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Days of wine, orchid petals, and blissful beaches: T+L readers voted on their dreamiest island escapes.
No. 12 Lanai, Hawaii
The World’s Most Romantic Islands
No. 12 Lanai, Hawaii
Perhaps because it has the smallest population of all the inhabited Hawaiian islands, Lanai won points for desert-island bliss. Plus, it has intriguing sights like Hulopoe Beach, with tide pools created out of volcanic rock; the red desert rocks of Keahiakawelo; and Shipwreck Beach, accessible only by 4x4 vehicles, where you can find anything from violet snails to Japanese fishing nets that have washed ashore. For an idyllic view, stay at the just-renovated Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay, which sits next to a marine preserve inhabited by spinner dolphins.
Watching a sunset on Santorini can make you feel like you’re on top of the world—and in a way, you are.
Elphy Theodoropoulou swooned when she witnessed a sunset from the island’s village of Oia. “Amongst hanging houses, and between churches and rooftops, there is a spot high up where people gather to watch,” says the owner of an Athens-based sandal company. “You’re so high up that you can see the world on a curve—and the colors are so picturesque, it will forever be imprinted into your mind.”
It certainly won a spot in the hearts of Travel +Leisure readers, who ranked Santorini as one of the world’s most romantic islands. As part of the magazine’s annual World’s Best Awards survey, readers ranked the various merits of islands and archipelagos around the globe, including natural beauty, activities, dining, and economic value—as well as their potential to make hearts flutter.
Among the top 20 winners, there were, of course, destinations with wide swaths of powdery white sand, swaying palm trees, and natural soundtracks of lapping waves. But each of the winners has a bit of unique flair, too. One produces great wine, while another smolders with volcanic lava. A notable archipelago even features an island that’s shaped like a heart.
Some of readers’ favorite islands have precious few distractions from your one-and-only. Lori Sussle Bonanni was wowed by Harbour Island, in the Bahamas, when she and her husband first visited in 2013. They had rented a golf cart (the island’s main form of transportation) to explore the island: “We parked our cart to head onto an unreal pink-sand beach, and took in the breathtaking view,” says the New York-based marketing consultant. “My husband thought we were trespassing—we weren't—because we were the only people on the beach. It was magical.”