Honeymoon Destination Recommendations For… Adrenaline Junkies!

It’s pretty obvious that just because a honeymoon destination is really popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone.  One of the reasons why I started this blog in the first place is because the internet is full of websites that can tell you where to stay and what to do once you choose your honeymoon destination, but there aren’t enough sites that will help you decide where to go based on your personalities, time allowance, and budget.

Hopefully this ongoing “Where To Go?” series of blog posts will help you and your fiancé make your own destination decision with plenty of confidence and excitement.  So without further ado, where do I suggest that adrenaline junkies go on their honeymoons?  See my top 3 recommendations (on 3 different continents) below for extremely extreme couples:

1) Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is the city to visit if you like all things extreme.  Not only is the city itself absolutely beautiful, full of good restaurants, nice hotels, and some of the friendliest people in the world, the adrenaline-pumping activities that the city has to offer are endless.  You can spend your days skydiving, bungy jumping (do the Nevis – it’s the highest in NZ!), mountain biking, white water rafting, and parasailing, or you can take it easy with scenic hikes, cruising on Lake Wakatipu, and wine tasting.  During the winter, you can also ski and snowboard on the Remarkables mountain range.

I also highly recommend going on a Shotover Jet boat ride and then getting some cocktails at the Minus 5° Icebar.  Is the icebar overpriced and crowded?  Sure is.  Do you get to wear borrowed jackets and gloves?  Yep. Do the photos make it all worth it?  Absolutely.

Other fun things to consider doing are the street luge course and the ledge swing, but just a heads up about that ledge swing harness: it hurrrrts.

2) Interlaken, Switzerland

Hey Derek!

If Queenstown is the #1 adventure destination in the world, then I’d say that Interlaken comes in a close second.  Just replace the Remarkables with the Swiss Alps, and Lake Wakatipu with Lakes Brienzsee and Thun, and you’ll find that the two cities are very similar.

Again, the backdrop of the city alone would be enough to make Interlaken a popular tourist destination.  However, it also offers world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and tons of fun summer activities like skydiving, hang gliding, bungy jumping, white water rafting, and rock climbing.

Since I had already done most of those extreme activities in Queenstown before I visited Interlaken, I decided I should do something a bit more unique when I was in Switzerland.  I chose to go canyoning.

So, what is canyoning anyway?  Well, first you start out wearing a sweet wetsuit, jacket, lifevest, and helmet.  Then you basically just end up following your guide down a series of waterfalls with a combination of hiking, jumping, swimming, and rappelling skills.  It’s all a bit blurry to me now, but I remember that everyone had a great time.

Although I was just a backpacker when I visited Interlaken, my husband was lucky enough that his firm flew him out there a few years ago for a weekend hike.  Yes, we live in San Francisco, and his law firm flew everyone out to Switzerland to go for a weekend hike.  I was just a little jealous, to say the least.  Anyway, they stayed at a very beautiful hotel called The Victoria-Jungfrau, and it sounds like it would be perfect for honeymooners.  He said that the cleaning staff were like ninjas because he’d leave the room for a few minutes, and by the time he came back it would be spotless.

One drawback to both of our Switzerland experiences, neither my husband nor I remember anything remarkably positive about the food.  However, he did mention that there was a Hooters next to his hotel.  Just where you always imagined eating during your honeymoon, right?  The legend told is that the people who purchased the land adjacent to the hotel wanted to build a gift shop, but the hotel shut them down because there was already a shop in the resort.  To get their revenge, the neighbors built the most spiteful (yet profitable) thing they could think of… a Hooters restaurant.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Real Honeymoon: Italy

First-timers to Europe, Albert and Kristen made the popular (and great) choice of spending their honeymoon touring around Italy.  Read all about their trip and check out their gorgeous photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon? 

Italy – Venice, Florence, Rome, and Sorrento [from the] end of September to early October 2011.

How long was your trip?

2 weeks.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

It was somewhere neither of us had ever been, and had both always wanted to go. Plus we love to eat and drink wine, so duh. :)

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The food and wine! but really we saw some amazing history too.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I might say that we would have spent a day less in Venice and a day more in Rome.  Albert would say less time in Florence, [but] I’d disagree on that.

How much planning did you do in advance?

Minimal to moderate-we used a travel agent to book flights and hotels.  We booked trains from city to city and a Vatican tour before.  Everything else was chosen the day we saw it.  Good ole’ Frommers Guide, we’d just wake up and say, “what do we want to see today?”

Continue reading

Planning a Trip to the Land Down Under?

Friends probably ask me for Australia travel advice more than they do for any other country.  I lived in Sydney for 5 glorious months during college and I absolutely loved it.

So, where to start?  Watch this on repeat, obviously.

