Destination weddings: They’re fun, intimate and unforgettable for everyone who attends. Your guests will be so deep into vacation mode that the wedding itself will feel like bliss, and they’ll be ready to party hard. For the engaged couple, choosing a destination wedding saves hassle, time and, in some cases, money — especially if you’re a smart online shopper and earn Cash Back at Rakuten. Perhaps the best part of a destination wedding is that you can roll out of bed the day after you say your “I dos” onto a beach, and spend the rest of the week relaxing, enjoying each other and riding that newlywed high. Here is our list of the best beaches for a destination wedding.
Makua Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
There is no shortage of stunning beaches in Hawaii, but the tricky part is finding a beach that’s not only gorgeous but also convenient and secluded from crowds. Thankfully, Kauai is smaller and less developed than its neighboring islands, so its beaches are vast and relatively empty, depending on the time of year. Makua Beach, also called Tunnel Beach, is a crazy beautiful option that will bathe you and your guests in romance. Go to Hotels.com to book a honeymoon suite just off the beach at nearby Hanalei Colony Resort.
Sidling up to the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize is ideal for scuba-loving couples. A friendly country with turquoise waters and white sands, Belize is affordable and offers destination weddings with distinct eco-adventure vibes. If you’re looking for a beach that’s far enough away to ensure your crazy cousins-in-law will stay stateside but close enough to keep costs low, you might just find the perfect combination in Belize. Do yourself a favor and stay for an extra week or two to dive Blue Hole and book a romantic splurge at Hatchet Caye Island Resort for a honeymoon on a private island.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
This lively Mexican beach town is known for its artistic whimsy, warm beaches and lush rainforests. But just outside of town you’ll find all-inclusive resorts that are ideal for larger weddings, so you can relax with a poolside cocktail and let someone else take over all the decision-making for you. Or you and 18 of your closest friends and family can hole up in a luxury beachside villa, booked through VRBO, and enjoy all the sunshine and privacy Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Either way, don’t miss a trip to town for a skewer of grilled seafood and an evening stroll along the Malecon.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
If you’re dreaming of barefoot chic for your big day, there’s probably no better place than the Bahamas. With an all-inclusive option like Atlantis Bahamas, you can book what you want online and leave the rest up to the staff. It’s a low-maintenance couple’s dream, and after avoiding the stress of planning for the months leading up to your wedding, you’ll still get to enjoy a tropical party weekend and a honeymoon in paradise — a reward most newlyweds have to work for!
Portugal is a surprising addition to this list, to be sure. It’s neither close to the U.S. nor convenient. But it’s affordable and it’s home to some of the most wedding-perfect beaches in the world. Save by booking affordable international flights through Vayama, and book aluxury villa for the wedding party on VRBO that’s near the unique, rock-framed Praia da Marinha. Or book a neighboring luxury resort for your guests through Expedia.
Chelsea is a freelance writer living in San Francisco, specializing in lifestyle and travel. When she can't get on a plane herself to visit somewhere obscure (Montenegro anyone?), she's training her sweet puppy and taking visitors to wine country with her fiancé. She loves being able to share ideas and stories proving that doing good and having fun can go hand in hand.