Do you and your love spend weekends hiking, admiring the foliage, deeply breathing in fresh air, and seeking out scenic overlooks? Do you camp under the stars, or sail atop expanses of blue? Do you find every excuse to be outside, in nature? Do you swim in seas and lakes, stroll on sand, and play in the snow? Do you thrive on once-in-a-lifetime experiences? If it’s a yes to any of these, you might be happiest honeymooning in a natural wonderland—a destination where it’s all about epic expanses and breathtaking beauty. Let Mother Nature be your best wedding present in a remote, bucket-list part of the world, where it’s just you and the great outdoors.
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Raja Ampat Islands
If you’re water people, it’s hard to imagine an adventure more exciting than one that sails through the Raja Ampat islands, a protected part of Indonesia that represents one of the world’s richest marine biospheres. Livaboard yacht is the dreamiest way to get around—you’ll feel like explorers on the opulent charter phinisi Prana by Atzaró, discovering secluded little coves and powdery white beaches fringed with perfect palms, where it seems no man or woman has gone before. (Micro wedding idea: Bring up to 16 of your nearest and dearest along for the ride, but definitely take the largest suite, with a private patio and soaking tub, for yourselves.) If the electric blues of the lagoons stun you, you’ll find there’s even more to see underwater, in the crystal-clear aquarium of this coral-riddled expanse, home to bumphead parrotfish, black-tipped reef sharks, manta rays and explosions of vibrant life. The appeal of a charter yacht is that your wish is the large staff’s command—there’s not only snorkeling and diving but motorized water sports, kayaks, SUP boards, and hiking, plus on-demand massages, an open-air floating cinema, and beach picnics. Dolphins may be your escorts at sunset, while you sip cocktails with the wind in your hair. Mother Nature truly provides in all ways, as is evident in the world-class cuisine served morning, midday, and night, featuring the freshest catches from the sea and tropical produce bursting with flavor.
You’d better love trekking if Patagonia is your choice—it might be one of the most spectacularly scenic parts of the world, and it’s best seen on foot. Soaring mountains, snowcapped peaks, milky-turquoise lakes, and icy blue glaciers are just a few of the sights as you explore this vast region in Chile and Argentina, divided by the Andes. In Puerto Bories in Southern Chile, there’s The Singular Patagonia, a post-Victorian cold storage plant that’s now a 57-room luxury resort offering access to pristine reserves for hiking in the crisp air, sailing the fjords, and communing with nature—not to mention a sustainable spa and gastronomic restaurant. Tierra Hotels’ trio of luxury lodges offer an architecturally appealing circuit of sorts, from the Atacama Desert to Torres del Paine National Park’s rugged mountain trails.
Alaska might not be the honeymoon destination of every couple’s dreams, but it sure has serious appeal for newlyweds who would rather spend their time spotting bears and walrus than hanging by the pool. The massive state is chock-full of spots so beautiful it’s surreal, including Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park. Hike, explore ice caves, climb Mount McKinley, watch for humpback whales, ski, camp, and kayak. Serious explorers should check out Within the Wild, an adventure travel company that has a pair of remote, sustainable lodges that combine unparalleled outdoors experiences (think heli-skiing, deep sea fishing, and glacier trekking) with advanced wellness and innovative cuisine. You can also cover a lot of ground with a cruise, like Ponant’s eight-day Alaska to British Columbia itinerary on the Le Soléal, which sails by the impressive Tracy Arm Fjord.
It’s not quite as devoid of human life as Raja Ampat, or nearly as tropical, but the Galápagos Islands are a rich destination if you’re seeking rare, endemic wildlife—think massive tortoises and equally huge sea turtles, flamingos, sea lions, land and aquatic iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and more. Ecoventura’s chic and intimate 10-cabin vessels are perfect for honeymooners who don’t mind doing twice- or thrice-daily activities and excursions—led by expert naturalists—alongside other couples or families. As a Relais & Chateaux member, you know the cuisine hits high marks. Another option with a bit more privacy built in is the high-end eco-aware Pikaia Lodge, where you can gaze at Santa Cruz Island and the Pacific Ocean from the soaking tub of your pool suite, and embark on explorations both on land and by sea.
There are towns in New Zealand that literally have populations of 16 people—that’s how off the beaten path you can get in the South Pacific island nation that claims some of the world’s most unreal landscapes. (Just watch The Lord of the Rings for proof.) There are sapphire-toned lakes, electric blue glaciers, waterfalls of monumental proportion, perfectly curling waves, fields of flowers, rolling green hills, snaking rivers, pristine beaches, and mountains—boy, are there mountains. Get into the spirit with tramping (what they call hiking), and consider a road trip or scenic flight to make the most of the destination. Down south in Queenstown, an adventure and ski hub, there’s the luxurious Matakauri Lodge overlooking Lake Wakatipu, while The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs occupies a bucolic corner of the North Island surrounded by ancient forest and private beaches.