The word “honeymoon”is derived, in part, from an ancient Northern European custom in which newlyweds, for the first month of married life, drank a daily cup of mead, a honeyed wine. Honey was considered an aphrodisiac, with the high sugar content providing extra energy.
Today’s modern couples dream about a relaxing honeymoon in a sunny climate after the hectic and hurried months leading up to their wedding. A favourite destination is the Caribbean. Sun, sand and surf are just a three- or four hour’s flight away.
Most Caribbean resorts offer special packages for honeymooners and for couples who are planning destination weddings. Courtney Armstrong, marketing and communications co-ordinator for Signature Travel, says couples should look for honeymoon upgrades and free bonus packages when booking their vacations.
Bonuses can include champagne breakfast in bed, spa services and invitations to special events at the resort. A destination wedding “allows the couple
to combine wedding traditions with a bit of the exotic….a beach location…a sunset ceremony,” says Armstrong.
Resorts go out of their way to accommodate destination weddings, which cost about the same as a traditional wedding at home and a honeymoon trip. Fifteen percent of Canadian weddings now take place in vacation paradises.
Each Caribbean island destination is unique. Before booking, ask friends and family about their vacation experiences. They may offer their recommendations and
Here is a quick tour of some Caribbean island paradises.
Aruba’s best resorts offer all-inclusive honeymoon packages. Located about 25 kilometres off the north coast of Venezuela, Aruba is the Caribbean Dutch treat. The former Dutch colony maintains close ties to The Netherlands and the official language is Dutch. English is spoken everywhere. The locals speak Papiamento, a combination of Dutch, French, African and Spanish. Sports enthusiasts can go scuba-diving in any of the 42 diving sites, enjoy windsurfing and waterskiing, or go deep-sea fishing. Some visitors never venture beyond the beaches, but a visit to the charming capital city of Oranjestad, with its colonial Dutch architecture, is delightful.
The Bahamas are an archipelago of about 700 islands and 2,400 uninhabited islets and cays lying 50 miles off the east coast of Florida. They extend about 1,223 kilometres. Only about 30 of the islands are inhabited; the most important is New Providence, on which the capital, Nassau, is situated. Freeport, located on the island of Grand Bahama, was created as a tourism paradise by American and British entrepreneurs in 1955. Freeport is about 110 kilometres off the coast of Florida.
The Bahamas are known for offering the things people want on vacation: sun, sand, surf, sports, shopping, food and nightlife.
Barbados is an island of contrasts: great island getaway, beautiful pink, sandy beaches, as well as a rich cultural heritage and a wide array of natural attractions such as Harrison’s Cave. The capital, Bridgetown, has a distinct British personality.
The Cayman Islands are safe, relaxing, tranquil and best of all, home to some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean.Three islands offer sweeping white sands, clear blue waters, fragrant tropical beaches, palm trees, sunshine, and great duty-free shopping. The islanders are known for their charming courtesy. The islands are self-governed but are under the direct protection of the United Kingdom; the Queen of England is depicted on Cayman Islands’ currency and postal stamps. The Caymans are also a diver’s paradise.
Cuba’s Varadero Beach is considered one of the world’s greatest beaches—all-inclusive hotels from cheap and cheerful to luxurious are available. Varadero is part of a peninsula that stretches far out into the Atlantic. Its 21-kilometre strip of fine white sand is an ideal vacation spot for sun-lovers, water babies and golfers. Other popular areas of Cuba are Cayo Coco and Holguin. While many people find the food bland in Cuba, the music is fabulous.
Dominican Republic is part of the island of Hispaniola and is shared with Haiti. The Dominican is one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the Caribbean. It is a colourful tapestry of Spanish, French, Haitian and African influences woven by a rich history. Punta Cana is the newest hotspot offering many all-inclusive hotels and resorts. Activities range from scuba diving, water skiing, jet skiing, horseback riding, and mountain climbing to laying on the beach. Pulse-pounding merengue, intriguing relics, premium cigars, and even world-class baseball await visitors. Outdoor activities such as golf, snorkelling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and boating are a thrilling way to experience the island’s beauty.
Jamaica is the Caribbean’s third-largest island with six main tourist regions: Montego Bay, Negril, Mandeville and The South Coast, Kingston, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios. The scenery offers everything from fish-filled coral reefs and white-sand beaches to breathtaking waterfalls and cloud-shrouded rain forests. The music is infectious, and the Jamaican people represent one of the most diverse populations in the Caribbean, drawing from African, Chinese, Indian, British and Germanheritages.
Martinique’s famous cuisine is a blend of French and Creole cooking. This French island is lush with rugged landscapes.The finest French products, from Chanel fashions to Limoges porcelain, are readily available. Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, was born and raised on this island. Puerto Rico has astounding geographic diversity squeezed into one island.
Beautiful beaches ring nearly all of the coastline, which fronts both The Atlantic, making for some of the biggest waves in the Caribbean, and the tranquil waters of the Caribbean Sea. English and Spanish are spoken in this self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States. San Juan has the largest and best-preserved complex of Spanish colonial architecture in the Caribbean, and is one of the most dynamic cities in the West Indies.
St. Lucia is the perfect destination for weddings and honeymoons. Tourists love the island’s beaches, elegant old plantation houses, warm tropical air, hypnotic steelband music and the tantalizing cuisine. This small, lush tropical gem is still relatively unknown. It is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia seems like an island plucked from the South Pacific and set down in the Caribbean. Its dramatic twin coastal peaks, the Pitons, soar up from the sea, sheltering magnificent rain forests where wild orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish.
The tiny twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago offers an enticing mix of cultural activities and eco adventure. Located just off the tip of Venezuela, lively Trinidad, the larger of the two, boasts energetic nightlife in the modern capital of Port-of-Spain. Tobago, two hours away by ferry, is comparatively serene. Azure seas contrast with pale pink sands and golden sunsets. (The nation lies outside the hurricane belt. )
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Crown colony situated at the south-east end of the Bahamas chain. The Turks and Caicos consist of 40 islands and cays; only eight of which are inhabited. A favourite destination for Americans and Canadians, the tourism industry didn’t start to develop the islands until the 1980s.
Hollywood star Bruce Willis has a home on one of the islands. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were married on Parrot Cay, and actress Eva Longoria and her husband Tony Parker went to the islands for their honeymoon.
This article was first printed in Sudbury Living Weddings 2010. The 2016 edition is available now from our supporting advertisers.