Are you excited yet?  Of course you are.  Alright, the next thing to do is figure out how to spend as much time in Australia as possible.  I wince when people tell me that they’re planning a week-long or 10 day trip.  You’ll need more time!  Remember, it takes a REALLY long time to get there (nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Sydney are about 15 hours) and they are pretty darn expensive, especially during the southern hemisphere’s summer months.  More importantly, there’s way too much to see and do!

When planning your itinerary, consider my top 5 Australian cities and the best things to do there:

1.  Sydney: You’ll need at least 5 or 6 days in this city alone.  (Yes, it’s that awesome.)  It’s the perfect combination of a cosmopolitan city surrounded by world class beaches.

Sydney Opera House

You must:
– Surf in Bondi Beach
– Hike from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach (or vice versa)
– Take a ferry from Circular Quay (pronounced “KEY”) to Manly Beach
– Get drinks at the Coogee Bay Hotel beer garden
– Go out at night in King’s Cross
– Go on a pub crawl in The Rocks
– See any of Sydney’s rugby teams (there are 3 different types of rugby and 3 different teams:  the Roosters – Rugby League, the Waratahs – Rugby Union, and the Swans – Aussie Rules Football.  Don’t know anything about rugby?  No worries, the fans around you will be happy to explain what’s going on.)

Day trips:
– visit the Blue Mountains for good hiking
– do a tour of the Hunter Valley wine region

Overrated:
Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb (although you can renew your vows up there!)
Opera House Tour.  My parents insisted that I did it because they didn’t get a chance to do it themselves.  It was bor-ing.

2.  Melbourne: There’s tons of great culture here, and you’ll probably want to hang around for at least 4 days.

The Twelve Apostles via Ashup

The Twelve Apostles via Ashup

You must:
– Rent a car and drive along the Great Ocean Road for at least one full day.  Try to plan on arriving at the “12 Apostles” at sunset.
– See an Aussie Rules football game (a.k.a. footy)
– Stay at a cute hotel in the St. Kilda district
– Plan a trip to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade at night.  (I never did this because I unfortunately wasn’t there during the right season, but my parents really loved it!)
– Check out Federation Square
– Shop at the Queen Victoria market

3.  Cairns: Popular access point for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).  Depending on how much beach time you want, and whether you are going to other cities along the GBR, you’ll probably want around 3 days here.

Cairns Lagoon via Photnart

Cairns Lagoon via Photnart

You must:
– Take day cruise(s) out on the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel/scuba
– Check out the nearby town of Port Douglas for wildlife/rain forest tours

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: African Safari

Due to scheduling issues with grad school and both of their start-up companies, my friends Amy and Dave decided to go on their honeymoon before their wedding.  Read all about their incredibly adventurous African honeymoon below.

When and where did you honeymoon?

June/July 2009, East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania/Zanzibar), Rwanda, South Africa.

How long was your trip?

3 weeks.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I’d always wanted to go on safari in Africa.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

So many… but most incredible experience was hiking into the jungle in Rwanda to see mountain gorillas interacting in their natural setting.

Other great experiences: the huge expansive sky and landscape in the Masai Mara and seeing so many different animals, driving down into the Ngorongoro Crater and seeing our one and only rhino, learning about the fascinating mixing of people and culture in Zanzibar and tasting spices on a spice tour, the views from the top of Table Mountain in South Africa, touring Robben Island and learning about the apartheid history/Mandela.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

If I could’ve planned the timing around the annual Great Migration, that would’ve been amazing to see.

Continue reading

How To Get Awesome Honeymoon Photos

Almost all honeymoon photos fall into one of three distinct categories:

#1 The dreaded awkward solo photo:

#2 The long-arm self portrait (a.k.a. the armpit shot):

or

#3 The I-can’t-believe-a-stranger-actually-caught-this-cool-shot-of-both-of-us:

You’re most likely to take tons of #1s and 2s, but you’ll be lucky to get even a small handful of 3s.

So what can you do to get better photos?  The answer is simple.  You’ve got to rely on a third person.  The best photos from my own honeymoon were taken by private tour guides.  (You’re less likely to get great photos if you participate in group tours when the guide has to stop and do photo shoots for each couple.)  You can arrange private tours spontaneously or in advance and there are certainly benefits to each way.

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Portugal

My friends Shannon and Eric recently went on an incredible honeymoon in Portugal.  I’ve been hounding Shannon for details for weeks because I’m hoping to go to Portugal myself next summer.  Read her responses to my questions below, and if you want to see more, check out this blog post, too.

When and where did you honeymoon?

We traveled throughout Portugal in the month of August.

How long was your trip?

16 days.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to go somewhere (1) where we both had never been, (2) with good weather at the time of our travels, and (3) that could provide us with both adventure and relaxation.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

being together and not at work! And the food!

