Known for its talcum-white sand, laid-back beach bars and tasty dining scene, this friendly island is ideal for couples aiming to kick back and relax. Cap Juluca is a favorite with honeymooners, who love its sexy Moorish architecture and pristine crescent beach.
Anguilla’s shores are scalloped with some of the most glorious beaches in the entire Caribbean, including Meads Bay, a stretch of silky sand along the island’s West End. And every afternoon, the sunset that blazes across Anguilla’s horizon infuses this special beach with a rosy glow, creating a magical carpet of pink, offset by the turquoise waters of the sea.
Home to 365 beaches and a lovely maritime tradition, Antigua offers historic settings, amazing offshore reefs and upscale pampering. Its serene, secluded beaches are ideal for canoodling and skinny-dipping. Another plus: The atmosphere at most of the resorts is decidedly romantic and sophisticated—not too "kiddie" or commercial.
Bon bini, or welcome, to the island of Aruba. Here, miles of pristine white sand stretch before you, the sky and Caribbean Sea converge in spectacular fashion—a kaleidoscope of turquoise and the faintest blue—and the weather is a constant 83 degrees year round. The surroundings are so heavenly, it’s as if you’re reliving a perfect day over and over again: A Groundhog Day for honeymooners, if you will.
Located on the fringe of the Hurricane Belt, Aruba is sheltered from most tropical storms, making it an ideal beach getaway regardless of what month couples are getting married. It’s a short flight away for East-Coasters—just over two hours away by plane from Miami and four hours from New York—but it’s also close to Venezuela and Colombia.
The island is home to over 22 major hotels, from sprawling high-rises in Palm Beach to boutique low-rise properties along the Eagle Beach coast. (Aside from being gorgeous, Eagle Beach is also a nesting site for leatherback sea turtles.)
A collection of more than 100 islands, the Bahamas, with its proximity to the States (many of its islands are less than 200 miles from Miami) and endless untrammeled beaches, has become a magnet for honeymooners. While some of the islands bustle with excitement, there are plenty of remote outposts to be found throughout the archipelago.
Beach lovers should head straight to the Exumas, a group of 365 cays and islands surrounded by aquamarine water in shades as varied as a peacock’s feathers. On main Great Exuma Island, Sandals Emerald Bay is the only real resort option with 245 tropical colonial rooms that have exclusive concierge or butler service.
The sand at Harbour Island’s Pink Sand Beach (also known as Three Mile Beach) in the Bahamas really is pink. Composed of a fine-milled mix of coral, calcium carbonate, shells and rocks, the soft sand gets its rosy color from the remains of a microscopic invertebrate called foraminifera.
The wide cliff-lined beach stretches over the entire eastern length of the island, making it the postcard-perfect spot to spend the afternoon strolling hand in hand. You’ll want to take swimming breaks — the sparkling turquoise water is serene and sandy-bottomed.
It may be small in size, but Bali’s got character in spades. Part of the Indonesian archipelago, this accessible, frangipani-scented island manages to offer something for everyone. It’s all at your fingertips: sugar-sand beaches and party spots, great food, fascinating historic and cultural sites and a thriving arts and crafts scene. You can also find stylish accommodations and luxury perks (hello, two-hour massages!) for very reasonable rates.
Take a day trip to unspoiled, car-free Lembongan Island, located 30 minutes by speedboat from Bali, in the middle of the Badung Strait. Snorkel among the coral at Crystal Bay, join the surfers near Jungut Batu or just relax with a Bintang beer on Dream Beach.
Barbados is widely known for many things, among them, pink beaches, green monkeys, and loads of centuries-old architectural riches. But only in certain circles is this windy island also known for its swells. Turns out that between its position (as far east as you can get in the Caribbean)— and shallow reef system — Barbados is a veritable wave machine.
In fact, reigning surf champ Kelly Slater—who’s ridden pretty much every notable wave in existence—considers Barbados to have one of the top three: Soup Bowl, a giant barrel that rolls toward the town of Bathsheba. Not that you need mad skills to enjoy Barbados’s stoke factor. The island has a reported 35 surf breaks, many of them beginner- and intermediate-level.
Though you’ve no doubt heard of Antigua, Barbuda, 27 miles off its northern coast (reached via a short flight from Antigua’s airport) keeps a decidedly lower profile. A trip here is like stepping back to a bygone Caribbean era—there are few paved roads and goats and donkeys roam freely. But you won’t be roughing it, as there are several upscale lodgings such as Lighthouse Bay Resort, a nine-suite hotel set between the sea and a lagoon, with its own helipad.
