With its picturesque whitewashed buildings perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sparkling blue Mediterranean, who hasn’t dreamed about honeymooning in Greece? There’s just one problem: the price tag. Greece is known for its many islands, and getting to them requires a boat. And generally the price tag for renting or hiring a boat, especially for a private charter, isn’t cheap. The Cyclades, which is located in the Aegean Sea and includes destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini, is especially pricey. So what’s a newlywed couple to do?
If you’re Naomi Hirabayashi and Ruaraidh Campbell, you turn your honeymoon into the world’s best double date. Naomi and Ruaraidh, both busy New Yorkers, married in September 2016 in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia—where they’re from—and decided to wait a bit before going on their honeymoon.
They settled on July 2017, then started thinking about destinations, and Greece quickly rose to the top of the list. The one problem? It’s a little pricey.
While Ruaraidh was doing research for the trip, he found out his friend Dan and his wife, Lindsey, were also considering Greece for their honeymoon—and a light bulb went off. “Ruaraidh and Dan were talking and realized we were looking at the same time, and the same place, and the same type of vacation, and we were just like ‘Why don’t we have a double date honeymoon?’”
Sure, it might sound kind of strange to spend what’s supposed to be the most romantic vacation of your life with other people. Especially since the two couples lived across the country from each other (Dan and Lindsey lived in San Francisco at the time) and had only hung out twice—one of those times being at Naomi and Ruaraidh’s wedding—as a foursome. But when Dan and Ruaraidh floated the idea by their wives, it was an enthusiastic yes.
Splitting the cost of chartering a boat for the week also made the trip much more accessible. And they cut costs even further by taking to the seas less traveled. Someone had recommended the Ionian Islands to Dan, which Naomi describes as “a little less touristy, a little less discovered, and easier to boat around because the islands are closer together and the sea is calmer.” They found Anko Yachting, a company owned and operated by a couple who lives in the area. The price tag to charter the boat—which included a captain, daily breakfast, lunch and unlimited beer and wine, in addition to private cabins with en-suite bathrooms for each couple to stay in—came out to roughly $6,400 for the week, $3,200 per couple. “It’s almost like a mom and pop shop,” Naomi says. “This company just really wants to make seeing Greece by boat more accessible. Which is really cool because we ended up seeing a part of Greece that most people don’t see.”
Both couples flew into Athens the weekend before they were scheduled to set sail, and took a couple days to explore the city on their own. Then they met up at a bus station in Athens and took a five-hour trip to Lefkada to board their boat. For the next seven days they’d wake up, head into whatever town they’d docked in the night before to stretch their legs, then return to the boat for breakfast before setting sail for the next island, stopping in bays along the way to swim and have lunch. And every evening when they reached a new island, they’d head into town to have dinner and explore.
In case you’re wondering whether the close quarters and constant togetherness ever got old after seven days together, Naomi assures us that wasn’t the case. “I think what was neat is we hung out a ton and went to dinner every night, but there were also times when we each slipped off to do our own thing, and maybe take a walk. We all had this great sense of permission to do that and just enjoy the week in a way that worked for each person,” she says.
In fact, the couples had so much fun together they had a hard time saying goodbye. At the end of the trip, they all returned to Athens where they’d booked separate hotels and planned to do their own thing before flying out the next day. “We said goodbye at the bus stop, but later, we were each separately out in Athens and were like, ‘We miss you guys! Do you want to get a drink?’ And we ended up catching up one last time, which I think is a really nice testament to how much fun we all had,” Naomi says.
While double dating on your honeymoon might not work for every couple, doing something different than a lot of other couples might do was part of the appeal for the group.
“I think for our generation, a lot of times people are already living together and have already traveled together,” she says. “For us, being in a healthy relationship means having more of a balance of friendship and independence and still having your time as a couple. So this just felt like a fun opportunity to go with friends and experience this together, and also give us the ability to do this trip in this really exciting way and share the cost of it.”