Calming, serene waves wash upon the shore, as they sing an easing, melodic tune to you and your special someone. As the two of you sink your shoe-less feet into the wet sands beneath you, the glow of a just-warming sunset kisses your skin – it’s about time for a romantic beach getaway.
For the most part, beaches and their respective resorts follow a certain, unofficial rubric. While most features are standardized with minor tweaks that are dependent on location and brand, it’s in the subtle differences that can appeal to certain guests over others.
We asked our slew of globe-trotting contributors: If you could go anywhere for romantic beach getaways, where would you stay? Here are their favorite romantic beach vacations.
British Virgin Islands – Peter Island Resort & Spa
By Brooke Morton
Why I Love It: Five separate stretches of sand hug this private-island resort. Mile-long Deadman’s Beach, the most popular, is steps away from cocktails, fine dining and motor-free water toys, such as paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling gear. The quietest, Honeymoon Beach, can be reserved for a private morning or afternoon, complete with a gourmet picnic spread, making it one of the best beach vacations for couples.
Best Room: Set along a corner of Deadman’s Beach, the junior suites lull lovers to sleep with the sound of the waves and include appreciated perks like private patios or balconies, double showers and Jacuzzi tubs for two.
Romantic Perk: Honeymooners receive a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine, best enjoyed in the above-mentioned tubs. A visit to the spa for a couples massage in an open-air treatment room is a must. The just-wed can also arrange for a tiki torch-lit private dinner on Deadman’s Beach.
Hawaii – Four Seasons Resort Lanai
By Chris Gray Faust
Why I Love It: This Four Seasons – one of two on Lanai, the private Hawaiian island owned by Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison – sits on a bluff facing protected Manele Bay. It boasts killer views and a sandy stretch where you can snorkel and snuba right off the beach. Add tropical gardens, unusual activities, such as creating a signature scent, and a Nobu restaurant (the first for a Four Seasons), and you’ll never want to leave the grounds.
Best Room: The oceanfront terrace rooms have sliding glass doors that open to private patios and the Pacific Ocean below. You can see migrating whales during the spring and dolphins all year long.
Romantic Perk: The resort caters to couples with private dinners arranged oceanfront and spa treatments in “hales” (upscale versions of the traditional thatched hut) overlooking the water. Bottom line: If it’s good enough for Bill Gates, who said, “I do,” to Melinda here, it’s good enough for me.
Jamaica – GoldenEye
By Peter Zaremba
Why I Love It: Beachy, jungly and thoroughly hip, author Ian Fleming’s former estate is tucked on Jamaica’s less-traveled northeast coast, where the air virtually crackles with romance. Amenities in the 19 villas and cottages include a gift of Blackwell Rum, a minibar stocked with Jamaican snacks and a sound system pre-loaded with music from Island Records (you know, the people who discovered Bob Marley (label founder Chris Blackwell owns the hotel)).
Best Room: All of GoldenEye’s island-chic beach cottages open up to the gentle arc of Low Cay Beach and its sheltered lagoon. But the five-bedroom Fleming Villa, the author’s former home, takes top honors. Its discrete stone steps lead down to its own private mini cove, hands down my favorite beach in Jamaica.
Romantic Perk: Even if you aren’t staying at the Fleming Villa, couples can arrange for a candlelit dinner for two in the author’s memento-filled seaside home when available (Fleming’s original writing desk, where he wrote his James Bond books, is in the master suite). The experience guarantees a romantic evening – and bragging rights over the folks back home.
Antigua – Jumby Bay
Why I Love It: From the bicycles waiting outside your suite for easy exploring to candlelit beach barbecues, where a chef grills freshly caught fish under the stars, this private-island Oetker Collection resort gets everything right.The vibe is utterly Caribbean: palm trees, a sweep of perfect beach and even a historic sugar mill.
My wife lost her wedding ring here while paddle-boarding, which was initially heartbreaking but later, strangely, became a romantic memory. We always say we left our hearts in Jumby Bay.
Best Room: While the beachside courtyard suites strung along the oceanfront lend the best close-up water views, I prefer the private, ocean-view pool suites, which offer the best of both worlds: a huge plunge pool in your garden, with a short path that leads to the beach. I’m also partial to the outdoor showers and antique soaking tubs set in the tropical courtyard.
Romantic Perk: The Privilege of Privacy program offers treats such as stargazing, beach dinners, after-hours spa evenings or visits with a local artisan. Choose what you want, and leave out what you don’t.
South Carolina – The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
By Katie McElveen
Why I Love It: If you’ve ever dreamed of having the run of a seaside mansion, you’ll adore this luxury hotel, part of private-resort community Kiawah Island Golf Resort. From the cushy rooms and restaurants to the near-prescient service, everything is welcoming and unfussy – just what you need for a romantic, post-wedding wind-down.
Award-winning golf (at five championship courses) and tennis await. Also, don’t miss kayaking on the Kiawah River, where there’s a better-than-average chance dolphins will join you, making for one of the most romantic beaches.
Best Room: I always ask for Room 478, an oceanfront corner suite on the quieter north side of the hotel, away from the pool. The balconies – three in all – have sweeping views of the sea, the woods and the golf course, so there’s no noise but the waves.
