It’s finally time to spill the tea on my honeymoon!
Nick and I got married on October 30th, 2021 and left on our honeymoon a month after. Originally, the plan was to go to Bora Bora + New Zealand, but due to the pandemic – we were unable to head to New Zealand, so we started looking into other options.
Why we decided on Dubai + the Maldives: The Maldives was a bucket list spot for us and is quite far from LA. There is really no better time than your honeymoon to go somewhere far. Our plan was to do one week of adventure/sightseeing and one week of pure relaxation. Dubai is not far from Maldives (3 hour flight) and was open to tourism during the pandemic. It was also a good time to travel weather wise. After a lot of research, we decided it would be a great complement to the Maldives for our honeymoon and we are beyond glad we went.
Los Angeles to Dubai is 17 hours and it’s another 3.5 hours from Dubai to the Maldives. Our first stop was Dubai and we flew Emirates the entire trip (the ultimate airline). Flying first or business is definitely worth the hype on Emirates. The food was top notch (especially for an airline) and the A380 plane had an entire upper level dedicated to first class and business and equipped with a lounge.
DUBAI (4 days)
We heard some say you only need a couple days in Dubai, but we found it to be quite the opposite. We had a jam packed schedule and were extremely occupied. NOTE: We originally planned on making it to Abu Dhabi for a day, but due to Covid restrictions, we did not end up going. However, it was highly recommended to go and see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The dress code: While there is no dress code in Dubai, people definitely get dressed up for dinner. During the day, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear shorts, light dresses, jeans, etc. We did see people in activewear while going for a run, but wasn’t typical to see it elsewhere.
Alcohol: You can have alcohol at restaurants / hotels. You just cannot purchase any alcohol (no liquor stores).
Dune Buggy in the desert: We booked with Arabian Adventures and this was such a fun experience, taking a guided drive across the dunes in an ATV. There were also other excursions and activities, such as sandboarding available.
Ski Dubai: Located at the Mall of the Emirates (yes, you read that correctly), indoor skiing in a…mall. This was such a fun activity. While it was definitely not intense skiing, it was a must try for the experience. They have gondolas and mid-mountain chalets serving hot chocolate, penguin petting and tobogganing. I would recommend booking your ski tickets in advance. You rent all equipment there.
Hot Air Balloon: We booked through the company Balloon Adventures – and it was amazing. They picked us up before sunrise (real early, like 4am!) to bring us to the desert. We went through a brief safety tutorial – and then we were on our hot air balloon way. It was my first time in a hot air balloon, so it was especially cool to do it overlooking Dubai. After the ride is over, they serve a traditional bedouin breakfast.
Shopping: Dubai is known for their shopping, because they have LOTS of it and arguably some of the best luxury shopping in the world. The malls consist of every store you would ever want and the best part is, they’re not even crowded. We recommend visiting one of the malls before you leave. We went to both the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates.
Transportation: Getting around is quite easy and we mostly used Uber. We found the Uber’s to be a lot better and more luxurious on average than at home.
Dubai is known for their amazing restaurants. It’s an international hub, so while they of course have amazing Middle Eastern cuisine, they also have cuisine from all over the world.
Scalini: This was our absolute favorite restaurant, if you have one restaurant choice choose this spot! You must try the pizza, the Truffle Cacio e Pepe and the gelato was the best we have ever tried.
Nammos: This Greek restaurant was located in the Four Seasons Jumeira. It automatically felt like we were being transported to Mykonos. While it pops off in the day time (it’s a beach club), we ended up going for dinner and loved it. This is the same restaurant as the one in Mykonos, so if you want a Greek escape, look no further.
Il Borro: Another beautiful restaurant with beautiful views serving Tuscan cuisine. It’s on the water and the food was very good.
Zuma: We didn’t end up here, but we heard it has an amazing bar scene. They have locations worldwide.
La Petite Maison: French food, great for dinner or lunch!
Atmosphere: Lunch spot at the top of the Burj Khalifa. While this can be viewed as a tourist trap (overpriced and definitely better food elsewhere in Dubai), the placement of this restaurant is everything. You must see the Burj Khalifa if you come to Dubai and you do have to pay to go to the top, however, if you dine here, you get the experience for no extra cost. The views while eating at the restaurant were so incredible.
