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Honeymoon Havens

May 04, 2008|Wayne Niemi

Travel agent Leigh Karin Padilla of World Leigh Travel in Los Angeles regularly globe-trots in search of the world's most fantastic honeymoon destinations. Like a parent, she can't (or won't) name her favorites, but Padilla agreed to share 12 hotels and resorts that combine romance and adventure. Here are four of Padilla's picks. Find eight others and a gallery of photos at latimes.com/magazine.--Abu Camp / Botswana

For adventure-seekers, a 400,000-acre private wildlife reserve offers roaming elephants, and herds of giraffes, zebras and antelopes. The camp features six custom-built tents with decks overlooking the lagoon, home to hundreds of species of birds and animals. Chefs prepare meals each night, paired with fine wines. "A cacophony of wild sounds," Padilla says, "a trip of a lifetime just waiting for honeymooners who want romance, adventure and who love elephants." The price for a three-night minimum stay is $8,012 per person, which includes transportation by private plane. www.abucamp.com.

Maroma Resort and Spa /

Riviera Maya, Mexico

White-sand beaches and a dreamy blue sea are the draw at this jungle retreat, where local culture emphasizes spirituality and the connection between land and water. Top among its features is the Kinan Spa, which uses the Mayan calendar and "sacred geometry" to promote healing. The spa's services include a relaxing body oil ceremony, a hot poultice massage and a cleansing temazcal steam bath. The resort, on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, offers tours to Mayan ruins, as well as more leisurely pursuits, such as lounging on the beach. Garden rooms start at $510 per night. www.orient-express.com.

Intercontinental / Hong Kong

Three spa pools, different temperatures all, are the focal point of this luxury hotel on the city's Hong Kong side. The glass walls of the pools offer amazing views, creating the illusion that swimmers are actually floating in Victoria Harbor, the waterway between the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong. The hotel is within walking distance of the Space Museum, the Museum of History and the Temple Street Night Market. Rooms start at $600 per night. www.ichotelsgroup.com.

Kauri Cliffs / New Zealand

Play a round of golf on New Zealand's North Island at a resort set on 6,000 scenic acres near Matauri Bay. Large cottages offer 180-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and miles of pink-sand beaches. Activities include fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, sea kayaking and hunting wild boar. Tours are offered to Ninety Mile Beach, Tane Mahuta, Doubtless Bay, the Puketi Kauri Forest, Rainbow Falls and the Waitangi Treaty House. "A warm, welcoming staff makes you feel as if you were staying with old friends," Padilla says. Rates start at $695 per night. www.kauricliffs.com.

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