Whether you're celebrating your undying love or looking to rekindle the flame, what better place to do it than a secluded oasis set adrift in the sea? We combed the planet for the most romantic islands we could find, where idyllic sunsets, private bungalows, and dinners for two are de rigueur. Here are 10 of our favorites.
(Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Robert Coello)
Hawaii on the whole is rather romantic, but Kauai is something else entirely. Abundant in natural wonders, from the majestic Na Pali Coast to the lushly green valleys that thread through Waimea Canyon, the so-called Garden Isle offers a kind of adventurous paradise. Its dramatic beauty lends itself to excursions for two: sailing the coasts via catamaran, hiking mountain trails, kayaking Hawaii's only navigable river, or whiling away untold hours in laid-back surfing hamlets like Hanalei Town. Of course, just kicking back with your ku'uipo (sweetheart) and sipping mai tais on miles of dreamlike beachfront is always an option.
Where to Stay: From its grand porte cochere to its panoramic views of Hanalei Bay, the St. Regis Princeville Resort is all modern island elegance. At the blue-chip bar, an outdoor Champagne ritual (complete with saber uncorking and bright-pink sunset) closes out an unhurried day.
(Photo: Maldives via Shutterstock)
A chain of atolls strung along an ancient trade route in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are truly a bucket-list destination, frequented by honeymooners and heiresses. Warm water in a gradient of blues and turquoises, vibrant coral reefs, and high visibility throughout the year give Maldivian diving a mythical air. If you and your sweetheart are decidedly land-based, sand as soft as sugar and thatched-roof gazebos await ashore. Discover local fishing villages and uninhabited islands (there are hundreds of them) or take a traditional night-fishing trip. Complete seclusion—most resorts are on islands and are only reachable by boat—instill the Maldives with a kind of secret allure.
Where to Stay: Among a flood of luxury private-island properties, Gili Lankanfushi in the North Male Atoll earns praise for its overwater, open-air villas; eco-minded design; and underground wine cellar and chocolate cave to stimulate your palate.
(Photo: Santorini via Shutterstock)
On this volcanic island afloat in the Aegean Sea, Eros, the winged god and son of Aphrodite, inspires passion among travelers. Crescent-shaped Santorini reigns supreme among romantics for its hillside whitewashed villas, eternal sunshine, and ouzo-clear ocean. Stop in cosmopolitan capital Fira for expansive views of its sunken caldera. Sample island-grown culinary pleasures like ripe cherry tomatoes, tangy goat cheeses, and cubes of small, dark watermelon tossed with dots of feta. Then sip wine at the vast vineyards that churn out Santorini's famous wines while watching the sun set over the caldera.
Where to Stay: The Anastasis Apartments on the outskirts of Imerovigli scream (or whisper) subdued romance and privacy. In Oia, the lavish Art Maisons luxury suites reside in a former fortress; the steep, cliff-side accommodations are thrillingly and dangerously romantic.
(Photo: Caneel Bay)
Prepare to be disconnected from the travails and toils of everyday life. On this Virgin Island, there are no mega resorts, cruise ships, or casinos (a seamless fit for couples with a similar streak of wild individualism). Much of the island is covered by protected national parkland, so days here are spent in relaxed, sun-warmed languor. Embark on a private sunset cruise with Sail St. John, enjoy a meal of fresh seafood in town, or simply plunk down a towel at white-sand Trunk Bay. Get-up-and-go couples may find themselves feeling cut adrift in an endless sea of downtime, but the very ethos of St. John encourages such activity—or lack thereof.
Where to Stay: Caneel Bay Resort epitomizes St. John's signature low-key luxury on its acres of private beach. The resort's airy and evocative new restaurant ZoZo's is housed in the ruins of a sugar mill. For travelers willing to rough it (kind of), the Concordia Eco-Resort provides tents where Internet connections are sparse but romantic sparks fly free.
(Photo: Cape Breton Island)
Cape Breton Island
With its uniquely Gaelic origins and wide-open coastal spaces, Cape Breton offers charm for miles off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Hear the soulful strains of fiddles at a festive pub-side ceilidh, dine on fresh-caught lobster, or explore the rugged hillsides on foot. The Cabot Trail, often considered one of the most scenic drives in the world, unfurls through the Nova Scotian landscape, leading to steep drop-offs and beaches speckled with sea glass. Warm up in the tiny towns along the route and trawl through galleries, shops, and lobster shacks. Throughout the island, cool maritime breezes calm skin overheated by vigorous activity. Collapse, exhausted, into bed at one of Cape Breton's many B&Bs.
