After Jeffrey Ward and his husband married in Canada, they left for a South Africa honeymoon that included Cape Town, a Kruger National Park safari, and Victoria Falls.
Ward loved it so much that he quit his job at American Airlines and eventually co-purchased African Safari Consultants, a specialty operator and parent company of Savvy Navigator, the division specializing in gay honeymoons.
Related: Best Gay Honeymoon Destinations
It’s no wonder that tourism agencies are reaching out to the LGBT sector: honeymoons have become a $12 billion industry in America. The historic Supreme Court overturning of DOMA in June 2013 coincided with simultaneous gay marriage victories in France, the United Kingdom, and Brazil, creating a boomlet of honeymoon spending among this pink dual-income, no-kids demographic.
“It seems that with each legal milestone gay and lesbian couples achieve, the marketing accelerates,” says Ed Salvato, editor in chief of ManAboutWorld, the No. 1–ranked gay travel iPad magazine in the App Store. “Readers may be surprised that corporations that may be considered ‘conservative,’ like Marriott, wholeheartedly market to this segment often in the context of honeymoons,” he continues.
There’s also been a sea change in where gays travel; gay-owned hotels and traditional gay destinations are no longer the primary draw. Places like Wales, Uruguay, and Bora-Bora are all beautiful and rarefied and now also offer gay marriage and anti-discrimination laws that can put same-sex couples at ease. After all, LGBT honeymooners want to be able to hold hands or exchange a kiss on the beach like everyone else.
“If they recognize and celebrate our relationships, we’ll recognize and celebrate their destination with our hard-earned pink dollars,” says Salvato.
Read on for today’s best gay honeymoon spots, in a range of budgets.