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caribbean honeymoon - destinations

Honeymoons: Our Spin on 5 Classic Destinations

Our spins on classic honeymoons prove these five prime destinations are hot for more than one reason.

Hawaii

Dive with sharks: Assuming you never saw Jaws, you might consider getting up close and personal with a huge, 15-foot shark. After a short boat ride off Oahu's north shore, those with nerves of steel can climb inside a metal cage while sharks swim all around in chum-filled water. Spy on gray reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks, and sometimes even the mysterious hammerhead. Chicken of the sea? A half-price fare allows you to watch from the relative safety of the bow. North Shore Shark Adventures; HawaiiSharkAdventures.com.

Dine at a celebrity chef's restaurant: You'll recognize Sam Choy from his frequent appearances on the Food Network, and dinner at one of his restaurants is reason enough to make a trans-Pacific trip. Gargantuan portions (his oft-repeated motto: "Never trust a skinny chef") of fresh, local seafood are accented with complex Hawaiian influences-an amalgam of Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese, and European ingredients and techniques. (You haven't had mahimahi until you've had it wrapped in ti leaves laulau style.) His partnership with brew master David Campbell ensures that you can wash down every crunch of crab with a beer brewed on-site at Big Aloha. Just make sure you don't eat beforehand for 24 hours. We're serious. Sam Choy restaurants; SamChoy.com.

Mexico

Hit the surf: Wax up that board and get ready to hang ten. You don't need to be in the Bay Area to ride a wave-some of the world's best surfing is off the Pacific coast of Mexico, especially during the summer and winter. Learn how to longboard at one of the many surf schools dotting both coasts. ISA Mexico offers a full week of surf camp near Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo (surfing is especially great in southwestern Mexico) so you can really hone your skills. Mexico's got a distinct advantage over many other surf spots too: Most of its southwestern coastal water is so warm you don't need a wetsuit-ever. Try doing that in San Francisco. ISA Mexico; ISAMexico.com.

Soak up the culture: Tear yourself away from your posh resort and head out for a taste of Mexico. No matter what region you're in, there's something to eat or to do that you'll rave about to your friends later. If you're in the Puerto Vallarta area, take a tour through peaceful San Sebastian, an old miner's town stuck in the long-gone Colonial era. Near Mexico City, visit the Museo Frida Kahlo to view a collection of art by Mexico's most famous marrieds, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Or up your culture quotient by planning your trip during one of Mexico's many national and regional festivals: Carnaval and Day of the Dead are two of the big ones, but to read about more, check out Mexperience.com/Discover/Discover_EventsCalendar.htm.

The Caribbean

Find a view: Beachfront resorts rarely lack in the beauty department but while you're visiting your island, make sure to explore more than just the sand outside your suite. Talk to your concierge about where to find great island vantage points and about the best way to get there. In Jamaica, for instance, few tourists venture into Kingston, but high up in the hills of the Blue Mountains you'll find one of the most spectacular views on the island in one of the plushest settings in the Caribbean. Strawberry Hill, a tiny resort and spa, houses guests in plantation-style bungalows in the hills. Sit out on a balcony and watch the sun dip over the city and the ocean beyond, knowing that the Marley clan, a few miles away, may be looking at the same view. Strawberry Hill; IslandOutpost.com/StrawberryHill.

Saddle up: You may have ridden a horse before, but have you ever galloped down an empty beach or plucked perfectly ripe fruit while on a horse's back? Riding takes on new meaning when you're doing it in the Islands. No corral, few trails, and a backdrop of lush, tropical scenery make it unlike any riding you've done in the States. Even better, many stables offer the ultimate equestrian experience-a sunset ride through the water. In St. Croix at Equus stables, as long as you can sit upright, you're cleared to ride, no experience necessary. For beach ride reservations, call Equus Rides (340) 778-0933.

Florida

Go eco: While you're visiting, get involved with the wildlife. Take the Florida Aquarium's Eco-Tour out of Tampa Bay to learn more about the area's 400 bottle-nosed dolphins, or put your snorkeling equipment to good use and participate in the Great Annual Fish Count, part of a year-round program that uses volunteers to help count and classify fish. If you'd rather stay on land, Florida sea turtle preservationists are always looking for help with hatchlings-while you two lovebirds stroll the beach at night, look for baby turtles that have lost their way on their journey back to the water. See some? Don't touch anything (you need a permit), but do call the local sheriff's department. The Florida Aquarium; FLAquarium.org. The Great Annual Fish Count; FishCount.org.

Get reel: It's the perfect compromise: He gets to strap a rod to his vest and haul in sailfish, marlin, tuna-just about anything with gills-while you get to lounge, in the sun for hours, unbothered by his usual requests for shade or entertainment. You're together, doing separate things, and both blissfully happy. The water off the Florida coasts is home to some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world, and the fish flow plentifully-even for beginners. Cheer him on as he reels in the one that didn't get away. Or why not grab a rod and strut your own stuff? Check out charters and captains in your destination area at Fish4Fun.com/charters.htm.

Cruise

Map quest: Think global. Wherever you've been yearning to go, it's likely there's a relaxing ship to take you there. Want to visit Italy? Consider cruising down the coast, stopping off on your way in Greece or Croatia. Long to see the fjords of Norway, the glaciers of Alaska, or the tip of Africa? There's a cruise ship for them all that lets you see the sites while indulging in champagne at every meal if you choose. For a cruise line with a wide range of itineraries and destinations, try Princess Cruises; Princess.com.

Set sail: Instead of taking one of the mammoth, city-size cruise ships of a larger line, consider setting sail. True tall ships, powered by the wind and manned by a crew of trained sailors, are an intimate and elegant way to travel-especially when you're island hopping. Smaller ships can get into ports that the big ships can't, and you're likely to run into fewer tourists as a result. But there's no luxury lost here: Vessels such as the Star Clippers' Royal Clipper boast deluxe suites, multiple swimming pools, gourmet meals, even onboard spas. Star Clippers; StarClippers.com.

-- Liz Zack

See More: Caribbean + S. America , Hawaii, Asia + Pacific , Mexico, Baja + C. America , Honeymoon Basics