From the beach to the rainforest, we tell you the best places in paradise to woo your sweetheart
Not many scenes evoke a feeling of romance like a couple strolling down a beach hand-in-hand-there’s just something about the warm breezes, spellbinding blue water and white sand beaches of paradise that conjures up romance like nothing else. Whether your idea of a romantic getaway includes splashing in the surf, enjoying exquisite French cuisine, exploring a rainforest, or relaxing in natural hot springs, the diverse paradise of the Caribbean and Latin American offer something for every taste. Just in time for Valentine’s Day (and intended for any day you crave a romantic escape), we give you our expert-compiled list of the top 14 romantic getaways in paradise.
If your idea of romance is wining, dining and shopping, French St. Martin fits the bill. Grand Case is known as the Gourmet Capital of Caribbean-you can’t walk down the town’s main street without bumping into a gourmet French, Creole or Italian restaurant. While waterfront views are part of Grand Case’s draw, some of the best dining can be found at the intimate L’Auberge Gourmande and the new La Villa. For ocean-view accommodations, retire to the luxurious, cliff side La Samanna Resort and Spa. Rooms from $995; villa rentals from $3,000.
Instead of giving your valentine a box of store-bought chocolates, treat them to a tour of a working cocoa plantation on the island of Grenada. At Belmont Estates, see the progression of cocoa from wet bean-which tastes light and fruity-to a delicious dark chocolate bar. Spend the night in a private cottage and enjoy a couple’s massage at the beachfront, ultra-romantic Laluna resort, a slice of Balinese-inspired heaven in the Caribbean. From $415.
Luxe Rainforest Hideaway
Escape to a hideaway in the lush, serene rainforest of Belize. The elegantly appointed Tree Top suites at the renowned Chaa Creek eco-lodge offer complete privacy and excellent stargazing from the veranda Jacuzzi (priced from $400). Also in the Maya Mountains, hike to Big Rock Falls, explore ancient Mayan ruins and unwind in the private plunge pool of your Luxury Cabana at Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge. From $400; Francis Ford Coppola Villa from $625.
For a different take on the long-time favorite romance destination of Jamaica, head away from the compound-style beach resorts and check into the tres-chic RockHouse boutique hotel, set on the cliffs overlooking the sea in Negril. Its westernmost locale makes for fabulous sunsets-enjoy one with your honey from your villa’s private sundeck. Visit the spa for organic and holistic treatments. Standard rooms from $125; villas from $295.
Stylish Surf and Turf
Costa Rica is a small country of big contrasts-take it all in during one romantic getaway. Play in the waves of one of the two beaches, set a tee time for golf and book a couple’s spa treatment at the secluded Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. Then head for the interior and visit the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, soaking in natural hot springs at the base of the towering Aernal Volcano. Four Seasons from $595; Tabacon from $245.
Stylish and private, it’s no wonder French-influenced St. Barths is a favorite place for the rich and famous to get away. Disappear into a private hillside villa overlooking one of the island’s many picturesque bays or to a beachside retreat like the Eden Rock. The sexy hotel is a Hollywood favorite, offering spacious homes and unique suites such as the Greta Garbo and the Howard Hughes suite. Garden cottages from $690; Big Beach House from $3,500.
From beaches with low-slung palms reminiscent of the South Pacific to the captivating emerald Piton peaks that rise straight up from the sea, St. Lucia is plain sexy. Jade Mountain’s sanctuary rooms have an open fourth wall, big infinity pools and unadulterated views of the twin Pitons. Feeling adventurous? Hike the 3,000-foot Gros Piton and visit the Anse-la-Raye Friday night fish fry. Sky Jacuzzi sanctuary from $900; Star infinity pool sanctuary from $1,150.
For lovers craving privacy and the VIP-treatment, Tortuga Bay in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is where it’s at. With VIP airport service whisking you through Customs and a private concierge on-call, you can unwind and leave the planning to the pros. Stunning villas designed by the world-renowned Oscar de la Renta add to Tortuga Bay’s appeal. Lounge on the private beach and dine at the Mediterranean-inspired Bamboo. Villas from $595.
If strolling on a beach in paradise sounds romantic, then walking along a pink sand beach must be off-the-charts. A short flight from the States, Harbour Island’s unbelievable three-mile-long pink sand beach is the Bahamas’ best-kept secret. Stay in one of the 25 pastel-colored cottages at the romance-hued Pink Sands Resort. Garden view cottage from $600; ocean view cottage from $750.
It Takes Two
A renowned golf and fishing destination, Los Cabos, Mexico-comprised of the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jos� del Cabo-also lures lovers with its beautiful beaches, fine restaurants, lively nightlife, and great shopping. Cabo del Sol boasts two resorts, two acclaimed golf courses, two spas and many outstanding villa rentals to make your stay comfortable. Ocean view condos from $560; three-bedroom villas from $1,320.
Adventurous couples will find romance in nature-loving Dominica. After a day of hiking, zip lining, rapelling, or yoga, unwind and enjoy an in-room massage at the ocean view Calibishie Cove luxury eco-lodge. Spend the night in the 1,500-square-foot Paradise Penthouse with a private plunge pool, or for optimal privacy rent the entire four-room villa. Penthouse from $200; villa from $490.
With 365 beaches, coves and bays-one for every day of the year-it’s easy find a favorite romantic spot in Antigua. The English-influenced island also boasts a collection of charming shops and restaurants and myriad historical sites. For a true getaway, visit the private Jumby Bay Resort set just off Antigua. Stay in a cozy Roundavel room with a four-poster bed and wrap-around terrace, or indulge in one of the resort’s luxe estates. Roundavel from $900; estates from $3,500.
Private Island Haven
Where do you go to stay in Mick Jagger’s private home? Why Mustique, of course. Set between St. Vincent and Grenada in the Grenadines, the private island of Mustique-owned by shareholders from 17 countires-is the place to rent homes of rock and rollers and truly escape from the real world. Jagger’s Japanese-style beachfront retreat is stocked with mementos from his music career and is just one of the amazing places for rent on the island. Estates starting from $20,000/week.
Couples searching for the simple necessities-a beautiful beach, great diving and dazzling turquoise waters-will find their match in the Turks and Caicos, set just south of the Bahamas. The contemporary Amanyara resort on the tip of Providenciales will envelop you in Asian-inspired luxury and put you close to the diving action of Northwest Point Marine National Park. Be sure to try the island’s local delicacy, conch, part of which is said to be an aphrodisiac. From $1,200.