If you’re celebrating an engagement, there’s a good chance you’ve already started thinking about your honeymoon. In fact, it’s probably the part of the wedding you’re most excited about, because after all the excitement (and stress) of the ceremony itself, a honeymoon is your chance to rediscover the person you married, and make the first memories of your new life together.
Diving honeymoons have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and for good reason — many of the most romantic destinations also boast world-class dive sites. If you’re already avid divers, indulging in a shared passion is a fantastic way to celebrate your new union. If one or both of you have yet to try diving, getting certified together is an amazing bonding experience, and one that you can look back on for the rest of your lives.
Here we’ll take a look at four top honeymoon destinations that are also famous for their dive sites.
Big Island, Hawaii
Long thought of as one of the world’s most romantic destinations, Hawaii’s Big Island offers something for everyone. Those in search of adventure will love its famous surf breaks, plunging waterfalls and soaring volcanic peaks. Those looking for a little pampering will find it aplenty in the island’s luxury resorts, most of which offer their own spas. Best of all, the Big Island has long stretches of coastline blessed with powdered-sugar sands and crystal-clear waters that serve as the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable honeymoon.
Hawaii’s volcanic origins also make for thrilling diving. The Big Island’s underwater landscape includes sheer walls, lava tubes, arches and craters, all of which provide a home for a dazzling array of marine species. Dive Au Au Crater, a submerged volcano known for hammerheads or come face to face with endangered turtles at Turtle Pinnacle. Discover the secrets of the deep with a nighttime black-water dive off the Kona coast, or sign up for a manta night dive at Keahole Point and watch as the giant rays arrive by the dozen.
The Exumas, Bahamas
There are more than 700 islands, cays and islets within the Caribbean archipelago of the Bahamas, almost all of which would make wonderful honeymoon spots. For divers, however, one of the most romantic ways to experience the Bahamas is on a liveaboard trip. You’ll fall asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping against the hull and wake up to the sight of the sun rising over a brand new dive site. Some of the best Bahamian liveaboard itineraries focus on the Exuma Cays, a group of some 365 islands in the middle of the archipelago.
The sheer number of dive sites in this part of the Bahamas is staggering, with topography that includes drop-offs, coral gardens, wrecks and pinnacles. Exumas diving is known for pelagic sightings, and in particular for the sharks that are commonly seen during high-octane drift dives in the channels that separate the scattered islands. Highlights of the liveaboard itineraries that operate in this area include the stunning Angelfish Blue Hole, the spectacular drop-off at Pillar Wall, and the 1996 wreck of the Austin Smith.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Rangiroa means ‘long sky,’ and this French Polynesian island is every bit as dreamy as it sounds. It’s the second largest atoll in the world, with a vast turquoise lagoon some 42 miles long. With just one 5-star resort and a handful of dreamy beach bungalow options, Rangiroa is the perfect destination for couples that are looking to get away from it all and revel in the simple pleasures of sand, sea and sky. It’s an ocean-lovers’ fantasy, with unlimited opportunities for diving, snorkeling and sailing.
Above all, Rangiroa is famous for its legendary dive sites, made better still by dizzying visibility that hovers around the 100-foot (30 m) mark. The outer walls of the atoll create plunging drop-offs, where encounters with pelagic species including rays, dolphins and gamefish are common, while lagoon sites offer a relaxed option for new divers. Rangiroa’s best dive sites are the two passes that connect the lagoon to the ocean, Tiputa and Avatoru. Here, strong currents rich with nutrients attract large aggregations of sharks, including silvertips, grey reefs and great hammerheads.
Ari Atoll, Maldives
Comprised of around 105 idyllic islands, the pristine white sands and slender palms of the Maldives’ Ari Atoll have graced the front pages of many magazines and honeymoon brochures. The atoll is commonly split into two sections, north and south, and each holds a profusion of beautiful resorts, many of which occupy their own private island. Most high-end resorts on Ari Atoll have their own spa and dive center, making it easy for to relax and explore in equal measure.
Ari Atoll arguably offers some of the best diving in the Maldives. Pinnacles, or thilas as they’re known locally, are a highlight of Ari Atoll diving, as are the narrow, nutrient-rich passes between the islands. These topographical features attract plenty of fascinating marine species, including hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, and of course, the mighty manta ray. There are manta-cleaning stations scattered throughout Ari Atoll, but for the best sightings, time your honeymoon to coincide with the December to April northeast monsoon.