Bob Coello/Big Island Visitors Bureau
The Waipi’o Valley (Valley of the Kings), Hawaii
The Romance: The Waipi’o Valley, on the northeast shore of Hawaii’s Big Island, is so named for the Ali’i, or ancient Hawaiian Royals, buried there, but it’s the life-affirming beauty that will have you feeling the love. Jacqueline Horne, who owns the Waipio Wayside Inn, describes the view from the cliffs as “taro fields and lotus ponds dotting the lush green landscape, while the far cliffs are etched with waterfalls cascading down the hillside. Seven streams meander through the valley towards the ocean, cutting through a patchwork of farms and ponds.” All that, and the longest black sand beach in the state. If you can’t find an unforgettable proposal spot in this setting…perhaps you should reconsider making a lifetime commitment.
The Price Tag: The Birds Eye room at Waipio Wayside Inn is $190. A 2.5-hour ride through the valley with Na’Alapa Stables costs $88.
Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn
Overlooking Big Sur, California
The Romance: There are more-famous roads in America—Route 66 springs to mind—but few could claim such poetry-inspiring scenery as California’s Big Sur, the 90-mile stretch of Highway One that runs from Carmel to San Simeon. The rugged coastline, with rocky cliffs on one side and the imposing Santa Lucia mountains on the other, feels custom-made for riding in a vintage convertible with the guy or gal of your dreams. Stop at one of the many dramatic lookout points for your big moment, or save the question for when you’re cozied up in a cliff-side yurt at Treebones Resort or an ocean-view suite at the much-lauded Post Ranch Inn.
The Price Tag: Ocean-view suites at Post Ranch Inn start at $1,060; ocean-view yurts at Treebones Resort start at $190.
Courtesy of The Jalousie Plantation
Overlooking the Pitons in St. Lucia
The Romance: The magnificent volcanic peaks known as the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are among the most arresting natural sights you’ll see in the Caribbean. Soaring almost 3,000 feet out of the ocean, these forest-swathed wonders can be seen from many points on St. Lucia, fast becoming one of the region’s go-to spots for honeymooners and the soon-to-be-betrothed. One of the island’s iconic resorts, Jalousie Plantation, even has a director of romance to help facilitate magical moments. The resort’s sunset deck, overlooking the gorgeous bay formed between the two peaks, is a prime proposal spot. Book a helicopter ride (www.stluciahelicopters.com) above the island for extra points.
The Price Tag: Luxury villas at Jalousie Plantation start at $700. One-hour helicopter charter: $1,800. A less expensive option: Book one of the cottages at the Fond Doux Estate, in Soufrière, which start at $150. Then skip the whirlybird and climb the Pitons.
A Sunset Sail in Bora Bora, Tahiti
The Romance: French Polynesia looms large in the minds of love-struck couples everywhere, and rightly so. But leave the over-water bungalow proposals to the newbies: a sunset sail around the motus of Bora Bora is a more untested way of dropping the question. Le Meridien Bora Bora can arrange for couples to take a sunset tour of the lagoon on one of its “Kainalu Canoe Club” boats, traditional Polynesian outriggers that were a forerunner to the catamaran. A Polynesian guide is your only other companion as you sip champagne and watch the sun dip behind the Otemanu mountain.
The Price Tag: The Popora Sunset tour is around $100 per person, including champagne.
Courtesy of Hotel Cipriani
Overlooking the lagoon in Venice
The Romance: The city of narrow cobblestoned streets, graceful palazzi, sleek gondolas and, of course, Casanova is a time-honored setting for amore. And the Venetian island of Giudecca has always had extra-special appeal for lovers, given its panoramic vistas of the lagoon, including the Doge’ s Palace and Piazza San Marco. For the ultimate Giudeccan excursion, book a room in the lagoon-front 15th-century Palazzo Vendramin—the section of the posh Hotel Cipriani with the best water views.
The Price Tag: Those classic views come at a cost; a lagoon-view junior suite in the Vendramin starts at $2750. For a less expensive option, check into the centrally-located Novecento Boutique Hotel, where doubles can be had for little more than $300.
