HomeHoneymoons Out of Africa: Cape Town and Western Cape, South Africa
Out of Africa From mountains to monkeys, South Africa is a wildly adventurous honeymoon destination.
By Kirsten Ott Palladino and Melissa Varnadoe
Giraffes at sunset on Naval Hill, Bloemfontein South Africa by Hein Von Hörsten
From mountains and beaches to monkeys, South Africa is a wildly adventurous honeymoon destination rich in bio-diversity. The Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), as well as whales, seals, white sharks and bird colonies, are in abundance.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: For warmer weather in spring and summer, go between August and February. Catch the fall colors at the vineyards in March and April. You can do the most wildlife-watching in the winter (June to September) when vegetation is less dense.
GLBT-FRIENDLY FACTOR: Cape Town is by far the friendliest city in South Africa, a country that legally recognizes same-sex marriage.
SLUMBER: The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays is a beaut of a hotel with all the amenities you could want in a Westin and in a gorgeous setting, to boot. Located at the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and a stone’s throw of Cape Town’s vibrant hub of restaurants, bars, nightlife, monuments, museums, shops and the central business district.
A family-owned vineyard, Klein Zalze is situated in the heart of the Cape winelands, near Stellenbosch, and offers oenophiles a lush setting to celebrate their recent nuptials. Wake up to vistas of the expansive vineyard, tour the wine cellar and taste the family’s vino, and dine at the property’s Terroir restaurant, which focuses on French cooking techniques. Want to tie the knot in Cape winelands? The hotel also contracts with a local wedding planner.
You’ll feel like royalty at Arrabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa. A 20-minute drive from the whale watchers haven of Hermanus, this luxury resort boasts an award-winning 18-hole championship golf course, a host of dining and entertainment options and a superior spa that combines combines traditional and modern therapies. Bonus: All the facilities (think heated indoor hydropool, heated outdoor lappool, tipedarium, sauna, steam room and fitness center) are available to hotel guests.
Den Anker for mussels and fries by the waterfront.
Belthazer, a waterfront eatery that boasts the largest wine bar in the world, along with some of the best beef in Cape Town.
Head to Terroir Restaurant at Klein Zalze for truly amazing food, wine and ambience ... a foodie's dream come true.
Got another night to spend in Stellenbosch? Dine at Apprentice Restaurant at the Institute of Culinary Arts, and taste the skills of third year culinary students.
For lunch or dinner, spend some time at Fairview Wine Estate for deliciously fresh fare and innovative wine for the discerning palate. This primo winery is situated on a farm on the Southwest-facing slopes of Paarl Mountain.
False Bay Coast, South Africa by Hein Von Hörste
SEE & DO: In and Around Cape Town:
Safaris. The choices are almost endless for safaris, from the Big 5 to channeling your inner Sigourney Weaver for gorilla watching to turtle safaris to night-time safaris. You can go by Jeep, walking, cycling and even canoeing. Your lodge provides your rangers and guides, but for an overlook of safari operators, visit Cape Town Safaris.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Nestled between Robben Island and Table Mountain in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour is V&A Waterfront. Indulge your shopping bug here (there are more than 400 stores to choose from). For a quick bite in between maxing out your credit card, head to Paulaner Bräuhaus for German-style fare in a relaxed atmosphere. Later, up the romance factor at Signal, an upscale gourmet restaurant that celebrates the Cape’s heritage with locally sourced ingredients.
Robben Island. History and honeymoons really can get along! Archive buffs will love this educational stop on the itinerary. From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island once was a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a World Heritage Site offering interesting exhibitions, a museum, tour opportunities and a complex, sensitive eco-system.
Table Mountain. Hike it or see it by tram. Once you rise to the top, prepare to be swept away by the gorgeous vistas. View site.
Boulders Beach. Short but regal, the African penguins are vulnerable and protected. Wooden walkways allow visitors to view the black-and-white penguins (called jackasses because of their donkey-like braying) in their natural habitat. At the end of the walkway, you’ll find Roxy Beach, a hot spot for whale-watching.
PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR: Adventure, outdoor activities, well-made vino and gourmet cuisine, beach and water sports
DAYS TO STAY: At least seven days, but you could easily tour the Western Cape for two weeks, if you’ve got the time and money.
OH, AND BY THE WAY: Driving is on the other side of the road, but a must for exploring this beautiful region!