Photo Credit: Natural Expressions NY for Lighthouse Bay Resort
Described as “one of the four must-dive locations on this blue planet” by oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, more than 200 small islands and lots of crystal-clear waters.
Experience this aquatic wonderland with a scuba adventure or a kayaking trip. Sink your toes into the white sand of seaside towns like Hopkins Village, San Pedro and Placencia, or reserve a private island for the day.
There are few places on earth where you can visit ancient Mayan temples, wander through a rainforest, chill on a white sand beach and swim along one of the largest reefs in the world. And this rustic paradise beckons honeymooners to recharge under the stars.
A hundred miles up the coast from Rio is the chic beach retreat of Buzios, a fishing village that was "discovered" by actress Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. Since then, jetsetters have been flocking to the rugged peninsula and its turquoise bays for the see-and-be-seen scene.
Copious sea, sun and sand are complemented by luxury shopping and gourmet restaurants. Of course, watersports abound. There’s snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, board surfing and even slipping into the tropical water au naturel at clothing-optional Praia Olho de Boi.
The northernmost point of the BVI chain is this little-known 11-mile-long island with a population of just 200. Unlike Tortola or Virgin Gorda, which are volcanic in origin, Anegada is a flat coral-and-limestone atoll. Its name means "drowned" island, and due to its remoteness, it attracts those travelers looking to truly escape.
In addition to the main beach, Loblolly Bay, Anegada has plenty of serene stretches, including Flash of Beauty and Cow Wreck, where you can spread out a towel and be blissfully alone all day. Of course, nautical activities are endless—fishing for blue marlin, snorkeling at Horseshoe reef, diving amid sunken ships and sailing around the clear waters.
What’s a perfect beach day? In the British Virgins, cruise over to the islet of Jost Van Dyke, anchor in the translucent bay, dive overboard and swim ashore. Then hang up your wet cash to dry at the Soggy Dollar Bar, grab a hammock and sip a signature Painkiller—a potent rum drink. Before long you’ll be blissed out on the beauty of this classic Caribbean setting.
Set among the already sleepy British Virgin Islands is Scrub Island, a private island resort. Such a secluded spot is a natural fit for honeymooners — an idyllic setting, maximum privacy, high romance factor, luxe accommodations and, in many cases, the resort is close enough to the main island if you should crave a bit of shopping or nightlife.
Located a 10-minute ferry ride from the B.V.I.’s main island of Tortola, the retreat offers 50 plantation-style rooms featuring teak furniture, stone floors and sea-facing verandas. There’s the secluded North Beach, a lagoon-style pool with a waterfall and swim-up bar and the Ixora Spa for hot-stone massages, coconut-milk baths and aloe-and-sugar scrubs. You’ll also find activities ranging from hiking to kayaking. At the resort’s full-service marina, book snorkeling trips to famous beach bars like Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke.
Mountainous Tortola is the largest and most populated island in the BVI chain. It’s where you’ll find a wide variety of hotels and restaurants, as well as lots of nightlife and shopping options, especially around the small but busy capital of Road Town. On the shores, you’ll find myriad deserted beaches, sheltered bays and stellar sunsets.
Secluded Brewer’s Bay, reached via hairpin turns, is known for its snorkeling and swimming, while nearby Cane Garden Bay has watersports concessions and plenty of open-air cafés. Just as the sun sets, you’ll want to find yourselves in one of the many barefoot beachside bars offering lively happy hours that turn even livelier when night falls.
A relaxed, laid-back mood seems to linger forever on each of the 15 Cook Islands. Opt for the island of Aitutaki, where a variety of go-with-the-flow lagoon cruises take off daily, and you’ll experience a completely sequestered stay.
For a bit more action between your naps and massages, we recommend Rarotonga, the capital island, where you’ll find shopping enclaves, cultural happenings and indulgent spa facilities. Then hit your private section of the beach and soak up a feeling of utter isolation.
Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, tropical Costa Rica offers pristine beaches and eco-friendly spas for relaxing, as well as zip lining and volcano hikes for adventure seekers. Plus, the superlush land is a veritable paradise on earth.