The World's Most Romantic Places to Propose
Overlooking Central Park
The Romance: Combine a view of the Columbus Circle entrance to the park with legendary chef Thomas Keller’ s spectacular food and you’ve got Per Se, a Manhattan perch that perfectly suits your purpose. In fact, you’ re bound to win someone over just by having a reservation at this notoriously exclusive restaurant. When you speak to a reservationist (two months in advance is recommended), ask (beg, plead) for a park-view table near the fireplace, and mention your plans. The restaurant is happy to help facilitate any extra romantic touches you might have in mind.
The Price Tag: Per Se’s nine-course, market-driven degustation menu runs the gamut of ambrosial ingredients, from oysters to caviar and truffles, and is $275 per person, without wine. For a less expensive option, try a spot that’s smack in the middle of the park: the Boathouse Restaurant, where entrees are in the $30 range.
Gavin Ford/Abercrombie & Kent Picture Library
A Hot-Air Balloon Ride Above the Masai Mara, Kenya, Africa
The Romance: Picture this: you and your sweetheart have spent a week on safari, spotting the Big Five and drinking sundowners overlooking the savanna. Now you really want to make her swoon. Over to Sarah Davy, “celebration specialist” at luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent, which can custom-build a Kenya safari experience to include a sunrise balloon ride over the Mara. “There is nothing in the world more romantic than floating just above the trees in the Masai Mara with mist rising from the river as dawn breaks,” Davy says. A&K recommends Governors’ Camp’s Balloon Safaris, which take off from the heart of the Mara game reserve and end with a magical breakfast out on the distant plains.
The Price Tag: A one-hour balloon ride followed by a champagne breakfast and game drive runs at about $400 per person. A&K’ s Kenya Hemingway Safari costs $8,560 per person for 11 days (not including airfare). For a less expensive option, try South Africa in the offseason (May through July). At Samara Private Game Reserve, a suite facing the plains costs less than $150 a person per night during those months.
Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji
A Deserted Sand Spit in Fiji
The Romance: Famed for its sunsets and world-class diving, Fiji is also a hyper-romantic getaway destination. Many of the archipelago’s boutique resorts, like the top-notch Royal Davui, make use of tiny nearby private islands to whisk guests off for romantic rendezvous. The hotel can arrange for a champagne picnic on Sand Quay, a sandbar marooned in the Pacific Ocean among coral reefs, where the high tide washes all footprints away, so it feels as though the island is created anew each day. A staff member will ferry you out, then return a few hours later—at which time, we wager, there should be an extra piece of jewelry on someone’s finger.
The Price Tag: Doubles at the Royal Davui start at $1,165. An expedition to Sand Quay is $85 per couple (champagne is extra).
Hyams Beach, Australia
The Romance: So you want to propose on a beach but don’t want to be just one of many canoodling couples on a stretch of sand that’s had its day in the sun. The solution: look further afield. Much further afield. All the way to a little, under-the-radar spot on Australia’s east coast, south of Sydney, called Hyams Beach. Facing Jervis Bay, the beach is listed in the Guinness World Records book as having the whitest sand in the world. Plus, this is Australia, so you’ll have plenty of room to declare your love.
The Price Tag: The beach is public and free. Hyams Beach Seaside Cottages start at $150 per night in peak season.
Courtesy of Banyan Tree
The Romance: There are rooftop restaurants, and then there’s Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar, the former helipad on the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree hotel in Bangkok. You’ll be seduced by the bright lights of the Thai capital, spread out like a theme park below, as you enjoy that rarest of Bangkok phenomena, the breeze (and you’ll be away from any street-level air pollution). The concierge can arrange any details—flowers, special wine, the most private table—on request for hotel guests. Just don’t get carried away and drop the ring: it’s a long way down.
The Price Tag: A four-course set dinner is around $190 per couple. Deluxe View Suites at Banyan Tree start at $425.