The Best Island Vacations in the World for Romance

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Outdoor restaurant in Paros, Greece
Photo: Matteo Colombo | Getty
Laura Itzkowitz
by Laura Itzkowitz
Updated Jan 03, 2024
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Who doesn't fantasize about jetting off to a beautiful island with their one true love? The best island vacations for couples offer a chance to bond while relaxing on pristine beaches, enjoying adrenaline-pumping water sports, savoring delicious food and wine, and savoring the destination by letting the sparks fly. Needless to say, there are incredible islands all over the world to choose from. In fact, opting to plan an island vacation for a honeymoon, anniversary trip, or romantic getaway is an easy choice—the challenge is narrowing it down.

That's why we've curated this list of the best island vacations for couples. Whether you're looking for a tropical destination where you can indulge in barefoot luxury while living in a swimsuit 24/7 or want to go somewhere with a dynamic mix of culture, history, beautiful beaches and incredible food, this list has just the island for you.

Best Overall Island Vacation for Couples: Paros, Greece

Best Island for Overwater Bungalows: The Maldives

Best Island for Food & Drink: Sicily, Italy

Best Island for Beaches: British Virgin Islands

Best Island for Excursions: Phuket, Thailand

Most Affordable Island: Ambergris Caye, Belize

Best Island for Nightlife: Ibiza, Spain

Best Island for Luxury: St. Barts

Best Island for Wellness: Ischia, Italy

Best Island for Spiritual Seekers: Bali, Indonesia

The Maldives

The Maldives
Photo: Levente Bodo | Getty

Overwater bungalows may not have been invented in the Maldives, but it certainly seems like the island nation has perfected this dreamy type of accommodation. If you fantasize about waking up and diving directly into the sea, this is the place for you. Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives comprise some 1,200 coral islands and sandbanks, about 200 of which are inhabited.

Things to Do: Many of the top resorts occupy their own private island, so choose wisely because it's likely that you'll spend all of your time at your resort. The best resorts have a wealth of amenities and activities on offer, including snorkeling, jet skiing and other water sports, spa facilities, yoga and other fitness classes, and even art classes.

Where to Stay: JOALI Maldives; JOALI BEING; The Ritz-Carlton Maldives Fari Islands; Soneva Jani.

Sicily, Italy

Ragusa Ibla, Sicily, Italy
Photo: Pilat666 | Getty

Italy's largest island is a foodie's dream come true. From north to south and east to west, every corner of the island has its own culinary specialties that you have to try. Sicily hits peak season in the summer, when visitors flock to the beaches and cities and towns come alive in the evenings, as everyone goes out for dinner and an evening stroll. If you'd rather avoid the crowds, consider going in the spring or fall.

Things to Do: You can't miss the incredible street food at Ballaro and Vucciria markets in Palermo, granita at Caffè Sicilia in Noto, bittersweet chocolate from Modica, and fresh seafood all over. Sicily is famous for sweet treats, so in addition to the aforementioned desserts, be sure to try cannoli, cassata, and gelato, which can be found all over the island.

Where to Stay: Villa Igiea, a Rocco Forte Hotel in Palermo; San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel in Taormina; Mazzarò Sea Palace, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World in Taormina; Ortea Palace Hotel, Sicily, Autograph Collection in Ortigia.

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands
Photo: Brooke Darling | Getty

A Caribbean island chain in the Greater Antilles, the British Virgin Islands comprise four large islands and 32 smaller islands, of which more than 20 are uninhabited. With sugar sand beaches, crystalline water, and tropical vegetation, the islands are the stuff that castaway dreams are made of. It's the kind of place where you can truly unplug and live in your swimsuit for the duration of your stay.

Things to Do: On Virgin Gorda, one of the four large islands, you have to visit the Baths, a natural geological wonder with boulders that have formed a sort of obstacle course. Hike on Norman Island, a protected natural reserve believed to be the inspiration for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and go snorkeling at the Indians. Sip Painkillers, a tropical cocktail that was invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.

Where to Stay: Rosewood Little Dix Bay; Guana Island; Necker Island; or charter a catamaran from the Moorings.

Paros, Greece

Paros Island, Greece
Poike | Getty

Though it's more under-the-radar than Santorini and Mykonos, this Cycladic island is becoming more popular among travelers. It's got that quintessential Greek island vibe, with whitewashed buildings accented with blue, crystal clear water, beautiful landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and bustling villages with great restaurants, shops and nightlife. Over the last few years, a number of boutique hotels have cropped up, adding to the many villas available.

Things to Do: Explore Naoussa, the largest town on the island. It's full of cute little shops selling summer clothes, bars, and restaurants. Be sure to book a table at Mario Restaurant to enjoy Greek cuisine on the main square. Take a day trip to Antiparos to see the tiny laid-back island where Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have a house and stay at the lauded Rooster Antiparos. Couples will want to savor fresh seafood at the no frills restaurant Captain Pipinos.

Where to Stay: Cosme, a Luxury Collection Resort; Parilio; Avant Mar.

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand
Photo: tawatchaiprakobkit | Getty

As Thailand's largest island, Phuket occupies a prime position in the Andaman Sea. It's known for beautiful beaches and nightlife, but also has a charming town that's great to explore. The architecture in town resembles the kind of Sino-Portuguese shophouses also common in Singapore and Malaysia, but these historic buildings now house cool boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. It's also a great jumping off point to explore smaller islands like Koh Yao Noi and the little islands that make up Than Bok Khorani National park.