Still relatively undeveloped, the province of Guanacaste in the northwest features endless miles of sandy beaches, top-notch surfing and snorkeling, plus a volcano area with noted hot springs.
Croatia, war-torn in the 1990s, is once again on leisure travelers’ radar. A stunningly beautiful country on the Adriatic Sea (across from Italy), Croatia has fabulous beaches, especially along the Dalmatian Coast. The city’s premier strand, Banje Beach, located just outside the Old Town’s stone walls, is always a hub of activity (there are lounge chairs for rent, a restaurant and watersports concessions).
A 16th-century fortress stands watch over the crystalline Adriatic Sea in the charming town of Hvar, the central town of the Croatian island of the same name. A popular holiday spot along the Dalmatian Coast, Hvar’s got plenty to do on land, from touring Greek ruins and medieval villages to hanging out in one of the prettiest town squares in the country.
Rent a sailboat or hop a water taxi to the nearby Pakleni Islands and don’t forget to bring a picnic and a bottle of crisp Croatian Malvasia white wine. Pick up some famous Hvar lavender — fresh, dried or as a pure oil — as a fragrant reminder of the sunny days.
This little Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela is a melting pot of people from all around the globe: More than 50 different nationalities and ethnic groups are represented in an area about a sixth of the size of Rhode Island. This mix of cultures makes Curaçao one of the most cosmopolitan places on the planet—an island of interesting food, intriguing art and pretty good duty-free shopping.
On Curaçao, you can find nearly every kind of dive (beginner, intermediate, advanced, shore, boat, drift, wall), as well as a host of schools if you’re looking to get certified or move up a level.
This Mediterranean island is celebrated for its glorious weather, rich archeological sites, pristine coastline, wine-making traditions and fabulous cuisine. One of the island’s most fashionable resort areas is Paphos, on the west coast. Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, emerged from the surf here—so honeymooners should feel right at home!
Soak up some rays at Coral Bay, one of Paphos’ most popular beaches, but there’s also pretty Lara Bay, famous for its loggerhead turtle sanctuary, and the more secluded Latchi Beach.
Friendly people, a vibrant culture, miles of beaches and affordable resorts all attract visitors to the bustling, Spanish-flavored Dominican Republic. The cuisine, music and laid-back vibe of the welcoming island nation add to the intoxicating appeal. Its bustling cities boast a rich heritage and history—Santo Domingo claims the title of the oldest settlement in the Americas.
DR is best for couples who crave adventure in the sun. You can hike 10,000-foot peaks, windsurf in terrific cruising grounds, scout for humpback whales, snorkel and scuba dive with a kaleidoscopic array of fish and bike through the fecund countryside.
Fiji offers the winning combo of casual, barefoot style paired with over-the-top luxury and a unique sense of place. At all of Fiji's private island resorts, guests stay in bures, extravagant riffs on the traditional Fijian thatched-roof house. What you will not find, regardless of the resort you choose, are phones, TVs or wi-fi—this is paradise, after all.
Travelers are regarded as honored guests of the genuinely hospitable and warmly welcoming Fijians, who regard visitors not as strangers, but rather as part of their family.
This gorgeous oasis is located just 45 minutes away by sea plane from Key West. You would never guess that you're in Florida — the tropical setting, rich ecosystems and crystal clear aqua waters remind us of Tahiti. Best of all, honeymooners don't need a passport to go there.
The islands that make up the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac) are surrounded by gorgeous clear water, making them a diving hot spot. Located an hour away from Miami by plane, they boast superbly soft sand and a sophisticated, British-influenced ambience (yes, they drive on the left!).
Get to know friendly "locals" at Stingray City, the sandbar hangout for playful stingrays who perform acrobatics for scraps of food. Also hit the renowned Boatswain’s Beach, home to friendly sea turtles galore. The celebrated Seven Mile Beach is truly spectacular — especially at sunset.
The legendary Bloody Bay Wall, which was dubbed one of the finest dive sights in the world by Phillipe Cousteau, is located just off the coast of Little Cayman, sister island to well-known Grand Cayman. The mile-deep underwater cliff, patrolled by eagle rays, is lush with gardens of sea fans and coral.
Photo Credit: Steve Anderson; Pirates Point Resort
Also called "The Spice Island," Grenada has grown its trademark nutmeg, along with mace, cinnamon and cloves, for centuries. The island is home to mountainous rain forests alive with tropical birds and monkeys, white- and black-sand beaches, and welcoming people.
