Editor’s Note: Some of the information below may be out-of-date. Anguilla, the Florida Keys and St. Barth were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. Please visit caribbeantravelupdate.com, fla-keys.com or the specific hotel’s website for updates.
For your honeymoon, anniversary, couple's trip or any romantic getaway, these are the island resorts that offer the ultimate in romance, from special dinners to beautiful views to romantic suites.
Ratua Private Island, Vanuatu
After his stay in Vanuatu, Islands contributing editor David Lansing wrote, "This is the conundrum on Ratua: rib-eye or lobster? Paddle an outrigger to a sheltered lagoon or snooze in a thatched-roof daybed pavilion? Everything is about me, me, me. Yet the resort's lavish nature is rooted in philanthropy."
Only here: The Nagol ceremony, once a week from April to June, entails mostly naked men jumping from wood platforms with vines tied around their ankles. When to go: The months of May through October offer the driest weather, and no chance of cyclones.
Eden Rock Hotel, St. Barts
Yes, this hotel is on the always romantic island of St. Barts, with a dynamic vibe, beautiful artwork and something always going on. Our editors especially love dining at the On the Rocks restaurant, perched romantically on the cliff overlooking St. Jean Bay. That's a romantic dinner worth every penny.
Cayo Espanto, Belize
The South Pacific's overwater bungalows have a luxurious Caribbean rival. Belize's Cayo Espanto offers a private overwater bungalow off a private dock on a private island. All of it is a short flight from your not-so-private daily life.
Only here: The resort’s overwater villa (not pictured) features a glass floor to view sea life. We know of no other villa like this in the Caribbean. When to go: March and April offer the clearest water and weather.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Romance is having no fourth wall, no doors, no windows — and no distractions — separating you from one of the world's most iconic views.
Only here: Sleep, eat, lounge and bathe inside a screensaver scene. When to go: May is best for savings, and for securing the Galaxy Sanctuary, which offers a 270-degree wall-less view of the Pitons and Jade Mountain's private beach.
North Island, Seychelles
Of his stay here at this private island resort in the Seychelles, Islands contributing editor Bob Morris writes, "My wife and I were out for two hours, hiking with a naturalist from North Island. This was the honeymoon outpost for Great Britain's Prince William and Kate. At this resort, the staff of 130 looks after a maximum of just 44 guests."
Only here: Giant seeds (coco de mers) grow to resemble the human buttocks. When to go: May to November, when cooling trade winds kick in.
Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Islands contributing editor Robin Cherry writes of her stay here on this tiny island off mainland Montenegro in Europe: "Inside my cottage at the highest part of the island, I rub the rustic walls, its stones hewn from the same ancient rock that makes up the island's towers, walls and alleys. I look up. Nowhere have I seen a grotto-esque ceiling like this. I feel that I'm not just on the island but within it."
Only here: Lord Byron, Princess Margaret, Sophia Lauren, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor have all enjoyed this 3-acre island. When to go: June and September, when crowds (and clouds) are rare.
Mandarin Oriental Sanya, Hainan, China
Hainan Island is known as the Hawaii of China. From the skyline of Sanya to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hainan taps a Chinese migration to hit the beach and grab a board as more and more people come here to surf. That is, if you can pull yourself away from this ultra-romantic infinity pool.
Only here: In a nation where "we" always trumps "me," locals are embracing the solo, rather self-indulgent sport of surfing. When to go: November through April offer dry air and mild temps. Avoid September, the rainy season's peak.
Fowl Cay Resort, Exumas, Bahamas
Several of our editors have flown in a small seaplane over the magical Exumas and landed near this private island escape. Yes, Johnny Depp's own island is nearby. Yes, there are also swimming pigs nearby. But here in the Exumas, one of the most romantic getaways anywhere, Fowl Cay Resort makes you feel like the two of you are the only ones in the world.
Only here: Villas come with a boat, but no boat captain. That’s your job. Private picnics, castaway fantasies — anything is possible amid 365 cays and islands. When to go: Winter offers the best weather; June the best deals, though there's a greater chance of rain.
Hermitage Bay, Antigua
About his stay here, Islands contributing editor David Swanson wrote, "At the resort, I shared the secluded beach with just a handful of the 25-room resort's guests. Rustic-chic ruled in my oversize room, inside a hillside cottage primped with Italian linens and built from sustainably harvested woods. My plunge pool spilled into the blue, and an enthusiastic growth of dense vines provided both shade and privacy."
