Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Most Romantic Islands in the World

By Emma Sloley
Travel + Leisure

It’s easy to fall in love on an island. “I wore a bikini for five days straight and never put on real clothes for anything,” recalls Christina Greer, a New York professor who took a vacation to Panama’s Bocas del Toro a few years back with her boyfriend. “We went dolphin watching and snorkeling all day,” Greer says. “It was total relaxation.” The two are now married and have visited 15 countries together on a tireless quest to uncover the world’s most romantic destinations.

Whether you’re after all-out luxury or sand-between-the-toes casual, there’s a romantic island for you. And while many of these dream destinations have “remote” and “secluded” as their principle selling points, others are surprisingly close to home.

These are some of the islands that made the list.

Molokai, Hawaii
A conspicuous absence of international hotel chains is just one reason this idyll—situated east of Oahu in the Hawaiian archipelago—draws romantics from all over. Hike to remote waterfalls, kayak secluded rocky coastlines, and ride donkeys into the lush valleys, or just laze beachside. (Head for the golden sands of secluded three-mile-long Papohaku Beach, at the far-west end of the island.) With just one traffic light on the island, the only gridlock you’ll encounter is caused by colonies of curious sea turtles frolicking in the outrageously clear waters.

Capri, Italy
Sure, noon in Capri Town can be a tourist swarm, but the bulk of visitors depart on the last ferry back to Naples or Sorrento—leaving the island blissfully free for lovers. And this dramatically craggy outcrop, a Mediterranean Garden of Eden splashed with floral color and perfumed by lemon trees and herb gardens, has remained a magnet for the A-list since antiquity, when Emperor Tiberius set up camp here.

St. Lucia, Caribbean
If the Caribbean Sea were a catwalk, St. Lucia would be its most bankable supermodel. This 27-mile-long island is lush, mountainous, and blessed with gorgeous beaches and verdant cocoa plantations. The jade-green twin peaks of the Pitons, jungle-swathed volcanic plugs that rise from a silvery ocean on the southwest coast, are the Caribbean’s most striking backdrop.

Bocas del Toro, Panama
Located in the Caribbean Sea near the border with Costa Rica, this group of islands is all about low-key relaxation with a Latin American flavor, pitch-perfect for sybarites who don’t want to pack a designer bikini. The main island of Colon has a buzzy downtown full of waterfront bars and laid-back nightclubs, while the smaller islands offer deserted beaches, rainforests, mangroves, and coral reefs.

Catalina Island, California
Just 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina has a certain Mediterranean flavor. Yachts jostle in a glinting harbor, sorbet-colored homes cascade down the hillside, and the secluded coves are ready-made for romance—including the aptly named Lover’s Cove, east of Avalon.

Santorini, Greece
Sweeping views over a picture-perfect caldera—the result of a volcanic eruption around 1600 B.C.—is just one factor in Santorini’s romantic charm. Gorgeous, striated cliffs and black-sand beaches don’t hurt, either. Head to the famously picturesque village of Oia (book a room at the 18-suite Mystique) with its classic whitewashed, cliff-edge architecture, blue-domed churches, and stone houses overhung with bougainvillea canopies.

Rangali Island, The Maldives
Of the 1,192 islets that make up this island nation in the Indian Ocean, roughly 1,000 are uninhabited. Suffice to say, your chances of finding romantic seclusion are pretty high. Like most of the resorts here, the Conrad Maldives Hotel occupies its own private atoll, called Rangali Island. The romance factor kicks in before you even arrive, thanks to a seaplane ride over the shallow, impossibly clear lagoon. Soon enough, you’re dining in the underwater restaurant and kicking back in the over-water spa.

Laucala Island, Fiji
The South Pacific fantasy of swaying palm trees and extravagantly lush scenery reaches its fullest expression here. There are just 25 cottages on this privately owned resort, which occupies the entire island, each with a private pool, dining pavilion, and outdoor hot tub and shower. While the resort attracts deep-pocketed travelers, don’t expect glitzy lobbies. The emphasis is on rustic, pared-back luxury; every detail seems crafted to appeal to couples, including the lagoon pool with its man-made “islands” big enough for two.

Pamalican Island, The Philippines
You’ll find only one resort here—Amanpulo, set on its own private island southwest of Manila with just 40 secluded pitched-roof traditional villas, strung along a pristine beach with sand so white it’s blinding. Beachcombers can navigate the entire island on foot in less than two hours, keeping their eyes out for baby sharks, kingfishers, and sea turtles, which lay their eggs here between March and October.

Lizard Island, Australia
How’s this for romantic: Australia’s northernmost island resort is set on its own private speck of land in the middle of the world’s largest coral reef. Here, you’ll find seven-course private dinners on the beach; picnic hampers for two; and sundowners on the ocean-view deck. Every moment seems custom-made for couples. The island has no less than 24 white-sand secluded beaches. And couples can arrange a private picnic on any of them.

Sicily, Italy
Swoon-worthy scenery is something Sicily has in spades: winding rivers, olive tree–studded hills, Greek and Roman ruins galore, and of course the brooding Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. Thanks to a slew of high-profile new hotels—including the much-vaunted Verdura Golf & Spa Resort on the south coast—this rugged, mountainous island off the tip of Italy’s boot is firmly in the spotlight. Fortunately, there’s still time to clock up some romantic R&R before the crowds arrive.

Aitutaki, Cook Islands
This under-the-radar Polynesian paradise ticks several essential romantic boxes: seclusion, great beaches, and the complete absence of mass tourism. The combination was why New Yorker Nicole Daw and her husband chose to spend their honeymoon here. And the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, set on its own motu and comprising bungalows suspended over a blue lagoon, will make any getaway even more romantic.

Vieques, Puerto Rico
In-the-know globetrotters have been whispering about this magical island for years. The secret is definitely out now—especially since W Hotels opened its first property here—but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a secluded corner to call your own. Naturally, Vieques has all the classic elements for a romantic escape: superb beaches, balmy weather, a languid pace. But the highlight is the bioluminescent bay on the southern shore of the island, filled with microscopic organisms that flash bright blue and light up the water with what looks like a million stars.

You can read the original article here.

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  1. Hello friends,

    Really it is a amazing perfect place, perfect romantic island getaway might be a longtime favorite destination and sometimes it seekers have to travel a bit off the beaten path, luxurious seclusion on a pristine beach, it attracts well-heeled couples looking for ultra-romantic escapes. Thanks a million and please keep up the good work.

  2. Wow some of these places look simply stunning! This is a brilliant post, my sister's looking for somewhere to go for her honeymoon this year and this should give her plenty of ideas. Lizard Island in Australia looks beautiful, I wish I was going on a honeymoon!


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