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Endless warmth and sunshine, dreamy beaches, clear blue seas, and lush scenery—if you’re dreaming of a tropical vacation with the one you love, you’ve got a long list of destinations to choose from. Some are ideal for doing nothing but relaxing on the sand with a drink in hand, while others offer plenty of adventure. From exotic options thousands of miles away to places closer to home, all of these tropical spots are sure to please.
Kauai is often named the best island for couples seeking romance, as it’s one of the most tranquil and intoxicating in Hawaii, with magnificent natural wonders that include everything from lush, colorful gardens and waterfalls with hidden pools for secluded dips to spectacular beaches. The Na Pali coast is a must-see, and adventurers can access it on foot. There are also flightseeing trips and boat tours available for viewing the towering emerald pinnacles that stretch for 17 miles. Many include a bird’s eye of the double-tiered Wailua Falls. Of course, you’ll find plenty of idyllic beaches for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing too.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Among the best Pacific islands to visit, Bora Bora is what fantasies are made of as one of the world’s most photogenic destinations with unspoiled, powdery white sand and dreamy thatched-roof bungalows that sit right over an aquamarine sea. Legendary lagoons encircled by islets with a backdrop of forest-covered peaks are inhabited by friendly manta rays and other marine life providing fantastic opportunities for snorkeling. There are also many other outdoor activities to enjoy, from hiking to parasailing. It’s the epitome of romance, with the grand finale to every day a breathtaking sunset.
Yasawa Islands, Fiji
If you’re dreaming of a Robinson Crusoe-style experience with few others around, you might want to book a trip to the Yasawa Islands, some of Fiji’s dreamiest islands to visit. If you’ve seen the 1980 film “The Blue Lagoon,” that’s the kind of scenery you can expect as it was shot right from the islands. Although when you see it in person, it’s even more dazzling with the strikingly clear electric blue water that surrounds the islands while dramatic peaks spill down to postcard-perfect beaches. Enjoy everything from kayaking and cave exploring to swimming with manta rays.
Costa Rica is perfect for couples of all types who can embrace the spirit of cloud forests and exotic wildlife. Go for hikes to secluded waterfalls, climb volcanoes, raft thrilling rapids, learn to surf, go snorkeling or diving in Costa Rica’s best spots, or just relax on a private beach with a soundtrack of lapping waves. If you can’t decide between beach and jungle, Manuel Antonio National Park offers both, with white sands along its magical coastline and a dense forest, home to sloths and monkeys. Right outside the capital city, you can hike scenic trails, view a stunning waterfall, and visit the wildlife sanctuary, home to monkeys and jungle cats.
Located in the southwest region of the Philippines, Boracay, home to one of Asia’s most beautiful beaches, is a 10-square-mile island with a spectacular 2.5-mile stretch of pristine white sands edging shallow turquoise waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Parasailing, cliff diving, horseback riding, and sunset sailing cruises are all popular here, and you’ll find plenty of dive shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
As a U.S. territory, there’s no need for Americans to carry a passport for a visit to Puerto Rico. It’s home to one of the most beautiful islands on the planet, Vieques. Surrounded by warm, clear blue waters and powdery sand beaches, it’s like a living postcard. Even on a “busy” day, you can often enjoy them all to yourselves. The most romantic things to do include horseback riding on the sand and kayaking through mangrove forests while enjoying the songs of the birds. After dark, you won’t want to miss paddling the bioluminescent waters of Mosquito Bay. Under a starry night sky, you can watch the bay light up every time your oar hits the water.
Key West, Florida
Located at the southern tip of the Florida Keys, in Key West, you can experience a taste of the Caribbean without leaving the continental U.S. Enjoy a variety of watersports from swimming, snorkeling, and diving through a sunken wreck to guided kayak tours through mangrove islands, dolphin watching, and sunset sailing. The streets of town are filled with colorful buildings that are home to boutiques, galleries, top-rated eateries serving fresh seafood, and famous bars for lively nightlife. If you’re into history, don’t miss a visit to the Ernest Hemingway House, the author’s former home with dozens of six-toed cats roaming the grounds, all descendants of his pet, Snow White.