One of our favorite places to stay is Laluna, a 16-room hideaway on Grenada, which faces west onto the Caribbean. As the sun slips into the sea, watch the colors swirl and paint the sky. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive green flash that signals the exact moment the sun sets.
Come to this curve of white sand that hugs a bay of luminous blue water, and you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered a deserted treasure. Splash in crystal-clear water, lounge in the shade of palm trees and spend the day lazing on the brilliant sand. Beyond the dense thickets of palms along the edge of the beach, you’ll see some low-slung stone cottages. This is the Saltwhistle Bay Club and, just like the pristine beach, this intimate hideaway is naturally understated.
Divers of all levels love the network of underwater lava sculptures in Honaunau Bay. And it’s no wonder! More of Hawaii’s native fish can be found in the waters of this beautiful bay than any other spot. There are parrot fish, tang, surgeon fish and moray eels, as well as turtles and dolphins. When you’re done diving, check out the Place of Refuge, an ancient sanctuary that is now a national historical park.
Stay at the newly-revamped St. Regis Princeville on Kauai, where gleaming white sands are punctuated by towering palm trees and low-slung, breezy accommodations (you might recognize it from The Descendants).
Visit Hideaway Beach, which can only be reached via a 10-minute climb down a 150-foot vertical path. This nearly 1.5-mile-long white-sand strand has waterfalls to the east and west, as well as views of Kilauea Lighthouse. Surrounded by sheer red and black cliffs, lush vegetation and ironwood trees, it feels blissfully secluded—hence, the name.
With the rusted hull of a 1940s oil tanker still beached here, stellar shellcollecting opportunities, and stone petroglyphs a short walk inland, the eight-mile-long stretch along Shipwreck Beach is a beachcomber’s bonanza. Tidal pools and small rock formations along the secluded coastline provide fantastic opportunities to spot sea creatures, while you marvel at the turtles and dolphins playing offshore.
Often called the favorite island of visitors, Maui offers everything—natural beauty, loads of island entertainment and plenty of action. But that also means that your fantasies of being alone on a deserted island can be a little difficult to achieve. Enter Po’olenalena Beach, which is set away from the hubbub. And since it stretches nearly a half-mile, you’ll have plenty of room to claim some space as your own.
With its dining outposts, shopping arcades and bustling night-life scene, it’s no wonder that Waikiki is one of the best-known stretches of beach on the planet. After its recent facelift, the city-centered beach is even better. Check out hula performances, traditional torch lightings and spectacular fireworks displays.
On this popular island nation, it’s a nonstop beach party, where rum and reggae rule, mon. With a colorful Caribbean vibe, from Negril’s sunsets to lush, waterfall-studded Ocho Rios, you’ll enjoy an exciting nature-culture medley.
At Frenchman’s Cove Beach in Port Antonio, Jamaica, you’ll find light green seawater and a crystal-clear freshwater stream. Swimming is permitted in both (the water is generally calm and warm), and lounging around is particularly pleasant, since the powder-sand cove is ringed with fragrant tropical blooms.
Tip: Come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
Photo Credit: Jim Smith; The Jamaica Tourist Board
Divine and pristine, the Republic of Maldives, located just below the tip of India, draws discerning travelers. Here, ultraplush resorts with stellar service, sequestered beaches and intimate lagoons take pampering to a new level.
The jaw-dropping Rania Experience, located on the private Faafu Atoll, is the ultimate all-inclusive. The resort only takes one booking at a time, which means the property’s entire staff is solely dedicated to you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As if crystal-blue water, sprawling coral reefs and gorgeous sunsets aren’t enough of a draw, this destination offers endless beaches that you’ll have all to yourselves and lagoons where you’ll be the only swimmers (well, except for the friendly dolphins and turtles you’re apt to encounter).
Most hotels offer complimentary snorkeling equipment, so you can enjoy spectacular underwater shows on your own. Serious surfers: Pack your boards (rentals are hard to come by), and head to the most popular breaks in the area on the north shore of Male.
Although this tiny sun-drenched island nation in the Mediterranean is remote, it still boasts fabulous beaches and exciting nightlife. In the historic capital of Valletta, you’ll marvel at the architecture, treasure-filled museums and the island’s Hollywood connection: Gladiator, with Russell Crowe, and Troy, with Brad Pitt, were both filmed here.