Romantic Perk: Honeymoons get off to a sweet start with chocolate-covered strawberries, sparkling wine and a rose-petal turndown.
Costalegre, Mexico – Las Alamandas
By Jackie Caradonio
Why I Love It: It’s hard to believe that a quiet paradise like this can still exist in well-traveled Mexico. Situated on a15,000-acre nature reserve, this 16-villa hideaway made my hubby and I feel like the ritzy owners of our own fabulous Costalegre estate from the moment we arrived.
Everywhere we went, it was easy to pretend we were the last two souls on earth: floating in the shallow waters just off the coast of one of the resort’s four private beaches, wandering along lush jungle paths or simply sitting back with margaritas in hand.
Best Room: Each colorful, Spanish-style villa comes with perks like a private Jacuzzi and secluded patio, but couples who splurge for the Casa del Sol suite might never leave their room, thanks to a sparkling infinity-edge pool, a full bar and an expansive outdoor terrace overlooking the ocean.
Romantic Perk: Ask the resort’s attentive staff to arrange a private candlelit dinner for two atop Lookout Point, a soaring cliff with panoramic vistas of the Pacific. What could be more romantic than watching the sun dip into the ocean while sipping sparkling wine with the person of your dreams?
Florida Keys – Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
By Donna Heiderstadt
Why I Love It: Think of it as a “drive-to” private island: a 5.5-acre , beach-fringed oasis of castaway style, accessible via a quick speedboat transfer from Little Torch Key. The luxury here isn’t pretentious: You can go barefoot all day, doing little more than sunning and spooning in an oversized hammock, dining feet-in-the-sand on lobster and then retiring in a dreamy, king-sized canopy bed.
Best Room: You can’t go wrong here: All 30 suites are located in oceanfront, thatch-roofed bungalows with outdoor showers and privacy screens of lush palms and greenery. If you want to kick it up a notch, each secluded and aptly named island-romance suite offers a private deck with a Jacuzzi, a daybed and a fire pit.
Romantic Perk: Enhance your shared relaxation, as you surrender to the aromatic oils and rhythmic strokes of a Balinese couples massage at tranquil SpaTerre. Book a private sunset sail on the resort’s 38-foot yacht, and you’ll have the captain all to yourselves as well as wine and cheese to nosh.
Riviera Maya, Mexico – Maroma Resort and Spa
By Becca Hensley
Why I Love It: Deeply rooted in Mayan culture, this hotel presides over its own exquisite beach and feels like a hidden grotto amid the larger resorts along the Riviera Maya. Designed as if it were a grand home, the resort comprises 65 rooms featuring local artwork, plush, king-sized beds and bamboo-shuttered doors that lead to private terraces.
A world-class spa (don’t miss the temazcal, a Mayan-style sweat-lodge experience), three swimming pools (two reserved for adults) and various bars mean you never need to leave the property.
Best Room: I love the oceanfront, one-bedroom suites. Each comes with a patio plunge pool, a dining palapa and massage area, an outdoor shower and sea views.
Romantic Perk: Book an Evening with the Moon and Stars, a treat that includes an oceanside massage for two, serenaded by the sea. While you relax, staff members outfit your suite with flowers, chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of chilled sparkling wine.
California – Montage Laguna Beach
By Jennie Nunn
Why I Love It: It’s nothing short of a real-life coastal fairytale. Set atop a bluff within walking distance of the artsy downtown area, the idyllic, 248-room resort features a to-die-for spa with a swimming pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Its domestic location makes it easily accessible, yet it puts even the most far-flung locales around the globe to shame.
Best Room: There’s no shabby view from anywhere on the premises, but the crème de la crème is the Catalina suite, featuring a king-sized, feather-top bed, a soaking tub, a fireplace and a balcony with jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Goff Beach and the Pacific. Out of your budget? Request a room in the 380s (on the south side of the property) for a little extra privacy.
Romantic Perk: Don’t miss dinner in the Sunset Room, an intimate, 10-table dining area at five-star restaurant Studio. Another must: Book a “Togetherness” experience at Spa Montage with side-by-side massages.
Thailand – Six Senses Yao Noi
By Elizabeth Woodson
Why I Love It: This rustic-luxe island hideaway, located 45 minutes by speedboat from Phuket, is my dreamy, exotic escape of choice. The 54 thatch-roofed villas cascade down a pandanus-swatched hill to a white-sand beach. Sybaritic room amenities include private infinity-edge pools, spa-treatment “salas,” outdoor showers and gracious service, courtesy of personal butlers.
Best Room: Villas have more swing than Tarzan with their folding glass walls and eco-chic design (think dark woods and white gauze with pops of yellow and orange throughout). There’s nothing like waking up in an ocean-pool villa to the sight of iconic limestone formations rising dramatically from the sparkling Andaman Sea.
Romantic Perk: Charter one of the resort’s private yachts at sunset, and set a course for a deserted island nearby. There, you’ll enjoy sundown cocktails in utter privacy. You’ll be the only two around – guaranteed.