Yes, a honeymoon can be gorgeous and amazing if you’re in a magical city or on a magnificent mountaintop. There are ranches where you’ll be living it up, and bucolic lake cabins that create a fairytale feel. But you can’t deny the classic honeymoon dream: crystal-clear water, fine white sand, plush palm trees, tropical cocktails and no one around. No matter which hemisphere or time zone it’s in, being on an island automatically makes you feel that much more removed from the “real world.” And isn’t that what a honeymoon is all about—escaping reality and living your best vacation life in a drop-dead beautiful place? Here, in no particular order, 25 of our favorite islands for your most epic romantic holiday.
This Hawaiian island packs some surprises in its landscape, which you’ll find upon driving around in a 4x4 Jeep is not exactly standard issue for a Pacific island. Its pine trees (best explored atop a horse), red rocks and bumps (reminiscent of what we imagine Mars to look like) and dramatic beaches with sometimes sideways water give it an otherworldly magical sheen. Add to that one of the best resorts in the world, Four Seasons Resort Lanai (and coming next year, The Lodge at Koele), with one of the best collection of culinary options (Nobu, Malibu Farm), and it’s a recipe for honeymoon perfection.
The island may be temporarily operating at less than 100 percent thanks to the devastating effects of this hurricane season, but expect the tony French nation to be fully up and running ASAP so that a new class of newlyweds can discover for themselves exactly why it’s so sought after a destination. Chic, romantic hotels perfect for a sexy getaway include Le Toiny and Le Barthelemy, which are working to reopen even better than before. Fortunately some of the island’s restaurants—perfect for sipping rosé and eating fresh fish on the picturesque beaches—are already back in business.
If exotic island paradise is your honeymoon fantasy, it’s easily found in Bali, Indonesia’s spiritually rich Hindu island. Wellness obsessed couples should head to Ubud for yoga, rice paddies, sunrise volcano hiking, raw vegan eats and dreamy design (like at the Hanging Gardens of Bali and Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan), while beach babies—and surfers—can find their bliss (and some other standout hideaways including Alila Villas Uluwatu) down in the south of the island, or the empty black-sand beaches and bucolic jungle greenery of the northeast, like at Amankila. But don’t stay only within the confines of your resort, as idyllic as it is—insiders will recommend renting a motorbike for maximum exploration and fun, as well as cheap but incredible eats and a street-level view of the local culture.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
It didn’t get its reputation as the honeymoon island for nothing. This French Polynesia gem is undeniably fabulous: Think powdered-sugar beaches marred only with the shadows of palm tree fringe, and the most turquoise water imaginable. You could happily ride around in a boat for your entire honeymoon (even the water is perfectly calm and pleasant) but there are at least a few resorts whose heavenly overwater bungalows will make you never want to ever leave, the Four Seasons Bora Bora, Conrad Bora Bora Nui and St. Regis Bora Bora among them. (Test out their spas—you won’t be sorry.) That is, of course, until it’s time to slip off the pontoon for some world-class snorkeling.
It’s truly insane how gorgeous the islands of the Maldives actually are. It’s one of those cases where photos don’t actually do it justice—the Indian Ocean waters are that spectacular and brilliantly colored. If either of you harbored fantasies as a kid of becoming a marine biologist this is the place for you. You can swim side by side with basically all the coolest sea creatures (including clown fish, which are only in a few places) in existence, not to mention at places like One&Only Reethi Rah and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru experience some of the most pampering spa treatments around. Head to a private sandbar for an uber-romantic dinner and deserted-island vibes under the stars.
There might not be much of a feeling of seclusion on this classic Greek island when you’re out watching its world-famous sunset over the caldera, but there are still plenty of places to be alone and intimate—try Grace Santorini, for one. Lovers come to Santorini for its charm, evidenced in the stacked and whitewashed structures dotting its hillsides and the plethora of adorable restaurants with panoramic vistas and incredible—oftentimes locally grown—Mediterranean-Greek cuisine. Pretty much everyone on the island is on the same page: It’s a place made for romance.
Sands the color of flour, water in jewel tones worthy of the finest jewelry—the islands of the Seychelles are a place many have heard of but few know how to find. It’s a group of 115 islands (or which few are actually inhabited) in the Indian Ocean (thus the extraordinary waters and climate) off the coast of East Africa, northeast of Madagascar. Beyond the natural beauty there is wildlife worth seeing, too, namely turtles—some absolutely giant and almost rideable, others teeny tiny as they’re hatched on the beaches. If you’re looking to go, check out Fregate Island Private resort and Banyan Tree Seychelles, both impeccably luxurious.
