Planning a honeymoon and looking for something other than an all-inclusive, sit-on-the-beach option?
Consider the six unique and unconventional locations I have highlighted below. From jaw-dropping natural scenery to grin-inducing wildlife to epic party scenes to savory wine, these destinations offer great experiences you’ll always remember.
1. Galapagos Islands
Are you a nature-lover? If so, there may be no better place on Earth to visit than the Galapagos Islands. Located about 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, the islands sit at the confluence of three ocean currents. They offer amazing natural scenery and are populated with incredible wildlife that is unafraid of humans. The most common way to see the islands is via small cruise ships with the mandatory nature guides riding along with you.
Slideshow: Galapagos Islands
Red Sand Beach of Rabida
The beaches of the Galapagos vary from the red sand of Rabida to the black volcanic rock surfaces of North Seymour. These islands were visited by Charles Darwin as he developed his theory of evolution.
Colorful Fish and Coral Abound
The underwater life around the Galapagos Islands is mesmerizing. From fish to crabs to mammals to sharks, you'll see it all while snorkeling or diving in the Galapagos.
The Honeymoon Guy Meets a Galapagos Tortoise
The world-famous tortoises of the Galapagos often live beyond 100 years of age. The term "Galapagos" actually meant "tortoise" to the Spanish explorers that discovered the island.
The Galapagos Hawk Is One of the Many Beautiful Birds on the Islands
In addition to the amazing sea- and land-life of the Galapagos, the bird-life is incredibly impressive. There are hawks like the one shown here, blue-footed boobies, frigates and more.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Intrigued by the architecture of big European cities but uninterested in the busyness of one for your honeymoon? Consider the small and idyllic locale of Salzburg, Austria. The site used for filming of The Sound of Music offers an incredible balance of architecture and natural beauty. The historic downtown is intersected by the Salzach River and includes wonderful biergartens, an impressive hundreds-year old fort and beautiful gardens such as the Mirabelplatz.
Slideshow: Salzburg, Austria
High above the Salzbach river sits a towering fortress which was first started in the 11th century. A short funicular ride gets you from river level up to the castle, which offers panoramic vistas of the city.
Mozart's Birth House
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the revered musical composer, was born in a rowhouse in Salzburg. The house and its furnishings have been preserved as a museum, open to the public.
The beautiful gardens of Mirabelplatz are wonderful for an early morning stroll. Fans of the Sound of Music will be particularly fond of the site, as it is featured prominently in the movie.
The Outskirts of Salzburg Austria
Outside of downtown Salzburg you'll find storybook fields and mountains. We took in this view on our ride with Fraulein Maria's Bike Tour.
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3. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)
Does a place like the Galapagos Islands excite you but exceed your financial or schedule budget? Consider one of the world’s greatest locales for viewing of wildlife and natural features, right here in America: Yellowstone National Park. Widely considered the oldest national park in the world, it offers eye-popping natural sights such as the Grand Prismatic Spring and numerous wildlife from bison to bears to wolves and more.
Slideshow: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring is the Largest Hot Spring in the USA
The natural beauty and grandeur of the Grand Prismatic Spring is impressive. The spring shows the colors of a prism-created rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.
Yellowstone National Park Is Home to Old Faithful
The famous geyser erupts every 60-110 minutes, earning it its name. Adjacent to the geyser sits the idyllic Old Faithful Inn, an excellent lodging choice for park visitors.
Colorful Mineral Pools Abound
Grand Prismatic Spring is the most famous but the park is home to many other spectacular, colorful mineral-loaded pools also. Wooden walkways allow you to get up close to the scene.
Grizzly Bears Are Some of the Stunning Animals in the Park
As you venture through Yellowstone, you see a variety of impressive large mammals. The grizzly bear may just be the most grand of them all.
Oh, Give Me a Home, Where the Buffalo Roam
Though spotting a grizzly is far from guaranteed, just about every park visitor will encounter the massive bison (preferred term over buffalo). Huge and magnificent, they can also be dangerous.
