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Honeymoon - overwhelmed, where to go?

I'm trying to book my honeymoon, and I'm getting a little overwhelmed. I could really use some help narrowing down my choices. We are looking for something at the end of March:

Requirements:
- Mexico (Caribbean side), Dominican Republic, Bermuda, or Costa Rica
- No beach vendors (e.g. timeshares) or minimal vendors
- Excellent beach (we don't care about the pool, we could play in the waves all day)
- All inclusive
- Snorkelling trips and awesome day trips are available
- Under $1500/person
- Good food

Other:
- We don't really drink, so we don't care about the quality of the booze
- We went to the Dominican last year, so we'd like to go somewhere different
- Bonus points if we don't need to take anti-malarial meds (family history of serious side effects)

Help!

Re: Honeymoon - overwhelmed, where to go?

  • There's Cozumel....you can actually go swimming with the dolphins there.  Also the Mayan Rivera side is better than Cancun, at least in my opinion.  It's quieter and if you're going at the end of March, it'll still be Spring Break/March Break for North America, and Cancun is party city and a little too Americanized for my tastes.  But that's just me.

    Cuba's nice too - but for the really good food, you have to go 5 star because the food will taste different because they don't allow North American products there.

    Bermuda is nice, but pricey.

    Check out Trip Advisor for the most recommended resorts.  :)  Hope that helps.
  • Mayan riviera is my favourite carribean destination. We've been there several times, amazing quality compared to some of the other islands. I reccomend the Bahia Akumal resort in Mayan Riveirea. Like you, we put top priority on a great beach and good food. Bahia always surpassed our expectations and we've been back twice now. Also, the bahia is close to playa del carmen, tulum, and a boat ride away from cozumel, so there are plenty of things to do in terms of excursions. Honestly though, any of the 4-5 star resorts on the mayan riviera will be amazing! I have been to cozumel twice, and while the island is beautiful, the resorts don't compare to those on the mayan riviera. The cozumel resorts tend to be older and a bit beaten down in my opinion. Any of the excursions on cozumel (punt sur national park, world-famous palanacar and columbia reefs are accesible to you from the mayan riveiera). My second fave carribean destination is jamaica. We stayed at the Riu ocho rios and loved it. Again gorgeous beach, great food, fun staff, and close enough to excursions. I have heard some bad reviews of the beaches in montego bay, so avoid those resorts if you choose Jamaica. Cuba had a phenomenal beach....the most incredible beach I have ever been to! But the food was terrible so I wouldn't plan another trip. Domincian was ok, nothing special and I totally preferred the mayan to dominican. Other tips....DO NOT go to a travel agent! Just book it yourself online, you'll save a lot....I use the tripcentral website because it has a handy chart (just click on a country in the home page, and then click the month and it will list the lowest price for all the resorts in that area). I use that just to get an idea of good times to go (obviously avoid march break!), and shows the resorts that would be in your price range. After narrowing down to a few resorts I would suggest going on Tripadvisor to look at reviews and traveller pictures to make your final choice. Dont book until closer to the date, most of these resorts never sell out, and the earlier you book the more expensive/regular price you will pay. You would be safe with booking 2-3 months before I think. All the online companies will have the same price, these package vacations don't fluctuate from different travel companies (unless you went to a travel agent who will sneak in their sneaky commission and other charges!) If booking with a travle company like itravel, regtag, and tripcentral, call the booking number and ask for the price and get them to lower the price for you. Then call another company and do the same. I've had them drop 100 dollars off the package if I booked with them right then. Happy honemoon researching :) 
  • Oh and we also been to Guanacaste in Costa rica, and had a blast circling the country. But it wasn't much of a relaxing trip. Although our resort was an all inclusive (Villas Sol), the food was not very good, the resort was a block from the beach, and not beachfront. Also the beaches in costa rica are volcanic beaches (black sand), which is quite different from the white sandy beaches of the carribean. We had a great time in costa rica in terms of the activities and the sights (volcanos, rainforests, zipgliding), but it was not that luxurious all-inclusive getaway that you would get in the carribean. 
  • In Response to Re: Honeymoon - overwhelmed, where to go?:
    There's Cozumel....you can actually go swimming with the dolphins there.  Also the Mayan Rivera side is better than Cancun, at least in my opinion.  It's quieter and if you're going at the end of March, it'll still be Spring Break/March Break for North America, and Cancun is party city and a little too Americanized for my tastes.  But that's just me. Cuba's nice too - but for the really good food, you have to go 5 star because the food will taste different because they don't allow North American products there. Bermuda is nice, but pricey. Check out Trip Advisor for the most recommended resorts.  :)  Hope that helps.
    Posted by Jewel224
    Trip Advisor is the main reason I'm so overwhelmed. One resort I had picked out got two bad reviews over the weekend. Grumble.

