It’s been wedding season in my social circle, recently, and I thought I’d write something in the spirit of all the festivities which can also be of some practical use to my fellow Wayfarers. Honeymoons are an important retreat and bonding period for a couple after the intensity of wedding preparations. They’re an excellent bonding exercise to nurture love and intimacy and can often create some of the most valuable memories in you and your spouse’s lifetime.
Honeymoons chosen by couples come in all different shapes and sizes. Some people prefer simple local getaways, some like action-packed holidays and others like more slow-paced and peaceful surroundings where they can relax, fully occupied by one another’s company.
The following are ten honeymoon destination suggestions which include useful booking tips, and also take into consideration comfort and practicality for the Muslim traveller. I’ve tried to include options for a diverse range of preferences and budgets. As always, it’s good to check travel safety alerts and undertake a good amount of research before making any decisions.
This is a very popular option for people who are recently married. Let’s acknowledge that our priority when travelling is to fulfil what is Fardh (obligatory) upon us, and Hajj is one of the five pillars of faith. What better a way to begin a new life together, than to undertake a journey together to the Holy Lands, cleanse yourselves spiritually and seek the blessings of your Creator for your marriage? Being tested by the challenges that come along with pilgrimage can be a way to foster strength and resilience in your marriage and learn about one another during this unique journey.
Bookings for Hajj are best made through local mosques and agents, as online information is too location-specific to best summarise. One Umrah trip I have always been interested in joining is the Sacred Caravan Umrah program. This group, run by an organisation in the US, is led by esteemed scholars popular in the west such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, or as in 2016’s program, Dr Umar Faruq.
2. Bed and Breakfast, the local retreat
This really is the ideal honeymoon solution. Simple to organise, cost effective, and sentimental. If you live in a big city, chances are that there are many escapes to the countryside you can organise. In my own hometown of Sydney, I am spoiled for choice in this regard. There is the vast natural beauty, cool mountain air and quaint boutiques to enjoy in the Blue Mountains, a two hour drive west of Sydney. Then there are the luscious Southern Highlands, and the pristine seascapes of the Central and South coasts of New South Wales. There’s something just incredibly comforting about a peaceful road trip into the countryside with your new life partner. A good quality Bed and Breakfast deal which you can find all over the world, tested and reviewed on Airbnb, would be a well-deserved retreat from the stress of planning a wedding.
Malaysia is up there as a global leader in the Halal Tourism industry and honeymooning couples will find that their needs are excellently catered for in this Muslim-majority country. Malaysia is a very safe choice for a honeymoon for those feeling indecisive. You have the perfect combination of bustling metropolises, relaxing island getaways and also some of the most fascinating natural landmarks and wildlife. From Mount Kinabalu to Penang Island to the wonderful culinary and shopping hub of KL, the diversity of honeymoon experiences makes Malaysia a very popular destination for Muslim couples. Part of my own honeymoon was spent in Malaysia. I can personally recommend Langkawi for a peaceful island getaway, which has many resort options often opted by Muslim couples. We stayed at the Langkawi Lagoon resort on a stilt cabin overlooking the vast sea surrounding the Island, and our highlight of the trip was the island-hopping tour offered by many tour outlets on the island. We also enjoyed visiting the historical port city of Melaka, which has heritage listed monuments to explore and has a more laid back pace than Kuala Lumpur. KL itself also hosts enough for a couple to be entertained and relaxed for a honeymoon. The food is fresh, flavoursome and halal isn’t an issue to find at all. For a tranquil escape from the KL City Centre, you may wish to stay at a hotel recommended to me by a Malay friend of mine. It’s the Majestic Hotel situated in Bangsar, about a 7-10 minute drive to KL City Centre. The hotel has been built with an open-living design and is abundant in natural light, greenery and affordable rates per night. In KL, attractions such as the Islamic Art Museum, Masjid Negara and the Petronas Towers are all easily accessible and worth exploring. I used cuti.my, a Malay travel site, to book my Langkawi package. I found it very useful with plenty of package deals on offer across the country.