4. Key West, Florida
Are you the type to party instead of sleep the day away on the beach? The southernmost island in the continental US offers an atmosphere unlike any other. It won’t take you more than a few hours to reach by air and the drive to the island, from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area, is one you’ll always remember. For parts of it, it seems as if you are driving into the ocean. Once you’ve arrived you can choose between visiting famous bars, Hemingway’s old house or a waverunner tour around the island.
Slideshow: Key West, Florida
Ernest Hemingway Called Key West Home
Hemingway, the literary genius, arrived in 1928 and lived on the island for many years. Visitors to the island can check out his house, which is now a museum.
Key West Offers Beautiful Sunsets
With the tourist district located on the western edge of the island, sunset viewing is excellent. You can marvel at the golden orb from Mallory Square restaurants or head out on a sunset cruise.
Sloppy Joe's is One of the Many Famous Bars in Key West
The bars of Duval Street are often hopping all day and night. From chains like Fat Tuesday to the historic Sloppy Joe's seen here, your thirst will be quenched easily in Key West.
Key West is Home to "The Little White House"
This building served as a temporary home for Thomas Edison during World War I, but it is most famous for visits from President Harry Truman. He spent 175 days at "The Little White House."
Key West Claims the Southernmost Point in the Continental US
On the southern edge of the island lies a larger marker of the southernmost point in the continental US. It's of course made for photos so Patty and I did our duty and posed for a shot there.
5. Palawan, Philippines
Selected by Huffington Post as the most beautiful island on Earth, this locale will take your breath away with amazing limestone cliffs and powdery sand beaches above water and eye-popping coral formations and fish life underwater. We included a visit to the area in our around the world honeymoon and when it was over we were definitely pleased we had. The beauty of the islands were matched by the happiness of the people. And the cost of food and activities is about 1/4 of what you’d pay at standard honeymoon destinations!
Check out our honeymoon video for even more sights of the Philippines.
Slideshow: Palawan, Philippines
The Kayangan Lake Area is Awesome
A short climb up a hill gets you to the vantage point from which this photo was taken. The multi-hued waters, the rock formation and the vegetation are outrageously gorgeous.
Many Philippine Beaches Are Top-Notch
Beaches like Malcapuya, shown here, offer powdery white sand, palm trees and calm, clear waters. They are a perfect spot to destress.
Underwater Sea Life Makes for Great Snorkeling & Diving
The waters of Palawan offer great visibility. That, combined with wonderful sea life, makes for excellent snorkeling and diving.
Bangka Boats Are the Standard Mode of Sea Transportation
The many hundreds of colorful bangka boats present throughout the Palawan region are used for island hopping day trips. The captains will usually prepare fresh lunch aboard.
Nemo Is A Frequent Visitor to Palawan
On our trip we saw many clown fish during our snorkeling treks. They were quite the hams, hanging out at length for photos.
6. South Africa
Do you want it all on your honeymoon, all in one country? South Africa may be an outstanding destination for you. Amazing safaris are on tap on the eastern side of the country. On the western coast you can visit the flourishing city of Cape Town, ascend Table Mountain and saunter on beautiful beaches. Just a bit east of Cape Town are scenic winelands and their accompanying quaint towns, like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, with cute shops and restaurants.
See this post for more info on South Africa as a honeymoon destination. You can also check out our honeymoon video for even more sights from South Africa.
Slideshow: South Africa
The Western Part of the Country is Home to Supreme Vineyards
South Africa's wine-making stature is rising. The country boasts several strong vineyard areas including Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
South Africa Safari Lodging Runs the Gamut
There are safari lodging options for all budgets in South Africa. You can go spartan and experience the wildlife without spending much or you can splurge and stay in total luxury.
Big Cats Often Make Showings
Kruger National Park and its related private reserves are home to lions, cheetahs and leopards (shown here). Being within feet of these majestic animals is unforgettable.
Mammoth Elephants Will Humble You
Whereas the big cats are magnificent, the elephants you'll see on South African safari are straight massive. Witnessing them in the wild reminds you that you're not that large compared to some animals.
South African Penguins at Boulder Beach
The penguins of Boulder Beach, on the western coast of South Africa, are widely known as "jackass" penguins for their donkey-like braying. They're viewable from a series of walkways, for a small fee.
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Do you agree with this list? Which of these locations would you like to see covered in a more detailed post? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!