Balmy evenings in sea-salted air and colorful cocktails at sunset are cornerstones of a romantic getaway or honeymoon, but who’s to say a holiday must be all about relaxing?

When lounging loses its luster and your paperback starts to wilt, try hiking, diving or climbing to create your own romantic adventures in these classic couples’ destinations.

A couple in yellow kayaks paddle through crystal-clear water in the Maldives, with blue skies above them and a row of sunshades in the white sand in the distance.
Try a little competition to get your hearts racing in Maldives © amriphoto / Getty Images

Cocktails and kayaks in the Maldives

When your personal butler ships in a mango after you casually remark that you crave one, you can be certain you’re living in luxury. The high-end resorts of Maldives are not merely indulgent, they’re downright Epicurean. With private lap pools, in-room massages and even pillow menus, they cater for desires you never knew you had.

It’s little wonder then that this archipelago in the Indian Ocean is so popular with couples. A week of laze and languor is perfectly acceptable, but there’s plenty here for those seeking more. Explore the atolls by kayak on a mini-adventure. Setting out alone in a small watercraft has a romance of its own and offers the perfect antidote to a sun-baked stupor. Pack snorkels and fins to explore the islands’ world-class coral.

How to do it

Most Maldives hotels offer kayaking and water sports. Baros is particularly excellent for couples.

How to choose the best Maldives island for your travel style

An incredibly clear night sky full of stars, with an observation telescope in the foreground
Observatory at Mauna Kea © Alexander Caspari / Shutterstock

Drive from sand to snow in tropical Hawaiʻi

Hawaiʻi's Mauna Kea has its lower reaches beneath sea level, so while it’s not higher than Everest, it is taller. At 4207m (13,802ft) above sea level, this long-dormant volcano on Big Island is often capped with snow – yes, snow in Hawaiʻi. Visitors will also find a number of observatories dotting the slopes of this sacred mountain. The summit of Mauna Kea is so high, dry, dark and clean that it allows scientists to investigate the furthest reaches of the observable universe – a sure inspiration to venture from the beach.

How to do it

Drive to the visitor center to check conditions at the summit and pause for a while to adjust to the altitude. If you wish to drive further, a 4WD is recommended. Alternatively, book a tour with one of the officially permitted companies.

How to choose the best Hawaiian island for your trip

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A man and woman take photos from a safari jeep at sunset.
See which animals come out at dusk on a sunset safari © Tetra Images / Getty Image

One step beyond on a South African safari

A safari in South Africa is a great choice for those in search of adventure. The thrilling promise of the big five – lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo – draws more than a million annual visitors to Kruger National Park. With vast swathes of open savannah, a rich array of luxury accommodation and a supporting cast of giraffe, hippo, zebra and cheetah, Kruger is popular with honeymooning couples.

Those seeking an extra dash of adventure can opt for a rhino walking safari in Kruger. Combining game drives and bush walks, this allows guests to experience the natural rhythm of the national park, guided by an experienced ranger.

How to do it

Learn more about South Africa’s walking safaris and book a Rhino Walking Safari.

South Africa safaris for first-timers: 8 things to know before you book

A camp is set up in the desert in Dubai, with patterned red-and-white carpet and low, cushioned seats set up on the sand.
A camp in the Dubai desert © Traveller Tails / Shutterstock

From skyscrapers to stargazing in the deserts of Dubai

It’s clear that Dubai is a place to see and be seen. Its promise of sun, sea and shopping is rarely unfulfilled, but there is more to this gleaming metropolis. Couples searching for romantic adventures can choose to camp in the desert after a day of dune bashing.

Bedouin camps with Arabian tents offer comfortable overnight lodgings while entertainment comes in a range of guises: a feast of Emirati cuisine, lively local music, cookery demonstrations and even a spot of falconry. Above it all lies a glorious expanse of stars gleaming in their desert splendor.

How to do it

Choose from a selection of tours in Dubai.

Top 10 things to know before visiting Dubai

An aerial view shows a beautiful blue coastline and lush green mountain.
Le Morne on Mauritius is a romantic place to explore ©Myroslava Bozhko/Shutterstock

Mauritian beach to mountain peaks

A beach paradise, Mauritius is popular with couples seeking luxury along with romantic adventures. Formed by volcanic activity eight million years ago, Mauritius is encircled by a broken ring of mountains. Ranging from 300 to 800m (1000-2600ft) above sea level, they’re not quite Alpine, but the views are nonetheless dramatic.

Hike Le Pouce for superb views of the Moka Range. At 812m (2664ft), Le Pouce is the third-highest mountain on the island and can be hiked in a three-hour round trip: gentle at first with some scrambling at the top. Le Morne on the southwest tip of the island is also worth a hike.

How to do it

Drive to Petit Verger near the village of Saint Pierre in the Moka region. Follow the small paved road that leads off the corner of the B47 road to the small car park by the trailhead. From there, follow the Le Pouce hiking route.

Escape into nature and isolate yourself in a luxurious pod

A male couple admire the view in the Dolomites.
Escape the Venice crowds and head north to the Dolomites for a truly romantic experience © Westend61 / Getty Images

Venetian feast to mountain retreat

Few cities compete with Venice in terms of romance and splendor. Its motifs are unmistakable – the elegant curve of a gondola, the stone reliefs of Rialto Bridge, ornate basilicas  – while canalside bistros serve cicheti (Venetian tapas) and prosecco.

Pair Venice with a trip to the Dolomites a few hours north. This region is home to some of the world’s most dramatic mountains: rugged crags, soaring pillars, breathtaking pinnacles and colossal rock walls. Visit from December to March for world-class skiing and May to September for sublime hiking.

How to do it

Join a trekking in the Dolomites tour or book a Dolomites hotel and go it alone.

A woman in full diving gear shines her dive torch at the coral reef while many colourful fish swim around her in Fiji.
A diver explores the reef in Fiji © Darryl Leniuk / Getty Images

Lagoon life and shark dives in Fiji

From the overwater bures (bungalows) of Malolo Island to the lush greenery of Taveuni, Fiji may well be the most beautiful place you have ever seen. Its landscapes are literally out of a movie scene: Brooke Shields’ infamous Blue Lagoon was filmed in part on Turtle Island while Tom Hanks’ Castaway was shot on Monuriki. Throw in rich, flavorsome food from its Indo-Fijian community and you have all the ingredients for an amazing trip.

Those in search of romantic adventures should pause at Pacific Harbour on Viti Levu. Here audacious divers can observe reef sharks, lemon sharks, bull sharks and even the occasional tiger shark. 

How to do it

Book a dive with a reputable outfitter such as Aqua-Trek Beqa.

Don’t leave Fiji without visiting these national parks and marine sanctuaries

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This article was first published May 2019 and updated January 2022

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