The world is full of beautiful islands, many of which are perfect for romance. But what do you look for in a dream destination? Is there one island that stands out above the rest? What makes a place feel like home? These questions and more guided the editors of Travel + Leisure magazine’s annual World’s Best awards survey, which asked readers to vote on the best romantic destinations around the globe.
1. Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are a group of 17 islands located south of New Zealand. They are part of the Polynesian Triangle and home to over 30,000 people. There are four main cities in the Cook Islands: Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mangaia. Each city offers unique experiences and activities.
RAROTONGA – Rarotonga is the largest city in the Cook Islands and the most populous island overall. This tropical paradise is known for its white sand beaches, crystal clear water, lush rainforests, historic ruins, and friendly locals.
AITUTAKI – Located just north of Rarotonga, it is one of the smallest and least populated islands in the chain. Its charm lies in its natural beauty, quiet lifestyle, and laidback atmosphere.
ATIU – Also known as Te Moana Nui o te Manuae, Atiu is the second oldest settlement in the Cook Islands. Visitors come here to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relax on the secluded white sandy beaches.
MANGAIA – Home to many historical sites and archaeological wonders, Mangaia is the largest island in the Cook Islands. It is famous for its rich cultural heritage and welcoming residents.
2. Anguilla island
Anguilla, one of the British Virgin Islands, offers luxury vacation rentals and villas for rent along with a variety of beachfront hotels and restaurants. With beaches that are some of the most pristine in the world, it’s no wonder this tiny island attracts visitors looking for a relaxing retreat.
The island itself is just over 20 square miles, making it the smallest self-governing territory in the United Kingdom. Its population hovers around 5,000 people, and there are fewer than 10,000 hotel rooms available for guests. But even though its size is small, it still boasts plenty of things to do.
From snorkeling and diving to hiking and zip lining, there’s something for everyone here. If you want to explore the outdoors, you can go kayaking, horseback riding, biking, sailing, fishing, golfing or take part in a number of other activities. You can also choose from a wide range of dining options, including fine dining, casual eateries, fast food joints and bars serving drinks.
If you’re looking for shopping, head to Road Hill, where you’ll find boutiques selling everything from jewelry to clothing, art supplies to souvenirs. For those interested in history, the government maintains a museum dedicated to the area’s colonial era. And if you love nightlife, you’ll find several bars and clubs offering live entertainment.
The tiny island nation off Africa’s east coast is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And it’s one of the best places in the world to propose marriage. In fact, a recent survey conducted by travel site TripAdvisor found that couples planning trips there are looking for romance, not just sun and sand.
According to the survey, about half of the respondents plan to spend their wedding night on the islands. Some even plan to exchange vows on the beach. But what makes Seychelles such a romantic destination? Here are three reasons why:
1. Beach weddings
On Mahe Island, the capital city of Seychelles, you can find luxury resorts where you can tie the knot. One resort offers a ceremony on the beach, complete with white sands, tropical foliage, and a glass roof overlooking the ocean. Another allows guests to choose a spot along the shoreline. If you want something more intimate, you can opt for a traditional church ceremony followed by a reception at a nearby restaurant.
2. Scenic beauty
If you’re interested in a more secluded setting, consider booking a trip to La Digue, a small island located off the western coast of Grande Comore. This uninhabited island boasts lush vegetation, crystal clear water, and gorgeous views of neighboring islands. You can book a villa here, or rent a boat and explore the area yourself.
3. Foodies paradise
Seychelles has earned a reputation as an epicurean paradise. The country is known for its fresh seafood dishes, especially lobster. Locals enjoy eating this crustacean boiled, baked, fried, sautéed, grilled, or served raw. They also eat crab, octopus, shrimp, cuttlefish, squid, mussels, oysters, and clams.
4. Maldives island
The Maldives are located about halfway between Australia and Indonesia. They are known for being one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. And now, it looks like the island nation is offering something else — an all-inclusive resort called the Aitutaki Island Resort & Spa.
According to Travel + Leisure magazine, the hotel offers guests access to a private beach, a spa, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and even a barber shop. There’s also a pool and a gym. Plus, there’s a spa tub for relaxing.
And while it might sound too good to be true, the Maldives does offer some perks. For example, the islands boast pristine beaches, clear water, and warm weather throughout the year.
5. Bora Bora island
The island of Bora Bora is located northwest of Tahiti in the Society Islands archipelago in French Polynesia. It’s known for being one of the most beautiful places in the world. In fact, it’s been named the number one place to visit in 2018 by TripAdvisor. There are many things to do there, including swimming, surfing, snorkeling and even bungee jumping.
6. Kauai island
Kauai is one of Hawaii’s most popular vacation destinations, thanks to its natural beauty and endless opportunities for fun. From world-class surfing beaches to hiking trails to waterfalls, there are plenty of ways to enjoy nature here. However, Kauai isn’t just about the outdoors. Its cultural offerings include museums, galleries, festivals, and restaurants. There are even some great hotels and resorts to choose from.