Only here: The 30-minute ride from the airport is largely on a private, rather unmaintained road. It's what gives Hermitage Bay guests unrivaled privacy. When to go: As with most Caribbean destinations, May is a spectacular shoulder-season month to save and dodge the masses.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
Arriving to Fiji’s only resort with overwater bungalows, Islands editor Eddy Patricelli writes, “Nobody is taking pictures. Our boat has steadied. Husbands and wives who once stood for a better view, leaned for a better photo, now sit beside one another, hands interlaced, cameras forgotten. A group of Fijians is singing to us on a tiny island nestled in a lagoon. They sing with reminders of a church choir, exuding warmth that carries an unspoken edict: This welcome is best shared with two eyes, two ears and someone you love.”
Only here: Music dominates daily life. So much so that an easy-to-pack box of guitar picks given to the Likuliku staff creates lifelong friends. When to go: May, June and October blend low rates and favorable weather. Fiji's peak season is July through September (winter break for Aussies and Kiwis).
Sandals LaSource, Grenada
Islands digital editor Steve Spears said this of Grenada’s newest resort: “Of the property’s 225 suites, 69 of them are butler suites, all of which involve a plunge pool of sorts. Here, meandering rivers, waterfalls and infinity pools mix with living space. And with nine restaurants on tap, the small set of portable wooden steps leading to your bed are necessary.”
Only here: Notions of an all-inclusive resort expand. Live shows, sailing lessons, and snorkeling and diving tours are included in the nightly rate (from $339 per person). When to go: Early December sees deals and sunny skies.
Amangalla, Sri Lanka
Of his recent stay here, Islands contributing editor Nathan Myers wrote, "I wake up in the 17th century. Antique bed. Claw-foot bathtub. My room at the Amangalla Hotel in Galle may be only 100 years old, but the Dutch colonial fort just outside dates back much farther. One step out the door and I'm part of a living museum. Uncaptioned and inescapable."
Only here: Elephants walk Sri Lanka’s sidewalks; stilt fishermen balance over the surf. When to go: November through April is the dry season for southwest Sri Lanka, where Amangalla resort is located.
Cotton Tree, Grand Cayman
After her stay here, Islands editor Adrienne Egolf wrote, "Instead of a tiny cruise-ship cabin, we're staying in a cozy cottage at a resort called Cotton Tree. A cottage on the beach! And instead of docking at bustling George Town, we're situated on a secluded corner of the island's northwest coast. Nobody's looking at a watch."
Only here: Cayman locals relate to certain fishes like dogs. That is, overfed dogs. Each day, tourists feed giant southern stingrays by hand at Stingray City. When to go: May offers the best deals and snorkeling conditions.
Golden Dolphin, Dominican Republic
This may be the perfect villa escape in the Dominican Republic. On the north shore far from the big all-inclusives of Punta Cana, the charming Golden Dolphin has romantic, quiet views like this. Oh, and a baseball diamond too if you absolutely love baseball.
Only here: Kids use limes, bottle caps and almond pods in lieu of baseballs. And their games aren't nine innings. Instead, they last all day long. When to go: Shoulder season is March and May, when high temps average in the low 80s, and clear skies are common.
Ian Fleming once demanded two-month vacations to write at his estate in St. Mary, Jamaica, now the jewel of GoldenEye resort — yes, like the James Bond movie. Fleming's writing desk (007's birthplace) still beckons. So do villas Vesper, Honey Chile and Solitaire.
Only here: The Fleming Villa includes its own pocket beach and a modern-day media room Q himself would appreciate. When to go: Late November and early December visits offer big savings, and avoid the holiday (and hurricane) season.
Grand Turk Inn, Turks and Caicos
Unlike Providenciales, home to big luxury resorts, Turks and Caicos also has quiet spots like Grand Turk. In fact, it's so quiet here that we call it the most stress-free island in the world. And the Grand Turk Inn adds to that low-key charm — a getaway for two in a quiet corner of the Caribbean.
Only here: The local tourist board tells you there's not much to do. And therein lies Grand Turk's charm. When to go: Peak season is during the winter. Savvy travelers opt for shoulder-season visits in April and May.
About his journey to this private island resort off the southeast coast of Africa, Islands contributing editor and photographer Jad Davenport wrote, "We landed an hour ago, and since then I've managed to check in at the palm-thatched resort, down two ice-crushed caipirinhas, and bushwack through the forest to the opposite end of the island. I'm still dressed for an African safari — dusty boots, jeans, long-sleeved khaki shirt — not for the breezy tropics of the Quirimbas Archipelago."
