5 Under-the-Radar Beach Destinations
It’s no wonder so many couples choose beach destinations to exchange their wedding vows: Coastlines provide a picturesque backdrop and the lull of waves lends a natural soundtrack. Plus, salt-tinged sea breezes and sugary soft sand always make for nice amenities.
While beach weddings as a genre may be popular, there’s plenty of beach wedding destinations that still feel a bit undiscovered should your clients be scouting for a unique coastal ceremony.
From the stunning coves (called calas) along the coastline of Spain to beautiful barrier islands in the Atlantic Ocean, here are five lesser-known locales for beach weddings.
The Amalfi Coast and the French Riviera tend to draw throngs of crowds to Europe in the summertime. But Spain’s islands and coastal stretches? Your clients will love them so much they’ll want to marry on these scene-stealing beaches, which also happen to be far less crowded than other European hotspots.
Marbella is located along Costa del Sol, a glitzy stretch of Southern Spain where azure blue waters meet the commanding Sierra Blanca Mountains and yachts bob in marinas. The region is known for its pristine beaches, world-class golf courses and a charming Old Town with cobbled streets, ancient stone walls and colorful doors.
Couples can find Andalusian charm at its finest at Kempinski Hotel Bahia Marbella Estepona. The luxury resort looks out at the Mediterranean Sea and venues are surrounded by lush gardens. The resort’s culinary team can curate menus with fine cuts of meat and fresh seafood, and the events staff can coordinate with wedding planners to arrange for entertainment such as live music or dance performances. For post-wedding relaxation and siestas, the wedding party and guests can lounge on Balinese beds at the resort’s Spiler Beach Club.
Another Spanish wedding destination is just east of mainland Spain. Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands and considered by many to be the crown jewel. The island has so many landscapes—a mountainous interior, coastal coves and cliffs, caves—you’d be hard-pressed to see them all in one trip. But for a good geographic sampler, the Cap Vermeil Grand Hotel represents the island’s beauty well. The resort is located on Mallorca’s East coast overlooking the lush Canyamel Valley and the historical area of Cap Vermell and is five minutes from the beach. The luxury resort’s architecture and landscape reflect Majorcan hilltop villages, meticulously built with hand-carved stones.
Cap Vermell Grand Hotel’s venues showcase the region’s beauty, too, with an outdoor terrace surrounded by manicured gardens that peer out at the valley and Mediterranean Sea, plus another terrace surrounded by olive trees and a cobblestone courtyard with a central fountain. The luxury resort also has an elegant 2,422 square-foot Park Ballroom.
When it comes to under-the-radar romance destinations, Bodrum, Turkey is bidding for the attention of couples looking for a postcard-perfect wedding destination. This flawless stretch of the Turkish Riviera is located across the sea from the Greek isle of Koshas a little bit of everything from a medieval castle, to glimmering beaches and scenic mountains.
Take it all in at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay Bodrum which bills itself as being in “the land of the eternal blue.” The resort is positioned on the cliffs overlooking Barbados Bay and is fronted by the bright blue Aegean Sea. Mother Nature provides the color palette for weddings in Bodrum—green hills, blue skies and even bright blue waters.
Couples can say “I do” on a secluded, private beach with the Aegean Sea in the backdrop and gentle waves curling at the shore. Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay Bodrum’s infinity pool is a stunning backdrop for photos, especially during the golden hour when the sun looks like a glowing orb plunging into the sea.
More than 100 miles of coastline trace the state of Georgia, and the Peach State includes 15 barrier islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Two of those islands—Jekyll and Sea—are reachable by car, which means that they feel a world away, yet are easily accessible to out-of-town wedding guests.
On Jekyll Island, live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and the sunsets are so spectacular they draw rounds of applause during nightly boardwalk rituals. The 5,500-acre island was once a retreat for the country’s wealthiest families—the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, and Vanderbilts to name drop a few. Today, gilded age glamour melds with modern luxury at Jekyll Island Club Resort, which has several jaw-dropping wedding venues. Take the Italian Renaissance-style Crane Cottage that comes with views of the Jekyll River and a sunken garden; the Riverfront Lawn with a canopy of oaks; and the intimate Ocean Club venue. For couples that want a beachfront wedding, the Beach Pavilion provides chairs in the sand and a gorgeous setting for nuptials. Leading up to the big day, wedding guests can learn about the island’s history, play rounds of croquet on the manicured lawns and listen to live music while sipping on cocktails at The Wharf.
Another breathtaking wedding destination in Georgia is Sea Island, which, like Jekyll, is a part of the Golden Isles on the southeastern coast of Georgia. Sea island offers a secluded stay, with five miles of private beaches, plus championship golf courses and tidal marshes inhabited by dolphins and shorebirds.
Wedding venues on Sea Island look as though they’re straight out of a fairytale. At The Cloister at Sea Island, couples have several venue options including the opulent Cloister Ballroom and Patio with a decorative wooden ceiling and ornate chandeliers, a beautiful chapel with stained-glass windows and Black Banks Terrace, which has views of the marsh and river, a dramatic curving staircase perfect for photos, fountains and views of the Mediterranean-style Cloister. For a memorable reception on the water, couples can also book the Sea Island Explorer, which draws comparisons to classic yachts from the 1930s.
The Lodge at Sea Island is a boutique hotel with sought-after wedding venues that are a great fit for couples looking for a quintessential Southern wedding. For example, the Avenue of the Oaks is enchanting with centuries-old live oak trees festooned with Spanish moss, providing a lane of dappled shade. Or, for a rehearsal dinner, the Lodge Wine Cellar has an exposed brick staircase, bottle-lined chamber and candles providing a dim glow.
A teeny-tiny island and the northernmost town on the Outer Banks, Duck packs a lot of charm per square mile. (In case you're curious, the town’s name comes from the popularity of duck hunting in the sounds).
Sanderling Resort is an icon on this seven-mile stretch of sand, and its set between the ocean and the sound, so guests from the top floor have spectacular water views no matter from both sides. Discover magical matrimony at the resort’s wedding venues, which includes private beach access for a waterfront wedding, with the waves lapping in the background. More venues include the Event House and Deck that was renovated in 2019 and is a great spot for cocktails, dinner, dancing and guests can play lawn games or gather around the firepit. Ocean breezes, of course, are complimentary.
Hilton Head is a charmer with its picturesque red-and-white lighthouse, pristine 12-mile stretch of sand on the Atlantic, and forested parks. Those coming to the Lowcountry for weddings will want to extend their stays so they can book tee times at some of the island’s famed courses or hit the water for dolphin-spotting tours.
At the Sea Pines Resort, couples will find wedding day bliss at a number of venues like on the emerald 18th lawn of the Harbour Town Golf Links that overlooks the Calibogue Sound and has views of Harbour Town and its iconic lighthouse. Other options include the Sea Pines Beach, a centuries-old, moss-draped Liberty Oak, as well as elegant indoor spaces.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island has several idyllic wedding venues as well, and is equipped to handle events big and small, including an elegant ballroom and a Mid-Island Lawn surrounded by tropical gardens and a lagoon that’s ideal for intimate weddings or cocktail hours. The Beach Pavillion has beautiful views in every direction, with a picturesque bridge over the lagoon an ideal location between lush grounds and the coastline. There’s also an oyster coast deck with retractable glass walls. The Shipyard Beach Club is an oceanfront deck with views of the Atlantic Ocean and the island’s sandy beaches.