My family planned a Christmas vacation to New Zealand (more to come on that!) so Garner and I decided to add on our honeymoon and go somewhere relatively nearby.
We thought about Fiji and Tahiti, but ultimately landed on the Cook Islands. They are more remote and from what we could tell, a little less "touristy."
We stayed at Te Manava, a resort of villas right on the beach. We had a private pool in the backyard and the beach in the front yard. The villa also gave us access to Pacific Resort down the street - they had restaurants, another pool and beach, workout room, etc. It was wonderful having all these activities at the tip of our fingers, while also giving us our own space.
When we checked in they had a bottle of wine ready for us that said "Happy Honeymoon, Paige and Michael!" If you didn't know, Michael is Garner's first name. We corrected Tutu, the kind woman who works at the first desk, but he somehow remained "Michael" for the duration of the trip. Later in the week when I'd ask Tutu or Bianca (the terrific host we chatted with every night at Happy Hour) about Garner, they were so confused... they probably wondered why I didn't know my own husband's name!
It took us a few days to actually relax. Between wedding planning and working full-time, it took a while for our brains to switch "off" and go into vacation mode. I'd be laying on the beach for five minutes, then look at Garner and say "OK let's go do something."
We relaxed and destressed with couples massages and yummy dinners, but we also adventured around the island - we scuba dived (getting my license was my wedding gift to Garner!), did a private quad-bike tour of the mountain, attended a cultural over-water show, and explored the Muri markets at night. Our favorite food included: the local dishes at the markets, the $5 happy hour pineapple martinis at the Barefoot Bar, and the fresh Mahi Mahi sandwiches at The Mooring (we went there twice in one day).
One thing that took a while to get used to was driving on the right side of the road. We rented a tiny Toyota and I got in on the left side EVERY time.. only to realize that was the passenger seat and I was supposed to be driving. Another thing was that there was ZERO cell reception or wifi available on the island... I paid $30 one day to get wifi so that we could text our families that we were safe. Other than that, we truly were "off the grid" and enjoying each other's company - no Instagram stories, no work emails, just us.
We had a lovely time and were really glad we decided to wait 6 weeks after the wedding to take our Honeymoon. Directly after the wedding, we stayed in Sonoma (where we got married) for two nights - enough time to unwind and reflect on the BEST day. But giving us those 6 weeks allowed us time to actually research Cook Islands, plan excursions and gave us something to look forward to once the post-wedding blues set in.
We'd highly recommend visiting the Cook Islands if you're ever near the South Pacific! We'll be posting more soon about our continued adventures in New Zealand.