7. Koh Samui island
Koh Samui is often referred to as Thailand’s most romantic destination because it offers couples everything you could possibly want. This small tropical paradise boasts seven beaches, some of which are lined with luxury resorts, while others remain unspoiled and secluded. There are countless activities to choose from, including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, cycling, horse riding, cooking classes, spa treatments, and massage therapy.
8. Ischia island
Ischia is an Italian island located just off the coast of Naples. Its lush green hillsides are dotted with medieval towns and villages. In addition to being one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Ischia is known for its rich history. During World War II, Ischia served as a hospital for soldiers. Today, Ischia is still home to many historic buildings and museums.
9. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands
The Dalmatian islands are off the coast of Croatia, just south of Dubrovnik. They’re known for their beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, as well as some of the most impressive coastal scenery in the world. This region is home to many stunning towns like Split, Trogir, and Zadar, each one offering something unique.
Hvar Island is where you’ll find the island capital, Hvar Town. Here, visitors can enjoy walking along cobblestone streets lined with historic buildings and quaint shops. There’s plenty to do here, whether it’s relaxing on the beach, hiking around the island, exploring caves, or taking part in outdoor activities such as kayaking and snorkeling.
For those looking to explore more of the area, there are several smaller islands within easy reach of Hvar Town. These include Vis, Brac, Sveta Katarina, and Prvić. Each offers different experiences, including pristine white sand beaches, picturesque coves, and secluded bays.
In addition to the natural beauty, the Dalmatian islands offer a wide variety of cultural attractions, too. Some of the best examples include the Diocletian’s Palace in Split, the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Trogir, and the Franciscan Monastery in Opatija.
10. Fiji Islands
Fiji is one of the most beautiful places in the Pacific Ocean. Its pristine turquoise water, white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, and exotic wildlife make it one of the best destinations for romance. Couples come here for honeymoons, anniversaries, and even weddings. Here are some reasons why you should consider a trip to Fiji.
1. Beautiful Beaches
2. Great Food
3. Adventure Activities
4. Local Culture
6. Luxury Hotels
8. Eco Friendly
11. Maui islands
Maui is one of the most beautiful islands in Hawaii. It is known for its pristine beaches, lush tropical rainforests, and stunning waterfalls. If you are looking for some adventure, you’ll find it here. You can experience world class surfing, snorkeling, diving, hiking, horseback riding, biking, golfing, and much more. There are plenty of activities for families too.
The island offers many different types of accommodation ranging from luxury resorts to rustic bed & breakfasts. Whether you want to go big city or small town, there is something for everyone.
12. Virgin Gorda island
The largest of the British Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda offers some of the best beaches in the world. With over 50 miles of coastline, there are plenty of places to explore. There are no roads here; you’ll need to rent a car or take a taxi to get around. But once you’re out on the water, you won’t want to go anywhere else.
Virgin Gorda is known for its spectacular beaches, including Jost Van Dyke, where you’ll find soft white sand and turquoise waters. You can see the BVI from space — the entire archipelago is visible on satellite images.
13. Moorea island
Moorea is one of the most beautiful islands in French Polynesia. A short flight from Tahiti, it’s home to some of the world’s tallest peaks and stunning beaches. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the idyllic tropical paradise.
1. The Beach
There are black-sand beaches everywhere you look. This is because the island has been shaped by volcanic activity.
2. The Water
You might think that the water would be warm since it’s so close to the equator but actually, the opposite is true. Because of all the volcanoes located here, the water is very cold.
3. The Wildlife
This isn’t an aquarium. There are dolphins, sea turtles, dugongs, green sea turtles, humpback whales, and even manta rays.
4. The Scenery
If you thought the Grand Canyon was impressive, wait until you see this! Volcanic craters, dormant cones, and other geological features have created incredible landscapes while coral reefs and fish life create amazing ocean vistas.
5. The History
Inhabited since at least 1000 AD, Moorea was first discovered by the French in 1643. In 1722, it became part of France. Then, in 1842, it became a territory of Denmark. Finally, in 1893, it became a territory in the French Republic.
14. Santorini island
There are many reasons why Greece is one of the best travel destinations in the world. But perhaps none is quite as unique as the tiny island of Santorini, located off the coast of mainland Greece. This stunning destination offers visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Greek islands, while still feeling like they’re immersed within a different culture. From the moment you arrive, it feels as though you’ve stepped into another era. Here, ancient ruins sit side-by-side with modern resorts, traditional tavernas serve up delicious seafood dishes alongside gourmet restaurants, and people speak both English and Greek.
