Choosing a location for your destination wedding can be a daunting task. Most photographs or glossy travel brochures will highlight the crystal-clear water, golden sand beaches and enviable poolside cabanas, but how do you really tell one island from the next? An important clue for discerning LGBT travelers can come from the destinations’ culture, people and hospitality. That’s why GayDestinationWeddings.com carefully screens and hand-selects resorts and takes into account the acceptance and commitment of these destinations to host gay destination celebrations. Below we’ve compiled a few locales that we think would provide exceptional backdrops for an LGBTQ romantic event.
1. Tahiti: Known for its bright lagoons and postcard-perfect islands, Tahiti is one of the first destinations that couples think of as an ultimate tropical paradise. Though its stunning beaches and islands speak for themselves, the Tahitian people make the island all the more special and intimate. Open minded and welcoming, the Tahitians embrace visitors with music, laughter, and genuine warmth. LGBT favorites in this far-flung and exotic island include the piano bar in the heart of downtown Papeete, offering music, dancing, and fun for locals and visitors.
2. PuertoVallarta: Consistently rated as one of the friendliest towns in the world, Puerto Vallarta has made a name for itself in recent years as an off-the-beaten-path, LGBT-friendly Mexican hotspot. Charming and quaint, this Pacific hideaway is known for its magnificent mountaintop vistas and gorgeous beaches, all while exuding traditional Mexican charm. The cobblestone streets are filled with history and the city center’s “romantic zone,” with gorgeous cafes, makes it a scenic and dreamy backdrop for a wedding. With several same sex-friendly hotels to choose from (including the popular Blue Chairs Resort), Puerto Vallarta is a great option for couples looking for an authentic Mexican destination.
3. Aruba: Located in the southern Caribbean, Aruba has a reputation as one of the most gay-friendly of the Caribbean islands. With a diverse island population, Arubans are known for their open and polite attitudes, and their kindness towards visitors extends to their LGBT neighbors. Though small, this Dutch island is home to some of the world’s most renowned beaches, with supple, white sand and beautiful coral reefs. A same-sex wedding in Aruba would be memorable as its landscape is often compared to that of a tropical paradise. With nightlife galore, there are also plenty of options once the sun goes down, including gay-friendly casinos and nightclubs. Jimmy’s Place, an upbeat bar with a friendly staff and a fun crowd, is a hot spot for the LGBTQ community.
4. Curacao: This colorful city and Dutch-island territory has a World-Heritage-Protected downtown and is known as one of the top dive destinations in the world. Curacao also is also home to outstanding museums that feature the work of local artists, and of course, incredible beaches. Still, one of the best aspects of this small island is its tight-knit, but welcoming community. Curacao has the highest member rate in the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, making it the largest in the Caribbean. From gay pride parades to the Rainbow Lounge, a gathering for LGBTQ individuals to network and share stories, Curacao is refreshingly real and accepting.
5. Hawaii: With the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, the Hawaiian Islands have become a popular option for couples looking for romance and tropical luxury stateside. Oahu, the most populated of the islands, has endless outdoor activities for couples to choose from, like surfing, snorkeling, hiking and parasailing. Waikiki, one of Oahu’s most iconic beaches, has an LGBT-welcoming section known locally as Queen’s Surf Beach, making it a great location for seaside nuptials.
6. Saint Martin: This small island located in the northeast Caribbean feels much further away than the short flight from Florida would have you believe. With a quintessentially European ambiance, Saint Martin has typically consistent weather throughout the year and provides visitors with ample sunshine. The island is dually-controlled by the French and Dutch. Like other Dutch and French islands in the Caribbean, Saint Martin is home to open-minded, friendly people. The Dutch side of the island is known for its nightlife and exotic drinks, while the French side delivers glamorous shopping and stunning beaches. There are several LGBTQ establishments in Saint Martin, including nude beaches, art galleries, and clubs.
7. Cancun/Riviera Maya: With its beautiful and accessible location, friendly locals, and endless amenities, it’s easy to see the reason for Cancun’s appeal. Cancun and Riviera Maya have been steadily growing in popularity among tourists for the last 40 years, with no signs of slowing. Located along Mexico’s Southeast coast, Cancun was originally inhabited by Mayans, which is evident by the infinite ruins which are never far off. There are also miles of gorgeous beaches, an array of water sports, and authentic cuisine. Downtown Cancun is an area all LGBT travelers should experience when visiting. Upbeat and filled with high energy, there are plenty of same-sex bars and clubs (like Karamba) to dance the night away in. Cancun is the perfect destination for couples looking to have fun, while still embracing the historic and beautiful ambiance of the area.
8. Greece: Mere mention of this Mediterranean gem has many travelers envisioning the iconic blue-roofed buildings perched high on a cliff overlooking the sea. And yes, Greece really does look like the postcards. What you see in the photographs is what you get, giving the country an edge as a scenic backdrop for a wedding. With a mountainous interior and near-perfect Mediterranean climate, there are plenty of historic monuments and buildings to see while visiting. Along with its history and great views, the rich cuisine and unique beaches make it a must-see. Greece attracts many same-sex couples as there are several LGBTQ-friendly establishments throughout the country, including hotels, bars/clubs, coffee shops, beaches, sauna’s, and cinema’s.
9. Rio de Janeiro: A truly colorful and vibrant city, Rio’s people are known to be exuberant and filled with a zest for love and life. This attitude means you could expect a destination wedding here to be non-stop fun. As the second largest city in Brazil, Rio has famed landscapes and tons of cultural icons (like Christ the Redeemer) to explore. Another famous feature is Rio’s Carnival festival, the world’s largest. As for the beaches, the city lives up to its title as a surf and sunbathing mecca. As the birthplace of the Brazilian bikini, you can expect plenty of scantily-clad beachgoers, particularly on Farme de Amoedo, a famous same-sex couples beach. Near Farme de Amoedo beach is Bolsa, known for its gay bars, clubs and parades.
10. Saint Barthélemy: Better known as Saint Barth’s, this French island is one of the most exclusive Caribbean islands. Just a short flight from Puerto Rico, St. Barth’s is known as a playground for the rich and famous thanks to its plush accommodations and exclusive hotels. For discerning couples, the shopping, dining and water sports are unparalleled and offer plenty for guests to do between wedding events. There are also a number of outstanding venues to choose from, ranging from charming chapels to seaside cliffs and romantic beach setups. This island is a perfect choice for elite gay travelers who want nothing but the best on their big day.