A South Africa Honeymoon Guide for Adventure and Wildlife

From safaris to the beach, South Africa has it all.
Aerial shot of Table Mountain, South Africa
Photo: Alexcpt | Getty
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
Beth Ann Mayer - The Knot Contributor.
Beth Ann Mayer
The Knot Contributor
  • Beth Ann writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, including venues, honeymoons and planning advice.
  • Beth Ann is a lifestyle freelance writer, with bylines on healthline.com and parents.com.
  • Prior to freelancing, Beth Ann was a writer and editor for Long Island Pulse Magazine.
Updated Apr 19, 2024
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Considering a South Africa honeymoon? It's one of the best honeymoon destinations for all kinds of honeymooners, especially adventure-seeking couples. Newlyweds will enjoy its unique boutique hotels and resorts, while wildlife enthusiasts can boast about seeing lions and cheetahs up close during a game drive. For culture and fine dining, Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront have plenty of posh and trendy restaurants, where you'll be able to sample African wine and delicious fare.

South Africa is one of the world's most gorgeous and comprehensive honeymoon destinations, with plenty of beautiful African beaches and lots to do. But, it's going to take a while to get there. The flight from New York to Johannesburg is 15 hours non-stop. People traveling from San Francisco or Houston are looking at a 22 to 30-hour trek with at least one layover.

When it comes to planning your honeymoon in South Africa, use this guide to get started. From the best months to visit to helpful packing checklists, use our expert tips to plan your South African honeymoon itinerary.

South Africa Honeymoon Tips in this Article:

    Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa
    Photo: Peter Adams | Getty

    Best Time to Honeymoon in South Africa

    South Africa is a pleasant destination across all four seasons, but it's also a large country with regional climates. The best time to visit will depend on what tops your honeymoon itinerary. If spotting big game on a safari honeymoon is important to you, opt for May through September as it's cooler, drier and less rainy.

    Newlyweds most looking forward to exploring Cape Town will want to book their trips for the summer months (November to February in South Africa), where they'll take in glorious sunsets.

    Best weather: Depends on the region, but autumn and spring are usually ideal.
    Festival highlights: The Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world. For wine lovers, the Stellenbosch Wine Festival in February offers tastings and vineyard tours. The National Arts Festival in July, held in Grahamstown, is one of Africa's largest and most colorful cultural events, showcasing everything from live music and dance to theater and art exhibitions.

    South Africa Honeymoon Planning Tips

    A South Africa honeymoon is the perfect escape for wildlife enthusiasts and adventure lovers. Honeymooners can see the Big Five (lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo and zebras) as well as cheetahs and hippos in their natural habitats. The diverse landscape includes coastline, mountains, grasslands and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The Winelands are a prime location for an authentic African wine tasting experience.

    South Africa is beautiful, but it's a long way from home. Expect to dedicate about two days to travel to the country (getting there and back). Couples with less time to lose will want to consider other honeymoon destinations before buying plane tickets. It's also a country made for exploration; honeymooners who want to sit back and relax might have more fun at an all-inclusive resort in another destination.

    Is South Africa safe? Many areas are, but the US government warns crime and civil unrest are common in the country and urges travelers to exercise caution. Ensure you're always with someone you trust.

    Entry requirements: A US passport that is valid for at least one month beyond your expected departure from South Africa. You will also need 2 consecutive empty visa pages per entry, otherwise you may get turned away.
    South Africa has 11 official languages, including English, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans.
    Location: South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Eswatini.
    Currency: The South African Rand (ZAR).
    Flight time to Destination: From New York City, direct flights to Johannesburg take about 15 hours.
    Getting around: Domestic flights, car rentals, taxis, trains, public transportation, tour buses.

    Pro tip: Consider adding a honeymoon planning expert to your vendor team. Search for local travel agents on The Knot Marketplace to find professionals with expertise surrounding South Africa honeymoon itineraries.

    Best South Africa Honeymoon Hotels and Resorts

    South Africa offers a range of honeymoon accommodations, from luxury safari lodges and eco resorts to boutique hotels in the cities. Here are our top picks.

    Aerial view of Johannesburg
    Photo: Nataly Reinch | Shutterstock

    Mount Nelson

    Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel, is an upscale but unpretentious spot in Cape Town. It's near local attractions like Table Mountain and the white-sand beaches of Clifton. When couples aren't exploring the town, they'll bask in plush and posh accommodations, including plunge pools and airy rooms, which embody the ease of a Cape Town getaway.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

    Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is in the well-off Cape Town suburb of Camp's Bay. The five-star boutique hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and remains a short distance from Table Mountain and V&A Waterfront. Beach-loving couples will also love how close it is to the top waterfronts in Camp's Bay. The hotel itself features 70 country-chic rooms, a spa and swimming pools.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Plettenberg Hotel

