Saturday, July 4, 2009


This post has been sitting empty, waiting for me to work on it for months. Maybe I was afraid that looking at these photos would make me want to quit my job and take off for the islands. I think that the real problem is that I can't think of a good way to sum up our honeymoon experience without sounding totally cheesy or cliche.

I can't tell you where you should go on your honeymoon or how much you should spend on it, but I can give a few pieces of general advice based on questions I've received.

Question: Should I really go on a honeymoon? Shouldn't we put the money toward a down payment on a house?

Answer: Kudos to you for being forward-thinking and fiscally responsible. Now, forget the dream house for a moment and start planning your honeymoon. It's not that I don't think home ownership is important (B and I bought a condo the same summer we got married) but I don't think the house should cancel out the honeymoon. If you've planned this right, you'll only be going on a honeymoon one time in your life. So stop with the fretting and go! Yes, it will probably be an expensive vacation, but it's not just any vacation. It is a chance for you and your new groom (or bride) to get away from the wedding stress and embark on your new married life together.

Question: I'm getting married in August and want to go to the Caribbean. Any tips?

Answer: Yes. Pick a new destination or get trip insurance. August is hurricane season and the Caribbean is hurricane central. If you really want to do an island get-away consider Hawaii or French Polynesia, which are further outside the hurricane danger zones.

Question: I want to go to French Polynesia. Is it worth the cost and long plane ride?

Answer: Absolutely, most-definitely, YES. To me, honeymoon meant "beach" and after taking one look at the brochure for Moorea and Bora Bora, I was sold. French Polynesia is not a budget destination, but there are ways to stretch your dollar a bit further. For example, we bought groceries for breakfast and lunch at a local market, and only ate in restaurants for dinner. Plus, snorkeling and laying on the beach is free.

We can highly recommend both the Sofitel in Moorea and the Sofitel Motu in Bora Bora. If you're planning a trip to either island and would like more details (such as what room number we'd recommend or favorite restaurants), feel free to send us an email.

Due to budgetary and schedule constraints, we only spent a week on our honeymoon. While it was hard to leave, we did manage to pack a lot of fun and relaxation into 7 days, and I don't feel like we cheated ourselves by not extending it to ten days or two weeks (as is becoming more common these days).

When we made plans to go to a beach destination, B's one requirement was that we find activities to do so that we wouldn't just sit around all day. We did a fair amount of sitting around and looking at the ocean, but we also went snorkeling, took an island jeep tour, rode bikes, swam with rays, went parasailing, and took a jet boat tour. We used a travel agent and she planned out some of these things in advance, but I think you'd be just as well off to wait until you get there and see what you want to do before committing to any activities.

I highly recommend bringing a journal and taking notes on the things you did, and thoughts and feelings you have during your honeymoon. I know it might seem lame now, but a few years later you'll have fun looking back and remembering the details. Without the journal, many of the hilarious and touching details of our trip would be lost forever. Sometimes when I have a particularly brutal day at work, I grab the journal and relive one of the happiest weeks of my life.

I know that travel agents are about as common these days as cassette tapes, but we used one and it saved us so much time and trouble. I went online and found an agent who specialized in French Polynesia and she made our reservations for us. She got us the best rooms at the resorts and made recommendations for dinner, activities, flight times, etc. When we arrived, we were armed with a book full of vouchers and simply had to hand them off to taxi drivers, who whisked us away to our destination. It was effortless and made us feel so much more relaxed not having to worry about how we were going to get from place to place.

Wherever you decide to go, enjoy this special time in your life. Work stress, money woes, and global warming will still be there when you get back. Turn off the Blackberry (toss it in the ocean if you dare!) and connect with your new spouse.

Second Thoughts from B

Instead of having a traditional guest book at our wedding, we asked our friends and family to fill out cards that asked for words of wisdom and predictions for where we'd be in 50 years. A common thing I learned was that everyone we knew insisted that J is always right. It took all of one week for this to be proven absolutely correct.

You may have picked up that our honeymoon was a bit of a departure from what I'm used to as far as vacations go. Growing up, my family was more accustomed to road trips, crazy outdoor adventures, or whirlwind sightseeing marathons. Then as I got older and started planning my own vacations, I became quite good at packing in as much as possible for as cheap as possible. Therefore, using a travel agent to plan a trip that was centered around doing nothing was not what I initially had in mind. In fact, when the word "honeymoon" first came up, I jumped onto REI's website and started looking at exotic kayaking trips through the Amazon...

Happily, I can say that I was wrong about what a honeymoon should be. No matter where you go, treat yourself to a little pampering and plan in plenty of time to do nothing. One distinct memory I have of our post-wedding days is the hours of recapping our wedding day. From what went as planned, to what didn't, to who said what, to our impressions of every last thing that we had anticipated, obsessed, and/or dreamed about for the last year. Moving from chaos to paradise was exactly what we needed and I've yet to talk to a couple who disagrees.

So maybe you'll choose to go on a road trip or see every site in Europe. Maybe you'll even kayak down the Amazon. But whatever you do, make sure that the trip is focused on the two of you. Don't let the trip be solely about where you are and where you are going geographically. A honeymoon should be about where you are and where you are going in this new relationship. In other, more cheesy words, your new life partner should be the greatest sight you see.

For more marriage-related commentary, see our posts on our engagement and our wedding.


VC said...

Bora Bora honeymoon! Booyah!

Amy said...

You went to French Polynesia.

Alix said...

Bora Bora / Moorea. I know how much my friend's honeymoon in French Polynesia cost - more than my wedding!!