For travelers with a sense of adventure, it’s likely that the age-old honeymoon antics of lounging on the beach or holing up in the honeymoon suite simply won’t cut it when it comes to planning your most memorable vacation. No problem – there’s plenty of ways to up the ante and turn your post-wedding sojourn into the kind of trip that will get your blood pumping.
From zip lining and mountain-climbing to horseback riding or diving with whale sharks, these 12 locations offer the kind of adventures that will leave you reeling on adrenaline for weeks afterwards. That, and plenty of stories to make those other newlyweds jealous.
1. New Zealand
Whether you love or loathe the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there’s no denying that the rolling landscapes and rugged coastlines of New Zealand brought some serious wanderlust to the big screen. When it comes to nature, New Zealand ticks every box, but it’s also a hotspot for adventure activities with tourist hubs like Rotorua and Queenstown offering just about every activity you can think of.
How about zorbing (hurtling downhill in a giant plastic ball), swinging through the rainforest on zip lines or rock-climbing and abseiling in a cave filled with glowworms? Of course, there’s always bungy jumping, jet boating, glacier hiking or ocean swimming with dolphins.
For the less brave, tramping (that’s hiking to us non-kiwis) is the number one activity in New Zealand, and there’s a boat-load of great trails from one day spectaculars like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to rambling Great Walks like the 33-mile Milford Track. And when you do want a to add a little romance and relaxation to the trip, you can go wine tasting or get pampered at one of the country’s luxury eco-resorts or spas.
A land of contrasts, Iceland offers the kind of scenery normally confined to fantasy – sulphur belching volcanoes, starry skylines and lush green pastures – providing the snap happy with unlimited photo ops. Adventurers can take a cross-country horse trek on one of the world-famous Icelandic horses known for their peculiar gaits; climb precarious peaks in hunt of the perfect sunrise or hurtle over a lava beach on a dog sled. The country’s many national parks offer ample opportunity to surround yourself with nature like snorkeling or diving at the Þingvellir National Park or ice climbing in the Vatnajökull National Park.
And once you’ve got your kicks, experience some other-worldly romance – snuggling up to watch the northern lights in Iceland or sipping Champagne in a steamy geothermal spa.
3. Whistler, British Colombia, Canada
Among Canada’s most popular tourist destinations, Whistler is one of several premier ski hubs, and offers a range of year-round activities. The Coast Mountains of British Columbia feature ski and snowboard routes to challenge the hardiest powder junkies, alongside a selection of gentler options for newbies.
And once you’re sick of snow, there are plenty of other options to keep you busy – zip lining, snowmobiling, heli-skiing, snowshoeing and bungee jumping, to name just a few. Or head to the world-renowned Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a network of alpine cycle trails at the summit of Whistler Mountain.
Cap off your adventure trip with a few days enjoying the pleasures of Vancouver – whale watching, wine tasting, or feasting on local seafood.
Read more: Whistler Tours from Vancouver
4. Cape Town, South Africa
The Mother City of South Africa has a lot to offer honeymooners, from a vibrant multicultural city centre with a riotous nightlife, to the tranquil surrounding beaches and sprawling vineyards.
At the heart of the city, the looming peak of Table Mountain and its surrounding national park dominate attention with a series of hiking and mountain biking trails traversing the peak, but head out to the coast and its all about the ocean, with swimming, windsurfing, catamaran sailing and some of the world’s best surf spots on offer.
Paragliding is huge in Cape Town too, so it’s a perfect place to take to the airs on a tandem flight or even learn the ropes yourself. If that’s not extreme enough for you, take your loved one on a romantic white shark dive, tackle ‘kloofing’ (canyoning) in the nearby Suicide Gorge or shake off your nerves on the world’s highest bungy jump. Only the brave need apply.
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA
The US is a breeding ground for adventure tourism and the Jackson Hole mountain resort is just one of many places offering winter fun amidst the famed Rocky Mountains. As the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole gets a steady spread of visitors throughout the year.
But the real draw is the ski season, when Wyoming’s mountain resorts fill with skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, ready to show off their skills on the steep tracks and advanced runs. Beginners shouldn’t be put off, though, as there’s plenty of easy trails and a choice of world-class ski instructors. Options like snow-kite boarding, dog sledding, Snowcat skiing or Nordic skiing keep the itinerary varied and the Grand Teton National Park – touted as Yellowstone’s lesser-known relative – is right next door.
When it’s time to warm up, head inside for hot toddies by the fire, book a massage to sooth sore muscles, or cuddle up for bonfire s’mores under the stars.
Ecuador is fast garnering a reputation as the underdog of South America, and though it might not offer the searing heat of Brazil or the sultry street tango of Argentina, this little country definitely hits the target when it comes to nature. There are alpine slopes in the Andean Mountains, vast wilderness in the Amazon rainforest and a wildlife-teeming nature reserve on the Galapagos Islands, all packed into one small country.
