Marriage is when two people commit to wanting the other as a partner for life. Someone to go through the highs and lows of the passing years and who will love and support you no matter how wrinkly, grey or silly you get.
Something as wonderful and precious as this deserves a celebration, a party to mark the occasion of making this commitment and sharing it with family and friends.
These celebrations come in all sizes, small and intimate, large and elaborate, quirky and fun. Romantic vineyards, little white chapels with a man in a dodgy wig posing as Elvis, fancy hotels, circus tents, you name it, it’s been done.
Unfortunately, many find the organisation, well let’s say, a little stressful. Decisions on flowers, bands, table favours and marriage documentation can blur the edges of the romance. Not to mention everyone having an opinion on what true ‘wedding etiquette’ really is. I’ve been part of many a bridal party, I have six bridesmaid dresses in my wardrobe to prove this, and to all you future brides out there, it always works out in the end. At the end of the day, you’re marrying the man of your dreams and that’s all that counts. The bride is glowing, the groom looks like the cat that got the cream, and the guests have a ball.
Then comes the cherry on the top, the honeymoon. This often takes as much preparation as the big day itself and a lot of thought is put into getting just the right mix of relaxation and adventure. Luxury beach resorts on remote tropical islands are high on honeymooner’s lists, often ticking every box – sun, sand, sea, privacy and adventure on your doorstep if you manage to pull yourself off the sun lounger.
With many couples spending between €2000 – €3000 per person on the honeymoon, the world is truly your oyster. Diving in oceans teeming with multi-coloured fish, safaris in search of the ‘Big 5’ or visiting countries on your ‘places to see before I die’ list. Whatever it is you fancy, it’s out there waiting for you to discover together, as a married couple, and no matter where you go, it will be a holiday of a lifetime.
Tomorrow morning, Thursday, 26th April, on Ireland AM at 9.20am I will be discussing some honeymoon options; safari and beach, Brazil and tropical islands so tune in!
Brazil certainly ticks all the boxes for a honeymoon; lively, interesting cities, remote islands, deserted beaches and plenty of activities if you’re looking for a bit of adventure.
Being the largest country in South America, it’s important when planning your trip to figure out exactly what it is you want to do and see. Brazil’s cities, like Rio or Salvador, are a great place to spend a few days partying and getting to know the culture, the north-east offers long stretches of deserted, white sandy beaches lined with palm trees and the charming colonial towns dotted along the coast ooze character and history. The vast interior could take a lifetime to explore, but if limited on time, some of the sights not to be missed include Iguazu Falls and the incredible Amazon.
The best way to travel around Brazil if limited by time, is by plane. The internal flights are relatively cheap if booked ahead and run almost as frequently as a bus service, allowing you to explore different parts of the country. It’s worth booking your trip through an agent who can arrange all your internal flights as well as your international ones, as this will save you a lot of hassle and often, money.
Top Places to See
- Rio de Janeiro for partyingRio de Janeiro is a great place to start your trip, an intoxicating city with great beaches, fashionable bars and restaurants. The sound of salsa pulses through the city and crowds flock to Lapa, Copacabana and Ipanema to party and dance, while daytrips can be had in to the nearby rainforest or by boat into the spectacular bay. The Favela’s skirting the city breed poverty, and often violence. Crime is quite high in the city so care should be taken with belongings at all times. We used to walk with no bags, money tucked into secret, unreachable places and if locals saw us being careless they wasted no time in pointing out our naivity.
- Costa Verde After a few days of living it up in Rio you will be craving some peace and quiet and only two hours south of Rio is the pretty town of Paraty, a magical colonial town. The cobbled, winding streets are neatly lined with brightly coloured and white-washed houses, sprinkled with impressive colonial mansions. The town is nestled at the foot of imposing, forested mountains and looks across the Bay of Ilha Grande, which is dotted with small, tropical islands. The town is enchanting to explore, and as the tide begins to come in, people move further in to the town as the water from the sea makes its way into the winding streets. There are plenty of fantastic day-trips into nearby national parks or boat trips out into the bay around the islands, stopping off at some magical beaches. It is possible to stay out on the islands and you can get boats from Paraty, or a bit further north the boats for Ilha Grande leave from Angra Dos Reis on the Costa Verde.
- North-east beaches – the beaches around Salvador are popular for surfing and music. There’s an incredible island south of here called BoiPeba, ridiculously idyllic. Further north again, do a trip across the dunes in a buggy in Canoa, then visit beautiful Pipa, a quiet town with deserted beaches, good accommodation and lively bars.
- The Amazon – Many people fly into Manaus and take boat trips along the Amazon. Many of these are party boats so if you want to avoid booze cruises and experience the real Amazon, opt for a company that will take you right into the Amazon forest. Here you spend your days chugging along in small wooden boats, weaving through trees growing from the river, discovering wildlife, trekking through the rainforest and visiting locals. It’s an incredible experience and worth taking at least 3-4 days to really appreciate the area. Bring a camera, sun hat, suncream and plenty of mosquito repellant.
- Iguazu Falls – a short flight from Rio, you could spend two days at the national park (more if you have time). It’s worth seeing the falls from both sides, but if you can only choose one, go to the Argentina side. You can book a private driver to take you there and back through your accommodation. Take a trip in the speedboat and get up close and personal with the falls. It’s fantastic, but very wet. Take a change of footwear and wear waterproofs! If you’re on your honeymoon you may want to splash out and stay in the 5 star resort Hotel das Cataratas in the national park.
