Planning a wedding and unsure of the best option for you and your partner? Many couples choose to elope because it feels more personal and intimate than throwing a wedding, which can sometimes amount to focusing more on entertaining others rather than on nurturing the relationship. Eloping is also typically cheaper than throwing a traditional wedding; although the plane tickets which are often part of elopement might seem expensive, it is still often far more affordable than a wedding complete with food, a venue, and party favors for everyone you’ve ever met and their kids.
If you think you might be interested in eloping, these amazing elopement destinations are sure to ignite your imagination. Allow yourself to dream a little as you read through this list of our top ten favorite elopement destinations. One of these ideas just might become a reality for you.
- Koh Lipe, Thailand
Koh Lipe is one of the romantic, luxurious, and downright stunning places we could find. It’s a remote island in Thailand’s deep south and getting there requires quite the trek (at least two flights, a van ride, and a boat ride) but it’s well worth the effort. Why?
For starters, the water in Koh Lipe looks like someone used a really striking Instagram filter on it. You have to constantly look around and wonder “wait is this a backdrop?!” (spoiler alert: it’s real). When you’re outside the water, it appears as a deep, vivid turquoise blue. And if you actually go into the water during “green season” (~January-March), the water appears to be a brilliant shade of emerald green. For divers and snorkelers, a very large percentage of the world’s tropical fish species can be found under the surface–and jewel-toned pink, purple, and green soft corals make parts of the underwater landscape appear like a world made of crystals.
Above: Sunrise Beach on Koh Lipe. Yes, the water is really that color. Image by author.
Koh Lipe is also famous for its numerous luxury resorts, where affluent tourists from Bangkok come on weekend getaways. Luckily, the US dollar is very strong compared to the Thai Baht, so the luxury that can be enjoyed on Koh Lipe is about the same price as a cheap hotel in the good ol’ USA. Nicknamed ‘the Maldives of Thailand’, Koh Lipe offers a similar standard of natural beauty at a much more affordable rate.
- Wanaka, New Zealand
You’ve probably heard of Queenstown, New Zealand’s premier winter sports and adrenaline junkie destination…but have you heard of it’s hip up-and-coming cousin, Wanaka? Wanaka is still small and quiet enough to be more of a chilled out destination than Queenstown, but it boasts the same gorgeous landscapes unique to New Zealand’s south island, it feels more community-centric than Queenstown, and it still has plenty of accommodation, restaurant, and entertainment options.
Above: Lake Wanaka landscape. Image author unlisted; taken from Rawpixel free stock images.
We think Wanaka is ideal for elopers who really want to get away to somewhere far (from everything!) and whose personalities are characterized by a laid-back attitude coupled with a lust for adventure. Nearby Wanaka, you can bungee jump, go off-roading, horse riding, or canyoning. Plus, you can visit the world’s highest waterfall–does that not seem like the perfect post-wedding activity?
- Stintino, Sardinia
Deep in the Tyrrhenian part of the Mediterranean sea, you will find the Italian island of Sardinia. Here you’ll gaze out at turquoise blue water reminiscent of the Caribbean, but with a European flair. Stintino is the perfect destination for elopers who want to visit somewhere exotic, yet developed and somewhat predictable in terms of creature comforts, food, and customer service. Windsurfs can be rented by the hour directly on the beach, La Peloza (one of Europe’s best and most famous beaches) so that you can blow off some steam (pun intended) if parts of the elopement process prove stressful.
Above: A village near Palau, Sardinia. Image by Manuel Bierbauer. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.
- Pokhara, Nepal
Pokhara, Nepal is an idyllic mountain village located smack dab in the center of Nepal, surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. As such, Pokhara is a jumping off point for many of the world’s most famous and awe-inspiring treks, such as the Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, Poon Hill, and more; this makes it ideal for adventurous and fitness-minded elopers. There’s nothing else quite like sealing the deal with the mountains as your witness, and then going for a Himalayan hike afterwards.
Above: Fewa Tal lake in Pokhara, Nepal. Image by author.
