Jungle and Beach in Costa Rica

Steve and Julia were looking for a tropical honeymoon full of adventure and unique experiences that would give them stories for years to come. I knew the perfect place: Costa Rica! Splitting their trip between the new and unique Nayara Tented Camp and the beachy all-inclusive Secrets Papagayo allowed them to stay within budget while still having the luxury honeymoon they dreamed of! Here are their thoughts on their Costa Rica adventure:


costa rica

Nayara Tented Camp

So for me, I absolutely LOVED Nayara, I’m a sucker for service and I’ve never had better.  The privacy, little touches like water on the side of the bed, full breakfast in the room, secluded tents, and even when you were in public it somehow still felt a little private. There were more than enough hot springs to find one for just the 2 of us. 

The restaurants were great, imported steak from Japan (Waygu) and only for $40 including a glass of wine.  We were never hounded for tips, we did still tip and you should for the level of commitment but they didn’t expect it.  I will say their local meats are a little different, they’re good but just something a little off about the taste.  

costa rica

The wildlife is amazing! We had a Coatimundi that would hang out near the outdoor shower, didn’t bother us just enjoying the sun, saw Toucans from the bed and we had the same yellow striped bird that would join us for breakfast every morning. We named him Henry and he brought over a friend and we called her Marie lol.  The Coati was Freddie.  

costa rica
costa rica

Secrets Papagayo

Secrets was very nice. But we did miss out on the nice private pool room which we wish we got when we were there. And it did have a little of the “Cancun All-Inclusive” vibe, it was great don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t near the level of Nayara.  We loved the shows at Secrets. They did a really cool Halloween performance, dinner and, of course, not paying for anything when you’re there is nice.  There were huge iguanas just walking around the place which was cool and the spa was amazing, again, excellent service.

costa rica

Thank you so much, it was A+ and full of amazing experiences! We’re already considering an African Safari!

Steve

How to Approach Your Honeymoon Budget

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A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation! So it should be unique to you as a couple and should create special memories that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Whether you’re dreaming of an overwater bungalow, a fairytale town, or a cabin in mountains, you’re also planning for a wedding, and you probably don’t want to break the bank along the way. So, how do you even begin to put a price on your trip of a lifetime and plan your honeymoon budget? 

Where you want to go, what you want to do, and what level of luxury you want to experience will all factor into the overall cost. And there are a few simple steps to figure out what is realistic and what you can afford. We’ve created a fun worksheet to get you started with the steps outlined below. Download our free Honeymoon Budget Worksheet here!


STEP 1: COMMUNICATION & THE BIG PICTURE

The foundation of every good relationship is communication. And budgeting for the perfect honeymoon requires a lot of it! You want to ensure that you’re both on the same page in terms of expectations. 

honeymoon couple sitting on a log in a rainbow in hawaii

Start with the big picture. You don’t have to decide where you’re going or what exactly you’ll do when you get there, yet. Instead, talk about what kinds of things you imagine doing and in what kinds of environments.

Are you walking hand-in-hand along a white sandy beach with ocean waves as your soundtrack? Wandering the cobblestone streets of Europe and feeling like you’ve stepped into a fairytale? Spending your days lounging in your luxury honeymoon suite with an awe-inspiring view? Did you travel far to get there or was it a quick flight to paradise?

[Photo Credit: Molly & Matt via Shared Adventures. Read about their Hawaiian Honeymoon here!]

Try starting the conversation by telling the story of your honeymoon. “I imagine we spend our honeymoon… sipping cocktails in lounge chairs on the beach…”

Once you agree on the general big picture, take some time to write down things you love to do together to give the trip a focus on who you are as a couple. Then write out your non-negotiables. Do you want to leave right after the wedding? Does the accommodation need to have a pool? Do you want to have an immersive local experience? Make sure you’re both clear on what your partner expects from this amazing vacation.

STEP 2: TIMING & LOCATION

Timing

Once you have the big picture, you can get into the details and the budget. First, consider how much time you have for the honeymoon. Most people have a certain amount of PTO and you will probably take some of that for the wedding. So, consider how many days you can realistically be away. 