Wild & The Moon: Vegan spot that is great for casual, healthy food on the go. I came here twice and have actually gone before in Paris and it’s delicious.
Four Seasons Jumeirah: The most gorgeous hotel, located on the beach. It is spectacular and there are five amazing restaurants here.
St Regis Downtown Dubai: Great hotel, located right downtown. The experience and service was 5 star. We decided to stay here because we knew the rest of our trip would be more “remote”, so we wanted to be downtown. The all inclusive breakfast was amazing and we recommend going upstairs to the infinity pool.
Overall, the people in Dubai really made the experience. Not only was the service impeccable, everyone was really kind and respectful and it is extremely safe. Luxury is the name of the game here, wherever you go.
AL MAHA (3 days)
Outside of the city in Dubai, stands a luxury desert resort called Al Maha. This was a major highlight of the trip. We weren’t sure what to expect coming here, but it truly felt like a mini vacation after the packed few days in Dubai. There were so many activities on site: archery, falconry, safaris, camel riding into the sunset and of course spas and more. The service was impeccable and all rooms were “luxury tent style” villas with their own pool. There were thousands of gazelles walking around the property and we loved it. All the food and activities were all-inclusive.
One major highlight was booking the dinner in the middle of the dessert. All meals and activities were included in the nightly rate, except for this optional activity – which we would highly recommend. They dropped us off in the middle of the desert and set up a beautiful candlelit dinner. It was very cool experience to have dinner completely isolated. They then of course come pick you up once you are done.
MALDIVES (6 days).
Maldives was the dreamy escape that we were truly looking forward to all trip. It is the ultimate honeymoon destination spot. If you want unbeatable service, overwater bungalows with beautiful views and all around luxury, then the Maldives is for you.
Where you stay is the most important part, because you don’t leave the resort. We decided to stay at the Ritz Carlton Maldives, which opened just six months prior to us staying here. We also liked that the resort was a boat ride (not a flight) from the Male airport. This is also an added expense to consider (about $1000 per person for a 45 minute boat ride), but at least there’s snacks and wifi, right?
The Ritz Carlton was an absolute dream. First off, every villa gets their own butler. When I say the butlers are attentive, it’s an understatement. They give you their phone number to access them 24 hours a day. Although we definitely didn’t max out their services (they actually were upset we didn’t need them too much!) we absolutely loved our butler. They will book any reservations for you and your desired activities. Nothing is included at this resort, so you do have to pay for everything while you’re there.
The room: The room was exquisite and we loved the modern aesthetic. Each room has an infinity pool and you can hop right down from the pool to go right into snorkeling outside your room. This was hands down the most amazing snorkeling we’ve ever experienced. The room also has an indoor and outdoor shower and comes with two bikes that we frequently used.
The resort has 7 restaurants to choose from and they also allow you to eat at the sister restaurants that are a boat ride away (this one is free. You just need to hop on and it comes every hour). We loved all the restaurants and would especially recommend the Italian and Chinese. Also, Arabesque at the other hotel was amazing. We ate breakfast in the main restaurant, which was delicious. We decided to not do all you can eat, because we usually were content with oatmeal or an omelette and didn’t need to spend $100 on breakfast per person.
While it’s definitely meant for relaxing, we absolutely loved Sunrise Yoga, flyboarding and jet skiing. We also did High Tea a few times and took a sunset cruise, which was beautiful.
They also had other activities like movie night under the stars, tennis, fitness classes, and more.
In terms of COVID-19 tests, all hotels we were able to arrange it through the concierge and the Ritz Maldives had a doctors office onsite.
There are no direct flights from the Maldives to LA, so we flew back through Dubai. Since there is only one very early morning flight from Dubai to LA, we had to fly to Dubai, spend one night and travel home in the morning. The journey back was definitely intense, but nevertheless, it was all completely worth it.
We hope you enjoyed this recap and would love to hear if you are planning a trip to any of these spots soon!