Travelers can climb an active volcano in Cotopaxi, take a horse trek and camp out in the Andes, go swing jumping in Banos or sail through the jungle on a raft. Scuba diving and snorkeling at the Galapagos Islands features some of the world’s best (and most colorful) underwater life forms and there’s whale watching, seal spotting and bird watching on the menu too.
7. Interlaken, Switzerland
Few countries are as renowned for their natural beauty and high standard of living as Switzerland, one of Europe’s cleanest and greenest destinations. Not only that, but the country is famed for having some of the best ski slopes on the continent.
Interlaken, a bustling holiday region sandwiched between two lakes, offers a gateway to the Jungfrau ski region, as well as a popular spot for extreme sports. There’s skydiving, canyoning, hang gliding and paragliding on offer, as well as a plethora of hiking routes. For locals though, Interlaken is most famed for its lively festivals including the popular Greenfields festival and the summer Jungfrau Music festival.
And thanks to Switzerland’s small size, you can set out from Interlaken and do some relaxing day trips, visiting the wine country’s under-the-radar wine regions, or learning about the other famed Swiss exports – cheese and chocolate.
8. Veracruz, Mexico
If you’re planning a Mexican honeymoon, skip Cancun and Cabo and head for Veracruz instead, Mexico’s eastern coast state where tourists are a bit sparser and getting off the beaten track is a whole lot easier. Veracruz visitors could easily find themselves clambering up a snow-capped mountain one day, wandering through the jungle or lounging on the beach the next.
There’s no shortage of things to do either – whitewater river rafting, zip lining through the forests, rappelling down waterfalls, zooming down sand dunes on an ATV and snorkeling over coral reefs, are all possibilities. And when you’ve finished all that, unwind with a romantic mud massage and sauna, and then hit the town to sample some of the best seafood in Mexico.
All too often left off the Central American tourist trail, Belize is a tiny country with a whole lot to offer the adventurer. From beaches to jungle, and with gushing waterfalls, Mayan ruins and over 285 species of birds, there is no shortage of incredible scenery to cram into your holiday itinerary. Hike ancient Inca trails, camp out in a wild jungle eco-lodge, dive the Belize Barrier Reef or go tubing through underground cave networks.
Or if none of those take your fancy, alternative activities include everything from kayaking to horseback riding to wildlife safaris. As the only Central American country where English is the official language (and the dollar the currency) Belize makes travel stress-free for Americans.
Browse Suggested Itineraries: Belize for more travel ideas
Whether haggling over leather goods in the maze-like souks of Marrakech, tucking into a hearty tagine or sipping a super-sweet cup of green tea with friendly locals, Morocco is a cultural nirvana for the curious traveler. It’s not all traditional baths and quaint riads though – Morocco’s vast and varied landscapes lend themselves to an adventure or two. Whether you fancy the mountains, desert or beach, this is a country that has it all.
Camel treks through the Sahara Desert, often including bedding down at a nomadic campsite, make for a popular and unique journey, and the towering Atlas Mountains provide ample scope for trekking, climbing, mountain biking and even skiing. On the coast, surfing is a popular pastime and several locations offer surf schools – Agadir is one of the hippest destinations for surfers to hone their skills.
Thailand may be the destination du jour but if you prefer your vacations sans drunken teenagers and grubby backpackers, Thailand’s lesser-traveled neighbor will happily rise to the challenge. Made up of over 7,000 islands with miles of golden coastline, tropical heat and lush rice paddies, the Philippines offer plenty of intrigue for holidayers, especially if you love the ocean.
Scuba diving is a huge draw here, and with some of the cheapest dives around, this is a great place to get your PADI certification and explore the over 40,000 square kilometers of coral reefs lurking around the coastline. For more experienced divers, wreck diving or diving with whale sharks on Cebu Island are also possibilities or why not try your hand at windsurfing, a popular activity on Boracay Island?
The vibrant hub at the intersection of Europe and Asia may be better know for its historical ruminants and elaborately decorated mosques than it is for adrenaline-pumping activities, but Turkey is a country that offers romance and excitement in one neat package. Once you’ve finished swimming, kayaking and snorkeling the ruins of underwater cities along the Mediterranean coast, head inland to explore the unique rock formations (endearingly known as fairytale chimneys) of the Cappadocian region.
Horse trekking and off-road mountain biking are popular activities here, but the region is best known for its incredible sunrise hot air balloon flights, a truly dazzling view of the landscape from a sky speckled with brightly colored balloons. Hiking routes abound in Turkey too, from the wildflower-laden fields atop the Taurus Mountains to various routes along the Lycian way. When you’ve got your fill of activities, hit the streets of Istanbul to polish your haggling skills in the great bazaar and munch on some of the freshest and tastiest kebabs known to man.
- Zoë Smith