Let’s be honest: Americans tend to overlook Canada. It’s cold, not as “exotic” as other international destinations, and, frankly, it gets a bad rap for being a bit sleepy. But make no mistake: If you’re willing to peel back the surface, there is just as much in Canada by way of adventure and romantic landscapes as anywhere. While it might not be able to compete with the hot sandy beaches of the Caribbean, for instance, there is more than enough to cater to honeymooners, from adventure seekers to those who just prefer to camp out with some privacy in a beautiful hotel. Play your cards right, and you can even take advantage of a pretty stellar exchange rate (as I’m writing this story, it’s hovering around a generous 1 USD to 1.30 CAD). Here, just a handful of exceptional honeymoon spots that should make you think twice about our neighbor to the north.
A Remote Seaside Escape
If you could go to the ends of the earth for your loved one, would you? This tiny island along the easternmost edge of North America is a study in remote luxury. Getting there isn’t easy, but the challenge of it all makes the reward that much sweeter. The best place to stay is the Fogo Island Inn, a masterfully modern building built directly onto a rocky shoreline. No two rooms are decorated the same, and each one filled with plenty of cozy, locally made quilts and pillows, as well as—best of all—floor-to-ceiling windows so you can watch icebergs float by from the comfort of your own bed. If it was good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk in the early days of their courtship, it’s good enough for us.
The Far, Frigid North
Tell any Canadian you’re headed to Manitoba for your honeymoon, and even they will be sure to raise an eyebrow. Then tell them you’re headed to Churchill in northern Manitoba, and they’ll quickly become envious—this is one of the few places in the world where human settlements are within easy reach of the migration routes of polar bears. Churchill Wild operates a series of luxury eco lodges in the area, and the best two are Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge and Seal River Heritage Lodge, both part of the prestigious National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection. Would there be anything more adventurous than having your morning coffee as a polar bear walks by your window? It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A Wine Country Unlike Any Other
A world-class wine region in Canada—who knew? For the wine-loving couple, consider a couple of nights in the Okanagan Valley, the stretch of land between the Rockies and Columbia Mountain range that stretches from Vernon in the north to Oliver in the south. This surprisingly warm and arid region is excellent for growing fruit and has made a name for its growing viticulture scene. There are tons of wineries with accommodations, like Bighorn Ridge, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Hester Creek Estate Winery, and Silver Sage Winery. Fly into Kelowna or Penticton, or better yet, rent a car in Vancouver, then take the scenic route through the mountains. It’s an easy add-on to any Western Canada itinerary, whether you’re coming from the Banff/Lake Louise area or the Vancouver/Whistler/Pacific area.
A Charming, Luxurious Train Ride
What could be more romantic than an old-school train journey? Rocky Mountaineer operates on a series of lines between Vancouver, Kamloops, and Banff and Jasper, passing through the most beautiful, untamed swaths of the Rockies. On board, the hosts are the real stars, narrating the entire journey with stories about geology and Canadian history, as well as making you are never without a drink in hand. And while this isn’t a sleeper train as in the case of many other luxury trains around the world, Rocky Mountaineer is a partner with Fairmont Hotels and offers a seamless porter service to get you from train to hotel and back again in style (there are, truly, red carpets involved). The only downside? The customization—hotels, length of journey, terminus, origin, so forth—results in dozens of different itineraries. So when you’re done, you may very well be itching to do it all over again on a different route.
Grizzly Bear Safari
You don’t have to fly all the way to Africa to go on safari. During the warmer months, when salmon begin to spawn, the region of Bella Coola in central British Columbia becomes home to one of the world’s most highly concentrated populations of grizzly bears. The experts at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge do an excellent job of running professional, ethical grizzly bear “safaris” as well as operating a comfortable, luxurious backcountry lodge. So if you’re in the mood to come face-to-face (within reason) with some of the most wild and exciting beasts on the planet, consider a visit to the Great Bear Rainforest.