Travel Tilt

Escaping Zika: 3 Alternative Honeymoon Destinations

**Important Disclaimer: The honeymoon destinations listed here were Zika-free at the time this post was written. Before booking travel, please make sure you’re informed about the locations of Zika outbreaks and what you can do to stay safe.

Like many of the things included on TravelTilt, I’m writing this piece because I couldn’t find it anywhere else on the web.

Long before we started daydreaming about our perfect honeymoon, James and I were captivated and saddened by the Zika epidemic impacting so many people and places that we love. Even though we’re lucky enough to live where the threat of contracting the virus isn’t particularly high, we’ve had to think much more critically about our travel plans and carefully consider the added risk — and we know we’re not alone.

We’ve made the choice to avoid Zika altogether by selecting regions that haven’t (yet) been exposed. The challenge? We want equal measures of romance, ease, and scenery as could be found at a traditional, all-inclusive resort. Here’s how we narrowed it down:

  1. Summer 2017 availability / affordability. Husband with stingy tendencies + being broke = not romantic
  2. No flights longer than an 8 hours from Chicago. Extreme jet lag + airplane hair = not romantic
  3. No larger-than-life cities. Throngs of tourists + heat = not romantic
  4. The more exotic and secluded the better. No people = clothing optional = romantic

Based on that information, we’ve narrowed our options to 5 Alternative Honeymoon Destinations.

No Zika. Full romance. So much yes.

Flight Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes nonstop.

Where To Stay in Reykjavik

The Silica Hotel at the Blue Lagoon. It’s okay to splurge, it’s your honeymoon. This next-level gorgeous cottage on AirbnbLaugarvatn, Iceland – 1 hour from Reykjavik

Where To Eat in Reykjavik

Fish Market

For $200 per person (a bargain by this ex-New Yorker’s standards) you can experience the full food and wine tasting menu that is centered around Iceland’s locally-sourced seafood. Reservations are definitely necessary.

CondéNaste Traveller has this excellent article about Iceland’s booming food scene as well as some of more low-key options for daily meals.

What To Do in Reykjavik

Drive The Golden Circle

Be brave and rent a car. Think of it as a team-building exercise between you and your new spouse. In just a day’s time you can drive the world-famous Golden Circle and see some of Iceland’s most incredible natural sites.

Scuba Dive Between Two Continents

If you were ever going to be in two places at once, it should be here. Below the surface of Þingvallavatn Lake in one of Iceland’s most breathtaking national parks is the Silfra Rift – the ever-widening gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Snorkle in a Lake Full of Champagne

Nicknamed “The Devil’s Jacuzzi” the bubbly, and surprisingly warm, geo-thermal water of Lake Kleifarvatn is just a 30 minute trip outside of Reykjavik.

Flight Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes to San Fran + 90 min. of driving time.

Where To Stay in Napa

For the #rustic experience: Calistoga Ranch. WOW. For the #spa experience: Villagio Inn & Spa. DOUBLE WOW.

Where to Eat in Napa

Pizzeria Tra Vigne 

A staple for locals in the Napa Valley, this pizzeria specializes in the brick oven baked variety and pairs it’s fare perfectly with a long list of wines on tap and a patio lush with shade trees.

NapaValley.com has a fantastic and comprehensive list of both casual and fine-dining options downtown. Though it probably makes sense to do a bit more digging for off-the-beaten path options along with which wineries offer food options.

What To Do in Napa

Build & Bottle Your Own Blend

While you’re enjoying the best of blends region, pop in to one of Napa’s many wineries that allow you to bottle and cork your own custom blend – some even allow you to design your own label.

Saddle Up for a Ride Through the Vines

No matter your riding experience level, honeymooners can and should take the scenic route on a wine country trail or combine a horseback ride and tasting experience.

Explore Exquisite Castles and Chateaus — and their Incredible Cellars

This region is home to some of the most incredible and easily-accessible fusions of art, architecture, and wine-making in the country.

Flight Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes to Marquette, MI

Where To Stay in the Upper Peninsula

Because of it’s remote location, you can expect to find DOZENS of rental homes (yes, the entire home) for under $200 per night – most of which sit at the edge of Lake Superior and have direct lake access. Homeaway.com has some amazing options, but this listing in Marquette and this one in Munising caught my eye. If you’re really looking to unplug – try this little cabin on for size.

If a great hotel is more your style, the Landmark Inn, built in 1930, is the most unique and historic play to stay in the city of Marquette.

Where to Eat in the Upper Peninsula

The Marq

This unassuming little gastropub in downtown Marquette focuses on locally-source, farm-to-table cuisine. With a primarily vegetarian menu – aside from a few local specialities like it’s Fried Perch offering – The Marq switches up it’s menu every summer season.

What to Do in the Upper Peninsula

Kayak the Stunning Pictured Rocks

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is truly a hidden gem of the Midwest. You can experience the wonder on your honeymoon by kayak and canoe or by hoping aboard a daily boat cruise. For the best photos (and most romance) go at sunset.

Hiccup Your Way through Local Craft Breweries

The Upper Peninsula is home to a burgeoning craft beer community and breweries are popping up in all of the more densely-populated areas – each with it’s own charm, character, and delicious varieties. Here’s a few venues worth an add to anyone’s Beer Bucket List.

Rediscover Star Gazing

After a wonderful of kayaking and beer-guzzling, sprawling out on the beach under the stars isn’t only exactly what your body craves — it will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. (Speaking from experience on this one.) Just across the Mackinaw Bridge (on the lower peninsula side) is a designated Dark Sky Park where the universe will reveal itself to you in ways that even Neil deDrasse Tyson can’t explain.