    An elegant spot located on the Garden Route, Plettenberg Hotel is ideal for honeymooners who want to explore the golden-sand beaches of the Indian Ocean and retreat to five-star accommodations. The cuisine at the SeaFood is top-notch, as are the 35 tastefully decorated rooms, many of which have waterfront vistas.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Teniqua Treetops

    Live your childhood dreams by staying in a rustic-chic, eco-friendly treehouse at the base of the Outeniqua Mountains in Sedgefield. Of course, Teniqua Treetops' treehouses aren't exactly the same as your childhood hangout. They feature some luxe adult twists, like living and dining areas and running water. The lush forest surroundings feel like something out of a whimsical dream.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Franschhoek Boutique Hotel

    Foodies and oenophiles love calling Franschhoek Boutique Hotel home when exploring the culinary and wine tasting destination. The 12 stylish suites boast a modern boudoir ambiance and include amenities like wine coolers and freestanding baths. The friendly staff loves sharing top spots to sip and savor local wine and food with guests.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch

    Johannesburg Marriott Hotel is perfect for couples looking to enjoy digs with modern luxury and easy access to the bustling South African city. Rooms include comfy beds and large flat-screen TVs. The hotel is within walking distance of local boutiques, shops and spots to dine al fresco.

    4.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Pro tip: Consider opting for a romantic Airbnb or VRBO on your South African adventure—doing so may offer you a little more privacy or cost-effectiveness.

    South Africa Honeymoon Itinerary Ideas

    A South Africa honeymoon will give you a chance to explore everything from history to the beach and safari. Each stop along your honeymoon itinerary will be brimming with unique charm. Some areas offer unique travel and honeymoon packages, so check with your concierge or agent for the best itinerary.

    Two leopards on tree watching tourists in jeep, back view
    Photo: moodboard | Getty

    Take a Safari in Kruger National Park

    Newlyweds itching to spot all of the Big Five will want to put Kruger National Park on their honeymoon itineraries. Couples can head out on multi-day safari tours or budget-friendly group options—both are experiences you'll talk about for years to come,

    There is no separation between Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve, an African safari destination with wild natural beauty and modern luxury. Animals can roam freely between the two, upping your chances of spotting lions and rhinos, regardless of where the 4x4 and tour guide will take you.

    Explore Johannesburg

    South Africa's largest city is a must-stop for couples who appreciate history and value activism. Nelson Mandela once called Johannesburg home, and guests can visit his former residence. Now known as The Nelson Mandela National Museum, it offers a look at his life and impact on the fight against Apartheid. Other top spots to visit include The Apartheid Museum and Hector Pieterson Museum.

    Visit Cape Town

    There's no shortage of things to do on a Cape Town honeymoon, the famous resort city on South Africa's southwest coast. It sits beneath the 3,558-foot, flat-peaked Table Mountain. The town offers both Atlantic and Indian Ocean beaches. FYI: The Atlantic ones are cold year-round. Though the water is chilly at Clifton Beaches, the white sand and crystal-clear waters are serene. Boulders Beach is famous for its warm Indian Ocean waters and penguin sightings. The V&A Waterfront has chic restaurants and shopping. Honeymooners can continue the history lesson they started in Johannesburg by taking a day trip or tour to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandala was once imprisoned.

    Raise a Glass in the Western Cape Winelands

    The finest African wines are grown and produced in Western Cape Winelands. It's home to favorite regions like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch is larger and has a college-town feel at times, whereas Franschhoek is walkable and exudes a small-village charm. When you're not wine tasting, peruse the streets for local bistros.

    Take in the Sights in the Eastern Cape

    Eastern Cape is a hidden gem with fewer tourists than its Western counterpart. It's full of fun activities, though. Ride the waves at Jeffrey's Bay or visit Addo Elephant National Park. You can get to Eastern Cape from Western Cape by taking the road trip of a lifetime along The Garden Route. Situated along a 124-mile stretch along the coastline, honeymooners can take in lush forests and dramatic seaside cliffs during the ride.

    Pro tip: Add South Africa honeymoon experiences to your gift registry so your loved ones can be a part of your post-wedding adventures.

    What to Pack for a South Africa Honeymoon

    Members of the famous African Penguin colony at Boulders Beach, Simonstown, Cape Town, South Africa
    Photo: RapidEye | Getty

    You'll likely be spending a decent amount of time outdoors during your honeymoon in South Africa. Sunblock and insect repellent will help you withstand the elements, so make sure to include those on your packing checklist. Comfortable closed-toed shoes will keep feet safe and dry during adventures, and lightweight clothes in neutral tones will prevent you from getting too hot.

    Pack binoculars into your honeymoon luggage to get a better view of the wildlife. Evenings can get cool, so pack a fleece. Trendy, seasonal outfits will serve you well during wine tastings and upscale dinners.

    You'll also want to speak with your doctor before traveling about necessary shots and precautionary measures. Though malaria is rare, it does exist in South Africa. A healthcare professional may recommend bringing anti-malarial drugs.

    Brittany Barber contributed to this article.

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