Planning an Active Honeymoon – We Want Your Tips

Planning an active honeymoon

For years I’ve been wanting to go on our honeymoon to Tahiti – the water bungalows, the remoteness of the islands, the beauty and the sense of adventure from travelling so far. Sadly, when it came to booking we realised it was realistically out of our budget. I was really disappointed, however I also couldn’t justify spending up to £2000 a night on some of the hotels on Bora Bora.

So, I began researching further, and we have settled on an active adventure honeymoon (but with plenty of beach and relaxation too). We’re going to be visiting San Francisco, then flying to Hawaii (Oahu and Maui islands), back to LA then driving back to San Francisco (flights to Oakland, SF are about half the price of the flights to LA!).

So far we have very little planned, other than watching the Giants vs Dodgers baseball game which happens to be on when we’re in San Fran. I’m also hoping to do a tour of Alcatraz and perhaps venture out to Napa. Of course, as it’s activity we’re after we’ll run along the Golden Gate Bridge and I might even sneak an early workout in with the SF November Project!

In terms of Hawaii, I want a real mixture of activity and pure relaxation, with some hiking, water sports, and beach time, alongside the incredible fresh food I’ve heard about. This will be the beachy side of the holiday, but we’d love to explore the local areas and earn our ice-creams 😉 We’re probably spending 10 days in Hawaii to make the most of the long flight.

Coming back to LA, the plan is to spend a day in the city- I’ve been before but Tom hasn’t (might have to join my friend Abby for a Soul Cycle class!) before driving up the West Coast highway via Santa Barbara, Big Sur and Carmel back to Oakland.

As with the wedding, sometimes I worry that the media has blown the idea of a honeymoon out of proportion, however I’m excited to explore, relax and spend time with Tom after the craziness of the wedding (and wedding prep). It’s also an excuse to travel further, and spend a little more than we would on a typical holiday.

So… I’d love some tips if you’ve travelled to any of these locations, and I’m also really interested in what your dream honeymoon would be? Or if you’re married, where did you spend your honeymoon? 

32 Comments

  1. 12th February 2017 / 9:03 am

    My husband and I are both runners so we did sneak in a 5k race on our honeymoon. We headed to Florida to chill out at my parents’ holiday home for a couple of weeks and had fun creating workouts in a nearby playpark around me introducing him to some of the famous local attractions!
    I’ve not been to the places you’re heading too, but I know one of the few US parkruns is in San Fran right by the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m pretty sure you read Hungry Runner Girl who recently went to Hawaii so I bet she’ll have some great tips. Do you also read Run Eat Repeat? Monica would be great for some SoCal tips. Have find!

    • charlotte
      12th February 2017 / 10:05 am

      Oh yes great idea thanks! I’m so envious that you were able to get a 5K race into your trip, I think Tom would try to divorce me if I suggested it. He is willing to run the Golden Gate bridge with me though!

  2. Sam
    12th February 2017 / 10:59 am

    The Golden Gate Bridge offers great views but it is essentially a motorway so not the nicest route to run (I cycled!)

    • charlotte
      12th February 2017 / 11:03 am

      Oh no, really? Good to know, thanks!

      • 12th February 2017 / 3:04 pm

        I’d second this! Better to run in either golden gate park or in saucelito on the other side and cycle the bridge itself. Even the cycle can be scary- windy and v close to heavy traffic. Watch your sunscreen too, I burnt my wrists cycling over the bridge!

        • 13th February 2017 / 10:40 pm

          Agree! Run out Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach. Or, you can run Chrissy Field and run right to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a lovely view. Because of the amount of tourists who take photos on the Golden Gate Bridge, it would be stop and go on the congested sidewalk. You could check local races through runningintheusa.com. You say Tom might divorce you if you suggest a 5k, but you should know that some local races cross the bridge. They have some lane closures to accommodate races. That might be your best way to get that run in if your heart is set on it!

    • 12th February 2017 / 3:56 pm

      Agreed! We went running in Golden Gate Park instead which was beautiful – much better to cycle across the bridge itself!

