Tuesday 18 April 2017

The Honeymoon Diaries - Welcome to Miami

We're going to be leaving the North East far behind over the next few blog posts! Care to join me on a luxurious trip to Miami and the Caribbean?

The Honeymoon Diaries - Welcome to Miami

Welcome to the Honeymoon Diaries!

Planning a Honeymoon is more difficult than you'd imagine. We decided to plan a "once in a lifetime" trip so nowhere was off limits and with so many amazing places across the world to choose from it was hard to come to a decision. After much debating we decided a good balance of luxury, adventure and lounging were what we were after and a 14 day Caribbean cruise ticked every box. 

Researching and booking a Honeymoon when you're already planning a wedding is more than a little stressful so we decided to make things easier on ourselves by going through a travel agent.  I will admit as someone who loves to be organised and plan I'm not the biggest fans of travel agents and after trawling up and down the high street getting frustrated we were almost ready to call it quits! Then my friend told me about Lizzie Adamson-Brown at Travel Counsellors, a personal travel expert based in Northumberland. Lizzie put together the perfect itinerary for us and was brilliant at answering all of my queries. It was so good to have such a great personal service and I would highly recommend her to anyone planning a trip.

Going on our Honeymoon six months after our wedding day was the best decision we made. It was so great to have something to look forward to and as we set off from our home in Newcastle in the early hours of the morning we felt like newlyweds all over again.  We were so excited to finally be going on our great adventure together.

Hello Miami!

As our Cruise started in Miami we decided to spend three nights there, it seemed daft to go all that way and not take advantage of being in the US, especially for Simon who was making his first ever trip to America.

Flying via London Heathrow we arrived in Miami early in the evening and after spending over 2 hours waiting to get through Passport Control (nightmare) we finally reached our home for the next few days, the Hyatt Regency Miami in Downtown.  Lizzie recommended the hotel as it was so close to the Port where our cruise ship would be leaving and it really was the perfect base for our days of exploring.

Hyatt Regency Miami

As a Honeymoon treat Lizzie had arranged for us to have a surprise upgrade to a suite with fantastic views over Downtown Miami.  We spent a lot of our time hanging out of the window admiring the views, it's definitely very different to central Newcastle!

The Hyatt Regency Miami was everything we could have hoped for. The staff were so attentive and helpful and we loved having a lovely little bar to relax in as well as a couple of eateries to choose from. Just what the weary traveller needs! We never got round to trying an evening meal but our breakfasts were fantastic.

Hyatt Regency Miami Breakfast

Balans Brunch and Shopping at Brickell 

We awoke on our first day with only one thing on our mind - brunch!  You really can't go to America without going all out and for foodies like us the US is a dream at breakfast time. When planning a trip I highly recommend researching food destinations using Instagram, it really is a great way to find the good stuff!

We decided to walk a few blocks to Balans where we grabbed a table outside and I got to indulge in my first French Toast of the Honeymoon. I don't know why but you just can't get French Toast here like you can in the States. So delicious and the unlimited coffee refills definitely helped combat the jet lag.

Balans Miami

A short stroll from our hotel was the financial district of Brickell which has recently been developed into an "urban playground" for the businessman.  We stumbled across a beautiful little shopping mall that is so new there are still plenty of stores to be opened.  My favourites Sephora and Bath & Body Works kept me entertained for a good hour or so and being tucked away in Brickell meant they were lovely and quiet. A luxury cinema is opening next so if you're heading to Miami any time soon it's worth checking out.

Miami Beach

Miami is a pretty easy city to navigate if you do your research before you arrive and we decided to get around by bus. Whilst taxis may have been easier we wanted a more authentic experience of the city and working out the buses gave us a great sense of achievement.  There were plenty of bus stops near our hotel and we had a few buses to choose from to take us direct to Miami Beach. The journey took a while (Miami traffic is crazy) but we loved spending our time nosing out of the windows.

If you love people watching as much as us South Beach really is the best place to head and as it was Spring Break time the pavements were crammed with beautiful people strutting around in skimpy beachwear. Everywhere we looked people were taking selifes, making videos for Instagram and photographing their cocktails - as a blogger it's not often you get to enjoy being somewhere where taking photos of your food is normal.

Miami Beach

Ocean Drive is the best road for strolling with beautiful palm trees lining the road, gorgeous art deco buildings, restaurants, bars and cafes as far as the eye could see. We could happily have spent days and days just walking up and down the road. It was quite an experience!

Miami Beach

We eventually parked ourselves at Sugar Factory, a chain you'll find in all the tourist hotspots of the US that serve up the kind of food your dentist wouldn't like you to have. We both decided on pancakes and I went for the American classic, S'mores which came covered in cream, chocolate and the all important Graham crackers.

Sugar Factory Miami

Our food was fun and we enjoyed the excessive amount of sugar but we were left kicking ourselves that we'd fallen into such a tourist trap. The dishes were expensive, the added tip was extortionate and the service wasn't great.