A little unexpected, yes, but no less paradisiacal than any more tried-and-true locales. The archipelago in the bluest of blues Sulu Sea comprises a few key destinations, among them Coron, Palawan Island and the private islands that hold Amanpulo and Two Seasons Coron Island Resort & Spa. One way to spend a day would be to simply lie on the perfect beach and observe the way the crystalline water and sky evolve in jaw-dropping shades as the sun rises and sets magically. Boat trips are a fun and sometimes adventurous way to experience the idyllic surroundings—with plenty of opportunities to jump in wearing a snorkel to explore the beauty under the surface. Oh, and the locals are the sweetest and the food the freshest.
Taha'a, French Polynesia
Bora Bora doesn’t have the monopoly on Polynesian honeymoons. Its neighboring island is also a stunner, which is not surprising considering they share the same electric blue waters. Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa on a private island just a few minutes away from Taha’a by dinghy (head over for a rum distillery tour at Pari Pari, pearl farm visit and vanilla plantation walk through) is the call for dreamy overwater bungalows with views of the sunrise or sunset, fantastic food with treehouse vibes, and easy access to the life-changing drift snorkeling at Coral Gardens.
Adventure is on the menu on this lush green Hawaiian island, but with a serious side of relaxation. There are waterfall hikes and coastal vistas to climb to on the Na Pali Coast, for example, and the run-of-the-mill but obviously spectacular water activities such as surfing, kayaking and sailing. There’s also the opportunity to helicopter over the island and land at the massive waterfall made famous in Jurassic Park. Plant yourselves at The St. Regis Princeville Resort and you won’t be sorry.
Hayman Island, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed, so there’s no time like now to go experience all the the splendor that remains—and it’s plenty. There are plenty of little Whitsundays islands on which to stay, like Hamilton, with the squeakiest, softest white sand conceivable and gorgeous resorts (such as Qualia luxury lodge), and Hayman Island, a private plot with a truly giant pool and plethora of dreamy activities (think sailing at sunset, snorkeling off a private sandbank).
The semi-autonomous island nation of Zanzibar—just off the coast of Tanzania—is about as exotic and unspeakably stunning as it gets. The water is turquoise like you’ve never experienced, hitting the cream-colored sandy beaches and sandbars in soft white froth. Tiny fishing villages, a UNESCO site and lively scene of live music keep things interesting when you’re not sunbathing in front of well-designed hotels like Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa or Baraza Resort & Spa. Your money goes surprisingly far once you’re there, but it’s advisable to tack on a wildlife safari beforehand.
One word: Nihi. There’s nowhere in this world quite like Nihi Sumba Island—it’s as close to nirvana as you can get on earth. The wild luxury-with-a-rustic-touch (and serious design inspo to boot) resort defines this indoor-outdoor Indonesian island, and has put it on the map as far as a honeymoon destination that invites newlyweds to laze about in their super private and expansive villas—all with a view of something spectacular—or engage in any of a number of activities including horseback riding through the waves at sunset, surfing the incomparable break Occy’s Left, and hiking to waterfalls or the dreamy outdoor spa for a full day of treatments.
South Island, New Zealand
Though New Zealand’s southern half does have some beaches, and most certainly epic waves to surf, it’s not a typical island in the tropical sense. What it lacks in balmy year-round temps it more than makes up with in spectacular settings—rugged mountains, dramatic waterfall-laced fjords, placid blue lakes and glaciers, to name a few. It’s undeniably romantic year-round, especially when cozied up in the fireplace-studded confines of Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown, the hub of adrenaline-drenched activities, bucolic beauty and vino (a short drive away).
Rainforests, mountains and, most importantly, crazy beautiful beaches lined with crystalline water. This island in the Andaman Sea is iconic and for good reason: it’s home to countless postcard-worthy spots, which has made it a popular filming destination (The Beach and Bridget Jones to Star Wars and 007). Amanpuri, the flagship location for Aman, and Banyan Tree Phuket are bucket-list resorts that will make you feel as if you’re living in a dream for the duration of your time in heaven.
Romance is the name of the game on this Caribbean gem that somehow amps up the seduction level. Perhaps it’s the visuals: the pair of Pitons volcanic mountains bring the drama, while the expansive cobalt sea calms. Resorts including the adults-only Jade Mountain and Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, make it possible to zero in on only your one true love and escape into the feeling there’s no one else around in paradise.
Anyone who’s been in the Indian Ocean knows it’s epic. So while you may not be familiar with this French-speaking African island, you can be assured its place on the globe ensures spectacular beaches. It’s also home to interesting attractions inland, like the Black River Gorges National Park for rainforest hiking, Seven Coloured Earths site by a volcano and waterfall. With 18th century botanical gardens, a famed horse track and extensive reefs (not to mention perfect wind for kitesurfing) it has lots to offer. Late 2017 brings the reopening of One&Only Le Saint Geran, a refreshed and exclusive feeling 5-star resort that is reached by helicopter or luxury launch.