    • Dana
      14th February 2017 / 3:20 pm

      As a former San Francisco dweller and runner- I have to disagree. There is NOTHING like a morning sunrise run across the Golden Gate Bridge on the weekend (you’ll see other runners out there too!) The views are breath taking!

  3. 12th February 2017 / 12:21 pm

    Renting bikes and riding from SF over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito was really fun when we went there for the first time. For Hawaii, there’s so many things. Which island will you be on? No matter what beach you are on, it will be breathtaking.

    • 13th February 2017 / 10:59 am

      We rode from SF over the bridge to Sausalito. Was a beautiful place. Definitely worth the cycle and then you can get the ferry back over to SF bay if you like.

  4. 12th February 2017 / 12:31 pm

    Which island in Hawaii are you going to? My husband and I went to Maui and Oahu for ours but much preferred Maui as it had a less touristy more island feel.

    The Road to Hana in Maui is amazing and definitely an active day! It’s a day trip through Hawaiian rain forest with lots of stops on the way for opportunities to hike and see waterfalls. Haleakala National Park towards the end of the drive has the Pipiwai Trail to walk that has a bamboo forest and an awesome waterfall at the end, it can take about an hour roundtrip so bear that in mind. We’ve been twice and the second time we did Road to Hana backwards to we could hit the trails first thing in the morning when the park was less busy and we weren’t already exhausted from the day since it was one of the top ranked hikes.

    We also watched the sunrise from the top of Haleakala, amazing experience and i know they have options to cycle back down the mountain to make it an active activity.

    So exciting!!

  5. Sharon
    12th February 2017 / 1:33 pm

    When you are in Sanny Franny, drive up to Muir Woods and do a hike in the Muir Woods national park. They have several options depending on how long you want to hike. The redwoods are amazing!!

  6. Nicola
    12th February 2017 / 1:53 pm

    It’s so exciting planning the Honeymoon. We did Dallas, Vegas, LA and Mexico for our Honeymoon. You should do a Wine Tour in LA – we had a fabulous day visiting the Vineyards and had a driver for the day and used another Side of LA Tours, we also used them to do a Hollywood Homes Tour (we just got a private driver) which was fun! You could do a Hike and go up to Hollywood sign!! We are now addicted to LA and go 3 times a year if we can. I signed up for a The TurkeyTrot run when we were there but also squeezed in a SoulCycle class and did a couple of runs around WeHo 🙂

  7. 12th February 2017 / 3:25 pm

    Such fun! I just booked our honeymoon. We are going to Japan and New Zealand. Hawaii is going to be perfect and the drive on highway one from SF to LA (or either direction) is gorgeous

  8. 12th February 2017 / 3:38 pm

    Oooh, I can help with this! I’ll drop you an email later! Just one word of advice…don’t call it San Fran. Or Frisco. Just call it San Francisco or SF or (when you’re there) ‘the city’!!

    • charlotte
      13th February 2017 / 5:40 am

      Haha very very good to know, thanks Cathryn. Look forward to your email 🙂

  9. 12th February 2017 / 3:58 pm

    We did a San Francisco to Texas road trip on my qualification leave, all along Highway One to LA, up to Vegas and then across to Grand Canyon and to Austin, it was honestly the time of my life! Some lovely places to run. I really wanted to do Hawaii for our honeymoon but it still feels very expensive – I think we might go to Bali! So exciting!! x

  10. 13th February 2017 / 10:28 am

    Mine would be Zanzibar, climbing Mount Kenya and a safari.

