6 active honeymoons
Basking on beaches, candlelit dinners, lazing in an infinity pool: for many, this is the stuff of a quintessential honeymoon. But what if you’re the kind of couple who loves the great outdoors, or has trouble sitting still? From volcano hiking to sea kayaking to spending 24 hours with a Borneo tribe, here are six ideas for adventurous, out-of-the-ordinary honeymoon experiences.
View from Mount Batur, Bali
Bali has all the ingredients for a laid-back honeymoon, with its golden beaches, yoga classes, verdant paddy fields and the chance to potter around multiple ornate temples. But it’s also an ideal destination for more active honeymooners. There are activities such as white water rafting on the Ayung River, but for me the real lure is Bali’s volcanoes. Their craters can be circumnavigated on cycling tours, and they offer challenging but condensed day hikes for sure-footed couples with a head for heights.
Aim to reach the cone of Mount Agung at sunrise. At 3,142 m (10,308 ft) above sea level, it’s Bali’s highest and most sacred mountain. The walk begins in early morning darkness at Pasar Agung temple, where your guides may follow the tradition of lighting incense and praying for a safe ascent. The steep trail then passes through pine forest and over a slippery, solidified lava field.
Once at the peak, you’ll look out over a blanket of cloud and watch the shadows moving across the crater below as the sun pierces the horizon. If summiting volcanoes appeals, there’s the quirkier experience of climbing Mount Batur (a lesser beast at 1,717m (5633 ft) high) just in time for dinner. Your meal is cooked in the volcanic steam vents and served on the crater rim.
The Lemanak Longhouse, Borneo
Intrepid couples can get off the beaten track by spending 24 hours with members of the Iban tribe. The ancestors of headhunters (they beheaded their enemies to show their strength), the Iban still live in the traditional manner — several families grouped together in a wooden longhouse — growing rice and building crafts.
Their home can only be accessed by a 30 minute boat journey upriver from the nearest road. Accommodation is basic — think mattresses on the floor with mosquito nets in a large communal space. Nor is there electricity, but as night falls the gas lamps are lit and you can take part in some of the Iban’s traditional dances over a glass of homemade rice wine.
The next day, tribe members will lead you on treks through the surrounding forest, showing you their traps and teaching you how to use a hunting blowpipe. After an afternoon spent swimming in the Lemanak, you’ll finish your experience with a farewell lunch cooked in bamboo tubes over an open fire.
Enjoy diving in Saint Lucia and Grenada
The area around the Ti Kaye Resort and Spa on Anse Cochon Bay is one of the best diving and snorkeling spots on Saint Lucia. It’s a great location for beginner divers to take their first plunge. Even at a training depth of 6 m (20 ft), there’s a lot to see, from multihued and fantastically shaped corals to trumpet fish and turtles skimming past. If you’re lucky, you’ll glimpse a tiny, delicate type of seahorse — look for their tails curled around a branch of coral. More confident divers can venture out to the Lesleen M wreck, a freighter which was purposely sunk in 1985 to create an artificial reef.
The Grand Anse area on Grenada, a two-hour flight away, offers even greater aquatic riches, from lazy drift dives to wall dives and (for advanced divers) the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the Bianca C, with its resident eagle rays patrolling from stern to bow. Grenada even has an underwater sculpture park. You can see it while snorkeling, although divers have better visibility and can see first-hand how the sunken statutes are gradually being metamorphosed by coral growth.
The Mudhouse retreat in Anamaduwa, Sri Lanka
At The Mudhouse retreat, surrounded by forest and lakes and close to Sri Lanka’s Golden Triangle, you’ll honeymoon in your own private mud house made using traditional Sri Lankan mud-building techniques. This hexagon-shaped hut is candlelit and stands on small stilts. It’s completely open to the elements — the only walls are pull-down rattan blinds.
This is a honeymoon for couples who are happy to forgo creature comforts in order to get away from it all — and get closer to nature. All meals are eaten outside and each hut has an outdoor bathroom a short walk away. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing it with a mouse deer, or some of the other curious wildlife that freely roves around the retreat: frogs, lizards, geckos, slender loris (Sri Lanka’s version of a slow loris), giant squirrels and even wild boar.
During your stay, you may find yourself embarking on a cycling tour of the local area (stopping off en route to climb up to a secluded cave temple), canoeing in the nearby lake, taking part in a cookery class or going for an early morning birdwatching walk. The birdlife is particularly rich — we spotted over 100 different species, including several kingfishers and an eagle.
Looking out over Victoria Falls from Livingstone Island
These two destinations offer very different activities, which can be easily combined for an energetic honeymoon. At Victoria Falls, adrenaline-seeking couples can do more than just gaze at The Smoke that Thunders (as the falls are known locally). Those looking for a more unusual experience should head out to Livingstone Island and make their way across to Devil’s Pool at the edge of the waterfalls. As soon as you jump in the pool, the power of the current whisks you away to the very edge of the falls, where a hidden underwater wall of natural rock miraculously stops you from plunging down the 100 m (328 ft) high drop.
Staying at a game lodge in the Kruger offers thrills of another kind. You might spot the Big Five while out on a game drive, but a more immersive option is the walking safari. You’ll receive a debriefing on how to behave when encountering animals before you head out in the bushveld on foot with your qualified ranger. On foot, you see details that are easily missed from a vehicle, such as insects and smaller birdlife, and you’ll also receive an introduction to the bushmen’s art of tracking.
Sea kayak in New Zealand
By Shaun from our content team
Sea kayaking at sunrise in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Skydiving in Lake Wanaka, white water rafting in Hanmer Springs, hot air ballooning over Queenstown: New Zealand is a hub for adventure enthusiasts. But, in our opinion, it’s really honeymoon territory for couples who love the outdoors, rather than extreme sports — for New Zealand’s true highlights are its diverse and dramatic landscapes.
With over 14 national parks, it can be hard to know where to start, but one experience I rate is spending a few days exploring Abel Tasman — New Zealand’s smallest and only coastal park — by sea kayak. Hugging the coastline, you’ll paddle past limestone cliffs and wide, golden sand beaches that look virtually untouched. The pristine native forest extends right to the shoreline and the coast is peppered with small inlets and coves, which you can investigate at will — usually as the only visitors. The seawater in and around these coves is often bright turquoise and extremely clear. Watch for seals frolicking nearby and dolphins swimming right underneath your kayak.
Further south and inland, you can sea kayak or take a Zodiac cruise around the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest glacier, in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Zodiacs enable you to get up close to the glacier snout, while kayakers can enter the glacial bays and negotiate their way through icebergs and ice formations.