If your dates are flexible and the destination is more important than the timing, you can skip the following step. 

honeymoon couple in the Dolomites Italy

Now, it’s time to consider the all-important seasonality. Many couples still travel right after the wedding, meaning a fixed time frame for their honeymoon. Consider which destinations are best at different times of the year, and look at whether your specific travel dates exclude any destinations because of poor weather conditions or too-high prices.

[Photo Credit: Shannon & Lou via Shared Adventures. Read about their winter honeymoon to Northern Italy here!]

Region

If you have a specific destination in mind then you can skip this step. However, if you’re still not sure exactly where you want to go, the next step is to figure out a general region. Ask yourself the following:

Do you want to stay close to home or travel farther abroad?
Are you looking for warm or cool weather?
Do you want somewhere on the coast with a beach? Or a big city?

Take a look at a map and talk about the different areas these questions bring to mind in connection with your dates. For example: if you’re looking to stay close to home, with warm weather, on a beach in early June, then you’ll stay in the northern hemisphere and might head to places like Mexico, the Caribbean, or the Bahamas. 

STEP 3: COST ESTIMATES

Flights

Airfare costs are generally fixed with very little wiggle room and can take up a good chunk of your budget. This makes them the best starting place. Even if you’re not set on a particular destination yet, look back at your time frame, and potential regions. Then start looking at average flight prices for those options. Finding the average flight cost will give you a good starting point for your budget. 

Remember to be realistic when you’re looking at flights. You’ll only want one connection and not the super-restrictive basic economy fares that involve all sorts of added fees for seats and bags. Looking at the average economy class fare will give you a better idea of what to build into your budget. And if you’re thinking about splurging on Business or First class for this trip of a lifetime, take a look at those prices too.

The Rest 

Once the estimated airfare is taken into account, it’s time to work out the details. The rest of your budget can fall into roughly three categories: Activities, Accommodations, and Meals. Put these in order of priority (for you) to figure out where you want to splurge and where you can save a little. Are you set on being awe-struck during a hot-air balloon ride? Does your mouth water at the thought of eating at a Michelin star restaurant? Do you want only the finest luxury resort? Whatever is most important, allocate more of your budget towards that key thing. You can make compromises on the pieces that aren’t as important to you. 

Sunset beach Costa Rica Honeymoons

Pro Tip: If accommodations are important but the full trip in a high-end hotel is stretching your budget, try splitting the accommodations. Stay in a slightly cheaper hotel first and end the last few days on a high note at the luxury property!

[Photo Credit: Katey & Oliver via Shared Adventures. Read about their split-accommodation Costa Rican honeymoon here!]

After deciding which is most important, you can do a little research as to average costs. It doesn’t have to be exact, just a quick search to get a general idea. 

Honeymoon budget worksheet filled out with examples

STEP 4: SAVING

The final step, once you have a ballpark cost is to add 20%. This is your honeymoon and there are going to be many “treat-yourself-moments”! It’s best to build those into the budget early on. 

Finally, decide how you want to start saving! Consider a honeymoon registry to help fund all the extras. After establishing the basic framework for the trip, you can set up a wish list for guests to contribute to tours, activities, spa treatments, dinner on the beach, etc. Set aside a certain amount each month and start saving! 

Remember, this method only gives you an estimate, not a hard and fast exact cost. There is always some wiggle room.

WAYS TO SAVE

If you’re finding it hard to get everything on your wish list AND stay within your ideal budget there are a few things you can do to save money:

  1. Consider cutting a night (or two) to make it work. No one ever remembers how many nights they spent at a destination. It’s better to have exactly the experience you’re dreaming about, but for one less night. If you cut back on the overall experience just to stay longer, you’ll regret it.
  2. Keeping your dates flexible lets you take advantage of low-season travel and lower prices. Or head to a less-expensive and popular but no-less-amazing destination. 
  3. Talk with a travel agent! Travel agents have years of experience and know-how. If your final budget is just a little more than you want to spend, a travel agent can help. We might know a unique destination that has everything you’re looking for with a slightly lower price tag. We might be able to get you special rates and perks on accommodations. We have connections with tour guides, private drivers, and hoteliers all over the world, giving us the inside scoop on the best destinations for every size budget.

