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.
Related: 50 Best Romantic Getaways
Being marooned in the middle of the ocean with your beloved brings out the starry-eyed traveler in all of us. Travel agent Julia Douglas runs Jetset World Travel, a Virtuoso-member agency that attracts well-heeled couples looking for ultra-romantic escapes. Her clients often use words like “authentic,” “exclusive,” and “pampered” to describe their ideal island destination. Not surprisingly, bells and whistles like Wi-Fi and 24-hour room service aren’t as important as a beautiful beach and warm weather.
That perfect romantic island getaway might be a longtime favorite destination. Santorini, for example, offers black-sand beaches, sweeping views out over the Aegean Sea, and the classic whitewashed architecture that Greece’s islands are known for. Increase the romance factor even more by heading to one of the Old World vineyards that produce fantastic wines.
Sometimes, however, romantic-island seekers have to travel a bit off the beaten path. Pamalican Island is a tiny island—not even 1/2-mile wide at its widest—surrounded by crystal-clear blue water in the Philippines’ Sulu Sea. And it has just one resort—Amanpulo—with only 40 villas, each with a private chef and butler. Luxurious seclusion on a pristine beach is what lures travelers—and keeps them coming back.
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. (One you can practically see from the Hollywood sign.)
No matter whether you’re a new couple just getting to know each other or you’re celebrating your golden anniversary, these romantic islands will help you holiday happily ever after.