    Cozumel only has flights on Wednesdays, but that would have been my first choice, especially for the snorkelling. We can't take the extra days off work.

    We are avoiding Cuba because of the food.

    Thanks for the tip on the Mayan Riviera vs. Cancun. We are going the week after spring break/march break (March 26), so it should be emptied out. But if Cancun is party central, maybe we should avoid it.
  • In Response to Re: Honeymoon - overwhelmed, where to go?:
    Mayan riviera is my favourite carribean destination. We've been there several times, amazing quality compared to some of the other islands. I reccomend the Bahia Akumal resort in Mayan Riveirea. Like you, we put top priority on a great beach and good food. Bahia always surpassed our expectations and we've been back twice now. Also, the bahia is close to playa del carmen, tulum, and a boat ride away from cozumel, so there are plenty of things to do in terms of excursions. Honestly though, any of the 4-5 star resorts on the mayan riviera will be amazing! I have been to cozumel twice, and while the island is beautiful, the resorts don't compare to those on the mayan riviera. The cozumel resorts tend to be older and a bit beaten down in my opinion. Any of the excursions on cozumel (punt sur national park, world-famous palanacar and columbia reefs are accesible to you from the mayan riveiera). My second fave carribean destination is jamaica. We stayed at the Riu ocho rios and loved it. Again gorgeous beach, great food, fun staff, and close enough to excursions. I have heard some bad reviews of the beaches in montego bay, so avoid those resorts if you choose Jamaica. Cuba had a phenomenal beach....the most incredible beach I have ever been to! But the food was terrible so I wouldn't plan another trip. Domincian was ok, nothing special and I totally preferred the mayan to dominican. Other tips....DO NOT go to a travel agent! Just book it yourself online, you'll save a lot....I use the tripcentral website because it has a handy chart (just click on a country in the home page, and then click the month and it will list the lowest price for all the resorts in that area). I use that just to get an idea of good times to go (obviously avoid march break!), and shows the resorts that would be in your price range. After narrowing down to a few resorts I would suggest going on Tripadvisor to look at reviews and traveller pictures to make your final choice. Dont book until closer to the date, most of these resorts never sell out, and the earlier you book the more expensive/regular price you will pay. You would be safe with booking 2-3 months before I think. All the online companies will have the same price, these package vacations don't fluctuate from different travel companies (unless you went to a travel agent who will sneak in their sneaky commission and other charges!) If booking with a travle company like itravel, regtag, and tripcentral, call the booking number and ask for the price and get them to lower the price for you. Then call another company and do the same. I've had them drop 100 dollars off the package if I booked with them right then. Happy honemoon researching :) 
    Posted by gammaykella

    We are booking five weeks out at this point, so hopefully there will be last minute deals!

    Thanks for the booking tips and I'm looking into the resorts you suggested.

  • I found that deciding on a honeymoon was the toughest part of wedding planning lol.  We thought about it in terms of 'where would we normally NOT go on a regular trip?" If you have been to Dominican and other countires such as Cuba or Mexico, why not go a bit outside the norm and do Costa Rica (which is on my to visit one day list) or something more exotic than the norm like St. Thomas (Beautiful, and so far my fav Island)
  • Mattycam, that's our plan - we're actually going to do a two week trip with one week in Puerto Rico (I really want to go to the rainforest there, and go kayaking through one of their bio-luminescent bays - I've wanted to go there since doing a project on Puerto Rico in high school!).  So then after a week in Puerto Rico we're going to go on a week cruise (also from Puerto Rico) - we'll get time for adventure and relaxation, and are doing something different from our typical low cost Cuba trips.

