Jemma Fletcher discovers the growing trend of Voluntourism.
‘The honeymoon that gives back’ – could there really be such a thing? A romantic escape which fuses romance, seclusion and luxury with the heart-warming gesture of giving back to the local community? Here at Holidays for Couples, we began to wonder if this fabled honeymoon could really exist … and after a bit of digging, we’re pleased to announce that it most certainly does – in droves!
Below are our top six destinations which provide dream honeymoons with an opportunity to make the world a better place.
If you want to relax and take in some of Western Australia’s most spectacular coastal views head to Eco Beach Turtle Conservation on Kimberley Coast. With miles of private beaches and endless coastline bushland, this is the perfect place to connect with nature and experience a tranquil escape from the daily grind. Stay in one of their award winning luxury Eco villas which offer a garden or ocean view, and marvel at the latest environmental design features. During your visit, you can choose to play an active role in monitoring the local Flatback Turtle population by tagging and measuring turtles, counting eggs, and recording nest and track data. Between patrol walks, take advantage of Eco Beach Resort’s various facilities and activities, such as the morning yoga classes, or head out to enjoy this area’s scenic surroundings. Why not try snorkelling, bush walking, bird watching, or a whale watching cruise.
Find out more with: Conservation Volunteers
For those of you who want to feel the rush of adrenaline, explore Antelope Park in Zimbabwe, which is run by The African Lion Research Trust. Stay on-site in a spacious ensuite River Lodge with your own private decking area to relax on and enjoy the sounds of the jungle. Delicious buffet-style meals from the grill are available each day, and you will have plenty of opportunity to see the best of Africa’s wildlife living free around the park. The Research Trust aims to develop successful techniques for breeding strong lions that can be released into the wild, giving you the opportunity to get involved in data collection, rearing and walking the young cubs, and preparing food for the 95 lions on site. You can even join the community volunteers as they arrange activities with the children of the local orphanage and schools. During your stay, enjoy a complimentary private picnic breakfast and bush dinner for two.
Combining stunning white beaches, crystal clear waters, and warm, friendly locals, the Fijian islands are a picturesque vision of natural beauty. The superb Bekana Garden Island Resort is nestled amongst tropical gardens, and offers a little honeymoon bonus: a fruit basket and bottle of sparkling wine on arrival. This a wonderful place to relax and have fun, with beach volleyball, swimming and golf just some of the outdoor activities on offer. The Altruists can choose from two ‘voluntourism’ projects which you can take part in together or separately. The first supports single mothers by providing them with emotional and material support that they need to raise their children in a safe environment–you can contribute by teaching or helping to build detached homes for mothers who are transitioning into independent living. The second project is at a boys orphanage where volunteers can offer landscaping, mechanical, electrical or plumbing skills to teach and inspire the children with the skills they need to lead a normal life.
Find out more with: Hands Up Holidays
Perhaps a more culturally diverse approach to your honeymoon appeals? The lifestyle of Chengdu, in Western China, is known for its laid-back, slow-paced charm, and is famed for its excellent cuisine. Buddha Zen Hotel offers stylish guest rooms with an abundance of character, and every in-room feature that you could desire. When you’re not drinking tea, getting a massage or playing poker, you can volunteer at The Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base. During your stay, you will work with skilled keepers and researchers while you get up and close with Giant Pandas, while also learning about Chinese culture.
Find out more with: Oasis Travel
Belize, located on the North Eastern coast of Central America, adds a theme to your honeymoon that is both interesting and educational. An eight-day chocolate tour in the southern town of Punta Gorda teaches you about the history, politics and processes of Fair Trade chocolate with plenty of workshops and excursions to local villages, farms, and cultural sites. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to eat chocolate! Spend a day volunteering with Sustainable Harvest International which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing farming families in Central America with the training and tools needed to overcome poverty. This could include building a fuel-efficient wood burning stove, reforesting land, or even planting an organic garden. Cotton Tree Lodge will accommodate you in a beautiful, natural setting with a suite that features a jacuzzi, balcony and a view overlooking the Moho River.
If you’re sold on the idea of giving back, but can’t move past the concept of your honeymoon being the ultimate luxury holiday, Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman is for you! Located in a secluded bay of sandy beaches, this majestic location is encased by the Hajar mountains. Guests have three choices of arrival experiences to begin their holiday in style; a scenic speed boat trip, a 4×4 drive down from the hilltop, or as a companion passenger with a professional paraglider. The Spa Pool Villa Suite’s rustic chic decor is carefully designed to reflect local Omani culture. Six Senses Zighy Bay is committed to contributing their resources to the local community. The Build a Smile Project has been created to rebuild unsuitable homes, which you can become involved in. A full construction team is on site and all guests will be guided, coached and fully supervised at all times. Additionally, if you volunteer for four hours a day, there is the added of bonus of receiving the same amount of days you have booked, for free.
Find out more with: Six Senses Zighy Bay