Honeymoons need to be on remote islands involving candlelit beach dinners, beds lined with heart-shaped rose petals, and long days spent sipping on cocktails, right? Nah. BORING. I’ll take a honeymoon road trip exploring new parts of my country, thanks.
Before even getting engaged, I had always thought that a honeymoon in Croatia would be ideal. While other girls were dreaming about their future wedding dress and decor theme, I was dreaming about my future honeymoon in Croatia (I even entered a writing competition where I detailed the exact itinerary. Read it here.). Like wedding dresses, honeymoons also don’t always happen as ‘dreamt’ when the actual wedding planning begins. But like the dresses, they often turn out even better than ‘dreamt’. This was definitely the case with our honeymoon, which ended up being a two week honeymoon road trip around South Africa.
South African Honeymoon Road Trip
In true Bridget and Michael style we set off on our honeymoon road trip with little plans, though a vague idea of a route and places that we wanted to go. Which we actually ended up following for the most part.
What we wanted our honeymoon road trip to include:
- A trip up Sani Pass (to see the scenery, but mostly for the Lesotho passport stamp ;p) ✔
- A stopover somewhere along the Wild Coast ✔
- A visit to Hogshead ✔
- A few nights in Plettenberg Bay ✔
- A stopover in Graaf-Reneit on our drive home to visit the Valley of Desolation ✔
There were a few other things that we wanted to include, but these were the main ones and what set the main itinerary that we ended up following. Our route ended up like this:
Johannesburg > Underberg > Coffee Bay > Hogsback > Jeffrey’s Bay > Plettenberg Bay > Knysna > Sedgefield > Graaf-Reinet > Johannesburg
We spent a total of 16 nights, staying one to four nights per place. Our first two nights in Underberg were pre-booked a few weeks before we left as one of our friends organised this for us as a wedding gift (which was awesome!). Our two nights in Knysna were also booked as we were staying at the Turbine Hotel & Spa on a media visit. The day before our wedding (four nights before we were planning on starting the road trip) I panicked that weren’t going to be able to get accommodation at such late notice in Coffee Bay and Hogsback as they are both small towns with limited accommodation options (and quite popular spots), so I booked three nights in Coffee Bay and two in Hogsback before we left. The rest was left flexible and booked along the way.
Two nights in Underberg
As I mentioned earlier, our two nights in Underberg were organised as a wedding gift. We stayed at Mkomazana Mountain Cottages which is located at base of the Sani Pass so it was perfect taking a trip up the pass. We stayed in a cute little cottage on the property, which included a small lounge with fireplace and a kitchenette. The grounds here are absolutely beautiful, with the farm featuring a small lake and river stream, ancient trees, and stunning mountain views. The property used to be a trading post dating back to the 1800’s when the Sani Pass first started being used, which was quite cool to read about in the info pack in our room.
Driving up Sani Pass
The managers at Mkomazana, the lovely Betty and Michael, organised a tour for us to head up Sani Pass with Sani Pass Tours. The trip cost R790 per person and included a 4×4 trip up the Sani Pass, a quick tour to the nearby Basotho village at the top, and a lunch stopover at the Highest Pub in the Africa (for our own account).
The tours usually include a few people in a bigger 4×4 (I think about 10?), but we got lucky and scored a private tour with just the two of us and our driver (Roger) at the same price. The drive up the pass is absolutely stunning and Roger made sure to make plenty of stops for us to get out and take hundreds of photos and take in the scenery.
When we got to the top of the pass, and into Lesotho, we visited a small Basotho village and learnt a bit about their way of life and culture and tasted some delicious local bread which is baked over a fire. We then went for lunch at the Highest Pub in Africa and after made our way down the pass. The whole tour took most of the day, leaving at about 9am and back at our lodge around 4pm. If you don’t have a suitable car to make it up the pass (or the driving skills), I’d definitely recommend joining a tour. Sani Pass Tours was great, and Roger made an excellent guide.
Four nights in Coffee Bay
Next up we started heading toward the Wild Coast where we had booked three nights in Coffee Bay. Initially, we had wanted to stay at Coffee Shack Backpackers as it seems really fun there, but they were already booked up when I inquired the week before. So we ended up booking at Friends Wild Coast Backpackers which was right across from Coffee Shack.
The accommodation was basic, as expected from a backpackers in the Wild Coast, but the experience there is something that we’ll never forget. The staff were amazing, a little wild if I’m honest (and with the most interesting life stories), and the food was so delicious. From freshly baked Xhosa bread for breakfast to fire-cooked fresh fish, each meal that we had there was delicious. The accommodation style will definitely not be for everyone, but I’ll recommend going to Friends for a meal while in Coffee Bay.
Hole in the Wall
While in Coffee Bay we did the day hike to Hole in the Wall. It’s about an 11-kilometer hike one-way along the rolling hills along the coastline. It had been raining for a few days, so it was recommended to only hike one-way (rather than both there and back) so we decided to hitch a ride there and then hike back. The hike was fairly tough, I think it was a total of six hills that we trekked up and down, and the wet weather wasn’t ideal. But, it was still beautiful. The green hills scattered with the occasional colourful rondavel, the free-roaming cows along the beaches and dramatic cliff drops are images that will stay with me for a long time.