The town is built around the shore of a beautiful lake surrounded by hills, and just outside of the “city” you will find picturesque local villages among the rice terraces, Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, a world peace pagoda with a serene lookout point, and local arts and crafts galore.
It also has the advantage of being located in one of the most budget-friendly countries in the world. Pokhara is teeming with lakeview accommodations and restaurants, and you’re going to have real trouble spending that much money there no matter how fancy your hotel and no matter how many delicious momos you manage to eat in one sitting.
- Chefchaouen, Morocco
Morocco’s famous “blue city” offers one of the most stunning backdrops for post-elopement photos. It’s also an excellent place to escape to; if you’re eloping, you probably want to feel like you’re in a whole new world alone with your beloved. In that case, Chefchaouen is perfect not only for its color but also for its North African culture with an Arabian flair. Elopers craving novelty and unfamiliarity will surely meet their match in Chefchaouen.
Above: Chefchaouen, Morocco. Image by Diego Bermudez; taken from Behance.
Before or after the wedding, couples can get lost in the souk (big local market), wander any of the smaller bazaars and discover traditional spices and street foods, enjoy a romantic view from the Spanish mosque, or decompress by getting a scrub and a massage at the Hammam (Moroccan bathhouse) (Bil, 2022).
The island of Mauritius is renowned as one of the most romantic getaways in the world. It’s even harder to get to than remote Koh Lipe (above), but eloping in Mauritius has its advantages. Many island destinations as beautiful as Mauritius just don’t have much to do outside of resort-hopping, water sports, and taking couple-y photos with romantic-looking backdrops.
Above: An aerial view near Mauritius. Photo by Dominik Ruhl. Taken from Pexels.
While Mauritius is indeed just as romantic as any tropical island, it also offers one of the most diverse and unique cultures in the world. It’s a convergence of French, Indian, African, and Asian cultures–which is reflected in the food and in the distinctive makeup of the people living there (Menon, 2017). Mauritius’ eclectic mix of people has not led to much conflict, as one might imagine, but instead to a strong sense of national pride (Countries and Their Cultures, 2022).
Anyone with an interest in the world’s cultures (diverse couples, we’re looking at you!) might find Mauritius an excellent place to elope. After the wedding, eloping couples can enjoy Mauritius’ delectable fusion cuisine, attend one of the many festivals related to the holidays of the cultures which inhabit Mauritius, or see a traditional Sega dance (Menon, 2017). The diversity of Mauritius can inspire newlyweds by reminding them to love and accept each other as individuals, despite all differences, just as the people of Mauritius do for one another. Now that’s starting the marriage off on the right foot.
- Cusco, Peru
Those who choose to elope in Cusco, Peru can get lost in the highlands and beautiful hills surrounding the city and marvel at the architectural wonderland that is Cusco. Cusco is also ideal for introspective and spiritual couples; it’s a part of the Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrada) region of Peru, which is famous for offering many introspective and healing-based workshops, rituals, and events. Couples can utilize these opportunities as a way to deepen and strengthen their connections prior to or right after marriage.
Cusco is also a lot cooler than the other destinations on this list. If you want to elope but heat just isn’t your thing, you’ll be relieved to know that the temperature in Cusco is in the 50’s pretty much all year round.
Above: Cusco, Peru. Image by Julia Volk. Taken from Pexels.
- Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Bet you’ve never heard of Little Corn Island! This is a perfect elopement destination for anyone whose idea of the perfect wedding involves being somewhere truly remote, quiet, secluded, and picturesque. Some couples dream of eloping specifically because they feel their weddings will feel more meaningful if they’re able to truly disconnect from everything and everyone and focus on each other. This little tropical paradise provides the ideal setting for this kind of elopement.
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua is visited by far fewer tourists than its neighbor Big Corn Island, which is itself very remote and off the beaten path. It still truly has that sleepy island feeling untouched by mass tourism, yet it also still has enough amenities that can cater to visitors and make them feel comfortable. If you want to be entertained, excited, and stimulated, Little Corn might not be the right elopement destination for you–but if you want a quiet escape brimming with romance, look no further.
Above: Little Corn Island. Photo by Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.
