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Do you dream of seeing elephants in the wild up close? Is hiking a must on every trip you take? Would you love to see penguins on a sandy beach? Are you foodies or oenophiles, or both? Do you love a coastal road trip? If any one of these is a yes, it’s safe to say a South African honeymoon is your dream come true.
The southernmost country on the African continent is spectacular in so many ways. It’s impossible to rank the reasons that it's an exceptional honeymoon destination, but if you're looking for some planning advice, this guide is the place to start. From where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do, this is how to plan a romantic honeymoon in South Africa.
Planning Your South Africa Honeymoon
With the exception of luxury hotels and wildlife or safari excursions, South Africa is generally very affordable. The U.S. Dollar tends to go a long way in this destination, and the value for your money is incredible, especially when dining. Keep in mind when planning your trip that this country's position in the Southern Hemisphere means the seasons are opposite from ours, meaning our winter is their summer (but it’s not exactly snowy in the wintertime). The wind in Cape Town in summer is legendary but it won’t prevent you from doing anything. And there are many things to do.
Favorite pursuits in the coastal city include hiking (you can’t miss Table Mountain–even if you don’t climb to the top of the plateau that overlooks the city, you can take the cable car and walk around the top), paragliding, surfing, cage diving with sharks, and taking scenic drives to epic vistas and wildlife preserves. Anyone interested in history or politics shouldn’t miss a tour of Robben Island, the place Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Penguin lovers, Boulders Beach is for you—the pristine sandy beach is where a massive colony of adorable African penguins live.
As you begin the planning process, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Language: There are eleven official languages in South Africa: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, and English.
Currency: The South African rand
When to Go: May through September is the best time to view big game, as the climate is slightly cooler and drier than November through February, when rain is more frequent and temperatures are higher (beach-goers may want to consider these months for their trip, though).
How Much Time to Spend: For those coming from the U.S., couples will want to spend 10 days to two weeks in South Africa because it takes so long to get there and there is so much to do.
Getting There: Johannesburg is the primary entry point for direct flights from the U.S., which leave from Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and New York, with a flight time of roughly 15 hours.
Transportation: Domestic air travel is a popular way to get around the country, though trains and buses are accessible, too (they just take a long time and sometimes aren't as reliable). Renting a car is a good option, and taxis and uber are widely available in cities.
Must-Pack: Hiking boots, walking shoes, bathing suit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and light layers.
Where to Stay During Your South Africa Honeymoon
From charming boutique hotels in Cape Town to resorts near the winelands and sprawling tented camps that put you up close to the Big Five, there's something for every time of honeymooner in South Africa.
One&Only Cape Town
The One&Only Cape Town has its own sprawling free-form pool dotted with cabanas and its expansive spa conveniently located near it for ultimate pampering post-wedding. If you can bear to leave your large room or suite, the live acoustic music and innovative mixology at Vista Bar—plus the top-rated Nobu and Reuben’s beside it—is a good reason.
The Silo Hotel
The Silo Hotel is a five-star boutique hotel that requires a serious splurge, but if you can swing it, it’s worth it. Vibrant and art-filled, the architecturally significant bolthole is an aesthete’s dream (it’s also perched above the Zeitz MOCAA contemporary art museum if you crave more), plus unmatched 360-degree views from its guests-only rooftop pinnacle. The pool up there is also epic, so take a camera and plan to relax in the sun for at least a day with a local gin cocktail in hand.
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
The pretty-in-pink Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, a stalwart in Cape Town for decades, feels a bit more hidden away, with a robust array of experiences to engage you in Cape Town’s culture. There, the spa offers a pink quartz crystal massage perfect for lovers, and you can arrange a portrait session with the artist-in-residence who was actually Mandela’s portrait specialist. Or take a walk through Fynbos with a nature specialist and sip sundowners from the mountainside as the sun sets.
Tswalu Loapi Tented Camps
Six individual safari homes (each sustainably designed and environmentally conscious) surrounded by savannah and private wilderness create a stunning home base for couples looking for an absolutely luxurious safari experience. Expect to pay a top-tier price, but know that you'll get top-tier services like a personal butler and private chef for the duration of your stay.
Delaire Graff Wine Estate
Located in what is known as the Cape Winelands, this estate puts couples amongst the vineyards and some of the region's best wines. Thanks to its position atop the Helshoogte Pass, Delaire Graff Wine Estate guarantees panoramic views, made even better by the pristine villas and lodges (think private decks and heated plunge pools).
