The fantasy of the South Pacific lies in its essential nature as a collection of remote tropical islands ringed with white-sand beaches and surrounded by warm fish-filled lagoons. In French Polynesia, honeymooners flock to resorts with overwater bungalows (they were invented here); some have glass bottoms that serve as a window into the underwater world, while others come with daily breakfast delivered via outrigger canoe. The food is influenced by France, but also by the local ingredients. Fresh fish is a staple and is often served poisson cru style, which means cured in a mixture of coconut cream and lime juice. Other dishes, such as yams and taro, are wrapped in taro leaves and roasted, and French food found here includes baguettes and crepes. It's all served with local Hinano beer.
In Fiji, the bungalows are thatch-roofed and often sitting in front of the surf, marking the stretch of coast in their front yard as unofficially theirs. When you're not sunning on your beach (that sounds nice, right?), you can dive the teeming reefs or take in a local tradition: fire-walking ceremonies performed by descendants of ancient tribal warriors.
As for the Cook Islands, this barefoot paradise is still undiscovered territory for most Americans, making it the perfect spot to go if you're looking for a romantic destination that feels uniquely yours. (Hello, honeymoon bragging rights!) Ready to find your paradise? Let's go!
Best Overall: Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
You may not be able to find it on a map, but the Cook Islands—Aitutaki in particular—are made for would-be honeymooners. Bora Bora has nothing on this water. This resort, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, takes a boutiquey approach that translates to pure magic. Children younger than 12 are not allowed, making it seductive in more ways than one. There are poolside cocktails to sip, unreal panoramas to savor over dinner, massages to indulge in, and snorkeling and swimming experiences to marvel over.
When not engaging in all the idyllic excitement, newlyweds swoon over each other and their vibrantly decorated thatched villas (there are just 29) that give way to beguiling views and direct beach access from wooden sundecks. Outdoor showers and hammocks are winning amenities, too.
Explore the island on scooter or experience the sounds of Aitutaki via Sunday church service music, but return in time for dinner, because whether it’s the casual Black Rock, fine-dining, locally sourced Rapae Bay restaurant or Wednesday night live singing and dancing, you’ll be wowed.
Best Bucket List: Laucala Island, Fiji
Imagine a place where you can explore the depths of the sea in your very own submarine. And also enjoy a private several-hour teppanyaki dinner celebrating the delicious bounty of a verdant island overlooking the sublime turquoise water. Oh, and chill with a glass of fine wine in an outdoor stone bathtub, with a piña colada beside one of the world’s most epic swimming pools, or with a flute of bubbly on a secluded beach after a horseback ride or leisurely hike.
On this incredibly exclusive private island in Fiji – home to some of the sexiest honeymoon resorts in the world – it feels as though anything is possible—and it basically is. The slew of restaurants stay open to accommodate guests’ ideal dining times, and room service menus are prolific. Friendly staff will park a jet ski in front of your villa—gloriously Fijian in style, with maybe the best beds in the world—or drive you in a luxury vehicle to the rainforest spa for massages so good you won’t want to fall asleep and risk missing a second.
Activities range from golf to snorkeling and everything in between, while there may be nowhere more breathtaking to simply lay back and do nothing with your true love.
Best Diving: Mandala Resort, Kingdom of Tonga
If swimming with humpback whales is on your bucket list—or if you’re seeking a one-of-a-kind honeymoon—there’s no better place on Earth than the Kingdom of Tonga, and this unique eco-resort on picture-perfect Fetoko Island in the Vava’u Island Group.
From July to October, it’s all about the mating and birthing whales, and diving into the South Pacific with them may prove even more memorable than your wedding itself. Beyond that epic activity, the eco-resort is intimate and charming, with six bungalows, including some with overwater verandas and bay-window daybeds for contemplating the seascape beyond, and even a romantic little treehouse.
The gourmet and organic chef’s choice fare comes on a half or full-board basis, along with complimentary kayaks and snorkel gear. For more excitement, hike up clifftops to Vava’u’s only blowhole, practice yoga and reiki, kiteboard, watch traditional dancing, take a quad bike tour, snorkel through caves or glide through the water on a sea scooter, and dive in crystal waters teeming with corals, sharks, rays and unexplored wonders.
Best Beach: Tavanipupu Island Resort, Solomon Islands
Pinkish sand and eye-popping turquoise water collide at this unspoiled island resort in Marau Sound, part of the Solomon Islands, referred to as the “last paradise on Earth.” That description is no stretch when you consider the secluded 14-hectare former coconut plantation’s extreme beauty. There are just 10 thatched-roof timber bungalows, half recently renovated, and featuring heavenly king beds, ocean-view decks, outdoor showers, and local rattan furniture.
This is Robinson Crusoe–style island living, as in no TVs or telephones in the room (there is Wi-Fi in the main lounge, however). A stunning coral reef just off the beach makes for leisurely exploration of tropical fish, and lovebirds can also take excursions to nearby islands for more snorkeling and picnics. SUP boards and kayaks are complimentary. Menus are ever-changing to reflect the latest catch or produce—think lobster mornay and ceviche served inside a coconut. And pro tip: Don’t miss the local lomilomi massage!
Most Romantic: Tokoriki Island Resort, Fiji
On any honeymoon, privacy is key, and Tokoriki does it flawlessly. Couples can even have exclusive use of the spa for a sunrise massage. The uber-romantic Fijian resort is in the Mamanucas and features only free-standing villas and bures.
The best option for newlyweds? The beachfront pool villas that offer double daybeds for lazing off your wedding weekend high under the sun, and infinity-edge pools that seem to disappear into the brilliant blue horizon. There are all sorts of ways to spend your days: glass-bottom boat trips, herbal medicine walks, kava ceremonies, volleyball, market trips, basket weaving, kayaking, SUP and Hobie Cat sailing.