Even in money matters, travel planning should be fun and inspiring. After you fill out the worksheet, let us know what you discover about your dream honeymoon and we can get started!

The Best Honeymoon Destinations (by Month)

Honeymoons by Month Pin
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The majority of couples still take their honeymoons shortly after the wedding. Which means that honeymooners have to consider seasonality and find a destination that works well for their specific travel dates. But how do you know which places are the best at different times of year? Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered, with our handy guide to the best honeymoon destinations by month!


The Weather

Before we get to the months, there are a few criteria to keep in mind. First is, of course, the weather.

Sunset beach Costa Rica Honeymoons

Beachy and tropical islands often have just two seasons: Dry and Rainy. These seasons tend to be the opposite on different sides of the world. So no matter what month you travel in, you can find a beautiful beachy location somewhere.

[Photo Credit: Katey & Oliver via Shared Adventures – read about their Costa Rica Honeymoon here!]

The Crowds

a piazza in Rome full of tourists, ideal for Honeymoons

The other important factor to consider is crowds. Certain months see high crowds for a reason. Everyone is excited to experience the best weather the destination has to offer! Think about whether it’s more important to you to have the best weather possible (despite the crowds). Or would you prefer to risk some less-than-ideal days in exchange for having a sense of seclusion?

[Photo credit: Ann via Shared Adventures]

With these answers in mind, have a look at our monthly guide! We’ve split the destinations into two categories: “High-season” is the best weather with potentially the biggest crowds. “Best balance” has decent weather balanced with smaller crowds.

January

St. Lucia– high-season
Costa Rica- high-season
Aruba – high-season

Norway high-season
Swiss Alps- best balance

Beachy Honeymoons: For the best weather, look to the equator. Destinations in the Central America region ( including the Caribbean) will be beautiful. They will also be in peak season. January offers clear blue skies, warm seas, and a perfectly idyllic beach vacation. It’s just a bonus that you can escape from the cold!

Snowy Honeymoons: Consider just how cold you truly want it to be. The further north you go, the darker and colder it gets, which gives you the brilliant opportunity to see the Northern Lights. January also tends to be less busy than February in top ski destinations due to the shorter days.

February

Mexico– high-season
New Zealand- high-season
Hawai’i – best balance

Swiss Alps- high-season
Norway- best balance
California- best balance

Beachy Honeymoons: February is a peak month for tropical travel. The Caribbean, and Mexico are popular with everyone trying to escape the winter cold, including families on school vacation breaks. Hawaii can be a good option, because the weather is temperate year round and spreads the crowds out. And French Polynesia might work, as long as you’re okay with some passing rain showers.

Snowy Honeymoons: How important is skiing? How cold is too cold? If you want to hit the slopes every day of your honeymoon, then February is prime ski season in many winter destinations! If you’re looking for other winter activities, you’ll find the extra cold temps mean a lot of opportunities to snuggle up, fewer crowds, and more daylight hours for adventuring!

March

The Maldives– best balance
New Zealand- best balance

Iceland- best balance (for snow)
Japan- high-season (mid-March)

Beachy Honeymoons: March is a great honeymoon month to avoid crowds if you don’t mind a little unpredictability. It’s the last month of the dry season in many places. So look more closely at the weather reports and consider spots where a few small showers and cooler nights will enhance your trip.

Snowy Honeymoons: This is the last opportunity of the year to enjoy a snowy destination! Consider what winter activities you’re most excited to experience. Because you start to get longer hours of daylight in March, find a destination that has a lot of outdoor adventures. 

a view of the siene, the eiffle tower and the paris skyline in Paris for Honeymoons
[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures – read about her April in Paris trip here!]

April

The Caribbean– best balance
Seychelles- best balance
South Africa- best for combining different regions

Australia- best balance
France- high-season
Napa, California- best balance

Beachy Honeymoons: April is the bridge between the dry and wet seasons. For the best weather, look into heading a bit further towards the southern hemisphere. If you’d rather stay closer to home, the Caribbean will have some unpredictability, but overall beautiful days and lower crowds. 

City Breaks: April is the beginning of perfectly romantic city breaks. Consider locations that you dream of strolling around, admiring the architecture and the flowers in bloom. Look to Europe and Japan for the most beautiful displays of spring blooms. 