- Dahab, Egypt
Although Egypt is quite far away, Dahab offers an excellent bang for your buck alongside world-class desert and undersea scenery. Situated on the shore of the Red Sea with the desert as its backdrop, Dahab is the Middle East/North Africa at its finest. We chose Dahab as our #2 elopement destination because there are few things more romantic than sitting together on a cool desert evening and looking up at the vast expanse of desert stars above you–or better yet, choosing to say your vows underneath them.
Dahab has a good climate all year round, and water warm enough for snorkeling and scuba diving for most of the year. There are also the options to go hiking in the boundless desert, ride camels, and sample Egypt’s aromatic middle eastern cuisine. You might even make the trip to see the pyramids of Giza.
The dollar to Egyptian pound conversion rate is very favorable, which means that money is unlikely to be a huge concern during an elopement in Egypt. Plus, Dahab is close enough to Europe, Asia, and the rest of the Middle East that a honeymoon to any of these regions after the ceremony could be well within reach.
Above: Camel trip near Dahab, Egypt. Image by Noha Fawzy. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.
- Bacalar, Mexico
And the number one spot goes to…the lagoon of seven colors, Bacalar, Mexico! We chose this special place for a number of reasons: For one thing, yes, the lake really is seven different colors in different places. It’s an absolutely magical and otherworldly backdrop for your destination elopement. For another thing, it’s not too far from home if you live in the USA–getting there is affordable and being there is affordable, yet it’s still different enough to make you feel like you’re very far away. Additionally, Bacalar has a little bit of everything. It’s quiet, but not too quiet. It’s in nature, but not too rustic. It’s in a slightly less developed foreign country (Mexico), yet in one of the most developed parts of that country (Quintana Roo).
Bacalar Lake. Image by Rafael Saldaña. Taken from Wikimedia Commons.
When you’re not too busy getting married, you can also relax by the lake or go sailing, visit nearby ancient Mayan ruins, or explore local Mexican/Mayan culture and cuisine.
Now that we’ve got you all excited about these alluring elopement destinations, let’s talk logistics. Although eloping is in many ways simpler than having a more traditional wedding, there are still quite a few things you’ll need to consider in order to ensure a smooth experience. For example:
-Legality: can you get legally married in your chosen destination? How hard is it? Do you need to be there for some time first? If the legality of eloping in a place that speaks to your soul proves too complicated, consider doing your legal marriage in the USA and then a more meaningful symbolic ceremony once you reach your destination.
-Visas: Do you need one? Is your passport valid? How can you apply for the visa? What documents will you need in order to apply, and what documents will you need to bring with you?
–COVID travel restrictions: Do you need a vaccination certificate, recent PCR test, or rapid antigen test in order to enter the country? Is there any extra COVID-related documentation necessary prior to travel?
-Outfits you want to take photos in: In addition to planning out the usual outfits you’d take on vacation, think particularly about which outfits you’d like to be photographed in pre- and post- wedding.
–Prenup: One of the great things about eloping is that since it generally takes less planning than a traditional wedding, you have more time to think about the important relationship-related stuff–like your prenup. Make sure you don’t leave your prenup until the last minute; you’ll want to allocate plenty of time to really feeling into what you want from it. A prenup is a powerful marriage planning tool that can help you decide on your financial roles, dreams, and expectations for the future. Just as you might want to elope in order to be intentional about nurturing your connection instead of entertaining others, getting a prenup helps you start off your marriage with extra intentionality as well.
Bil, C. 2022. 12 Best Things to do in Chefchaouen, the Blue City of Morocco. Retrieved from: https://www.journalofnomads.com/things-to-do-chefchaouen-morocco-blue-city/
Countries and Their Cultures. 2022. Mauritius. Retrieved from: https://www.everyculture.com/Ma-Ni/Mauritius.html#:~:text=The%20people%20of%20Mauritius%20are,a%20nationalized%20sense%20of%20pride.
Menon, S. 2017. 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Mauritius At Least Once. Retrieved from: https://theculturetrip.com/africa/mauritius/articles/10-reasons-why-you-should-visit-mauritius-at-least-once/
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]