    Petite+engineer, we've had great luck with trips through Sunwing (we buy our trips online at sunwing.ca).  They have many options that are under $1,500 including taxes.  One thing to remember with the comments on TripAdvisor is that most people don't normally go back and sing praises about the hotel/resort, so for every horrible review, there is probably plenty of unspoken great reviews.  That said, take a look through the pictures that people post, and determine if the amenities and looks meet what you're hoping for.  Also, the top rated resorts may be outside of your price range, but you can usually still get a very good resort for $1,500 each.

    I can't speak for anywhere outside of Cuba, but one of our favourite resorts in Cuba was the Blau Costa Verde near Holguin (we went this past September) - you could actually go snorkelling right in the ocean at the resort and see LOTS of varieties of fish, and the food was really good for Cuba food - it was the best that I'd experienced!  We really liked it, and fully intend to go back in the future.
  • In Response to Re: Honeymoon - overwhelmed, where to go?:
    Mattycam, that's our plan - we're actually going to do a two week trip with one week in Puerto Rico (I really want to go to the rainforest there, and go kayaking through one of their bio-luminescent bays - I've wanted to go there since doing a project on Puerto Rico in high school!).  So then after a week in Puerto Rico we're going to go on a week cruise (also from Puerto Rico) - we'll get time for adventure and relaxation, and are doing something different from our typical low cost Cuba trips. Petite+engineer, we've had great luck with trips through Sunwing (we buy our trips online at sunwing.ca).  They have many options that are under $1,500 including taxes.  One thing to remember with the comments on TripAdvisor is that most people don't normally go back and sing praises about the hotel/resort, so for every horrible review, there is probably plenty of unspoken great reviews.  That said, take a look through the pictures that people post, and determine if the amenities and looks meet what you're hoping for.  Also, the top rated resorts may be outside of your price range, but you can usually still get a very good resort for $1,500 each. I can't speak for anywhere outside of Cuba, but one of our favourite resorts in Cuba was the Blau Costa Verde near Holguin (we went this past September) - you could actually go snorkelling right in the ocean at the resort and see LOTS of varieties of fish, and the food was really good for Cuba food - it was the best that I'd experienced!  We really liked it, and fully intend to go back in the future.
    Posted by amme5832

    We had a horrible experience with Sunwing last year. They changed the DATES of our trip without notifying us. Fortunately I checked the week before and found out about the change. And then our return flight got cancelled and we were bumped to the next flight at 9am the next day. The resort had no rooms left, so we were stuck in the lobby overnight, which was horrible with my six month old niece and two soon-to-be in-laws with disabilities.

    We've booked at a 5* resort on the Mayan Riviera, and are very excited! The room dimensions are bigger than our apartment!
  • edited February 2012
    If you like snorkelling then you'll like the Mayan Riviera. We went a few years ago to El Dorado Seaside. It's adults only and a la carte dinners only. They have amazing sun beds on the beach and the rooms are luxurious! The beach has a coral reef about 100 meters out but very swimmable from the beach, and I am not a strong swimmer (I normally wore a life jacket). They have daily free trips to the reef with a guide but we just went on our own and saw a lot. We did an excursion to akumal bay which you can take a taxi or the local collectivo to and had the best experience swimming with sea turtles. Afterwards we went to visit a few cenotes close by and swam in those too. The Mayan area has a lot to offer! I've also done a separate trip to Cozumel and while the reef is amazing, the water was really deep and I found it really rough everytime we went out. We went snorkelling 3 times to look specifically for turtles and didn't see any. As you can imagine, Akumal was a dream come true. We saw at least a dozen!

    All inclusive vacations are ideal because it's true relaxation after planning a big wedding. We're doing a 1 week vacation down south and postponing our honeymoon to the south pacific islands 6 months later (in low season). 
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