May

Portugal– best balance
Malta- best balance
Costa Rica- best balance
Hawai’i- best balance

Fiji- best balance
Scotland- best balance
Ireland- best balance

Beachy Honeymoons: A perfect shoulder month. If you’re looking to stay closer to home, the Caribbean and Central America will have lower crowds without (yet) the summer rains. Otherwise, you can beat the summer crowds but enjoy the rising temperature on the other side of the globe. Southern Europe and the South Pacific are entering their dry season. Warm weather, low humidity, and the islands practically to yourselves — It makes the long plane trip worth it! 

Sightseeing and Exploring: If you’re not a sunseeker, look into northern Europe. A perfect combination of warm days, cool nights, green countryside, lower crowds, and maybe still a little snow on the utmost mountain peaks. 

lush green mountains of Hawaii an a blue bay on the road to hana. perfect for hawaii honeymoons
[Photo credit: Ann via Shared Adventures Travel]

June

Hawai’i– high-season
Antigua- best balance
St. Lucia- best balance

Fiji- high-season
Greece- best balance
Alaska- best balance

Beachy Honeymoons: June is the beginning of hurricane season in the Caribbean, but it’s still too early for major risk. This is a good month for sun-seekers. Look for spots where you can sneak in before the storm risk increases in late summer.

City Breaks: June is an excellent month for city breaks. Everything is open and waiting, but the true heat of summer hasn’t settled into the cobblestones yet. Look for cities that allow you to get out into nature a bit for a cool breeze.

July

French Polynesia– high-season
Malta- high-season
Italy- high-season

Ireland- high-season
Canada- high-season
Iceland-high-season

Beachy Honeymoons: French Polynesia and southern Europe swell to their peak popularity. Honeymooners in July will almost certainly have to share the beaches with plenty of other travelers.

Outdoorsy Honeymoons: July is the peak month for many cooler-weather destinations that are just coming into their own at this time of year. Look to the north to find green fields, hiking trails, cool mountain lakes, fresh breezes, and unending hours of daylight.

August

Kenya & Tanzania– high-season
Mozambique- high-season
Bali- high-season
Vietnam- high-season

Croatia- high-season
France-high-season

The sweltering temps are reaching their peak and everyone is looking for a beach. August is difficult to avoid crowds, especially in Europe where many countries have their summer vacations. Look to the islands in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa for the peak of the dry season. Beautiful beaches and beautiful clear skies await you there.

driving nin maine
[Photo credit: Liz via Shared Adventures Travel – read about a New England Roatrip here!]

September

Hawai’i – best balance
French Polynesia- best balance
Bali- best balance
Greece- best balance

Croatia- best balance
Italy- best balance
Japan-best balance
The UKbest balance

Beachy Honeymoons: This is the perfect moment to swoop in and enjoy the last warm days without all the crowds. Look to the most popular summer beach destinations. You’ll find amazing weather, still-warm seas, and fewer people.

City Breaks: Like April, September is a perfect month for city breaks. The sweltering heat dissipates and the nights start to cool. Everything is still open and buzzing from summer, but the temperatures and crowd levels are much more pleasant. This is the time to visit Italy, Greece and Croatia!

October

Mauritius-high-season
Vietnam- best balance
Dubai- best balance
Zambia- high-season

France- best balance
Amsterdam- best balance
Canada-best balance
New England- high-season

Beachy Honeymoons: This is the best time to visit those destinations that are almost unbearably hot in summer. While October brings unpredictability, it also brings good opportunities to explore beyond the beach. 

Cool Honeymoons: Stunning fall foliage is the main focus of an October honeymoon in North America and Europe. While you may have a mixture of sun and rain, October’s quiet crispness in the cities will only add to the romantic atmosphere.

November

Thailand-best balance
The Maldives- high-season
Jamaica- best balance

Australia- high-season
Argentina- best balance
Chile- best balance

November is all about the Southern Hemisphere. While the north experiences rain and cloudy skies, the south is right at the beginning of summer. The weather isn’t too hot yet and the crowds aren’t too big, so overall you want to consider the bottom half of the world. It’s also a good time for the Caribbean, as the hurricane risk is nearly past, and crowds ten to be lower.

