Certain destinations call out to American newlyweds. Las Vegas, Hawaii and Paris are certainly favorites. Whether the next state over or just over the Atlantic, though, itineraries tend to be similar: beautiful sights, fine dining, relaxation and romance. For many new brides and grooms, it’s a perfect formula.
However, some others see the honeymoon as the start of a joint adventure. Just as many vacationers are opting to nix the resort in favor of scuba diving, so too are some choosing exotic destinations rich with excitement as opposed to honeymoon meccas.
Today’s smaller, more accessible world has many such potential honeymoon sites that beckon with exotic romance and exciting ways to enjoy a distinctly memorable experience.
Sultry Morocco has invited romance-oriented travelers since Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains began their beautiful friendship in 1943’s Casablanca. It’s little wonder, given its combination of traits: A mixture of stark desert meets mountains meets oceanside terrain, colonial French culture merged with a number of Arabic and North African influences and what’s regarded as one of the finest cuisines in the world. The fact that it is a fairly liberal Islamic nation with warm and friendly people also means that adventure here can be of one’s choosing.
And adventure is there to be had in Morocco, well above and beyond the romantic charm of Casablanca and Marrakech. Climb Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, passing lovely adobe villages and exploring the gorgeous Ourika and Amizmiz valleys on the way. Hike the beautiful Ameln Valley in the Anti-Atlas and the wooded Rif Mountains in the very north. But for the ubiquitous experience, hop on camelback for a trip through the golden Sahara sand dunes at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. Spend the night in a desert tent, under the incredibly starred sky.
Twenty years ago, Costa Rica was known to relatively few Americans, but those aware of its appeal had plenty of reasons to love it. The small Central American country is the most stable, safe and visitor-friendly nation in Latin America. From its pristine, world-famous rain forests to its world-class beaches and famed sport fishing, it is the natural environment of Costa Rica that attracts visitors and expatriates. Liberal and modern, it’s been dubbed the “Switzerland of Latin America” for all of the right reasons. English speakers find little difficulty getting along in most parts of the country, and fortunately in those places where only Spanish is spoken, visitors often find the most gracious new friends.
The nation’s diverse environment permits numerous options. Fly through the rain forest on a zip line at Arenal Volcano National Park or Monteverde, take an exciting raft trip raft on the Naranjo River or kayak the El General. There’s no limit to the possibilities in one of the most geographically and biologically diverse parts of the world.
One might envision that adventuring in Switzerland would necessitate arctic weather gear and mountain climbing experience. But Lugano, in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of southern Switzerland, is in a temperate micro-climate complete with palm trees, picturesque boulevards, stunning views of the lake and the Alps and a gateway to adventure with a European twist. Not far away is famed Lake Como, so the region is one well known to European travelers who flock to the area in summer. The thrill-seeking couple will find the best of both worlds: easy access to classic European hospitality and amenities and excitement.
Take to the lake, rent your own speedboat to zip across the water, or rent mountain bikes and seek out the best summit views of Lugano. But the rustic trails leading from the towns surrounding Mount Bre to its apex and the Funicolare Monte Brè are the backdrop for hiking experiences sure to make for a memorable and distinct European experience.
New Zealand has been called “God’s own country” and the “Paradise of the Pacific” since the early 1800s. Travellers generally agree New Zealand deserves this description. Lush, diverse and absurdly beautiful in many places, there are ample reasons that the two islands making up the nation are so legitimately unique. New Zealand was the last significant land mass to be inhabited by humans, and its distance from other land masses led to the evolution of flora and fauna that can be found nowhere else in the world.
A pristine environment is the setting for virtually every imaginable experience. Consider letting the famed Flying Kiwi Adventures, New Zealand’s original adventure bus tour company offering “beyond the tourist trail” experiences, plan an itinerary. Bungee jumping is ubiquitous in the nation in which the modern version was created. Glide in Omarama – one of the best sites for the sport on earth – heli-hike Fox Glacier or dive with dolphins at Kaikoura. Hiking the national parks offers a glimpse into the unique nature and history of New Zealand, and an experience as different from a traditional honeymoon as one could want.
The United States’ last frontier, Alaska is the size of California, Texas and Montana combined. It is also home to the highest point in North America and all of the top 10 highest mountains in the U.S. Alaska has long had the reputation as a rugged land of independent souls who brave arctic winters, sunless winter days and dangerous fauna. While this remains largely true today, there are still opportunities for visitors’ grand adventures.
It is quite possible to experience the ancient rain forest of Southeast Alaska, camp in Denali National Park and kayak among icebergs in Prince William Sound on the same trip. Tours out of larger coastal cities and at different times of the year allow such once-in-a-lifetime experiences as up-close whale watching and walking on glaciers. Travel the famed Inside Passage by ferry from town to town, enjoy hiking, sea kayaking, fishing, wildlife watching and biking.
From North Africa to the South Pacific and beyond, today it is easier than ever to personalize an exciting honeymoon and a memorable kickoff to the great adventure of marriage.