Everybody knows that the best part of wedding planning is the honeymoon, right? But not everybody can afford a four-star resort in Kauai or a private jet to the Maldives. If an over-water cabana in Tahiti is out of your budget, you can still spend some time with your new spouse in paradise — just choose one of the affordable tropical honeymoon destinations on this list. You’ll save money and get bonus cool points for choosing a honeymoon destination that isn’t a total tourist trap.
The United States just lifted the travel embargo to Cuba a few months ago, which means you can now travel to this island nation legally for the first time since the 1960’s. That means that this is the perfect time to plan a honeymoon in Cuba – just get there before its unspoiled beaches get too popular and prices soar. (Act fast, because word is getting out! Fashion designers like Stella McCartney and Proenza Schuller just released images from photo shoots in Cuba, so you know it’s trending.)
2. SANTA TERESA, COSTA RICA
Costa Rica has gotten more popular (and more expensive) over the years, but Santa Teresa is still a tiny, rustic surf town that is perfect for honeymooners — especially active ones. Sure, getting there involves a long bus ride or a slightly scary trip in a tiny plane from major airports like San Jose or Liberia, but if your dream honeymoon involves surf lessons, yoga and beers on the beach, Santa Teresa is worth it. You can stay at rustic cabanas just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach, like the Gris Lodge and Villas, for less than $100 per night in the low season! (Note: I’ve stayed there and it’s amazing.)
3. TULUM, MEXICO
I love the calm, crystal blue waters of the Yucutan Peninsula, but I don’t love the raging party scene or the tourist invasions of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. Tulum, which is about a two hour drive south of Cancun, is more my speed. (It’s also closer to all the snorkeling, cenotes and Mayan ruins than either big city!) Sure, Tulum has grown in the last twenty years, and there are some big, all-inclusive, expensive resorts on the outskirts of town, but if you don’t mind more rustic lodging, you can still find beachfront cabanas for $110 per night. (Check out Tita Tulum, another personal recommendation.) Save the money on the fancy hotel and splurge on dinner at Hartwood across the street — it’s worth waiting in line all day for a table.
4. THE COOK ISLANDS
We’ve all drooled over serene pictures of overwater Tahitian bungalows, but Tahiti is expensive. The nearby Cook Islands are a cheaper alternative to Tahiti though. You can still stare into perfectly clear waters from a hammock, have breakfast delivered to you via rowboat and snorkel up to your honeymoon suite, but you’ll save a pretty penny compared to traditional locations like Fiji or Tahiti.
5. PHU QUOC, VIETNAM
You wouldn’t think that an island famous for making pungent-smelling fish sauce would be an ideal honeymoon destination, but Phu Quoc Island on the southern tip of Vietnam is a hidden gem. With some of the best beaches in Vietnam, it’s no wonder that big resorts are already starting to get built on this little bit of paradise. But many parts of Phu Quoc Island are still unspoiled, and a screaming deal that won’t last long.