The Abacos, Bahamas
The beautiful Abacos lie about 200 miles from Florida. Among the best under-the-radar islands to visit in the Bahamas, this 120-mile-long island chain is the most accessible of the Out Islands. It’s known for secluded pine-fringed beaches, including some pink stretches, vibrant coral reefs, and sleepy fishing villages where people mostly get around by boat and golf cart. Four national parks can also be found here, inhabited by orchids, parrots, and a variety of exotic marine life. You can also see some of the famous swimming pigs that like to lounge on the beach occasionally, soaking up the sun before heading back to tread through the clear aquamarine waters. The Big Island of Abaco is home to Marsh Harbour, the third large city in the Bahamas, as well as the resort area of Treasure Cay.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Isla Holbox is an undeveloped island paradise off the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, about two hours north of Cancun. Easily reached by ferry from Chiquila, it offers seven miles of some of Mexico’s best beaches framed by the glistening blue waters of the Caribbean. Far from the tourist crowds and party scene in Cancun, it lies within the magnificent Yum Balam biosphere reserve, home to abundant wildlife, including crocodiles, endangered sea turtles, pelicans, and flamingos. Swimming with whale sharks is one of the top things to do, and you might even get to swim alongside wild dolphins.
Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Located about an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas offers an ideal base for diving and snorkeling tours to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s oldest and largest living coral reef, made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. There’s a dizzying array of marine animals here, including colorful tropical fish, dolphins, rays, sea turtles, giant clams, and nearly an endless list of other creatures, providing the experience of a lifetime for those who explore the underwater world. In the town itself, you’ll find beautiful Four Mile Beach along with leafy streets with palm and mango trees, upscale shops, galleries, and trendy cafes.
Dominica is a Caribbean island with a Champagne Reef, an underwater geothermal spring with hot bubbles that feel as if you’re bathing in champagne when swimming, snorkeling, or diving. This top destination for nature lovers is covered by rainforest with geothermal hot springs, waterfalls, and natural swimming holes. In Morne Trois Pitons National Park you’ll find the second-largest actively boiling lake in the world, while the Black Sand Beach is home to a leatherback, hawksbill, and green turtle sanctuary. Thanks to the plentiful rainfall and volcanic soil, fresh, tropical produce like mangoes and guavas are found in abundance, too, perfect for fresh-squeezed juices and mixed drinks.
There are thousands of islands in the Indonesian archipelago, but Bali has long been known as a top destination for romance seekers of all types. It offers a little of everything, from soaring jungle-covered mountains laced with waterfalls and verdant rice fields to idyllic beaches for swimming, snorkeling, or surfing. There are plenty of things to do, not to mention rich culture and history to explore, including many ancient temples, and wherever you go, the friendly Balinese will be flashing their radiant smiles. While Bali attracts plenty of tourists, there are still places for peaceful exclusion, including the Nusa Islands, which are easily reached by ferry. Known for its isolated golden sands, Nusa Penida is a particularly unspoiled gem that’s home to Kelingking Beach, named 2021’s most Instagrammable.
Bequia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Bequia is a lush and hilly seven-square-mile island in the Grenadines, one of the Caribbean’s rare true hidden treasures and one of its most authentic destinations. There are no big tourist resorts here, just a few beach bars and laid-back eateries for sipping rum punch and enjoying fresh seafood like a conch at the edge of Admiralty Bay in Port Elizabeth. There’s a perfect little harbor where boats sail in and out, some of which offer island-hopping excursions that include Petit Tobac in Tobago Cays, the uninhabited island where Jack Sparrow was marooned in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Lord Howe Island, Australia
Lord Howe Island sits between Australia and New Zealand in the Tasman Sea, providing the ultimate in privacy and seclusion with only 400 visitors allowed to stay per night. Largely undeveloped other than a smattering of properties offering accommodation in self-contained apartments, guesthouses, and exclusive luxury lodges, guests enjoy an unspoiled environment with sandy uncrowded beaches and a crystal-clear lagoon with a vibrant coral reef, and abundant marine life. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, too, inhabited by a variety of seabirds, including masked boobies.
One of Mexico’s cheapest vacation spots, Bacalar is a place for nature lovers to immerse themselves in breathtaking scenery and enjoy the outdoors, with no party scene to be found here. Located a little over 200 miles south of Cancun, it’s best known for its lagoon, La Laguna de Los Siete Colores, which translates to the seven-color lagoon. Its crystal-clear blue water in a myriad of brilliant shades is often compared to the Maldives, but there are no sandy beaches here. Instead, enjoy unforgettable swims, boat tours, and floats through ancient stromatolites at Los Rapidos, ending your days with dinner and drinks while watching the sun go down over the lagoon.