If your wedding is the best day of your life — at least thus far — your honeymoon should be the best week (or two if you're lucky) ever. Your trip of a lifetime should be spent doing exactly what you both love to do — if that's sipping cocktails by a pool, fantastic. But if you're the kind of couple who craves a little adrenaline alongside your champagne and rose petal-strewn bed, it's worth considering a destination that can offer enough activities to sate that desire.
Adventure can be had by simply journeying to an off-the-beaten path destination. How many of your friends celebrated their post-nuptial bliss from a Berber village near Marrakech, Morocco, or by sliding down sand dunes face-first in Paracas, Peru? Why not head far west to Broome, Australia, where flying over horizontal waterfalls and swimming with whale sharks are just a couple of ways to spend your ultimate vacation. Sleep in a cave in Turkey, or paraglide over Medellin, Colombia, formerly one of the most dangerous cities in the world and now a beautiful city on the rise, with year-round spring temperatures and green-coated mountains as far as the eye can see.
Of course, there are more traditional locales where you can turn up the intensity — and romance, too. Head out into the ocean with experts and spear your own octopus, then learn how to cook it in Punta Mita, Mexico. Or skip the snorkel and venture underwater ensconced in an actual submarine in Fiji. There's something for everyone, that is, if you and your new hubby's idea of taking the plunge is base-jumping off a monolith. Here's to the thrill seekers!
Photo: Year-round, Queenstown, New Zealand holds the crown for its sheer volume of high-energy activities. From fast-paced jet-boating and bungee jumping to canyon swinging and ice climbing, the South Island alpine town's dozens of excursions will bring your wedding-day grins back to your faces. Check into one of Matakauri Lodge's 12 gorgeous suites, which make the perfect home base for parasailing on the bright blue Lake Wakatipu and whitewater rafting on winding braided rivers. Get an eagle-eye view by leaping from a plane or soaring alongside glaciers in a tiny 8-person plane. Here, thrills are served alongside a heady dose of natural beauty.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
For a high-altitude getaway with a dash of spooky history, book a plush cabin at Dunton Hot Springs (across the mountain from Telluride in the Rockies), which was the site of a 19th-century ghost mining town and is also home to five heavenly sulfur-free hot springs for soaking. You'll have a slew of authentic Wild West outings to choose from: snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, fly fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, heli-skiing and even dogsledding, depending on the time of year. And really, what's more romantic than a teepee?
The ultimate honeymoon for lovers who also love Darwin and exotic wildlife, is the Galapagos, where on excursions across land and sea you'll seek a "big five" that includes massive tortoises, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Base yourself at the intimate, sustainable Pikaia Lodge, the islands' newest property, which is secluded atop an extinct volcano crater. Venture out to swim with Galapagos penguins, kayak alongside sea lions and golden rays, and bike through a giant tortoise reserve. It's a naturalist's dream.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
For the adventuresome, the showpiece of Mexico's Caribbean coast is not its beaches—although they're stunning—but Rio Secreto (which translates to Secret River), an otherworldly series of underground caves, rivers and caverns in which visitors can hike, snorkel and swim among dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. From the eco-conscious beachfront Viceroy Riviera Maya resort you can also snorkel in coral reefs, bike through the jungle to pyramids, swim in cenotes and experience a pre-Colombian temazcal sweat-lodge ritual with your sweetheart.
Daring couples might consider the northwest African city at the foothills of the dramatic Atlas Mountains for a spectacle of sights, sounds and flavors. Besides highly addictive food and beautiful photo ops, a stay at the opulent new Mandarin Oriental Marrakech will give you the opportunity to hike or ride a mule to one of the highest Berber villages, or cross the Agafay Desert's semi-lunar terrain on camel. Perhaps the most unique experience is learning the ancient art of falconry, which may not have any applications back home, but surely makes for a good story.