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

We traveled through Portugal by car which worked out well, but was slightly stressful because in the event of an emergency we did not have a phone.  We were surprised to learn that our smartphones would not work in Portugal.  Rather than chance it, I would have picked up a phone at the airport for peace of mind.

Also, our itinerary was fly into Lisbon (3 nights), drive to Porto (2 night), drive to Douro Valley (2 nights), drive to Montemor-o-Novo/Evora (2 nights), drive to Algarve/Portimao (4 nights), drive to Sintra/Cascais (1 night), fly out of Lisbon.  If we could do it all over again I would have stayed less nights in the Algarve since at this time of the year the beaches are crowded and accommodations are overpriced.  Or in the alternative, I would have stayed in a less high traffic town and spent the extra money on a boat trip or other daytime adventure as opposed to overpriced accommodations. We also learned the hard way that there is only one non-stop flight to Portugal from LAX a day so book your tickets early to avoid our mistake of multiple layovers.

How much planning did you do in advance?

We had help from a travel agent for booking our accommodations and some restaurant reservations which took away some of the stress of planning a trip, but when it comes to traveling I like to be in control so we definitely spent many hours pouring over our travel books.  We started making reservations around 2-3 months before, and spent some time as the trip got closer figuring out which towns to stop at along our drives, and what specific things we wanted to be sure not to miss.

Continue reading

Quick Tip #4: Sign Up For Hold Mail Service

It’s never fun to open a mailbox that’s over-stuffed with tons of crumpled junk mail, so it’s smart to pause your mail service whenever you go out of town for more than 3 days.

The best part?  The USPS makes it super easy to request its “Hold Mail Service” online.  You can request the service up to 30 days before your trip, and the post office will hold your mail for anywhere between 3 and 30 days.  If you don’t pick up your mail during that time window, they will deliver the mail to you after the 30th day.

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: St. Lucia & Anguilla

Just like planning a trip to the Greek Islands, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which islands to visit in the Caribbean since they are all so different.  While some islands are full of things to do and see, some islands are just better suited for luxurious relaxation.  Ali and Sean chose to split their honeymoon between active St. Lucia and super-chill Anguilla.  Check out their comments and gorgeous photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

May 11-15, 2011: Anse Chastanet Resort, St. Lucia; May 15-20, 2011: The Viceroy, Anguilla

How long was your trip?

9 nights

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I wanted luxury, relaxation, and somewhere exotic without too much travel.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The hotel rooms (hehehehehe). We stayed in the most beautiful hotels in really cool suites.  We definitely splurged on the hotels.  I also loved the beaches.  I am a big reader and Sean is not, so I got him books on tape to listen to on his iPod while we laid out on the beach.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

It ended up being too much travel to get there and between the islands.  I would pay the extra money to fly direct.  On our way there, our second of three flights was delayed so we missed our connection to St. Lucia. We ended up having to spend the first night of our honeymoon in a crappy hotel room in Antigua close to the airport so that we could catch a 4 am flight to St. Lucia.  Also, we flew into the wrong airport in St. Lucia (on the other side of the island) so we had to take a 1.5 hour cab to our hotel.  That being said, the first night of our honeymoon was very memorable.  We were just so happy to be married and together that it ended up not mattering.

How much planning did you do in advance?

Since I planned the wedding, Sean was responsible for the honeymoon.  He definitely started planning at least 6 months in advance.  We wanted to use miles/hotel points, so it took some extra planning to make that work.

Continue reading

Making the Most Out of Layovers: Part 2

In my last post I mentioned some fun things to do if you leave the airport during a layover, but what about tips for those who don’t want to venture out?  Aside from the obvious (restroom break, eating, buying magazines, etc.), here are some additional tips for making the most out a of a layover if you stay inside the airport:

  1. The Travel Channel’s Layover Guide has a fantastic suggestion: see if you can a one-day pass to your airline’s airport club.  In addition to relaxing in a quiet space on comfortable furniture, you’ll probably get free food, wifi, and/or booze, depending on the airline.
  2. Recharge your electronics.  You won’t want your laptop/iPad/iPod’s batteries to die mid-flight.
  3. Exchange some currency.  While the exchange rates at the airport may not be the best deal around, it’s a good idea to have some of the correct currency upon arrival.
  4. Walk around.  This is probably a no-brainer to most of you for health reasons, but you never know what you may find while walking around an airport.  For example, during a recent layover in Kuala Lumpur, my husband and I found a Harrods Tea Salon and shop.   He had never been to the store in London before, so we killed the time sipping tea and eating sandwiches.
  5. Shop duty free.  But just a heads up, it may be difficult to bring alcohol into countries with strict rules about alcohol.  (Some of my friends were unable to bring wine into the Maldives.)