Turkey is another very popular and obvious choice of a honeymoon destination for Muslim couples, especially for those residing in Europe. This culture-rich Mediterranean country is full of endless possibilities. The city of Istanbul boasts the perfect romantic setting for a look back into one of Islam’s most magnificent civilisations as well as one of the most vibrant emerging economies in the Muslim world of today. Istanbul’s timeless landmarks of the Bosphorus river, Hagia Sofia, Sultan Ahmet Camii, and the iconic Grand Bazar are all worth the wide tourist acclaim. Istanbul’s landmarks promise to amaze, inspire and delight those longing to connect with Islam’s prized Ottoman history. In order to escape the city rush of places like Taskim, try finding yourselves some spiritual solace in the religious community of the Çarşamba quarter in the Fatih district of Istanbul. I recently visited their Wednesday Pazaar and was treated with local hospitality and excellent deals on clothing. Although Istanbul itself is worth spending a week alone in, the country is most vast and full of other amazing honeymoon Inclusions. Be enchanted by the Seljuk architecture in the resting place of the great Mevlana Jalal Uddin Rumi, Konya. Visit the Tekke of a Sufi order in Bursa. Rejuvenate yourselves under the warm Turkish sun on a beach in Antalya or Bodrum. Take a Hot Air Balloon ride over the High Plateau of Cappadocia.
Halalbooking is an excellent booking service directed at Muslims and prides itself for offering accommodation options tailored to Muslim preferences. These preferences include private or gender-segregated swimming facilities, halal food and drinks and Muslim family-friendly environments. They are a leading online booking service contributing to the rapid improvement of halal travel options for the Muslim market. Halalbooking has abundant accommodation options, especially for Turkey, with an impressive range of resorts, city hotels and villas.
5. New Zealand
A picturesque adventure and holiday destination, which is unlikely to disappoint. A short journey for those in Australia, South East Asia or the Pacific, New Zealand boasts some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscape attractions and a proud and rich indigenous Maori culture which we have much to learn from. New Zealand offers active volcanos, island sanctuaries, the highly rated Lord of the Rings tour, glacial valleys, National Parks and the untouched wilderness of the South Island. New Zealand has special value for a honeymooning couple as it is full of quaint towns and villages, where you will find a wealth of restful places to stay and explore. I spoke to my friend, Diani, who honeymooned in New Zealand, and she was kind to share some travel tips. She mentioned that she would recommend spending more time in Mount Cook National Park than in Christchurch and she also emphasised the beauty of all the drives in between towns which means a New Zealand honeymoon should really be a road trip honeymoon if possible! Diani also shared some information that would be useful for Muslim couples, such as the difficulty in finding halal food in many destinations in New Zealand. In smaller towns, many restaurants are pub settings, and one may have to do some prior research and preparation for food and prayer locations. She also recommended spending less time in Queenstown, which is a bit of a party town, but said that small towns nearby are definitely worth visiting such as Milford Sounds and Arrowtown.
When travelling to non-muslim countries where facilities for Muslims can be scarcer, I do suggest exploring options of halal tour operators that offer services in the area. I did some research and found that Halal Tour NZ offer package and customised halal tours and there is also Serendipity Tailormade who offer impressive packages as well as the choice to design your own trip as well. I also found on the Crescent rating guide for New Zealand, the Ad-deen mosque which is quite cool because it caters especially for Muslim travellers journeying across the main highway, State Highway 1, North Island. It is actually currently the highest mosque in New Zealand, situated amongst the mountains and standing 440m above sea level. The mosque also offers a kitchen for tourists to cook halal meals.