Of course in water this clear, snorkeling is epic. On staff is an actual Romance Coordinator, so you know they’ve got that on lock, too. Some options include Moet & Chandon–drenched remote beach picnics, Champagne breakfasts in bed, tropical Teppanyaki dinners and innovative three-course menus under the stars of your villa while serenaded by local musicians.
Best Deal: Royal Davui Island Resort, Fiji
Adults-only bliss in an intimate palm-shaded setting makes this authentically Fijian resort a no-brainer for a guaranteed dream of a honeymoon. The 16 vales (like bungalows) have thatched roofs and expansive indoor-outdoor living, complete with spa baths, sun decks, and floor-to-ceiling glass, plus climate-controlled plunge pools that happen to be perfect perches for spotting sea life.
Beqa lagoon and the surrounding reef are bursting with technicolor fish, sea turtles and even sometimes dolphins, so snorkeling is a favorite pursuit while here. Book a private picnic trip to Sand Cay sandbar for a little couples’ sunbathing or, for ultimate relaxation, an afternoon at the spa, using fresh, local ingredients in body rituals, wraps, and massages.
Respect for the environment is at the forefront of every experience, down to the dining: Consistently changing Pacific Rim dishes are made with locally sourced produce and ethically caught seafood, and served in some of the most beautiful spots imaginable for maximum romance.
Best Five-Star: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia
From the postcard-perfect view of Mount Otemanu to the divine overwater bungalows, the barefoot luxury approach to star- and torch-lit seafood dining to the spa suite with massage beds hovering over glass floor panels looking into the glowing aquatic fantasy below, this is paradise found.
The highly polished Four Seasons touch is visible across every aspect of the resort dotted with indigenous Polynesian artwork and architecture as well as locally inspired cuisine, five stars, of course.
The main beach is as pretty as they come, and aquamarine channels lead curious swimming or snorkeling couples to hidden lagoons for further intimate exploration. There are jet ski rides around Bora Bora, canoe trips to a private white-sand motu for Champagne and customized dinner, and sunset cruises in which to partake (not to mention volleyball courts, a gym, and yoga platform, tennis courts and SUP).
The thatched-roof cabanas around the infinity pool are ideal for honeymooners whose dream is a never-ending stream of cocktails, while the sunset bar is the place to continue that vibe as the sky turns pink behind the mountain.
Best Eco Luxury: The Brando, French Polynesia
If American presidents and movie stars approve you can be pretty sure this place is epic. The island that first enchanted Marlon Brando when filming Mutiny on the Bounty is now one of the most flawless ideals of luxurious island living—with a serious dose of sustainability, which is also part of his legacy. Just 35 villas sit ashore on blindingly white sand ringed by its own sparkling lagoon. It’s not that far from Tahiti, but you might as well be the only two people left on Earth. Manta rays, sea turtles and exotic birds are plentiful, however. It’s reachable only by private plane, and the Polynesian pool villas are so plush and perfect you’ll never want to board and leave. You might forget you’re in water when snorkeling and swimming around, it’s that crystalline.
Lovers can gaze into each other’s eyes over garden-fed plates featuring Polynesian fish and other deluxe treats at the trio of romantic restaurants, one by world-renowned chef Guy Martin. There’s even a special plant-based menu for vegans and laidback beach bar for intoxicating fruity libations. Pure Polynesia is served up, too, at the spa, especially Fare Manu, a cocoon-like hideaway high in the trees where holistic treatments inspired by ancestral techniques set you on the right path to honeymoon bliss.
Most Exotic: Etu Moana, Cook Islands
Amid the electric seascapes of the Cook Islands, acclaimed for snorkeling and scuba diving, is Etu Moana. Its home on Aitutaki is surreal it’s so spectacular, and seems too good to be true. Fortunately this hidden gem real, but you truly have to see it to believe it.
This is a small luxury resort boasting just eight elegant Polynesian-style villas with super king-size beds and wide verandas looking over lush rainbow gardens, a white-sand beach and a mirrorlike lagoon (sunsets are something else!). It’s all about the simple pleasures of life, from pristine water to fresh local fruit (not to mention just-baked breads, just-plucked coconuts and freshly ground coffee roasted on a nearby isle) and native dancing.
There’s a heart-shaped pool for when you don’t feel like saltwater and snorkeling gear, SUP boards and kayaks (plus bicycles) for when you do. Private charters, diving, bone fishing, and kitesurfing can also be organized. On land, the walk to Mount Maunga Pu at sunrise gives freshly of the island’s beauty.
Best Hospitality: Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
The stuff of honeymoon dreams, Likuliku is best described as heaven on Earth. The couples-only Fijian resort makes a striking first impression thanks to genuine, smiling staff who call guests by name and sell the idea that locals are the happiest people anywhere. From the spacious, traditionally built bures floating above the water (Fiji’s only overwater bungalows)—complete with outdoor showers and lounges—it’s mere steps to world-class lagoon snorkeling and zero steps to one of the most enviable sunset views ever.
Book the Deluxe Beachfront Bure for a private plunge pool and beach. All-inclusive is the way to go here, allowing access to paddleboarding, the stress-melting spa, Honeymoon Island picnics, snorkeling experiences, jet-skiing to the floating bar Cloud 9 and village tours, not to mention the food, presented in daily menus with options showcasing the freshest ingredients and dietary requests, too. For an additional splurge, take the helicopter to the island (as opposed to the boat)—you won’t be sorry when you find yourself soaring above heaven.