The beaches on the north coast are the island’s best. There’s Paradise Bay, a small, beautiful beach in a cove; Mellieha Bay, known for its terrific snorkeling; and Ghajn Tuffieha, one of the island’s gorgeous expanses of golden sand edged with azure waters. You can also take a ferry excursion to the sleepy island of Gozo, home of the Azure Window, an amazing natural rock formation that towers over a crescent-shaped beach.
If you love a fiesta, Cancun on the Caribbean coast is the ultimate hot spot. By day, Cancun couples recharge in chic hotels; by night, they step out into a vivid nightlife scene. Nocturnal action is often right at the hotel; in the wee hours, clubs like Coco Bongo, Sweet Club and Mandala beckon.
The zona hotelera (hotel strip) is just a quick cab ride from all the clubs. Tip: Ask your concierge about one-price bar crawls.
Just north of the dramatic rock arches marking land’s end of the 1,000-mile Baja Peninsula is Los Cabos, a resort area now known as Mexico’s most glamorous destination, luring bold-faced names in search of pampering in the sun. Here, it’s all high-end — from the rooms, the views and the dining to the spas and the championship golf.
And the service in the sun-splashed hotels is seamless and friendly. One & Only Palmillahas one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo.
With crystalline Caribbean waters and golden sand on one side and a lush jungle filled with ancient sites on the other, Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a natural wonder that’s perfect for honeymooning. The region’s Mayan temples and mysterious underground cenote limestone caves form an exotic backdrop to your love nest.
Visit gorgeous Xpu-Ha Beach, located halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
On the west coast, Riviera Nayarit’s 200 miles of Pacific beaches promise spectacular watersports. And the nature reserve of Marieta Islands in Banderas Bay hosts sensational snorkeling and deep water diving.
Surfers worship Nayarit’s beginner breaks, while humpback whales and their watchers migrate here from December until May. And turtle hatchlings’ first steps into the sea are celebrated in dusk ceremonies.
Sizzling, vibrant and known for its top-notch food and music, balmy Miami is made for honeymooners. Cosmopolitan, yet enticingly tropical, this destination mixes the heat and passion of the Caribbean with Manhattan's chic fashion sense. And, with its signature Art Deco architecture that's been expertly preserved for decades, it has a look all its own.
Of all of the stops in Morocco, the seaside Essaouria (about 150 miles from Marrakech) is our favorite. Fishing remains the main industry in this city of maze-like whitewashed walls.
Tucked among the metal shops, spice stalls and other hawkers of the medina, are a series of boutique riad (formal homes) hotels. Riads have multiple stories and interior gardens or patios that are open to the sky.
Hurricanes have hit Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill eight times, but this hardy little outpost keeps bouncing back. Expect grilled lobsters and chicken served alongside ice-cold tropical concoctions with names like Killer Bee. Sunshine’s shares the beautiful beach with the Four Seasons Nevis. Stay here or at one of the island’s sugar-plantation guesthouses.
Affordable, beautiful and fun—is there any better combination? Since the country is still growing as a tourist destination, this is a place where you can find deals and experience natural sites that haven’t been overdeveloped. There are plenty of attractions for the history buffs, outdoor activities for the sporty, and beaches for when you want to relax.
Get your feet wet in the calm waters around San Juan del Sur, or head to the peaceful, less-developed Little Corn Island, where the crystalline sea is full of dolphins and other marine life.
It seems like suddenly, everyone is buzzing about Panama. Though the Central American country has always enjoyed close ties with the U.S. (you can even use dollars there), it’s only recently that it has hit the tourism radar, as more people are discovering Panama’s lively culture, tasty cuisine and relatively undeveloped natural assets — think wide Caribbean- and Pacific- fronted beaches and lush tropical forests.
With beaches, lively historic quarters and great food, Panama is about so much more than its famous canal (which, we must admit, is also cool). This central American country features loads of natural wonders, including mountains, islands and highlands.
This collection of picturesque sandy islands is a water-loving couple’s dream come true and the ideal spot to play castaways together. Palm Island, a private-island paradise, is an ideal spot for just-the-two-of-you vows or a small ceremony with family or friends. The beach is postcard-perfect, the water is incredibly blue and the 43 rooms and suites have a breezy and tranquil Caribbean vibe.