6. Spain & Morocco
I thought it would be a good idea to group these two destinations together, especially for Muslim couples. The idea of a romantic honeymoon exploring the highly celebrated Islamic legacy of Andalucia, and accompanied by a visit to Andalucia’s Moorish roots in Morocco, is too exciting not to feature. Of all the places I have ever travelled, Southern Spain has to be the most beautiful places on earth for me, without doubt. The landscapes including the snow tipped Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the gorgeous drives past pristine beaches, sunflower fields and various orchards was just out of this world for me. Summer, of course, would be the most ideal timing to honeymoon in these locations, but do be prepared for how searing it can get. Appreciating the magnificence and intrigue of the historic Alhambra in Granada, Medina Azahara closeby, The Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Alcazar Palace of Seville will be best achieved by reading up on the history of Islamic Spain or joining an Islamic Tour. Even if you are interested in a more relaxed honeymoon in this location, you will find the options quite plentiful. I stayed at the Casa Puerta in the small town of Orgiva, in Andalucia. It was an incredibly aesthetic location, and there’s a lovely organic halal restaurant run by Brother Kasim on the main street.
You can take a ferry from Tarifa or Algericas in Spain to Tangiers to reach Morocco. Once in Morocco, be mesmerised by the multitude of attractions and accommodation options it has to offer. Some of the most commonly visited destinations in Morocco include the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech, Fez, Chefchaouen, and the seaside village of Essaouira. The traditional guesthouses, or Riads, would be ideal for honeymooners to stay in, as well as the very many resort options available. Halal food, of course would not be a worry, and you will be spoiled for choice of which historical mosque to offer your prayers in. You will find an increasing amount of halal tour agencies covering both Spain and Morocco, the one company I can very positively vouch for is Andalucian Routes. Andalucian Routes offer tailor made tours that can craft the honeymoon of your choice.
7. The Maldives
If a serene, uncomplicated island getaway is your kind of honeymoon, look no further. The Maldives is the honeymoon destination of your dreams. This Muslim archipelago comprising of almost 1200 islands is renowned for its azure blue pristine beaches, glorious white sand with beauty unparalleled arguably anywhere on earth. The tourism industry of the nation has traditionally catered to guests staying in resort-style accommodation, of which the options are numerous. With so many islands and styles of resorts to choose from, you won’t find it too hard to enjoy a room without the perfect seascape views or your own private pool or secluded beach access. The Island has also since opened up to independent travellers and backpackers, so if you can’t afford the resorts, you should be able to find more budget-friendly hotels. As Muslims count for 99% of the population, you will find your needs are catered for and that you will find the opportunity to explore the country’s unique Islamic culture. An interesting piece of history is that the famed Muslim traveller, Ibn Battuta, visited the Maldives and served as a Qadi for some time, and even married into local elite. For those interested in water-activities, the Maldives hosts a fascinating assortment of tropical marine life in its warm and pleasant waters. You can find a good deal on a halal atmosphere resort through Halalbooking, excellent packages through Serendipity travel and those with a higher-end budget can check out Luxury Halal Travel.
Kenya, with its epic landscapes, breathtaking wildlife and its rich culture would be a unique and unforgettable honeymoon. Most tourists will try to fit in a camping safari in the famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, with its enchanting Acacia trees and wilderness. The Big 5 that campers will hope to view on this safari are the lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino. Other National Parks worth exploring in the country include both East and West Tsavo National park as well as the Nairobi National Park. Many tourists and will also be equally attracted by Kenya’s coastline, which stretches along the vast Indian Ocean. There are many tourist destinations and beach resorts available for honeymooners, with sun-rich tropical weather, islands to explore as well as beautiful coral reefs to discover, all complementing a relaxed honeymoon in the area. What I think Muslim couples would find most exciting about Kenya’s coast, is the amazing Islamic heritage of the area. More than 50% of Kenya’s Muslim population, live along Kenya’s scenic coast, giving the area a unique Muslim culture to experience. The Muslim population mainly grew as a result of the migration of Arab ocean traders as far back as the 8th century. The busy port city of Mombasa would be a good base point, with its spice markets, Old Town, beaches and historic mosques such as the Mandhry mosque. There are no Islamic tours of Kenya that I have been able to find, but you may wish to do your own research if you are interested.
