Today’s honeymooners want to hang with the locals; eat authentic dishes; go hiking; drink fine wine; and post photos of stunning locations that will get them a dizzying number of likes on Instagram. In the first few days of marriage they want to grow as a couple by discovering a bucket list destination together.
According to Scott Wiseman, president, Cox & Kings, the Americas. “People aren’t wanting to just sit on the beach anymore. Cultural insight and being up-close and personal is the new ideal. People want to spend their time delving into new cultures and seeking out more local experiences. We have been receiving more requests for hiking, ballooning and biking verses the typical spa experience.”
Phil Cappelli, Insight Vacations’ president, concurs: “Sitting by the beach is passe; it’s now about actually engaging with new cultures on trips. Today’s guests are looking to meet people, interact with each destination, and create unique memories which they can take home.”
This shift in honeymoon picks, says Intrepid Travel’s private groups manager Connor Frey, “has been fueled by an overall demand shift in the travel industry for more authentic travel experiences.”
Kara Lucchesi, G Adventures’ U.S. global purpose specialist and regional sales manager, adds that, “The variety can help you feel like you had several vacations in one vs. lying on a beach or deck when the days can blur and blend together. You may also learn new things about your partner that you wouldn’t discover sitting on a beach or cruise ship: perhaps he’s got a talent for rolling tortillas, or she’s a natural on traditional weaving loom. Seeing each other in a new light can spark even greater attraction for a partner.”
Nature Lovers Embrace Tasmania
Wombats, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils.… Oh my! Nature-loving couples will embrace Travcoa’s 7-day Tasmania, Authentic by Nature journey. There are visits to beautiful waterfalls, and pristine bays filled with oysters, as well as Tasmania’s capital Hobart, with its growing art scene. There’s also time to hang at Lake St. Clair to explore the glacial peaks and lakes at Cradle Mountain, and wander through the clifftop trails and coastal coves at Freycinet National Park, plus stroll hand-in-hand through Heritage Landing, with its ancient temperate rainforest trees. A cruise along the Gordon River will have guests spotting white-bellied sea eagles, and there’s a day spent at Bonorong Wildlife Park, where newlyweds can get up-close to the Tasmanian devil. Visits to colonial homesteads and penal settlements? Check and check, as well a bit of wine tasting while visiting the Coal River Valley vineyards. Rates start at $5,695 pp.
Magical India & Nepal
“Active vacations provide ample opportunities for couples to try new experiences together,” says Cappelli, and Insight Vacations’ 14-day Classical India with Nepal End Delhi Luxury Gold itinerary is an ideal choice for active couples who want to do such things as yoga and a jeep safari ride together. There’s also plenty of time to visit the Red Fort, the Gandhi Memorial, and Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques.
In Nepal, lovebirds will explore the ancient Royal Palace in Kathmandu, discover Swayambhunath with their own eyes, and visit Patan, with its awe-inspiring temples. After visiting Nepal, the couple flies back to India, for a visit to Varanasi, where they’ll witness the holy Hindu Aarti ceremony at the riverside steps of the Ganges. An early morning yoga session at the Gagnes Ghats, a tour of one of India’s seven wonders—the medieval Hindu and Jain temples—and a visit to the Taj Mahal, plus a jeep safari through the Aravalli hills to spend time with a Meena tribe round out the
And, as Cappelli points out, “there are some special inclusions we can add for honeymooners such as an exclusive interaction with a royal family in their private residence, an early morning cycle ride, a personal photo session overlooking the Taj Mahal, or taking an early morning mountain flight over Mt. Everest.” Rates start at
Outdoor Adventure in New Zealand
Honeymooners heading to New Zealand can dive into outdoor adventure, plus some of life’s decadent delights while exploring wineries and art galleries on Cox & Kings’ 9-day Natural Wonders of New Zealand itinerary.
“You don’t have to try very hard to find a romantic getaway in New Zealand,” says Wiseman. “Long walks on the beach, island escapes, endless vineyards….” This itinerary will have guests exploring both the north and south islands of New Zealand, as well as Waiheke Island, filled with beaches, lush native bush, vineyards and farms. On the North Island, honeymooners head to Rotorua to take in the Maori culture. “A truly cultural submersion would be in Rotorua to experience a ceremony with a Maori priest, or a personal excursion learning about the customs and protocols of the Maori people and visiting a traditional Maori village,” says Wiseman. “[They can] experience a Maori-themed vow renewal ceremony; as they renew their vows they’ll be serenaded with the famous Maori love song ‘Pokarekare Ana.’ Guests will wear the Maori love cloaks throughout the ceremony and a Maori priest will perform a blessing upon their marriage and future.”
