After All the Wedding Madness
From island idylls to urban treks, travel agents weigh in on their favorite honeymoon escapes.
The Pampered Collapse
TAHITI AND MOOREA
When to Go: May-Oct.
Hours From NYC:15
The pristine waters of a tropical archipelago . . . it doesn’t get much more gloriously escapist.
Where to stay: The InterContinental Resorts on Tahiti and Moorea have ocean-facing over-water bungalows (starting at $850/night)and are centrally located, making it easy to get to restaurants and off-site sports. Harlan deBell of Valerie Wilson Travel adds that the Moorea property has dolphins on the premises, should you want to swim with them.
What to eat: Try native Polynesian dishes like poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk) or freshly poured crêpes from les roulottes, the mobile food vans that line the waterfront. Don’t miss the grilled shark and a call-ahead-to-order bouillabaisse at Aito on Moorea (deBell advises going on a Friday night, when there’s live music).
To do, by day: Diving and snorkeling are universally spectacular (to book, visit bathys-diving.com). Feed stingrays after a barbecue picnic on one of the tiny islets of Tuamotas atoll (book at mooreamahanatours.com). Golfers can play a round at the Jack Nicklaus–designed Moorea Green Pearl course.
In the evening: “On a Saturday, hit the InterContinental Tahiti’s Polynesian buffet, which is followed by a dance performance by Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti,” deBell suggests. “In general, the nightlife tends to be sleepy; your other option is to choose among the bars that line the waterfront of [Tahiti’s capital city] Papeete,” which is a fifteen-minute cab ride from the hotel.
How to get there: Air Tahiti Nui has direct flights from L.A. A ferry takes you from Tahiti to Moorea in two hours; a high-speed catamaran will have you there in 30 minutes.
When to Go: Dec.-Mar.
Hours From NYC:15
The Olympics are headed to Rio de Janeiro, which is even more of a reason to skip the bustling metropolis in favor of the quieter pleasures of this secluded retreat.
Where to stay: Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort, a tropical sanctuary built near Bahia’s natural pools, is both simple (thatched roofs, hammocks) and luxurious (Egyptian-cotton linens, plasma TVs). “The Moorea Master Bungalow has an incredible view of the ocean and two private pools; it’s worth the added cost,” says Gary Lichter of Protravel International (rooms start at $375/night; bungalows at $740/night).
What to eat: Breakfast and dinner at the resort are included, and fish is a specialty. “Don’t miss the moqueca, a spicy seafood stew, and vatapa, an Afro-Brazilian shrimp dish,” Lichter recommends. For lunch, walk a half-mile to Das Meninas for fresh fish and a cold beer on the Taipus de Fora beach. Bolinhos de bacalhou (cod-ball fritters) and casquinha de carangueijo (crab au gratin, served in a shell) make for excellent bar snacks.
To do, by day: “Wake up early and walk along the beach to catch a glimpse of locals fishing for clams and shrimp,” Lichter suggests. Lounge by the free-form pool meandering through the property, or travel by boat to nearby private islands to view waterfalls like Tremembe. You might glimpse wildlife (birds, monkeys) on a guided jungle hike. Wind down with an indulgent four-hand massage at the resort’s Armonia spa.
In the evening: Not much else to do except sip a caipirinha or fresh acai-berry juice on the veranda of your bungalow, and that’s just fine.
How to get there: American Airlines has nonstop flights to Salvador that leave from Miami; you’ll then take a 30-minute flight on a twin-engine plane to the hotel’s private landing strip.
From the Summer 2010 New York Wedding Guide