  11. 13th February 2017 / 10:45 am

    Cali is really nice, I’m lucky enough to have been twice. Have you been to China before? I can highly recommend a visit to Zhangye’s Danxia Landscape, also known as ‘Rainbow Mountains.’ Rich 🙂

  12. 13th February 2017 / 2:14 pm

    We actually just did the Pacific Coast Highway (last October) starting in LA all the way to Seattle. It’s really quite beautiful and you will stop a lot for pictures. We ate at this Brazilian restaurant, Bossa Nova off the sunset strip in LA that was awesome and cheap (and it wasn’t like a normal Brazilian restaurant with just meat). It was recommended to us and we absolutely loved it.
    Santa Barbara was amazing. We stopped at this little winery called Carr winery in town, which had some nice wines. They recommended a place in Monterrey (next to Carmel) called the Fishhouse, which was really good.
    There is a seal stop before you get to Big Sur. Just go ahead and stop there, because there is no where to park or turn around. We also looked at the seals in Monterrey, which were quite spectacular.
    We didn’t go to Napa, but we went North of Sonoma. We visited the Sbragia Winery (amazing) and Francis Ford Copola Winery (also amazing and lots of movie memorabilia). My friend stayed there, because it’s like an Italian beachy looking hotel, as well with cabanas. She loved it. We went to the Russian Brewing Company, which is famous for their beer. This area is also really beautiful, but again, it’s farther north than Napa. Ghiradellis in SF is great for their sundaes. Just go for it.

    Have fun!

  13. Steph
    14th February 2017 / 2:29 am

    Carmel Valley has lovely wineries & tasting rooms. Much more intimate than Napa. I hope you can fit Napa in too, though! Maui is my favorite island! Perfect for a honeymoon. The Road to Hana is insane & worth experiencing. Just be careful if either of you get motion sick. I’d recommend driving your own rental car versus taking a tour van. Sounds like an amazing trip!

  14. Dana
    14th February 2017 / 3:19 pm

    Just catching up on your post- I just moved here from San Francisco! I have TONS of great recommendations *Running and otherwise* I’d LOVE to send you more!!

  15. Elisabeth Adkins
    14th February 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I’m getting married in June and my fiance and I are also doing an adventure honeymoon – we’re going to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, CA to hike, trail run & explore glaciers! I can’t wait!

    If you have time when you’re driving from Las Angelas to San Francisco I’d suggest trying to see either Joshua Tree National Park or Sequoia National Park (or both if you have time)! They’re both amazingly beautiful and there’s tons of amazing but short day hikes if you don’t have a lot of extra time.

    Congratulations!

  16. Annie
    15th February 2017 / 2:58 am

    If you can squeeze in a day trip, try to check out Muir Woods near San Francisco. It’s not too far from the city and is a very special place! The Redwood trees are so amazing!

  17. 15th February 2017 / 10:00 pm

    Aloha!!
    O’ahu: Taxi’s are not cheap, so plan your transportation accordingly. While there are many “short” hikes you can do to earn your Hawaiian Shaved Ice, here’s a few I recommend so you still get your beach time. (Beaches are public property for the entire state, so wander them all, and you’ll only pay for beach chairs if not included in your hotel bill.)
    -Diamond Head is EASY, just bring water. It’s a short trolley ride from Waīkiki!
    -Koko Head Trail is Intermediate, it’s 1.8 miles round trip from the parking lot, but 600′ elevation. You’ll need an Über, take The Bus (public transport), or a rental car to get there if you’re not staying in Hawaii Kai. Bring water, maybe a snack, and TAKE YOUR TIME!
    -You’ll also walk a LOT if you just check out all of the shopping in downtown Waīkiki, which is the touristy area.
    -If you’re heading/staying-on the North Shore, there is a trail run that Ragnar is utilizing near Turtle Bay Resort.

    Maui: There’s zip lining, water slides at some hotels, and you should be able to rent beach cruisers (bikes) just about anywhere. SUP is pretty decent as it’s more protected than O’ahu. I’ve found Maui to be the most touristy because it’s mainly Hotels/condos and restaurants. You can snorkel the crater, too, which I would recommend going with a small charter if you want to see the best fish. We loved Wailea and Lahaina, but there is a Lavender field on the way from/to Haleakala depending the time of day you go. It’s a MUST for the sunrise on Haleakala (you need an online reservation).