Couples can also take a helicopter ride over Wai-O-tapu Thermal Reserve, New Zealand’s most colorful volcanic area, and there’s also a visit to Palliser Bay, where they’ll take a 4WD safari through the remote coastal estate, and try their hand at archery, fishing, and working on a sheep farm. In the South Island, couples visit Nelson, the country’s cultural center, and head to Abel Tasman National Park, where they’ll take a cruise tracing the shoreline past Split Apple Rock, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, and Tonga Island’s seal colony—here guests can enjoy lunch swim, kayak, or take a walk along the beach.
It’s not on the itinerary, but Wiseman recommends couples stop at the “Tekapo Springs hot pools to enjoy a luxurious soak and take in relaxing spa treatments. End the evening beneath the night sky at Mt. John Observatory, noted as one of the clearest spots in the world for star-gazing.” Rates start at $8,575 pp.
Scenic Sri Lanka
Though, as Intrepid Travel’s Frey says, this destination “…has beautiful coastal regions and beaches, the world is not meant to be explored from the comforts of a beach. Sri Lanka is also home to world-class cuisine, vast tea plantations and picturesque countryside. Beyond the incredible scenery and landscapes that an active holiday can provide, you’ll almost certainly feel both mentally and physically rejuvenated when it’s over.”
The tour operator’s 15-day Circle Sri Lanka trip offers active honeymooners an array of adventures beyond the beach, including visiting the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Sigiriya rock fortress, and ancient Anuradhapura.
The journey begins in Negombo, where guests can observe local fishermen and feast on fresh seafood. Guests go on a guided bicycle tour in Anuradhapura, plus they’ll visit local museums, as well as Mihintale, the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism. Honeymooners also cycle amid the remains of the 1,000-year-old ancient city of Polonnaruwa. They also participate in a cooking demonstration at a local home in Bandarawela; hike through tea plantations; stroll through Sri Lanka’s Hill Country in Haputale; and visit a World Heritage-listed Dutch fort.
For added romance, suggest your clients sprinkle in a few extras that aren’t on the itinerary such as, “in Mirissa, honeymooners should look to rent a bicycle and ride down the coast for the afternoon. You can pack a picnic and find your own little slice of paradise to enjoy the sunset. Incredibly remote and romantic,” points out Frey.
Get Active in Thailand
“An active couple might not feel happy spending their honeymoon lying on a beach. This itinerary, G Adventures’ Hike, Bike and Kayak Thailand, will get them up and moving, keeping their heart rates up during the day while exploring the vibrant beauty of Thailand,” says Lianna Martin, G Adventures’ product manager for Asia.
On this 14-day journey, couples go on a guided bike tour, visit Erawan National Park to hike the many tiers of the famous 4,921-ft. waterfall, and spend the night on a floating rafthouse. “This trip is well packed with planned activities to keep our travelers and honeymooners busy, and there isn’t too much free time. For honeymooners especially, we’d recommend they add a couple of nights for themselves at the end of their tour to extend their ‘we’ time in Bangkok,” says Martin. “Once in Bangkok they could go on a longboat ride down the Chao Phraya River where they can sit back and appreciate the transition of the bustling Bangkok skyline to the quiet residential canals.”
Guests take a cycling tour of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before heading to Chiang Mai where they go on a hilltribe trek through a rainforest arriving at Baan Pha-Lo, a Lahu hilltribe village where they’ll meet locals and experience some of their day-to-day life with an overnight in a bamboo hut. Travelers also have a picnic lunch in the jungle, visit the coral bays and white sandy beaches of the Andaman Sea, and take a 3-day high-adventure
“When you and a partner are tackling an active challenge together—be it a trek, hike, kayak or cycling journey you’ll hopefully be encouraging each other through the tough parts. That cooperation and mutual encouragement strengthens the partnership and creates lasting experiences together,” says Lucchesi. “Plus, if you’re kayaking through the limestone caves in crystal clear water, you’ll always remember when a monkey jumped on your kayak!”