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We thought about saying something hideously saccharine like “your relationship is unique and your honeymoon should be too” – but then we thought better of it. On a serious note, instead of joining the world and his (new) wife in a swish resort somewhere tropical, hit up one of these alternative honeymoon destinations which don’t revolve around a golf course or spa – and you’re unlikely to bump into your neighbour/colleague/ex/other.
South Island, New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island offers nature in its purest form, giving you the chance to shun cliché cruises in favour of ice-caving in the Fox Glaciers or kayaking across the lakes of Abel Tasman National Park. Nothing tests true love more than pushing your significant other off a bungee bridge in view of a 400-metre descent. South Island has plenty of opportunities to do so, from jumps off the Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown to alpine adventures on Nevis mountain. Between bed days at Hapuku Lodge and adrenaline-filled excursions, the hairs will be standing up on the back of your neck for the duration of your trip.
Cappadocia’s volcanic terrain resembles a post-apocalyptic film set and provides a far more unique backdrop for a shot of you and your other half gazing into each other’s eyes than a unnamed beach. Multicoloured hot balloons soften the skyline at sunrise, in which you can venture beneath Cappadocia’s lunar landscape and discover 36 underground cities once used to harbour villagers from the harsh winters. Extending Cappadocia’s fairytale qualities, The Museum Hotel‘s cave suite toasts to your newly taken nuptials with a free-flowing wine tap, leaving you with the hardest decision of your honeymoon: white or red.
Gancho Do Meio, Brazil
A short boat ride from Florianópolis lies the sleepy fishing village of Gancho Do Meio and one of South America’s most romantic hotels, Ponta dos Ganchos. Treat yourself to the Especial Esmeralda suite, where you can steam up the sauna, sink caipirinhas in your balcony hot tub or hideout in your private subterranean wine cellar. There are no set meal times – so make the most of breakfast being served all day with a long lie in in your sea-view bedroom. On top of that, the resort prides itself on social and environmental awareness, using local produce across whenever possible.
Italian romances are a passionate affair, and there’s no better place to selflessly indulge in locally foraged truffles and wines than in the country’s green heart, Umbria. Walk hand in hand through cobbled streets in picture-perfect towns such as Spoleto, re-enact the spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp and raise a glass to married life in rolling vineyards. For even more dolce vita, stay at the Montali Country House, where you can feast on the finest regional produce and spend long, lazy days enjoying al-fresco picnics in the olive groves.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Unlike other safari destinations, Botswana is largely publicly owned, leaving you with few concessions and more options to revel in the solitude of your own safari show. This is where to turn your honeymoon into an experience to rival the Discovery Channel as you witness the Big Five roam of the African bush. Sleep under the stars in the sky beds at Sable Alley where there’s no need to feel prudish – bedroom antics will be drowned out by elephants grunting at the nearby water hole.
The artisan hub of Rajasthan is a hopeless romantic’s dream made up of a glassy lake, a maze of crooked streets, ornately carved bay windows and rooftops bedecked with brightly coloured cushions. Wander through the opulent city palace, barter in the bazaars or sip on masala chai as you watch a kaleidoscopic sunset. Accessible only by boat, the marbled Taj Lake Palace offers a barrage of private-dining options including Ganguar lake feasting – if you’ve only got eyes for your loved one, you needn’t see another soul.
If you’re an outdoorsy couple who can think of nothing worse than spending two weeks horizontal on a sun bed, Montana is an excellent choice. Recreate Wild West fantasies and ride into the sunset on horseback, fall head over heels with the views from the Glacier National Park or crank it up a notch with white-water rafting along the Yellowstone River. Famous for being the first place to offer glamping, Paw’s Up is the grown-up (read: luxurious) answer to camping. Their cliff-side tents come equipped with his and her cowboy boots, hot tubs perfect for two and a butler that’ll toast finger-licking good s’mores over a roaring fire – which has been lit for you, saving any gender-based arguments about who should do it and how.
The laid-back capital of Oman is a world away from its OTT Arabic neighbours, offering the chance to explore rolling deserts in a 4×4 before an afternoon floating around colourful coral reefs. At the heart of the Arabian Peninsula lies “The Empty Quarter”, the largest sand desert in the world, where the sand glows red at sunset and you spend evenings stargazing alongside your camel sherpas. Cool off in the Binmah Sinkhole, a limestone sunken pool that was allegedly created by a meteor crashing into the earth. Alternatively dive into the Persian Gulf waters that frame The Chedi, a luxurious beachside resort that overflows with swimming pools and is lit by hundreds of lanterns.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Lanzarote is experiencing a turning point of sorts. Gone is the island’s booze-laden heyday and in its place an eco-friendly, health-focused nirvana is emerging. All over the island, creations by visionary artist, architect and environmentalist César Manrique accentuate the unique geology of the island, reiterating the natural beauty of an understated destination that is judged too quickly. Choose from a range of accommodation including boutique hotels, shoreside villas and luxury yurts.
If your nuptials are planned for spring, honeymooning in Japan is an idyllic honeymoon destination. Visit during cherry-blossom (sakura) season when tissue-thin petals blanket the streets and walkways. While Kyoto is the frontrunner for this festival, the country’s contrasting cities – Osaka is brash; Hiroshima’s decidedly plaintive; Nara is pure tranquility – are robust with cultural offerings of their own. Visit one of the Japan’s thousands of volcanic hot springs, take a trip to Naoshima – a southern island dedicated solely to art – or spend your days getting stuck in to Tokyo’s effervescent dining scene.
Venice for your honeymoon is hardly a novel idea. Still, the city’s coquettishness perseveres. Most compelling during the winter months when an ethereal mist blankets winding canals, Venice is synonymous with art and romance. Stay at the Aman which fills the striking Palazzo Papadopoli on the Grand Canal, and is the hotel at which the Clooneys tied the knot. Venice is at its most sumptuous at night when the crowds have dispersed, and Aman’s rooftop bar is one of the prettiest places in town to enjoy a sunset negroni and blush-pink skies.
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
A perfect destination for explorers, Costa Rica’s varied landscapes and microclimates mean you’ll never be short of choice on a trip to this Central American jewel. Go white-water rafting, surf in year-round warm waters or hike through Manuel Antonio, one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful national parks. It’s a country rich in wildlife including spider monkeys, sloths and quetzal birds – but only a lucky few will catch olive ridley sea turtles hatching on the beach. To relax, book a rustic cabin or eco-friendly hilltop cottage in the jungle where you can lounge in a hammock with a cup of local coffee, watched by an inquisitive sloth.
A rambunctious city with plenty of heart and endless cultural crossovers, Buenos Aires is an ideal combination of foreign and familiar. Food pays homage to the city’s Italian and Spanish lineage, while the architecture is an amalgamation of various aesthetics, with an emphasis placed on colour – even parliament is painted pink. Those hoping to explore the breadth of the country should visit Mendoza, Argentina’s wine country. Located to in the west, a domestic flight takes approximately an hour and a half. The antithesis of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, Mendoza’s Andean scenery is the perfect backdrop to raise a glass of malbec and toast to the years to come.
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