The small size of the island allows you to easily navigate around and explore every corner of this captivating destination. And don’t worry about running out of things to see and do; there are plenty of activities to keep even the busiest travelers busy throughout their entire trip. Whether you want to take a hike along the cliffs overlooking the sea, enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, or go diving in the crystal clear waters, there’s something here for everyone.
With over 50 beaches to choose from, you’ll never run out of places to soak up the sun and relax. If you prefer staying active during your vacation, you’ll find hiking trails leading to hidden coves where you can swim, caves to crawl inside, or waterfalls to jump into. There are also several wineries scattered across the island that offer tours and tastings. Many of these spots are family friendly, making them perfect for kids of all ages.
When exploring the town of Oia, make sure to stop by Fira, the bustling market square that serves as the center of activity in this charming village. Here, you’ll find everything from souvenirs to local delicacies, such as olives, cheese, and honey. You can also shop for clothing, jewelry, and household items, or simply grab a snack at one of the numerous food stands.
If you’d rather spend your days soaking up the sun than shopping, you won’t regret heading to one of the many hotels and villas scattered throughout the area. Most accommodations feature beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, giving you ample opportunities to watch the sunset each evening. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, hop in the car and head to nearby Athens, where you can check out the vibrant city’s nightlife scene.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat or a lively hub of excitement, Santorini truly delivers.
15. Nantucket island
Nantucket is one of those places where you can live like royalty while still feeling like you’re living off the land. With quaint streets lined with colorful Victorian homes, it’s easy to see why people flock here every summer. There are plenty of things to do, too. You can go whale watching, paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, hiking, biking, golfing, shopping, dining, drinking, dancing, and much more. If you want to stay in style, there are some gorgeous beachfront hotels and inns to choose from.
16. Lanai island
Hawaii’s smallest state island is home to one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. Located just off Maui, Lanai boasts two Four Seasons properties, including the Four Seasons Resort Lanai Opua Bay, where guests can enjoy the best of both worlds—the serenity of the oceanfront setting and the convenience of being close to everything else.
The resort features three restaurants, including the award-winning Terrace Room, plus bars, pools, tennis courts, golf courses, shopping and spa treatments. Guests can choose from among more than 3,500 square feet of living space, including four bedrooms, five baths, and six fireplaces.
17. Capri island
Capri is an Italian island located off the coast of Naples. Its stunning beauty makes it a favorite destination among tourists from around the world. With its gorgeous beaches, breathtaking views, and romantic atmosphere, Capri offers visitors something special every day of the week. Whether you are looking for a quiet vacation spot where you can relax and unwind, or want to enjoy some activities like hiking, biking, diving, swimming, fishing, or just relaxing on the beach, there is plenty to do here.
18. St. Bart’s island
The tiny island nation of Saint Barthéleme lies just off the coast of France, making it one of the most accessible destinations in the Caribbean. This French-speaking island offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and romance. And while you won’t find many Americans here, there are still plenty of places to enjoy a romantic dinner, sip wine under the stars, or simply snuggle up together on the beach.
19. Zanzibar island
Zanzibar is best known for its beaches, but it’s actually much more than just sand. This archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is home to some of the world’s most beautiful islands and luscious coral reefs. Its exotic beauty makes it a prime destination for travelers looking to explore Africa.
The archipelago of Zanzaibar, while technically part of Tanzania, has its own rich history. In fact, many believe that the name Zanzibar comes from the Arabic word Zanj, meaning black. The original inhabitants of the area include the Makonde people, who are Bantu speakers, and the Shirazi Arabs, who arrived during the 9th century. The island later became a British protectorate under the East African Company. During World War II, the Japanese occupied the region, and the Germans controlled it after 1945. After independence in 1964, the former German colony of Pemba became part of Zanzibar.
Swahili is an easy-to-learn language, which makes it a great choice for travelers. There are many different dialects, however, so you’ll want to learn a few words of each. If you’re planning on traveling around the country, it’s important to know how to say “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you.”
20. Milos island
Foodies looking for a quiet escape can head straight for Greece’s Milos. Located off the coast of Albania, this tiny Greek island offers visitors stunning views of the sea and sky. Its beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. And its cuisine – including seafood, olives, cheese, and wine – is second to none.
21. St. John island
The smallest of the U.S. Virgin islands, St. John is known for its reefs and rainforests, making it perfect for those looking for a quiet vacation spot where they can relax and enjoy nature. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that you’ll be alone on this tropical paradise. There are plenty of things to do and see here.
St. John is located just north of Puerto Rico and south of St. Thomas. With a population of around 2,500 people, many of whom live on the main island, St. John is quite small compared to the other two U.S. Virgins. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty.
Situated about 25 miles east of Charlotte Amalie, St. John is often referred to as “the jewel of the Virgin Islands.” The island’s natural beauty includes white sandy beaches, beautiful waterfalls, lush forests, and even a few caves.