Hayman Island, Australia
Landlubbers need not apply for an azure-toned honeymoon at Hayman Island, one of the Whitsundays in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Besides the must-take helicopter ride to see the Heart Reef en route to One&Only Hayman Island, everything else is at sea level. Whether submersed (snorkeling, diving, riding in the underwater Seabob) or on the surface (stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, sea kayaking) you'll never tire of the clearest water imaginable. The resort's pool is even the Southern Hemisphere's largest. And when you're worn out from all the activity, book a massage on a bed floating in the Coral Sea.
You're excused for thinking Tuscany is nothing but beautiful landscapes, vino and mouthwatering food. In reality there's much more to it. Like driving a Red Passion Ferrari on an extreme racetrack, an experience offered by the five-star Castello di Casole boutique hotel. Also possible: bike tours, horseback riding and foraging for truffles within the property's expansive trail system, vineyards and olive groves, followed by a truffle cooking class complete with wine, naturally.
What could be more magical and adventurous than spending the night in a cave? Of course, the caves at Yunak Evleri in Cappadocia, Turkey, are incredibly plush, and your safety isn't compromised in any way (no hibernating bears here!). It's where you'll want to be to see—and participate in—the fantastical ritual of hot-air ballooning at sunrise. Other outings include exploring the ancient national park's desert, strewn with fairy chimneys and natural rock formations, on horseback, or cycling through vineyards and valleys.
Punta Mita, Mexico
Those with secret fisherman or fisherwoman fantasies can indulge them at the paradisiacal Four Seasons Punta Mita, where octopus spearing is on the table—and then literally on the table, as you'll have a cooking class afterward to prepare it—as is deep-sea fishing for mahi mahi, sea urchin and yellow fin. Another highlight is a trip to the Marietas Islands' secret Playa del Amor (beach of love), which is the result of collapsed volcanic rock and can be reached only by swimming through an underwater tunnel. Golf lovers also have a couple Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, while the surf is up for anyone with beginner to advanced skills.
Wilderness lovers can have the ultimate all-American staycation honeymoon in the Ozark Mountains, where the beauty of your surroundings is only surpassed by your post-wedding glow. Book the Civil War Cabin at Big Cedar Lodge—you'll know the sun is setting when the authentic Civil War cannon is fired off. Practice your Katniss skills with a little bowfishing or archery at the nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. In addition, fill your days with hiking, biking and water skiing before indulging with a sunset cruise on the lake.
Emerald Coast, Nicaragua
The couple that surfs together stays together. And while hanging 10 may not be the reason, a surf safari in Nicaragua will surely bond you in yet another way. Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa, is the first luxury resort in the country. Along with riding some of the world's best—and most secluded — waves, daring newlyweds can hop a helicopter to the active Cerro Negro volcano for some extreme sandboarding, or hike up into the cloud forests of Mombacho Volcano. In addition, the resort's yacht, Spirit of Mukul, is available for deep-sea catch-and-release fishing for marlin.
Sacred Valley, Peru
The crown jewel of Peru's Sacred Valley is indisputably Machu Picchu, the massive display of Incan expertise where those who like a challenge should also climb the insanely steep Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain peak. You can recover in the serene, beautifully appointed confines of Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, where they'll help you schedule a range of activities, including biking with Sacred Wheels, trekking with llamas, kayaking or white-water rafting (depending on the time of year), and riding 4x4 quadbikes or horses to the spectacular Maras salt mines. The truly fearless can also rock climb and zip line their way to prime views of the valley.
Breathtaking beaches are served up with a side of adrenaline in Fiji, and the uber-exclusive Laucala Resort offers innumerable ways to stir it up. Book one of the traditional (albeit very luxurious) Fijian villas and set off on horseback to discover the beauty of the island. Later try your hand at manning a Dragon sailboat or Fijian outrigger, go windsurfing, or explore the rainforest by foot. The reef encircling Laucala is spectacular, so don't miss an up-close-and-personal view via snorkel or scuba. Or, slide into the DeepFlight Super Falcon Mark 2 submarine, sit back and take it all in.