    Other tips for Hawai’i: water is alkalinized, so tap water is actually good for you! Bring/Buy a water bottle to rinse and reuse. Bring your reusable bags for shopping, there’s not many places for trash to go so reuse as much as possible. Only buy/bring reef safe sunscreen, and/or UPF clothing. It’s more expensive but won’t kill the reefs and aquatic life. All of that is available everywhere you look in Hawaii (including Target). You don’t need heels, wedges are the dressiest shoes you need!

    I hope your honeymoon is phenomenal! I’ll be visiting SF in August and am excited to see what you did/loved, we are also planning to see a baseball game!

  18. 16th February 2017 / 8:26 am

    My husband and I did something very similar for our honeymoon! We spent our time in California/Nevada and I was training for Chicago marathon at the time, so did lots of running.
    I agree with many about the Golden Gate Bridge – I ran over it just to say I’d done it, but I did most of my training in the parks surrounding it. It can get very busy with tourists so it’s nice for a jog as opposed to any specific training.

    Napa is amazing and there’s lots of running around the area (plenty of wine as a treat after!). Also, have a look at Sonoma which is just like Napa but not as expensive. We did a hot air balloon sunrise ride which was amazing!

    If you have time, Yosemite is not too far away and there’s plenty of hiking there.

    I’ve also been to Hawaii! I recommend hiking Diamond Head Crater, and there’s lots of water based activities even for people like me who don’t know how to surf.

    Happy planning!

  19. Katie S
    19th February 2017 / 10:47 pm

    My husband and I did a trip through California last fall and spent 2 nights in wine country at a “tree house” near Sonoma he had found on Air B&B (link below), and absolutely loved it! It was a few minutes (and up a giant hill) from the wineries, and perfectly peaceful and secluded. Very different from anywhere we had been. The owners/builders are self-proclaimed hippies and have done some amazing things to create a sustainable lifestyle! If you are going to be in wine country a few days, staying in a place like this for a few nights, as well as a winery might be fun!

    https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/277081

  20. 20th February 2017 / 8:17 pm

    This sounds like a great honeymoon! Hiking in Hawaii is obviously incredible, but there are also amazing hikes in SF! I recommend doing Lands End for views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Tam, which is about an hour north of the city. Napa is gorgeous and you’ll love it–you can easily do a day trip there or spend a night there. I just went on my honeymoon to Africa. The safaris were incredible and it was an amazing experience but my one complaint was how little we moved. Like literally could not go on a walk because we were in the middle of wildlife reserves. So quite the opposite of what you’re after and it sounds like a really fun plan! I’m not trying to crash your honeymoon, but if you want to meet for a workout when you’re in SF, let me know 😉 And if you need any tips about Carmel, SF or Napa let me know!

  21. 21st February 2017 / 8:34 am

    I work in San Francisco and still do recommend running across the bridge, just to say you’ve done it! I’m a fan of doing a long run with Golden Gate Park in it and the bridge at the end, finishing the run in Tiburon or Sausalito, having a mimosa or Bloody Mary brunch there and then taking the ferry back to San Francisco!

  22. 21st February 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Sounds like an awesome plan! Am sure you will enjoy it, and you will undoubtably want to return at some point as a ‘normal’ holiday.
    We did Thailand for our honeymoon, way back in the dark ages….. a week in the golden triangle at the north, and a week down near Phuket and some of the islands.
    Lovely place, would probably go back at some point.

  23. 24th February 2017 / 11:03 am

    If you have time go out of San Fran to Yosemite! Absolutely incredible place for hiking, so easy to find your way and absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful!

    This trip sounds incredible, but we all know that it’s the company that makes the trip so don’t fret yourself too much with planning as you know you and Tom will have tons of fun no matter what 🙂

  24. 3rd March 2017 / 11:45 pm

    Be sure to check out some Redwoods whilst you are over! I moved from the U.K to USA last year and love it so far, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park right on the doorstep! Plus the weather is better of course. Would love to connect our blogs, do get in touch!