It takes about 30 hours of plane rides, car trips and a speedboat transfer to get from the U.S. to Boracay—but it’s worth it. Located a short flight from the capital of Manila, the island was for decades a weekend getaway spot for city-based Filipinos, until word of its beauty started spreading.
In addition to the island’s two largest beaches—main drag White Beach and kite boarder-favorite Bulabog Beach—you’ll find several smaller sandy strips and picturesque coves on the seven-mile-long island. The underwater world is full of colorful coral, stingrays, clown fish, sponges, sea fans and abandoned wrecks.
Puerto Rico has it all—glorious tropical weather, a rich cultural heritage, incredible natural beauty, fascinating wildlife, friendly people and fantastic food. The island's location in the central Caribbean makes it a hub for the region, which means there are many direct flights from across the country.
Fajardo is where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet and where you’ll find El Conquistador Resort. Set atop a 300-foot cliff with a never-ending view of the water, this property is a massive 500 acres and boasts luxurious amenities, including a casino and water park. '
In the San Juan area, we like Ocean Park, set between Old San Juan and Isla Verda, where many of the intimate guest houses are located. You can rent a chair or an umbrella on the beach and spend the entire day people watching.
For lunch, wander into any of the nearby restaurants. On the southwest there's Gilligan's Island, which is accessible via a fishing boat.
The delights of the beaches on Vieques, a small island just off the coast of Puerto Rico, are actually best enjoyed after the sun has set. At Mosquito Bay, you can board a boat for an unforgettable show: The waters glow with millions of bioluminescent organisms, leaving behind phosphorescent trails of light as they move. The tranquil atmosphere here is the definition of secluded bliss.
In 2010, this group of 115 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean upped its profile—thanks to a visit from a certain royal couple. But while Will and Kate’s honeymoon may have put a spotlight on the nation, it still feels under the radar.
The sensation is heightened by the dramatic, otherworldly scenery: Remote, pristine beaches are surrounded by impossibly clear azure water. (Two of them—Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette—regularly make those world’s best beaches lists.) Here, you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered a personal paradise.
This chic French island is all about being gorgeous, rich and famous—or at least pretending to be—whether you find yourself lounging on some beautiful beach, zipping around in a Smart Car or dining at a trendy café. Intimate and exclusive, like everything else about St. Barts, the tiny island's 14 white-sand beaches are never crowded, so it's not tough to snag a prime spot.
For the best people-watching ops, along with good swimming, water-sports rentals and a selection of restaurants, try Cul-de-Sac and St. Jean beaches. For a strand that's popular with locals, visit pretty Corossol Beach, which is set near a tiny fishing village.
The mangrove-lined, adults-only Scott Beach at Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort guarantees blissful silence and unbeatable views of St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., and Jost Van Dyke, B.V.I. At dusk, it’s pretty much deserted, so order a rum punch or piña colada from the drink station nearby and snuggle on a chaise as you watch the sun slip behind Jost Van Dyke’s mountains.
Turtle Beach on St. Kitts, near Anguilla, boasts a typical Caribbean beach bar scene, where everyone becomes instant best friends. Expect loud music (frequently live), plenty of ice-cold local beer and lots of freshly grilled fish. On Sundays there’s a large West Indian buffet, offering island favorites like lobster salad, conch chowder, rice and peas and johnnycakes.
Beloved for its picturesque verdant Piton peaks, this lush volcanic island effortlessly mixes land and sea adventure with the perfect setting for romance.
Best for: Nature-lovers. If you enjoy soft-adventure excursions, then St. Lucia won’t disappoint. The town of Soufriëre has some of the best spots for viewing the island’s coral reefs. While you’re in the area, you can also hike the Fond Gens Libre Nature Trail.
Saint Martin (or Sint Maarten, its Dutch name) has a split personality. About a third of the island is Dutch—gingerbread houses, English-speaking and home to some delicious cheese. The other two-thirds is French—a bit more posh, a bit quieter and wine that’s out of this world.
Settle into a Mediterranean state of mind at the Hotel l’Esplanade, which sprawls across a hillside overlooking trendy Grande Case. Just steps away are dozens of outdoor cafés and bakeries, as well as the island’s most celebrated beach.
Of the three main islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands—St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix—St. Thomas offers more choices in hotels and activities, while being the most convenient to reach (most major airlines offer nonstop flights). The calm waters and soft breezes around the U.S.V.I. make it easy and fun to explore by boat the tiny islands that dot the bays.