Singita means Place of Miracles, and this couldn't be more fitting for this iconic ecotourism and conservation brand that offers multiple lodges across the continent (there are seven in South Africa). Along with a steadfast commitment to sustainability, Singita lodges offer travelers some of the best safari experiences in Africa while staying in luxurious lodges that embody the charm of safari and puts guests in a prime location for wildlife spotting experiences.
Emily Moon Lodge
Emily Moon Lodge feels as though it was virtually made for couples. The scenery from the balcony of your room could make you swoon, especially with a glass of South African wine in hand. Work up an appetite to feast at its acclaimed restaurant with a canoe trip through the snaking river bends lined with graceful grasses.
The Plettenberg Hotel
For a beachy stay, opt for The Plettenberg Hotel, an elegant getaway with the most ideal Indian Ocean views, mouthwatering cuisine, and a pool poised perfectly to spot pods of dolphins playing in the surf.
Things to Do During Your South Africa Honeymoon
From safari excursions to relaxing wine tastings and days spent exploring Cape Town, here are our top recommendations for things to do during your honeymoon in South Africa.
Plan a Safari
Outside Cape Town, couples will find wildlife parks where you can do a one-day safari, or you can go a bit farther afield to a place like Kruger National Park or Sabi Sands where renowned luxury camps by &Beyond and Singita are. For an even more opulent experience, try Royal Malewane.
Take a Road Trip
There are jaw-droppingly beautiful road trips along the southern and eastern coast of South Africa, like the Garden Route and around the Wild Coast. If embarking on the former, you can set out from Cape Town or take a domestic flight east and rent a car. The Garden Route is as bucolic and verdant as its name alludes. A series of small coastal towns are braided with parks, reserves, and rivers providing an outdoor enthusiast with tough decisions about what to do (bungee jumping, surfing, canyoning, and hiking are all on offer).
Surfers shouldn’t miss Jeffrey’s Bay, a town with excellent world-class breaks, cute eateries, and basic hotels.
Visit the Winelands
There’s so much wining and dining available in the Winelands, located just an hour east of Cape Town (the region's three main towns are Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Paarl). Hop in the car and head out for a day, or work this in as multiple days in your honeymoon itinerary. A few favorites include Boschendal, Haute Cabriere, Jordan Wine Estate, L’Avenir, Nederberg, and Fairview.
Can't-Miss Romantic Experience: True outdoor enthusiasts should not miss the honeymoon treehouse—yes, treehouse!—at Teniqua Treetops, where you’ll feel like the only people in the world gazing out over the verdant canopy carpet from your bathtub-for-two with a view. It’s equipped with a kitchen so you can seduce your partner with a cooked-in-a-treehouse meal using local farm-fresh ingredients.
Where to Eat During Your South Africa Honeymoon
South Africa is known for its food scene, so arrive hungry. Cape Town is definitely a place for couples to indulge in tasting menu after tasting menu; there are hundreds of mouthwatering meals to be had, so it’s wise to plan ahead for dinners especially, since many of the most popular restaurants require reservations quite a bit in advance. Schedule time on the weekends to visit some of the food markets that are oh-so-tasty, like V&A Food Market. In the Winelands, there are gourmet experiences aplenty, and further out, couples who embark on safari excursions will find incredible cuisine to enjoy at the impressive lodges and tented camps.
Truth Coffee Roasting
The perfect place to start your day in Cape Town, Truth Coffee Roasting selects and roasts the world's most exclusive coffees.
The Test Kitchen
Go to this Cape Town gem for the tasting menu, and stay for the array of South African wines.
La Colombe, Constantia
Located high above the city at Silvermist Estate, contemporary French cuisine combines with Asian flavors at this award-winning Cape Town favorite, which dishes up bold menu items that are veritable works of art.
Sir Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle has a popular tasting room and restaurant for wine-drenched meals in the sun. It’s the perfect place to hide away in a plush room or get a little active with lawn games overlooking the valley before dinner.
Located two hours by car up the coast from Cape Town, this award-winning restaurant features a changing seven-course seasonal menu with locally sourced and foraged ingredients.
Budgeting for a South Africa Honeymoon
The biggest portion of your South African honeymoon budget will likely go to airfare and a safari experience (if you choose to book one). Direct flights from the U.S. hover around $1,000-$1,400 depending on when you book, but they can be as low as $800 (though something this cheap won't likely be direct). Once you're in South Africa, things are generally less expensive than what Americans are used to—food, alcohol, transportation, and some activities won't break the bank, and the rand-to-USD conversion rate really sets you up well. Things get pricey when you book safaris and adventure excursions, but keep in mind that it's easy to keep costs low during the portions of your trip that don't involve the safari or a tented camp experience.