I’ve been to Indonesia, and it is a place where I hold some of my fondest travel memories. The country is quite expansive, being the largest Island country in the world and hosting 34 provinces. As a result, you will be offered a very diverse choice of experiences as a honeymooner here. Arguably, the most popular honeymoon destination in Indonesia is the infamous Bali, but there are many more idyllic and romantic places to visit in this vast archipelago, each boasting a unique culture and set of attractions. Some other suggestions for places to discover here are Lombok (which I have heard is a lot less touristy, Muslim-friendly and more peaceful than Bali), Surabaya, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Borneo and one of the many enchanting Riau Islands. One place I can certainly recommend including is Yogyakarta, located on the Island of Java. It’s one of the biggest cities in Indonesia, but is noticeably more peaceful than the bustling Jakarta. Yogyakarta also has a very vibrant culture, and its Buddhist history can best be observed through the fascinating Borobodur temple. Indonesia also has an intriguing Islamic history and culture, the current population comprising 90% Muslim. The manner in which Islam was adopted and melded into the existing culture is something we can all learn from. There is a wealth of information available about travelling around Indonesia, which was compiled for this feature on the HalalTrip website.
There are also plenty of halal tours available through various vendors, but as it’s a Muslim majority country, with many people able to speak English, you would really find it easy to organise and tour through Indonesia independently for your honeymoon. If a simple resort getaway is your idea, then a good friend has raved about the Qunci Villas resort in Lombok.
10. Costa Rica
A lot of my information and recommendations for honeymooning in Costa Rica is thanks to Qurrat Ansari (who, by the way, is a very talented photographer. Check her out here). As far as wanting to get a taste of Central America is concerned, Costa Rica is definitely a choice location. It may be more achievable a honeymoon destination for our North American readers, for whom Costa Rica is much more easily accessed. Costa Rica is a leader in the world in terms of conservation and ecotourism, and for this reason, even though it may not be a Muslim country or have much Islamic history, ranks well, in my opinion, for a Muslim honeymoon destination. Its culture of ‘pura vida’ (pure like) embodies a connection to the fitra and a pious concern for keeping the sacred, protected. This tropical paradise hosts 5% of the world’s biodiversity, which is incredible, since it only takes up 0.1% of the global landmass. The name “Rich Coast” seems very fitting. In terms of accommodation, Roughguides has an awesome list of eco-lodges around the country for those who want to make the most of the suite of accommodation options that will have minimal impact presence, as well as the chance to get into the thick of the natural reserves. Some of the activities to include in your itinerary can be the nation’s many famous beaches, bike tours as well as National Parks such as Arenal Volcano National Park, Corcovado National Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Park.
On Qurrat’s honeymoon there, she stayed near a small town called Jaco, at the Villa Caletas. The second town she visited was near Arenal, close to the popular destination, the Volcano Arenal. Her hotel there was Arenal Kioro. Some of the inclusions of her trip were Jaco Beach, Manuel Antonio National Park, La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the La Fortuna Waterfalls. Qurrat recommends using a boutique vacation planner such as Costa Rican Vacations, as they will take all the hard work out of planning your activities, transport and accommodation, within the budget you specify. She also recommends the multitude of outdoor activities such as ziplining and hiking. In response to my question of whether Costa Rica is a suitable honeymoon destination for Muslim travellers, Qurrat answered yes, and explained that locals were very friendly and welcoming; however halal food was not readily available. For this reason, honeymooners would need to prepare for a diet of seafood or vegetarian options throughout their trip, which in my opinion, is a small sacrifice to make when you get to experience a slice of paradise!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading through some of my ideas for Honeymoon destinations for Muslim Couples. Have you honeymooned in any of the places recommended here? If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts and tips. If you haven’t, where else would you recommend as a good honeymoon destination for Muslim couples?