Where to Stay: Hardwood floors, soft linens, and crown molding give the rooms at Keltic Lodge a cozy air, while windows look out onto Cape Smokey mountain and the sea.
(Photo: Cap Juluca)
A unique blend of high style, low-key luxury, and rich local culture defines this Leeward isle, about 10 miles north of St. Martin but seemingly worlds away from crowded Caribbean cruise ports. Boasting plush beaches that form a halo around its flat perimeters, Anguilla is just far enough off the well-trodden path to offer a romantic experience that's both wild and refined. By day, explore the rich West Indian culture on a guided tour of the historical sites, churches, and homes that spread around the small island. By night, find hopping beach bars in Sandy Ground or Shoal Bay, where thatched roofs and conch-shell walls form perfect oceanfront cocoons for visitors.
Where to Stay: For intimate digs, try the boutique Frangipani Beach Resort along Meads Bay. If it's five-star luxury you're after, Cap Juluca has it in spades (think Bose Wave sound systems and Frette linens).
(Photo: St. Regis Bora Bora)
Dubbed "the pearl of the Pacific" by James Cook himself, Bora Bora's turquoise lagoons and shark's-tooth-like volcanic peaks have a seductive power all their own. It's not hard to be swayed by the pure lagoons, the lavish five-star resorts and overwater villas, and the slender silhouettes of palms against sunset after perfect sunset. This is the land of paradisiac sensory overload: Every motu (or coral island) looks better than the last, and every dinner is a romantic, multicourse French affair. Tired of the divine beaches? See the turtles, sharks, and rays of the Lagoonarium in Moorea, or visit a black-pearl farm or a vanilla plantation for something sweet, either way.
Where to Stay: Well-heeled voyagers stay at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora or the St. Regis Bora Bora; the latter comes with butler service, a massive spa, and a Jean Georges Vongerichten-led restaurant.
(Photo: Azienda Autonoma Cura Soggiorno e Turismo Isola di Capri)
According to legend, it is Capri where Odysseus very nearly surrendered to the Sirens' song. A place this enchanting seems to be merely the stuff of myth; however, visitors to this island in the Bay of Naples know it's as tangible as the bougainvillea that slinks up the walls yet as ethereal as the scent of citrus that hangs in the air. Deeply romantic by nature, this ancient Roman resort island is now dotted with elegant villas, cafes, and high-end boutiques. Its natural wonders are, however, eternal. A twosome can hire a boat to ferry them inside the Grotta Azzurra, a luminescent sea cave where the Emperor Tiberius once bathed. With an entrance only wide enough to admit a rowboat, the grotto glows with an eerie sapphire light.
Where to Stay: La Minerva's 18 rooms are intimate and its terraces wonderfully shaded by pergolas. Its exclusive pool, ringed by mimosa, almond, and citrus trees, is a welcome respite from the crowds.
(Photo: Matt P. via flickr/CC Attribution)
Insiders maintain that off season, when crowds disappear, is the best time for couples to dock at this classic New England island. In spring, when weather is warm, and in autumn, which is high season for oysters, Nantucket is still pleasant enough for strolling on sandy dunes lined with salt-spray roses and bayberry shrubs. Open seats are easy to find at the trendy bistros and ramshackle seafood joints that dot the island; drop by The Rose and Crown for live music and a bit of stimulation. Dip your feet into the chilly Atlantic during a long walk as sailboats bob languidly offshore, or simply spend a quiet evening by a fire with that book you've been meaning to finish for months.
Where to Stay: The historical, harbor-front White Elephant, whether it's high season or low, makes for a chic hideaway. For a romantic experience in cooler months, hunker down in a fireplace room with sea views.
(Photo: Jade Mountain)
With what could very well be the world's only drive-in volcano and steam baths, St. Lucia has cornered the market on tranquil travel. All over the island, the mineral-rich mud of its sulfur springs is harvested for massages and other pampering spa treatments. Beyond its hot springs and iconic twin Pitons, activities abound: diving, yachting, and horseback riding (best enjoyed in tandem, of course). Tiny black-sand Anse Mamin and its adjacent tropical garden are especially Eden-like retreats, reachable only by rugged road and speckled with 17th-century ruins. And, with a handful of adults-only resorts famous for exceptional service and elegant design—and on which praises, awards, and AAA Diamonds have been lavished—a dreamy rendezvous seems inevitable.
Where to Stay: Jade Mountain in Soufriere is on many a bucket list. Its organic, mountainside architecture and en suite infinity pools seem integrated into the island's very genetic material and are perfectly suited to couples.
Readers, tell us: What is your favorite romantic island?
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Romantic Islands You'll Fall in Love With.
Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at email@example.com.
(Lead Photo: Jade Mountain)