Because of the rainy weather we ended up staying an extra night in Coffee Bay, rather than moving to somewhere else along the Wild Coast, as we felt like we still needed to explore the surrounding area a bit more. We took a short hike to the nearby Maphuzi, which was also really beautiful. The Wild Coast is definitely somewhere that we’ll go back to explore one day.
Two nights in Hogsback
The rain cleared enough for us to head to Hogsback where we spent two nights at Away with the Fairies. We spent a day hiking through the forest right in front of the backpackers, which included a stop at the Big Tree, the Madonna and Child Falls and 39 Steps Falls and Arboretum. We ended the day with a quick ‘bath with a view’ at Away with the Fairies, followed by a delicious pizza from their bar.
One night in Jeffrey’s Bay
Next on the plan was a stopover somewhere to break up the journey from Hogsback to Plett, which ended up being Jeffrey’s Bay. Neither of us had been here before so it was nice to check out this seaside town. Here we did a bit of shopping at their many factory shops, took a stroll along the beach, and had lunch at the well-known Die Walskipper (which we didn’t really enjoy, but everyone always gives raves reviews of this place). We stayed the night at Bungalow Apartments which is located right on the beach and included a small lounge, kitchen and balcony with braai facilities. I could imagine long summer beach holidays staying here!
Three nights in Plettenberg Bay
I’ve been going to Plett for family holidays my entire life. My family had a holiday house there, so December holidays were spent in Plett each year while growing up. I have so many amazing memories of Plett and each time that I go it feels like returning home. Unfortunately, this year the family house was sold but we managed to squeeze in one last visit before the keys were handed over to its new owners. I’m so happy that we managed one last visit, even though it was hard to hold back the tears. So many happy memories were made in that house and it was hard to close that chapter. But hey, life moves on and we’ll still be able to visit Plett and visit all of our favourite joints.
We managed to include some of my favourite Plett activities including sun-downers on the Robberg, walks along the Robberg Beach, drinks at Moby Dicks, Mexican food at Surf Cafe, homemade pies and lemon meringue from Thyme and Again, and a stroll around Global Village.
Two nights in Knysna
As I mentioned earlier, we were booked to spend two nights at The Turbine Hotel & Spa on Thesen Island in Knysna on a media visit. I’ve also been going to Knysna my whole life, but only for day trips when staying in Plett so I’ve never actually stayed there. We started off with a visit to the Knysna Heads – this is my dad’s favourite spot and he made sure to visit every holiday. I haven’t been in years, so was awesome to visit again.
While staying at The Turbine we did a sun-downer boat trip along the estuary as well as kayaked through the canals. We loved our time there and I was surprised that I’d never really explored this area of Knysna even though I’d visited so many times.
We also visited The Motorcycle Room on Thesen Island, which features an amazing collection of motorbikes. It’s a must-visit for any motorbike fan.
One night in Sedgefield
We added a night in Sedgefield after Knysna as my husbands friend (also best man at our wedding) was there at the time on holiday. We spent the afternoon on the beach and later had a braai at home. It was a super chilled time and was cool to see a bit more of Sedge. The next day we started our journey back to Johannesburg.
One night in Graaf-Reinet
We decided to break up the long drive home with a night in Graaf-Reinet. The main reason for doing this was to check out the Valley of Desolation, which is a must-do for anyone driving through this part of the world. The scenery is amazing, all you need to do is look at the below photos and you’ll be convinced to visit. We spent the night at Roode Bloem Farm House which is an old farm house 10-kilometers outside of Graaf-Reinet. It had a full on old farm house vibe and I’ll admit to wondering how many ghosts were wandering around. But, apart from my imagination it was a pleasant stay and I’d recommend it to anyone making the stopover.
Four Reasons to go on a Honeymoon Road Trip
Overall, we had an amazing honeymoon. I’d highly recommend ditching the cliche honeymoon package deals and rather planning a honeymoon road trip around your home country. Here are four reasons why:
1. It’s easy to visit the places again.
We can easily visit all of the places that we went to again and reminisce about our honeymoon. I’m sure that we’ll spend many anniversaries and other special occasions at some of the places that we went to. We also found a few other spots along the way that we didn’t get to explore, that we hope to visit again one day.
2. It’s lighter on your budget.
Don’t start your marriage off being completely broke because not only did you splash out on the wedding but you went balls to the wall on your honeymoon. Yes, you can get some really good package deals but they’ll likely hit you exorbitant prices for alcohol, food, and other ‘extras’. This is especially true for South Africans, the Rand is not our friend and traveling overseas gets expensive.
3. You get to explore lots of new and old places together.
Not only did we explore new corners of South Africa together but we got to visit old places close to our heart. Even though Michael has been to Plett with me before a few years ago, it was nice to show him around and share all of the memories that I have there. We also got to relive some of the things that we got up to when we were there together before – like the tradition of going for Mexican food at Surf Cafe. From Michael’s side, he spent a few holidays in Sedgefield growing up, so he enjoyed sharing some of his memories from there.
4. It’s the ultimate ‘do we really like each other test’.
Okay, it’s a bit too late to do this on the honeymoon, but going on a road trip with someone is the ultimate test on whether you like each other. If you come out of it happy and still in love, then that’s hopefully a sign of a good marriage. And if not, then at least you’ll know what to start working on in couples counselling. Jokes, I’m sure you’ll be fine 🙂