Hotel Accommodation starts from €50 per room per night
Imagine Latin America – Rio, Iguazu & beaches: From €1800pp including 14 nights 3* accommodation including breakfast, transfers, selected tours and internal flights but excluding international flights
Sunway Travel – Rio, Iguazu Falls and Beaches – From €2569 including flights, 8 nights accommodation, tax, tour, some meals.
Rainbow Tours – Rio, & Iguazu Falls – From €1500 pp including 7 nights accommodation, internal flights, private transfers and tours. Excludes international flights
SAFARI IN SOUTH AFRICA
A safari is often a once in a lifetime trip and it’s worth doing it properly, although this means it comes with a bit of a price tag. If you have the money it is worth doing a smaller safari, where accommodation tends to be in canvas tents or small cabins. While you are out in the middle of nowhere, there are lots of little luxuries such as gourmet feasts and running water! Depending on you’re budget, you can get everything from rooms in a safari lodge, shared by large groups, to super luxurious cabins or safari tents with a personal butler serving romantic, candlelit dinners on your own veranda and private safari trips.
South Africa is a popular destination for Irish honeymooners, being good value for money and renowned for having excellent accommodation options, great food and wine and wonderful scenery and beaches.
Kwazuland Natal Region is known as the Garden Province and is famous for two outstanding natural areas – iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, both have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In the iSimangaliso Wetland Park there are a number of game reserves where you can see a number of the Big 5, marine reserves which have incredible wildlife including birds, turtles, crocodiles and hippos. This is the best diving destination in South Africa and there are a number of schools set up along the coast that can arrange diving trips. There are pristine beaches along the coast that stretches 280 kms north as far as Mozambique. Many people would do this as a self-drive option or as part of a package, however careful planning is advised as it is a wild coastline, with accommodation limited and many restrictions due to its World Heritage Status.
This is a great and slightly different safari and beach combination. A luxury reserve here is Makakatana Lodge.
An excellent combination trip is to fly to Cape Town spending a few days in the cosmopolitan city and then driving the glorious garden route, taking in time to see the whales, swim with sharks, trek through national parks, unwind on sun drenched beaches and visit lively towns, filled with great restaurants and bars.
Stops include Mossel Bay for shark cage diving, ship-wreck diving or nature lovers should head to Tsistikamma and Wilderness – stunning national park area where you can go trekking, do coastal and forest walks and accommodation is in the parks, however you have to book well in advance.
There are a number of private Safari parks on the eastern cape, so once you reach Port Albert the parks will generally arrange a transfer from here.
Hotel Accommodation is from €50 per room per night
Safari Packages in South Africa
From €400 per person (includes 2 nights accommodation, full board and 3 safari drives) NOTE: This is an estimate of a safari package, they range from anything up to 3000 per day. This is just a guideline price.
Trailfinders From €1899 pp includes 15 nights accommodation, 15 day car hire, 2 night safari, international flights (valid 1 May – 30 June)
www.GoHop.ie From €1429 pp includes 14 nights, safari, garden route, winelands and Cape Town self drive excluding international flights.
Some recommended Safari parks and lodges in South Africa
Greater Kruger National Park
MAURITIUS & DUBAI COMBO
Some couples simply want to unpack their bags, take to the beach and think of nothing, but what they are going to eat that day. Mauritius is a small, tropical island in the Indian Ocean, famous for its crystal clear waters, brightly coloured fish and luxury huts perched on stilts. If you’re looking for a luxurious beach holiday then this is it. The island has any number of resorts, suiting all budgets and packages will often include watersports, food and drinks so you pay an all inclusive rate, making it easy to control spend.
But there is more to Mauritius than just lying on the beach. While it is a hub for divers and watersport enthusiasts, the interior is covered in rich rainforest and great for some jungle trekking and there are wonderful colourful towns, like the capital Port Louis where you can immerse yourself in the islands colonial past and shop in the buzzing markets. It’s also a great place for shopping as designer labels such as Hugo Boss and Versaci are manufactured here and the goods are sold in the islands shops at a considerably cheaper price than you’d fin here!
There are over 80 resorts on the island, many four and five star, of which the best located you will find on the West and NW of the island. Beachcomber Hotels were the pioneers back in the day and now have 8 ideally located hotel, one of which has three private beaches. The recently renovated Trou Aux Biches Resort has always been a favourite with honeymooners. (You can book through Topflight Worldwide.
The small island, Rodrigues is a true tropical island and if you’re looking for peace, quiet and pristine beaches, you’ll find it all here.
There are number of routes you can take to Mauritius, a popular one being via Dubai, with direct daily flights now leaving from Dublin. This wealthy city will either repel or entrall you. It is a city of extremes, its streets lined with four and five star hotels, air-conditioned malls packed with designer shops and jewlers. If you want to laze by the pool, shop and dine in nice restaurants you’ll have a ball before hitting the quiet beaches of Mauritius.
Hotel Accommodation from €150 per night
Topflight Worldwide From €1599 – includes 7 Nights Accommodation on an all inclusive Basis, return flights, resort transfer
Topflight Worldwide – From €1839 – includes 3 nights in Dubai, 7 Nights in Mauritius, return flights, resort transfers and taxes.