Only here: The island is just a half-mile long and a quarter-mile wide. Aside from Medjumbe, its only sign of man is a lighthouse. When to go: May through December is the cooler dry season, and best for deals. Humpback whales arrive from August to October.
Le Meridien, Bora Bora, Islands of Tahiti
Romance is waking up in a dream. You're there, in Tahiti, in one of its signature enclaves hovering above the lagoon of Bora Bora. Pronounce it quickly like the locals — podapoda. You don't want to waste any time here.
Only here: Snorkeling with dozens of turtles is a given. The resort's lagoon is a turtle-rehabilitation habitat, unique to Le Meridien. When to go: May through October is the region's dry season and peak season. Deals are rare in Tahiti, but the first week of January is a good bet, though there's a greater chance of rain.
Jackie's on the Reef, Jamaica
Of her recent stay here, Islands contributing editor Diane Weathers wrote, "Jackie Lewis cleared jungle for a vegetable garden that now feeds her guests at Jackie's on the Reef, one of the isle's first wellness retreats."
Only here: Sleep in a geodesic dome made of coral deposited by a hurricane. The room is said to have awesome energy. When to go: October through early December delivers the best deals, though they may come with rain showers. Most are fleeting.
Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
Arrive by luxury speedboat to find glass-floored overwater bungalows and your own personal butler. The island is home to the first underwater spa and what's said to be the largest wine collection in the Maldives. A-lister Kate Moss is a frequent guest. Actually, anyone who stays here is on the A-list, if only for a few days.
Only here: The spa is more aquarium than therapy room. A treatment's challenge is closing your eyes. When to go: May through November offers great deals, fewer neighbors and fantastic snorkeling.
Hanalei Colony Resort, Kauai, Hawaii
Getting here requires crossing seven one-lane bridges. All are photo worthy and soon forgotten. The 48-room resort is nestled between lush mountains, towering waterfalls and untamed coastline. Its views trump all those that came before it — especially watching an uninterrupted Hawaiian sunset from Ke’e Beach.
Only here: The resort touts each suite's proximity to the beach as an exact measurement. As in, "Ocean Premium Suites are 10 feet from the beach." When to go: Fall is best on all fronts. Temps hover in low the 70s and 80s, and room rates drop, as do tourist arrivals.
Sanctuary Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
After her two-week stint touring 10 Punta Cana resorts, Islands digital editor Cami Webb reports: "This just doesn’t fit with what I’ve heard about all-inclusives. There’s a castle stretching out over the ocean, a collection of island-style bungalows and Spanish colonial-style buildings with intimate hideouts. My fiance and I lounge at the rooftop bar before heading to our suite, where three private plunge pools await inside. Three. And just outside, a path along the castle moat leads to powder-white sand at Juanillo Beach, where where we can snuggle in solitude."
Only here: A private-island feel among a slew of all-inclusives. When to go: From March to May, the peak-season crowds start dipping out. June through November sees lots of deals (but the weather can be iffy).
Hapuku Lodge, New Zealand
Here, inside the Hapuku Lodge Tree Houses on New Zealand's South Island, guests don't wake up in the trees. They wake up on the trees. These suites are built 30 feet off the ground on steel supports among native manuka trees.
Only here: Each tree house suite features a wood-burning fireplace. This may spark concern. A rain fountain shower on the top deck offers relief. When to go: For sightseeing, spring (September-November) and fall (March-May) are best. Resort rates jump in the summer (December-February).
Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia
On a recent trip here with her husband, Islands contributing editor Ann Vanderhoof wrote, "Steve and I are making chocolate bars — straight from the cocoa beans — at St. Lucia's Hotel Chocolat, a boutique resort that lives up to its promissory name 24/7. Yesterday we drank cocoa martinis and cocoa bellinis before dinner. Downed iced chocolate shots. Noshed on seared tuna with cocoa pesto."
Only here: A trip to the beach means hopping in Hotel Chocolat's speedboat. This is a good thing. St. Lucia's rugged terrain (and famous Pitons) entail winding roads. When to go: Save big in May but book early. St. Lucia is a favorite destination for weddings.
Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
Of his stay here, Islands contributing editor Jad Davenport wrote, "We check in at Kamalame Cay, a private island off the east coast of Andros, and I lapse into sweet lethargy. At the open-air beach bar, I enjoy a rum punch as 'youth' drapes over me like an ermine cloak. Karin and I get massages in an overwater spa. We sleep with the doors and windows of our villa open so the curtains dance in the sea breeze."
Only here: The resort is surrounded by three miles of empty beaches, as if its private island location wasn't insular enough. When to go: The deals happen in Kamalame Cay's off season (May to August). It's also the region's rainy season, though the Bahamas see more than 300 sunny days a year.
Kanopi House, Jamaica
Only if you know that this luxury treehouse resort exists will you ever find it. You can't see it from above, nestled in the lush jungled hills surrounding Port Antonio on Jamaica's northeast side. You can't see it from the water of the Blue Lagoon, even if you're kayaking so, so close. But when you do enter this special world, you'll never want to leave.
Only here: Think minimal carbon footprint here, as no tree lost its life in the building of Kanopi House. It also boasts one of the only overwater spas in the Caribbean. When to go: Year-round, sleepy Port Antonio doesn't get near the crowds of more popular spots like Mo' Bay or Negril. Visit in shoulder season (late April to May) for the best deals.
Kilauea Lakeside Estate, Kauai, Hawaii
Of her stay here while taking aerial photos of the nearby Na Pali coast, Islands photo editor Lori Barbely wrote, "I regale Steve and Janine Hunt, owners of Kilauea Lakeside Estate, with stories of my first two days. Steve looks serious. 'You need to schedule a massage. And some downtime.' Janine agrees: 'Polynesian paralysis is an integral part of the Kauai experience.'"
Only here: Your own private lake on Kauai's north coast (not the shore) with complete privacy on an 11-acre peninsula. When to go: In the fall, the least crowded season, room rates dip below $150 a night for many hotels. In spring, airfares plummet and the weather's perfect.
Little Palm Island, Florida Keys
Romance is not needing plane tickets or 3-ounce travel containers. Just jump in the car and drive 2 1/2 hours south of Miami. Florida's Little Palm Island will make you feel like you're in the Pacific, Florida Keys style.
Only here: Key deer swim over from the mainland, and some prefer to hang out with guests at the pool. When to go: Winter and spring (through April) see the best months for weather in the Keys since humidity is low compared to summer and early fall.
Àni Villas, Anguilla
Upon returning from Ani Villas, Islands editor Audrey St. Clair says, "Romance is having a personal chef in your private cliff-top villa. It's waking each morning to the smell of breakfast, the sight of turquoise, the feel of ocean breezes ushering in a new day in paradise. It's massages at the cliff's edge while chef Shamash prepares just-caught ceviche and coconut cheesecake for lunch. At Ani Villas, the mood found us."
Only here: On Anguilla's Sandy Island, eat Anguilla crayfish (indigenous to the island) cooked on a grill powered by car batteries. When to go: Hotel rates drop dramatically May through August.
Pink Sands Resort, Bahamas
Islands editor Ashley Fraxedas wrote of her stay here, "The resort led us to the dock, which led us to Patrick, who is leading us into dead-quiet coves like a gondolier in a Venetian canal. We're all as quiet as the cove around us."
Only here: Even a color-blind Islands editor saw that the sand on Harbour Island was pink; the photos don't do it justice. When to go: Deals start springing up at the hotels (there are only 10 or 11) in May and stick around all summer, but your best bet for weather is December through April.
Sugar Beach, St. Lucia
Of his recent stay here Islands photographer Zach Stovall wrote, "Some villas high on the hillside behind me have private swimming pools. This two-bedroom beach bungalow has an outdoor tub instead. Oh yeah, and the Caribbean Sea is about 10 long strides from the front door."
Only here: Selfies are maddening. Nestled at the base of Gros and Petit Piton, Sugar Beach's location makes it tough to frame both iconic mountains (and yourself) in a single shot. When to go: May and June deliver deals, but book ahead. Weddings are popular here.
Paul Gauguin Cruises, Islands of Tahiti
No overcrowded ports. Ocean-views from every suite. The m/s Paul Gauguin has perfected luxury at sea. But the most romantic experiences might be off the ship. This all-inclusive cruise’s small footprint allows access to Tahitian islands no larger boat can reach. A private motu in Tahiti? Romance just reached a whole new level.
Only here: With just 332 guests on each ship, the crew-to-guest ration is 1:15…the lowest of any luxury cruise ship. When to go: Anytime! Year-round departure dates make it easy to pick a date.