December

The Caribbean-high-season
Mexico– high-season
Thailand– high-season
Bali- high-season

Copenhagen- best holiday markets
Austria- best holiday markets
Prague- best holiday markets

Beachy Honeymoons: The holiday season sees everyone in the north escaping the cold for beautiful beaches. Consider places near to the equator on both sides of the world- South East Asia, The Caribbean, and Mexico are all in their stride. 

Snowy Honeymoons: The beginning of snow, cold temperatures, and beautiful holiday markets! While snow is a little unpredictable, consider those cold-weather cities with booming holiday markets as the perfect cozy romantic destinations. 

Five Destinations Ideal for Group Travel

5 Ideal Destinations for Group Travel Pin
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In 2022 we are all focusing on connection — finding ways to share experiences and create memories with those we’ve missed spending time with. But deciding where to go for a multi-generational family, reunion, or friend-cation group trip can be tricky. You want to find somewhere with a little something for everyone. Someplace where you can feel safe, and a destination where you can spend a lot of quality time together. And spend time soaking up everything you’ve missed over the past two years. Here are our suggestions for some small-group destinations that would be perfect for this year’s shared adventure:


Mexican All-Inclusives

Sun, beach, and warm sand for the whole family to enjoy! Plus the added luxury of all your meals and drinks included (and no one has to cook or clean!) With a big focus on relaxation, this is a great destination to reconnect. Many all-inclusives have casitas, villas, or stand-alone suites with their own pools. Which gives you a great sense of seclusion and privacy. Plus, they offer a wide range of activities for all ages and interests. You can just enjoy each other’s company without the stress of trying to get to the next landmark or attraction or figure out where to go for dinner that evening. For bigger groups, groups with younger children or those who love chilling on the beach – The Mexican Riviera has a lot to offer.

Costa Rica

a group of friends white water rafting down a river in Costa Rica

With a tropical climate, plenty of private villas, and beautiful beaches, Costa Rica has a lot in common with Mexico. Costa Rica, however, has a greater sense of adventure. Offering a multitude of outdoor activities from hiking to rafting to ziplining. It’s a great destination for friends who love the outdoors and want to have an active vacation with only a few beach days thrown in. Or families with kids who love animals and would enjoy the variety of wildlife in the area. Plus, Costa Rica has a major focus on sustainability, making it a top choice for your eco-conscious friends.

[Photo Credit: Alex via Shared Adventures]

Italy

Often seen as a ‘romantic destination’ (which it can be) Italy has a great advantage for groups — there’s a little bit of everything. If your group has a wide variety of interests, Italy is the place to go. History buffs, foodies, shopaholics, beach bums, and outdoorsy types alike will all find something to enjoy. You can head north to the Dolomites and the fashionably stunning lake district. Or head south into the wine-soaked hills, the small historical cities, and the beautiful beachy coastline. Cities like Rome and Florence offer history and shopping around every corner. And not too far away you’ll find breathtaking coasts and mountains. Italy is all about coming together for an aperitivo or a delicious meal to share stories about the day’s discoveries and adventures. And your accommodations can range from charming local hotels to sleek luxury resorts, city-center apartments, or private villas in the countryside.

Wales

a Castle Ruin in Conwy Wales

For those who aren’t looking for a tropical climate, Wales is great for a multi-generational road trip. The dramatic coastline and beautiful national parks offer a lot for those who love to be active (and for those who prefer a gentle stroll.) Certainly, you’ll find plenty of historic castles and quaint seaside towns to enjoy together. There’s plenty of room for kids to run around, and adults to follow. Above all, there’s something slow and relaxing about the pace of life in this intriguing countryside.

[Photo Credit: Ann via Shared Adventures – read about her UK road trip here! ]

Safari

Whether you head to South Africa, Tanzania, or Kenya – going on safari with your group of friends or family is a magical journey. Share the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing incredible wildlife up close. And share stories each night over a gourmet meal back in camp — safaris offer a complete change of scenery away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Additionally, safaris are scheduled and guided to maximize the wildlife (and scenery) viewing potential, making planning your day a breeze. As a result, you have more time to focus on creating memories that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Since most safaris are group activities anyway, why not take your own private group with you?


You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)