Natural beauty, wonderful people, and romance exist in all corners of the globe.

By Kendall Cornish
July 08, 2020
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David Kirkland/Courtesy of Cook Islands Tourism

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

Many places claim to have it all when it comes to romantic vacation destinations. And while it may be true that everyone’s idea of romantic travel is different, sun, sand, and sea are universal languages.

Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards survey asked readers to cast their votes on the top 25 travel experiences they’ve had in the past year, from the top airlines to hotels, cities, spas, and more. Among these are the top islands, voted for the friendliness of the people, food, value, activities and sights, natural beauty, and romance.

Islands in the South Pacific and the Eastern Caribbean scored our top spots, followed closely by the Seychelles in East Africa, proving that natural beauty, wonderful people, and romance exist in all corners of the globe. No matter where you are or where you’re able to go, there’s likely an island on our list that’s accessible to you or, alternatively, far enough away to truly provide the most romantic retreat from your day-to-day life.

If you’re looking for the idyllic location for a proposal, you came to the right list. These are the places voted on by real readers, many of whom had proposals of their very own on these islands. The beaches of Kauai offer a serenity that’s a perfect match for a beautiful sunset proposal while The Baths of Virgin Gorda make a striking spot for adventurous couples to say “I will.”

If a destination wedding is on the horizon, Maui or Lanai make accessible spots for friends and family to get to from the continental U.S. If elopement is the way for you, don't limit yourself to any one particular region from this list: take a look at the images and read the descriptions and go where your hearts take you, be it Bora Bora or St. Bart’s.

1. Cook Islands

Courtesy of Cook Islands Tourism

The wide and shallow waters surrounding the Cook Islands makes this South Pacific destination ideal for beach lovers and snorkeling enthusiasts.

2. Anguilla

Christina Holmes

White sands and crystal clear waters line the shores of Anguilla, and with bright, white resorts to match, this Caribbean island is a striking paradise.

3. Seychelles

Courtesy of Seychelles Tourism Board

T+L readers agree: Seychelles is a foolproof honeymoon paradise. Gorgeous beaches and a rich culture of diversity make this archipelago memorable.

4. Maldives

Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeg/Getty Images

Craving an above-water all-inclusive bungalow with access to your own, private area in the Indian Ocean? The Maldives is where you need to be.

5. Bora Bora

Lei Tao/Courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme

This island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia is known for scuba diving, snorkeling, above-water bungalows, and the turquoise lagoon they’re built on.

6. Kauai

Jakob Owens/Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

With its breathtaking mountains and legendary beach parks, Kauai’s capacity for outdoor adventure is seemingly never-ending.

7. Koh Samui

Courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Quiet yet cosmopolitan, Koh Samui is Phuket’s even more glamorous cousin island. With its variety of wellness and yoga retreats, this is the island for the couple who cares as much for each other as they do for themselves.

8. Ischia

Isc

The castles and caves of Ischia, a volcanic treasure of an island off the coast of Italy, make it the island getaway for European culture buffs.

9. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands

Combine the charm of Croatia’s winding streets, the emerald waters of Sardinia, and striking aerial views unlike any other, and you’ll get the Dalmatian islands.

10. Fiji Islands

Sean Fennessy

The blues and greens of Fiji’s waters and the fine white sand of its beaches have kept couples coming back year after year, making it our No. 10 romantic island destination in the world.

11. Maui

Heather Goodman/Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

A few hours’ drive around Maui and you’re bound to see everything from black sand beaches, unreal constellations, and even Acacia koa, a tree found on the plains of Africa and Australia. It’s truly an explorer’s paradise.

12. Virgin Gorda

Noe DeWitt

The granite grottos that harbor the lagoons around this Caribbean island make it a must-visit for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts.

13. Moorea

Lei Tao/Courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme

Deemed "Nature’s Playground," Moorea is the French Polynesian island a ferry ride away from Tahiti. It’s known for its skyscraping mountains and blue-green coastal lagoons.

14. Santorini

Classic view of Santorini, Greece

Stroll through the steep, winding streets of this unmistakable Greek island on the Aegean Sea, meet some of the most hospitable locals in the world, and immerse yourselves in coastal Mediterranean life.

15. Nantucket

Roland Bello

From charming boat houses to glamorous coastal mansions, Nantucket is the endearing stateside island offering the best of both small town life and luxe East Coast comfort.

16. Lanai

Heather Goodman/Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Known as Hawaii’s hidden travel gem, this small island has views of Maui and Molokai as well as two Four Seasons locations. This is the place if you and and your partner love to relax, enjoy the view, and maybe take in a hike or two.

17. Capri

Getty Images

An island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, Capri’s bright blue waters, picturesque grottos, and rugged coastline make its landscape one you and your lover will remember for years to come.

18. St. Bart's

Noe DeWitt

If your dream vacation includes some serious R&R (and yachts), this French-speaking Caribbean island is your best bet. With countless five-star resorts and miles of white sand beaches, the island country of Saint Barthélemy is a dream come true for couples.

19. Zanzibar

iStockphoto/Getty Images

The archipelago of Zanzibar, while technically a part of Tanzania, has a rich history of its own. Swahili is an easy language to pick up, so greet the locals and immerse yourself in this stunning island’s friendly culture.

20. Milos

Christopher Kennedy

Foodies in search of an island paradise can look no further than Greece’s Milos. This island’s beaches, rich food history, and bright white architecture make romantic trips as robust as they can be.

21. St. John

Courtesy of U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism

Known for its reefs and rainforest, the smallest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands is for the couple who feels at home in nature. Dolphins, hawksbill, green turtles, birds, and more inhabit this island, so you’re bound to cross paths with some amazing animals while there.

22. Exumas

Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation

This district of the Bahamas has unreal jewel-toned waters and the finest sand you’re likely to find anywhere. Here, swimming with (friendly) sharks, turtles, and even pigs is not only a possibility but a probability.

23. Island of Hawaii

Heather Goodman/Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

The largest of the Hawaiian islands is home to some of the best whale-watching in the world. And if hiking, surfing, volcanoes, and fresh poke is your thing, this is your paradise.

24. Paros

Marco Arguello

Paros is Grecian seaside living at its finest. If you and your partner prefer local boutiques and charming accommodations to omnipresent luxury brands and over-the-top resorts, this authentically Greek island is for you.

25. (TIE) Palawan

iStockphoto/Getty Images

Every corner of this archipelagic province in the Philippines is picturesque: the waters are clear and bright, the mountains are steep and striking, and the list of adventurous things to do is seemingly endless.

25. (TIE) Harbour Island

Philippe Giraud/Sygma/Getty Images

The quiet, simple way of life on this island in the Bahamas makes it the ideal place to get away after getting hitched or just the perfect spot to rest and reset with your loved one.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.