
posted by HoraceH to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Martha's Vineyard will be crowded then, but might be worth a look. Maybe costal Maine? Either way a nice short flight.
posted by vrakatar at 6:13 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

if you think you'll like hawaii, you'll probably like Costa Rica. We've been to both, and while I like Hawaii a bit better, Costa Rica is a close second. We stayed in the Guanacaste Region, but there are other nice areas (Arenal, etc...)
posted by pyro979 at 6:17 PM on February 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

St. John, USVI is wonderful in July & August. Many hiking trails, gorgeous beaches, and the island is over 65% national park. You fly into St. Thomas (STT) and take a ferry to get here. Feel free to memail me... I live in Coral Bay.
posted by Bohemian Sailor at 6:27 PM on February 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

A cheaper alternative to Hawaii out west would be California's Central Coast (the north end is usually considered to be Monterey, the south end is Santa Barbara).

July and August would be an excellent time to visit. The average high in most areas along the coast is a nice 75-80 degrees, and the weather will probably be gorgeous.

PCH (Highway 1) is an incredible drive with amazing scenery and one of the most picturesque roads in the United States.

There are plenty of amazing places to hike along the coast, especially near Big Sur where you can not only do coastal beach hikes, but lots of forest hikes too.

In terms of beaches, you have incredibly beautiful beaches like Pfeiffer, beaches with a ton of recreation available like Pismo (which is excellent for lounging, swimming or body surfing, or cruising on the dunes on ATVs), or beaches with a lot of wildlife like Morro Bay (which has amazing bird watching, whale watching, and lots of seals and otters).

The farmers' markets in many towns are amazing, and my favorite is San Luis Obispo's. Near Paso Robles, and down near Los Olivos and Santa Ynez, there are excellent wineries that do all kinds of tastings and tours. Lots of good breweries in this area too, including Firestone Walker in Paso Robles.

There are plenty of great places to eat and stay. It is one of the most mellow parts of the US, where everything seems to move at an easy pace, and where people are awfully friendly. Makes for a really relaxing trip.

To travel here, the best option would be to fly into Los Angeles or San Jose, rent a car, and cruise up and down the coast over the course of a week. If flying into LA, fly into Burbank if you can, as it's a much friendlier, less crowded, easier, and cheaper airport.

Looking forward to reading everyone's Caribbean ideas, as I'm looking at a Caribbean trip myself in the next year. I hear St. John is an amazing place to visit and the USVI are definitely on my list!
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:50 PM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

My friends and I made Maui more affordable by renting a Westfalia and living out of that for ten days. It was our wheels, our kitchen, and our hotel. We hit every decent beach on the island and stayed at some amazing places. Highly recommended!
posted by Foam Pants at 7:12 PM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

The youth hostels in Hawaii have private rooms... the one near the U of Manoa is clean, quiet, cheap and not as heavily booked. Other than accommodation, I didn't find Hawaii more or less expensive than anywhere else... especially if what you want to do is go hiking (free) and lounge about (free). I even took the bus across the island to Waimea... $2.50. You could rent a car, of course, but Hawaii on a budget is definitely possible.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:07 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are some ways to make Hawaii more affordable:

* Push the honeymoon out to after Labor Day, when prices go down, as kids return to school. Not ideal, I know, but it'll help. Also things will tend to be less crowded.

* Use Google Flights to figure out the best dates to go, and be flexible about traveling mid-week.

* Sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa card and get a $99 companion fare (before taxes and fees) with any coach round-trip fare. You might end up with an overnight layover in Seattle or Portland, but you could save a ton of money this way.

* Or sign up for the Hawaiian Airlines MasterCard and get a 50% off companion ticket for any coach fare between Hawaii and North America. (It's not as good of a deal as Alaskan, though, and I don't believe HA flies out of DC so you'd be on a partner airline like Virgin on one leg.)

* Book a rental car via or Costco Travel. Check prices periodically as they sometimes randomly drop. Do not pre-pay for your rental car! If you check frequently, you can find a good deal.

* Renting a condo can be cheaper than a hotel room because you can buy groceries, make your own breakfasts and picnic lunches, use the grill to make dinner, make drinks whenever you want, and do laundry. If you pack right, you can make do with only carry on luggage, saving on checked bag fees as well. Most have a fridge, blender, toaster, microwave, stove, oven, utensils, plates and flatware, pots and pans, etc.

* Go out and have cheap drinks and appetizers during various "aloha" or happy hours.

* Rent a condo that is a studio and not a 1 BR, since you are only two people and don't really need that much room. The price difference can really add up if you're paying $40 more a night for a 1 BR unit.

* Rent a condo via VBRO. Renting directly via an owner is usually cheaper than a management company and you can be assured of the exact unit you're getting. Never wire money, though, and scrutinize the reviews. Make sure they have a tax ID listed. Some will also give a discount or waive the cleaning fee for longer stays.

* Sign up for the Chase Hyatt Credit card and get 2 free nights after you spend $1000 in the first 3 months. The 2 free nights can be redeemed at various Hyatt hotels on Hawaii. If each of you signs up, you can earn 4 free nights (for a standard room). A popular one in Hawaii to redeem with is the brand new Andaz Maui in Wailea.
posted by kathryn at 8:16 PM on February 23, 2014 [9 favorites]

Seconding St. John, USVI. Laid back with gorgeous beaches and trails.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 9:11 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Central Coast and the amazing Pacific Coast Highway drive. Tons of great hiking in the area. Plus, then you get to spend at least one night in the most romantic place ever: Deetjen's! Amazing cabins in the woods, fabulous restaurant.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:42 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've not found Hawaii to be all that expensive. It's comparable in price to vacationing in California. AirBNB often has great deals on condos that are in the same buildings as the hotels. The airfare from DC is probably the killer part. When I went, I was flying out of SFO. If you can find a flight that fits your budget, I'd keep it on your list.

As a possible alternative, the Mexican Caribbean is a much shorter flight. It has great beaches and interesting hiking areas, and nice hotels can very inexpensive. You can usually find flights for around $350 RT even without much planning. However, it's a very different vibe.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:52 PM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

At that time of year, Munising, Michigan, on the sandy shores of Lake Superior and the western portal to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
posted by yclipse at 4:09 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agree about Michigan's lakeshores. Also maybe North Carolina.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:32 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's certainly not in the Carribean, but Tofino, BC is a beautiful place you might want to consider.
posted by Poldo at 5:29 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

We did a tour of the California coast for our Honeymoon. It was AWESOME.

I highly, highly, highly recommend at least one night at the Madonna Inn. They had a bottle of champagne waiting in the room, with a cute ballon. Nice touch.

We started in LA, then up the coast through Solvang, then to Hearst Castle, Santa Cruz (and the Boardwalk), San Jose and the Rosecrucian Museum, ending in San Francisco.

You have your choice of beaches, nature hikes, wine tasting, museums, missions and gorgeous drives.

Rent a luxurious car, and stay in nice motels along the way (I have more recommendations.) Check out Yosemite, if you like.

Summer in California is one of those things, you feel exactly like you're in the best movie ever, it really is that perfect.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for all you help, everyone! We're still considering our options, but you've given us lots of great ideas!
posted by HoraceH at 7:59 AM on February 28, 2014

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