There are several great places to explore on St. John. You can hike along the coastline, go snorkeling, take a boat tour, or swim with dolphins. If you’d rather spend your days relaxing on the beach, you won’t find a better place to do so.
When you book a flight to St. John, you can choose from multiple airlines flying out of New York City, including American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. All of these carriers fly directly to Charlotte Amalie International Airport, which is located on St. John. From there, you can easily hop onto one of the many boats traveling to the island.
If you’re planning a romantic trip, you might want to consider taking advantage of one of the many honeymoon packages offered by travel agencies like Travelocity.com. These packages include everything you’ll need to make your wedding dreams come true, such as flights, accommodations, tours, activities, and much more.
22. Exumas island
The Exuma Islands are located just off the coast of Nassau in the Bahamas. They offer some of the best diving and snorkeling around. But it’s not just about the water; there’s plenty to do here too. Take a hike along the beach, or go fishing, or take a boat tour. There’s even a chance to swim with friendly sharks, turtles, and pigs.
23. Island of Hawaii island
The largest of the Hawaiian Islands is home to some of Hawaiʻi’s most popular attractions. From the active volcano crater to the famous surf breaks, there are plenty of things to do here. If you want to see whales, head to Waikiki Beach where locals say it’s one of the best places to view humpback whales during the winter months. Hiking enthusiasts love Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge because it offers great views of the nearby lava flows. For those looking for something different, try out the island’s unique cuisine. Poke bowls and lomi salmon are just a few of the tasty treats found here.
24. Paros island
Paros is one of Greece’s most popular islands. With its picturesque beaches, quaint villages, and friendly people, it’s no wonder why. But did you know there are plenty of hidden gems on this little gem of an island? Here are some places to check out while you’re here.
1. Explore the Ancient Ruins
The ruins of ancient Olympia are located about 40 minutes outside of town, just off the highway. This site is home to many temples and statues dating back to the 5th century BC. There’s even a temple dedicated to Zeus.
2. Visit a Local Vineyard
If you want to experience what real Greek wine tastes like, head to Vinsanto Winery. You won’t find anything fancy here—just simple wines paired with authentic Greek dishes.
3. See Some Old Town Architecture
There are several buildings in Paros that date back to the Byzantine era, including the Church of Panagia Evangelistria and the Monastery of Agios Ioannis. Both structures are well worth seeing, especially because they’re free to enter.
4. Go Scuba Diving
One of the best ways to explore the underwater world of Paros is to go scuba diving. The waters surrounding the island are filled with colorful coral reefs, sea caves, and even dolphin habitats. Don’t worry — all levels of diversions are welcome!
5. Get Outdoors
There are lots of outdoor activities available on Paros. You can go hiking, biking, horse riding, or simply relax on the beach. No matter how you choose to spend your time, be sure to wear sunscreen and bring insect repellent if you plan on being outdoors for any length of time.
25. (TIE) Palawan island
Palawan is one of Asia’s most underrated destinations. This island province in the Philippines offers everything you could want from a tropical vacation — crystal blue seas, white sand beaches, lush rainforests, and plenty of adventure activities. Here are reasons why you should add Palawan to your bucket list.
1. Explore the World Heritage Sites
The entire province is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites including Puerto Princesa Underground River, El Nido, Coron Island, and Malapascua Island. These natural wonders are some of the best places in the world to see incredible marine life like coral reefs, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and even dugongs.
2. See the Beautiful Beaches
Palawan boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and it’s easy to see why people travel here just to relax. You don’t have to go far to find pristine stretches of powdery white sand and azure blue water. But there are several popular beach towns that offer tons of fun activities for tourists looking to enjoy the sun. Popular spots include San Francisco, Sipalay City, Taytay, and Busuanga.
3. Go Scuba Diving
One of the best ways to explore the underwater worlds around Palawan is by scuba diving. There are many dive shops offering different levels of courses and packages. If you choose to take a course, make sure you bring your certification card. Some locations where you can scuba dive include Calatagan National Park, Coron Reef, Gattaran Beach, and Subic Lagoon.
26. (TIE) Harbour Island
Harbour Island is the most popular destination in The Bahamas. Located off the coast of Eleuthera, the island boasts beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. This small island offers plenty of activities including snorkeling, diving, fishing, boating, sailing, water skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, kayaking, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, hiking, golfing, tennis, beach volleyball, swimming, and much more. If you’re looking for something different, try the Bahamian Grill where guests are served up traditional dishes like conch salad, jerk chicken, and lobster stew. There is also a spa, fitness center, and several restaurants to choose from. Guests can enjoy the many amenities offered by the resort such as free Wi-Fi, a pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, and a fully stocked bar. For those seeking a little privacy, there are three separate villas to rent. Each villa includes air conditioning, satellite TV, a full kitchen, bathroom, laundry facilities, and access to a private pool. There is also a 24 hour security guard present during peak season.