This Mediterranean favorite—part of Spain’s Balearic Islands—has history (Roman and Moorish ruins, a 13th-century cathedral) and modern, throbbing nightlife. It boasts beach resorts and charming villages built of stone. These extremes make it a rich destination regardless of your interests, since you can really build your own adventure. With that flawless aquamarine Mediterranean, it’s probably best to base yourself within close sight, so opt for something like the secluded and intimate Cap Rocat, in a former 19th-century military fortress with an actual drawbridge.
You don’t have to be into reggae and Bob Marley to recognize the many ways Jamaica is an ideal honeymoon destination. (It certainly doesn’t hurt, however, as there’s plenty of great music to be had around the island). It was not harmed in the hurricanes this season, fortunately, and the island’s many idyllic resorts—including GoldenEye, Geejam and Strawberry Hill—continue to host couples seeking privacy, beauty and fun. Whet your appetites for excellent food throughout, and prime opportunities for snorkeling, hiking, sunbathing and maybe even surfing.
For a big-city take on island life it’s all about Hong Kong, which was a former British colony and has not only impressive sky-scraping towers—the gorgeous, exclusive and boutiquey Upper House and iconic, palatial Peninsula Hong Kong are housed in beautiful buildings—but verdant mountains and hills, and even coves to snorkel and swim in. The outlying islands, too, are bursting at the seams with nature, contrasting the bustling city on Hong Kong Island, and on Lantau lovers can also hike Lantau Peak for sunrise. With all that activity you’ll easily work up an appetite, which is ideal considering the multitude of incredible eating opportunities in this foodie-friendly city.
If you’ve been paying attention you’ve probably been hearing more about the Dalmation Coast in recent years, and Croatia, too. In a way it’s the next Greece, but it’s quite different from the nearby nation. This isle in the Adriatic Sea is ancient and it shows in Gothic fortresses and 13th-century walls, but the sunniest of the Croatian islands also puts on show its natural beauty in the form of azure waters, beaches and lavender fields. Stay at a boutiquey hotel or Airbnb and don’t miss every opportunity to get out on the sea, via yacht, catamaran or even UberBoat.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroo Island may sound like a one-note destination (kangaroos everywhere is the image it conjures), but it’s far from it. The South Australian isle is about wildlife, and actually is home to not just the namesake jumpers but penguins, koalas and sea lions, and one third of it is protected in nature reserves. It also boasts more than 300 miles of coastline, featuring jagged cliffs and pristine sands. Adventurous couples will eat up the diverse landscapes and outings in fresh, clean air, especially if staying at the impeccable Southern Ocean Lodge, a luxury escape that is widely accepted as one of the best in the world.
Fiji, of course, is not just one island, but 333 that are the stuff of which tropical dreams are made. Private island retreats like the mind-blowingly luxe Laucala and Kokomo epitomize the fantasy that has fueled many a honeymooner to book their ultimate trip. Like on many islands, you must love water to get the most out of the destination. Palm trees—producing coconuts galore—line epic beaches and lagoons as clear and brilliant as a flawless diamond, which are naturally perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving and surfing. There’s no such thing as a schedule here, just endless hours for enjoying each other and your surroundings.
4,000 Islands, Laos
If you want deserted landscapes and few tourists, opt for a country that doesn’t even touch the ocean. Still, island-hopping is the primary pastime in the dramatic, twisting Mekong River, which is where Si Phan Don, or 4,000 Islands, exists. It’s mellow and off the tourist trail, which means a little less than luxurious lodgings, but if you’re a couple who love that type of thing you’ll thrive, exploring the islands, trying new foods, riding bicycles through banana trees and coconut palms and wandering through Khymer temples and finding the perfect jungley place to watch the sun set.
If you can’t make up your minds about what kind of landscape suits your honeymoon best, choose Sri Lanka, for it has literally everything you could want. Colombo offers city life, the south and eastern coasts are ripe with perfect sandy beaches and softly rolling waves (great for experienced or beginner surfers), the north has tea plantations and culturally fascinating temples galore. There are also elephants and leopards, best seen on safari in Yala National Park (go for the gorgeous “huts” at Chena Huts), lakes with stilt fisherman and cinnamon-growing islands (Hotel Tri) and waterfalls, hikes, yoga and Ayurvedic therapies off the grid at Santani. A love for spicy food is not essential, but can only help turn up the heat as Sri Lanka seduces you.