The Best Honeymoon Destinations for Animal Lovers
From coral reefs to sanctuaries, you’ll love these honeymoon excursions.
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Adventure Honeymoons Full of Furry Friends
Romance differs for every couple. For some, it’s a candlelit dinner at a romantic resort. For others, it’s an unforgettable adventure in what feels like a whole different world. And for those who love their fuzzy friends more than anything on Earth, the ultimate feelings of adoration arise when spending time around animals. From rustic wildlife encounters to cozy animal sanctuaries, here are 10 honeymoon destinations that are perfect for animal lovers.
Sloth Sanctuary | Costa Rica
Is there anything cuter than a baby sloth? Nope. Spend your honeymoon around the cutest creatures on earth at The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica. Encompassing 320-acres of lush tropical lowland rainforest, the rescue, rehabilitation center and research organization offers visitors a chance to see adorable sloths in their native habitat via relaxing canoe tours that explore the flora and fauna on the property. And those who take the insider’s tour can go behind the scenes of the Slothpittal clinic and nursery. (There is no handling the sloths because it stresses them out too much.) The rooms aren’t flashy, but couples can book a room at the onsite Buttercup Inn for up to three nights to maximize time near the slow-moving sweeties.
Crystal River | Florida
When temperatures dip in the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of manatees descend upon the warm bays and inland waterways of Crystal River from about November through April. The gentle giants hang out and frolic near the warmer waters of Three Sisters Springs and Homosassa Springs, where local tour operators and nature guides bring visitors to get up-close-and-personal with the curious mammals. From kayaking and paddle boarding to swimming and snorkeling, couples can pick and choose from a wide array of manatee encounters. It is legal to touch them with one hand on the back or stomach, as they will often approach humans in the water, but your guide will tell you the rules of interacting since they are endangered and protected by law.
Yellowstone National Park | Montana, Wyoming and Idaho
Yellowstone National Park draws millions of visitors from around the world for its geysers, hot springs, mudpots and steam vents. But the park's abundant and diverse wildlife is as famous as its impressive hydrothermal activity. The sprawling park is home to nearly 300 species of birds (such as the largest wild waterfowl in North America, Trumpeter swans), 16 species of fish, five species of amphibians, six species of reptiles and the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48, including bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, Canada lynx and wolves. Local guides can help you spot these creatures in their natural habitat. The most coveted rooms in the park are inside Old Faithful Inn. The gorgeous parkitecture-inspired national historic landmark is considered the largest log structure in the world.
Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary | South Africa
Going on Safari has got to be a life changing experience—but you never know what you’re going to get. At Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa, you’re guaranteed to see big cats. The rescue center, created by the international animal welfare organization Four Paws, currently has more than 100 big cats—including lions, tigers and leopards—living out their lives in peace on a vast piece of land with an onsite three-star lodge. The property offers couples and families accommodations ranging from self-catering chalets to double-rooms. To keep guests occupied, it boasts a wide array of activities like game drives, biking trails and guided walks through the sanctuary.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Utah
The soaring red rocks of Utah attract visitors from all over the world. Take in the spectacular scenery while hanging out with nearly 1,600 animals at Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab. Set along gorgeous Angels Canyon, it is one of the biggest animal sanctuaries in the United States with one of the widest ranges of species, spanning from regular ‘ole cats and dogs to horses, pigs and birds. The vast property even has accommodations onsite including RV hookups and cottages nestled in the dramatic cliffs with an expansive view of the horse pastures. Word to the wise: if you want to stay onsite—you do—make sure to plan far in advance, as the place is often booked.
Elephant Nature Park | Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is known for its famous night bazaar, gorgeous botanical garden and bold cuisine. It’s also home to one of the best retirement homes for rescued elephants on the planet. Founded by renowned elephant conservationist Lek Chailert, Elephant Nature Park is a pioneer in the humane treatment of those in captivity. Day visitors and overnight guests can watch the herd bathe in the river that borders the idyllic park. Guests are not allowed to participate in the baths—the “sanctuaries” that allow visitors to bathe with elephants often keep them in the water for unnaturally long periods of time—but they do get to feed the herd, learn how to communicate with them and watch them play and interact with their social groups. Couples who want to stay the night can sleep in rustic bamboo huts, so they can hear the majestic creatures whisper, rumble, snore and, possibly, trumpet through the evening.
Coral Bay | Western Australia
This tiny town, 12 hours north of Perth, basically sits right atop the Ningaloo Reef. The World Heritage Site is one of the longest fringing reef systems on the planet, stretching 300 kilometers swimming distance from the shore. As a divers’ and snorkelers’ dream, these crystal clear waters are one of the most biologically diverse marine environments in the world with more than 250 species of coral, 500 species of fish including giant manta rays and six of the seven species of sea turtles, as well as migratory humpback whales (June to November) and whale sharks (March to August). Local operators offer a range of tours including glass-bottom boats; manta ray, whale watching and whale shark tours; as well as land-based activities. However, couples who just want to relax on the beach can throw on snorkel gear for a quick trip in this lush underwater world.
The Galapagos | Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands, the chain of islands that inspired Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking “On the Origin of Species,”are one of the most revered and remote ecosystems in the world. It’s home to penguins, manta rays, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises and many species that exist nowhere else on the planet. It’s one of the few places that wild animals will allow visitors to get up close to because they’ve never really known predators. Small cruise ships, like the 100-passenger Celebrity Flora, offer honeymooners luxe cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized bathrooms and a personal suite attendant, so couples can enjoy the natural splendor without roughing it.
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex | Montana
Are you wondering why there are two Montana destinations on one honeymoon list? This trip is for adventurous equine fanatics who want to stay far away from any other two-leggeds. Outfitters like Mills Wilderness Adventures guide guests through the third-largest—and possibly the quietest—wilderness complex in the lower 48 on horseback. These multi-day pack trips bring visitors through pristine alpine meadows, forested river bottoms and across the Continental Divide with plenty of opportunities to pass by grizzlies, lynx, wolverines, moose, mountain goats and more. The company offers shorter, roving trips that move camps each night as well as week-long excursions to White River camp–which is home to comfy canvas tents with cots–as well as customized trips for couples who want an adventurous honeymoon that’s a bit more bespoke.
Chiloé Island | Chile
This verdant Pacific paradise is an important nesting place for Magellanic and Humboldt penguins—it’s the only place in the world where both species cohabitate near one another. Local tour companies such as Chiloé Natural will take visitors to the pinguinera via small boat during breeding season from November through March. Though those loveable seabirds get the most attention, Chiloé still has a lot more to offer in the wildlife department. The island is home to Darwin’s fox, indigenous pudú deer and Chilean flamingos. And it’s a reliable place to see blue whales, the largest animal on the globe, between January and April. For gorgeous views and modern amenities, book a stay at Enjoy Chiloé.