The other part of South Beach we loved exploring was Lincoln Road, the best shopping street in Miami. Although a little hot to indulge in too much shopping we loved pottering up and down the street and Simon did manage to buy himself some new Converse.

Somehow we also managed to squeeze in some more food with a trip to Shake Shack. Whilst I'd usually hunt out somewhere independent to enjoy a burger, Shake Shacks are pretty rare in the UK and we were curious to give it a go.

Miami Beach Shake Shack

Oh wow! Someone needs to bring Shake Shack up to the north of England pronto, we had a Smoke Shack each and shared a milkshake. Everything was so tasty, I can't believe there are only 7 restaurants in the UK (and all but one of them are in London!)

The perfect end to a brilliant day!

The Everglades 

While we were in Miami we decided to take the opportunity to see the alligators at the Everglades National Park, a wetland area at the southern tip of Florida. Our trip was organised by Celebrity who we were cruising with so I didn't really know too much about exactly what we were doing until we got there.

There are several places across the Everglades where you can book airboat trips through the Everglades, our tour was at Gator Park, and we thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of our tour where we got to climb aboard an airboat to go alligator spotting.

Everglades Gator Park

It wasn't long before we spotted our first and it was a truly breathtaking moment. Seeing two little eyes and a snout peaking out from under the water it was so amazing to think that we were seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. I would have happily spent an entire day exploring the waters and admiring the alligators, birds and turtles that we came across.

Everglades Gator Park
Unfortunately instead we were ushered into a small open air theatre after our boat ride to see an alligator show that left me feeling slightly horrified.  Having grown up going to zoos and wildlife parks I've never been anywhere before where I've felt concerned about the welfare of the animals but Gator Park left me a little shocked.

The show involved a man standing in an enclosure with the gators which was cruel in itself as they were being held captive a few steps away from their home. The show mostly demonstrated how dangerous they are by a man waving his arms about in front of them which seemed like he was teasing them a little. I surely can't have been the only person who was secretly hoping that the animal gave him a bite to teach him a lesson.

Everglades Gator ParkThe experience was then made worse by people being charged $3 to have their photograph taken with a baby alligator that had its mouth taped shut. To me the whole thing was unnecessary and pointless - surely it would be far better to teach the tourists about these beautiful creatures whilst touring the Everglades on the airboat?

I would never dream about revisiting anywhere like that again and was quite surprised on my return home to find nothing but positive reviews about the experience on Trip Advisor.  Surely I can't have been the only person who found the whole thing very uncomfortable?

Honeymoon Miami

We loved our first visit to Miami and definitely left wanting more. With only two full days to explore there were so many areas that we left undiscovered and I know that we easily could have easily spent a full week in Miami. Saying goodbye was made easier with the promise of a 14 night cruise ahead of us but maybe one day we'll return to finish our Miami adventures.

Let me know if you've ever visited Miami, I would love to hear about your adventures.


  1. Oh that sounds awful about the alligators, I would have felt the same. Seemed like a lovely sugar filled trip!

    1. I just didn't get why no one else felt the same! Looking round everyone else seemed to think it was brilliant!

  2. Your trip looked amazing!

    We went to Miami for 2 days last time we went to Florida and weren't too enamoured! I think we hit it on some music festival weekend so it was full of incredibly drunk revellers! Looking at your post is love to go back and give it another go.

    We did an airboat tour too but weren't subjected to an alligator show, I'm so happy we missed that one. Sounds awful!!

    Katie xoxo

    1. The same thing happened to me the first time I went to Paris, I just didn't get it .. it was full of noisy cars and felt dirty and busy. Turns out I'd just done it all wrong, I've been back since and absolutely loved it!

  3. Wow this looks absolutely incredible! I am such a foodie - so love those posts!

    Rachael xox

    1. Thank you ... I'm surprised I didn't take more food photos but I think I must have decided to give the husband a break from my amateur food photography!

  4. Your honeymoon looks absolutely amazing! I followed it via Twitter and couldn't wait to see more. I actually feel so happy seeing the clear, blue skies in your pics xxx

    1. Thank you :) I was supposed to be on a digital detox ... it didn't go so well!

  5. It's been fabulous following your adventures. So many cruises depart Miami, it's a great excuse to experience it.

    I love the Art Deco buildings. If, like Katiecakes, you're not too enamoured, or if you've maybe 'done' Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a great alternative and not too far from the cruise port.

    Can't wait to read about the cruise. What an amazing honeymoon. Xxx

    1. I'm definitely glad that we extended our stay to include Miami, such a wonderful city and somewhere I'd never thought to visit before!

  6. Mmm the food all looks wonderful (how thick is that French toast?!)
    Seeing the gators in the water must have been amazing but the show sounds really sad

  7. Wow looks like you kept busy even before the cruise! xo


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