Cape Town, South Africa
There's no better place to mix daring feats—cage diving with great white sharks, anyone?—with luxurious tranquility (via endless incredible wine) than Cape Town. The first order of business should be scaling the iconic Table Mountain, which dominates most city views and is not far from The Last Word Constantia, a private luxury boutique hotel set amid secret gardens and vineyards. On a full-moon evening, hike the steep Lion's Head with a bottle of bubbly, and enjoy the simultaneous sunset and moonrise. You can also paraglide from its peak. Don't skip a big five safari. Lions, elephants, leopards, oh my!
Where else in the world besides Iceland can you scuba dive at the fault line between two tectonic plates? Nowhere. That unique activity is far from the only exciting reason to visit the Nordic nation of fire and ice. The former comes in the way of secret hot springs (found while hiking Reykjadalur Valley) and trekking through lava fields, tubes, caves and a desert of black ash. The latter is experienced via snowmobile or riverjet, ice cave exploration or glacier hiking. The otherworldly possibilities are endless at Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, especially the wintertime grand finale: the Northern Lights spectacle.
Stray from the beaten path in the country best known for Machu Picchu to Paracas, kind of like Peru's Hamptons. Three hours south of Lima, on the Pacific Coast, Hotel Paracas serves up five-star service, incredible beds, beautiful pools and mouthwatering meals (and pisco sours!). But it's also the jumping-off point for a boat ride to the Ballestas Islands to spot penguins and sea lions, a scenic—and potentially stomach-flipping—flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines geoglyphs, and a rollercoaster-like drive over gigantic sand dunes, followed by sandboarding down shockingly steep slopes. It's also a famous spot for kitesurfing—lessons available.
Mark Twain once wrote that heaven must have been copied after Mauritius, and indeed, The St. Regis Mauritius Resort—situated on an UNESCO World Heritage site with an ultra-turquoise lagoon—is more gorgeous than you could even imagine. Kite surfing is one of the biggest draws (lessons are available); once you've ripped it up you'll get a video of the action. Exceptional diving through extensive coral reefs and a plethora of Technicolor fish is an option, too. Or flex those muscles to reel in a big one while deep-sea fishing.
The former drug capital of the world might seem an unlikely place to honeymoon, but that's because few people know the beauty of the city known for its eternal spring temperatures. In the cool Poblado neighborhood, The Charlee Hotel is the chicly decorated place to lay your head between excursions to the vibrant town of Guatapé to climb 740 steps up the El Peñol monolith, and perhaps base-jump off the top; see Pablo Escobar's bombed-out lake house or try out jet boots. Windy mountain roads are enticing for cyclists, and thermals are just right for paragliding high above the valley. A day at Parque Arví, a Metrocable ride away, is a must for hiking, zip-lining and ropes-course fun.
Can you keep a secret? Western Australia is one of the most adventurous, picturesque places on earth. In Broome, Kimberley Sands Resort is a lavish home base for outings that include swimming with whale sharks, visiting a crocodile park and whale watching. What's more, you can dive for pearls (maybe your hubby will discover treasure), take 4-wheel drive tours, learn to drive cattle like a real outback rancher, and ride camels along Cable Beach. No trip is complete without seeing the famous horizontal waterfalls of Buccaneer Archipelago via a small seaplane.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Explore a new part of the world with a journey to Myanmar (also referred to as Burma), where simply experiencing the way locals live is fascinating. Inle Lake is famous for its floating gardens and houses perched on stilts, and a boat tour is the best way to see them, along with the fishermen who steer and paddle their wooden canoes with one foot. A more high-energy way to see the landscape around Aureum Resort is via mountain bike, which you can also ride to hot springs. After a several-day trek, horseback ride or canoodle with elephants at a nearby camp, watch the sunset with some local wine.