Travelers flock to Drake's Seat, a scenic lookout, during the day, but the best time to take in the panoramic view of crystal-blue Magens Bay and the British Virgin Islands is at sunset, when the crowds are gone and the two of you can have it all to yourselves.
Photo Credit: Frenchmans Reef and Morning Star Marriott Resort
Tahiti: Bora Bora
There are few places in the world that are truly synonymous with romance. And of the elite group, there are perhaps none more coveted than the islands of Tahiti. The island of Bora Bora, with the dramatic Mt. Otemanu set in the center, is one of the most picturesque places on the planet.
Although every sandy strand across the archipelago is stunning, the private beach that fronts the two-and three- bedroom villas at the Four Seasons Bora Bora is our top pick. Edged with tropical vegetation, the sand literally sparkles.
Millions of years ago, Tasmania was connected to Antarctica; today it’s not hard to imagine what the scenery must have been like then. Full of jagged mountains, ancient rock sites, rolling rivers and plenty of near-deserted beaches, the island state is a unique, still-pristine paradise.
Thailand is magical: From its steep, paddy-lined mountainsides and lowlands speckled with dramatic hillsides to its idyllic islands of endless beaches and looming limestone bluffs, this is a country of unrivaled beauty. Some of the world’s most spectacular strands are in Thailand.
The most famous, Phuket, an island in the southwest, has pristine (albeit a bit crowded) sands and a cuisine that celebrates the sea — don’t miss massaman curry, one of the region’s marquee dishes, which combines coconut milk with tamarind and cinnamon.
Hire a longtail (traditional Thai) boat for a tour of the city’s waterways, which are lined with temples and interspersed with locks and dams. You’ll pass homes on stilts, floating markets and vendors on boats. Along the coast, stretches of picturesque white sand beaches like Nai Yang, Kata and Karon are dotted with chaise longues and hammocks where you can linger all day.
On the island’s northwest coast, the azure Andaman Sea laps up against the postcard-perfect beauty of Mai Khoa Beach. And it’s virtually guaranteed that your footprints in the sand will be the only ones.
Turkey is one of the most picturesque and affordable beach destinations in Europe. And the seaside town of Bodrum, on the southwest coast of the Aegean Sea (an hour’s flight from the cosmopolitan city of Istanbul), is the glittering gem of the region known as the Turquoise Coast. This whitewashed fishing village, set on a boat-dotted harbor, is ever popular with English and Germans and, increasingly, with Americans.
Sip Turkish wine while relaxing on Gumbet beach, just minutes from town, where you’ll find plenty of charming cafés serving overflowing platters of fresh seafood. You can take a taxi to other beaches, such as the always bustling Ortakent and the quaint seaside town of Gumusluk.
Photo Credit: Marriott Renaissance Antalya Beach Resort and Spa
Turks & Caicos
These isles are home to the beaches of screen savers. Best known for the long stretches of sparkling sand lining clear, vivid blue water, just about every waterfront resort has its own stretch of hard-to-beat, palm-lined beach. Just over an hour’s flight from Miami, this British territory is actually a chain of 40 islands and cays—many uninhabited—which you can easily hop to from the hub, Providenciales (Provo).
From May through September, gentle breezes create the ideal climate for boating. Don’t miss the spectacular snorkeling located just off the beach.
With talcum-soft white sand, and water so aquamarine it’s been spotted by astronauts in orbit, this famous beach is celebrated throughout the islands. But even perfection has a downside: Luxury hotels and high-end condo complexes sit high on the dunes all along the 12-mile stretch.
Vanuatu, a Y-shaped cluster of 83 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, is a natural oasis. Lush, untouched green forests, active underwater volcanoes and never-ending virgin beaches, combined with earth-conscious lodgings, make this an off-the-beaten-path destination for eco-minded honeymooners.
The island of Virgin Gorda, or Fat Virgin, is said to have gotten its name from Christopher Columbus, who thought it resembled a reclining woman. Though more low-key than Tortola, it still has some of the British Virgin Islands’ swankiest resorts, appealing to those who like some luxury served along with sublime natural beauty.
Virgin Gorda’s most famous attraction is the Baths on the island’s southwestern tip. Here, massive boulders at the water’s edge form an eerie labyrinth of caves, caverns and tidal pools, where you can wade and swim—keep an eye out for Sally lightfoot crabs.