Things to Do: If you plan to hang out on the beaches, keep in mind that the beaches on the southern part of the island are more crowded, while the northern beaches are quieter. Spend some time strolling and shopping in Phuket town. Do an excursion aboard a traditional Thai longtail boat.

Where to Stay: Trisara; Amanpuri; Rosewood Phuket.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye, Belize
Photo: Arturo Peña Romano | GettyMedina

Mexico may be a more obvious choice, but Belize has beautiful islands and some of the world's best diving—and a vacation here comes at a fraction of the price of other destinations. One U.S. dollar is worth two Belizean dollars, so the exchange rate is quite favorable and the overall cost of living is much lower. And unlike in other Central American countries, the official language of Belize is English because it was a British colony.

Things to Do: Ambergris Caye draws scuba divers from around the world to dive the Great Blue Hole, a natural sinkhole that's part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve system. You can also see this incredible natural phenomenon on a helicopter tour. But even if you're not PADI certified, there are plenty of opportunities to go snorkeling and see the coral reefs. Back on land, hang out at the Truck Stop, a fun shipping container food park and beer garden.

Where to Stay: Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club, Curio Collection by Hilton; Las Terrazas Resort Belize; Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection.

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza, Spain
Photo: Andrew Power | Getty

This Spanish island's nightlife is so legendary that no less than ten songs name drop it. It all started in the '60s, when a bunch of hippies were drawn to the island for its spiritual energy. Over the course of the following decades, it became known as a hedonistic place that draws headlining DJs to its nightclubs and megayachts to its waters. While some of the most famous nightclubs are still there, the island is also seeing a resurgence of the New Age culture that the hippies brought, with a spate of wellness resorts.

Things to Do: Night owls who want to experience Ibiza's famous nightlife should head to Pacha, which opened in 1973 and still hosts parties every night of the week. When you're ready for a detox, head to one of the excellent spas, like the one at the Six Senses Ibiza or Atzaró, an inland agriturismo.

Where to Stay: Six Senses Ibiza; Atzaró Agriturismo Hotel; 7 Pines Resort Ibiza; Pikes Ibiza.

St. Barts

St. Barts
Photo: Photo ©Tan Yilmaz | Getty

As an overseas collectivity of France, Saint Barthélemy (St. Bart's or St. Barth's for short) has a certain je ne sais quoi. One of the most glamorous islands in the Caribbean, it draws rich and famous jet setters to its shores for sun, sand, fabulous food and wine, luxury shopping, and nightlife. The 9.26 square-mile island has just one town but many beachfront five-star hotels and some very chic beach clubs.

Things to Do: The beaches range from the utterly secluded Colombier (reachable only on foot or by boat) to the buzzy St. Jean Beach, which is home to Nikki Beach. For an alternative, spend the afternoon at Shellona, a popular beach bar/restaurant on Shell Beach. Gustavia is worth exploring too, especially if shopping is on your agenda. Some of the island's best restaurants are also in town.

Where to Stay: Le Sereno, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World; Eden Rock St. Barth's, part of the Oetker Collection; Rosewood Le Guanahani; Cheval Blanc St. Barth.

Ischia, Italy

Ischia, Italy
Photo: Maurizio Siani | Getty

Known for its thermal hot springs, this island in the Bay of Naples has been drawing wellness-seeking travelers since the days of the Greek empire. People swear by the water's healing properties and there are a number of thermal spa parks that harness it. Larger than its sister island Capri, Ischia has a handful of towns to explore, beaches and coves, vineyards, historic sites, and botanical gardens.

Things to Do: At Maronti Beach, you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas for a relaxing day by the sea. The two large thermal parks on the island are Negombo and Giardini Poseidon Terme. Fonte delle Ninfe Nitrodi is a smaller spa that has thermal showers (not baths) and places to relax. Giardini Ravino is a beautiful botanical garden with a cafe where you can sit and sip herbal tea. Forio, Lacco Ameno, and Ischia town have lots of shops, restaurants, and bars that are worth visiting. You might also want to visit the historic Castello Aragonese connected to the island by a bridge.

Where to Stay: Albergo della Regina Isabella; Mezzatorre, a member of Pellicano Hotels and the Leading Hotels of the World; San Montano Resort & Spa.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia
Photo: @ Didier Marti | Getty

Sometimes called the "Island of the Gods," Bali has a deep seated spiritual side that draws travelers from around the world to its shores. Though Indonesia is a Muslim country, the island of Bali is Hindu, and couples can bond during religious ceremonies and visits to Hindu temples. But there's much more to Bali than its spiritual side. From the jungle surrounding Ubud to the beach clubs in Seminyak, there's something for everyone.

Things to Do: Partake in a cleansing ritual at the 10th-century Tirta Empul water temple, visit the clifftop Uluwatu Temple and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. As the island's capital, Ubud is a busy city with lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, so you should spend some time exploring it, but it is inland so you might want to split your time between Ubud and the beaches of Seminyak, Jimbaran, or Canggu.

Where to Stay: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Bambu Indah; AYANA Resort Bali; Amandari.

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