It’s only week two and although we promised ourselves it wouldn’t happen this year, we’ve done it again – we’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for Love Island. And while Majorca is the home of that villa, there are plenty of other destinations that will set hearts a flutter, and these love islands don’t come with the mega price tags you’d expect.
With white sandy beaches and perfect turquoise seas, we’ve found five of the best romantic islands for you and your significant other. Plus a lavish hotel (and a more budget-friendly alternative) for you love birds to stay at.
1. Santorini, Greece – fly from £81
As the home of Eros, the Greek god of love, the Greek islands are as romantic as they are diverse. The crescent-shaped volcanic island of Santorini has a staggering 250 churches, exceptional sunsets (we’re looking at you Oía) and the blue-painted roofs that are synonymous with Greece. Start your getaway with a visit to the hot springs, located off the neighbouring island of Palea Kameni. This mineral-infused sea can set temperatures rising and reach a toasty 40ºC (and a low of 23ºC). But don’t dress to impress as the sulphuric properties can discolour your swimsuit. After a dip and walk along the volcanic rocks, nothing says ‘romance’ like sitting watching the sun set together.
You can’t visit an island without a day or three spent lounging on the beach, and Santorini’s Perissa Black Sand Beach combines dramatic cliff edges with the all-important Santorini black sand and blue sea. If you want to do something together other than lounge by the beach, there’s an assortment of water sports to keep you entertained: jet skiing, parasailing and wind surfing are high on our list.
Where should we stay?
The five-star Antoperla Luxury Hotel & Spa is an easy two-minute stroll down to Perissa beach. The 38 exquisite bedrooms come with a terrace or balcony and some have their own private plunge pool or hot tub for ultimate privacy. Take advantage of the hotel spa with a couple’s massage (ranging from 50 to 70 minutes) for a relaxing end to your holiday. Prices start at £217 a night.
A 15-minute walk from the elusive Caldera edge, Stavros Villa is a traditional family-run hotel with a communal swimming pool and barbecue area. It’s based in the quaint and peaceful village of Karterados which sits in the centre of Santorini. In the main square, you’ll see a picturesque windmill against a backdrop of old cave houses and paved pathways. Prices start at £57 a night.
This collection of pristine white beaches, clear blue lagoons and luxury water bungalows are often compared to heaven on earth… and they’re a honeymooners paradise. Located in the Indian Ocean, the 26 ring-shaped atolls (that’s a collection of islands to you and me) contain over 1,000 islands. The question is which one to choose? To the north are the smaller islands in shallower lagoons making them ideal for snorkelling, whereas the south has deeper water and excellent diving conditions.
The private resort islands may come with a heftier price tag, but they often include all your food, (sometimes) drink and activities too. These islands don’t follow the strict Islamic laws of the rest of The Maldives either; that means alcohol is allowed and you can lie by the pool in a bikini.
Where should we stay?
The Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa is a scenic 25-minute seaplane ride from Malé airport. These Instagramable ultra-romantic water villas sit above the blue lagoon in the South Ari atoll. Prices for the water villas start at £448 but do include a private hot tub on your villa’s deck for an evening under the stars. For a slightly more reasonable rate, the garden rooms set back on the island start at £229 a night. At this kind of price, it’s the ultimate honeymoon retreat for two.
Based on Maafushi, one of the public islands in the Maldives, the Arena Beach Hotel is set adjacent to its own private beach. Located a short speedboat ride away from Malé, Maafushi has plenty of activities on offer including a floating sea bar, The Kaani Princess, just off of the Kaani water front. The deluxe rooms offer a sea view and private balcony. Prices start from a very modest £63 a night for a double room.
3. Mallorca, Spain – fly from £35
Of course, this round-up had to include the home of the real Love Island villa (it’s located off the village of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar since you’re asking, and rumour has it you can in fact rent it out for a premium price). Mallorca, the largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands is an idyllic spot for a romantic getaway, but slightly closer to home. While away an afternoon together by visiting the oldest vineyard on the island. A winery tour and tasting at Bodega Ribas lasts an hour and costs €18 (£16). If you’re close to Palma’s Old Town, search out the hidden gem of Hammam Palma. This luxury spa offers a traditional-style Arab bath, where you’ll work your way through the cold, tepid and warm baths (it’s more relaxing than it sounds) before having a well-deserved massage. For extra privacy, make the first appointment of the day and you’ll have the place to yourself, prices start at €30 (£26) for the baths and €50 (£44) to include a massage.
Where should we stay?
The Barcelo Illetas Albatros has its own private hidden cove in Palma Bay, a stretch of beach shouting out for a photo shoot, and two outdoor swimming pools. There are even weekly yoga and Pilates classes and an onsite fitness centre. But it’s the deluxe sea view rooms with private hot tubs that give this hotel the romantic edge. Prices start at £127 a night.
In the north east of the island, Eix Lagotel offers three pools for ultimate sun lounging opportunities, one of which is adults only. Located in the town of Playa de Muro, the hotel is set back 800 meters from the beach and prices start at £65 a night with the option of including half or full board. Who said romance had to cost the earth?
Lavish greenery meets white sands and turquoise seas in the Seychelles –welcome to paradise? While it’s possible to island-hop your way around, sticking to the three main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue will keep costs down. As the entry point to The Seychelles, Mahé has dense rainforest, pristine beaches and the old colourful colonial city of Victoria. It also offers a range of activities perfect for couples, and away from the beach. A trip to the Takamaka Rum Distillery, nicknamed ‘the spirit of the Seychelles’ covers over 100 years of island history and rum distilling. Tours run daily at 11.30am and 1.30pm and are, of course, followed by a rum tasting session. For nature lovers a trip to Victoria’s Botanical Gardens to feed the giant tortoises is must-do on this island full of wildlife.
Where should we stay?
There are no hotel rooms here, instead you’ll stay in your own private chalet complete with terrace, lounges and, in some cases, plunge pools. Nestled in the leafy hills on Mahé your picture-perfect view of the white sand below will be get you reaching for your camera. Romantic extras include a candlelit dinner on your private terrace, a couples photo shoot (proposal, anyone?) and even the ultimate breakfast in bed experience. You can even host your wedding here (starting at €550). Chalets start at £365 a night.
That’s right, we’ve found it! Located on the northern point of Mahé, the Carana Hilltop Villa is tucked away in a secluded spot only accessible via bus or taxi. The Villa’s rooms each come with a balcony (either shared or private) and have views towards the mountains or over the ocean. There’s a swimming pool, self-catering facilities and car parking all available. Rooms start at £71 a night.
5. Bora Bora, French Polynesia – fly from £1,370
This breath-taking part of French Polynesia is often ranked as the most secluded island on the planet – unless, you happen to have your own deserted island on hand. It has the same number of visitors in a year as Hawaii gets in 10 days. So if you’re looking for the most romantic, hideaway on the planet, this is probably it… and the reason it comes with quite the price tag! Bora Bora consists of three villages: Faanui, Vaitape and Anau but it’s the water that surrounds this island that’s the real winner. Snorkel off the south east of the island at the elusive Coral Garden – an underwater world of colourful coral, butterfly fish, puffa fish and most intriguingly the zebra unicorn fish. For those couples who like to adventure together, a hike through the Valley of the Kings to see Mt. Otemanu may be hot and hard work but oh-so-rewarding. It’s worth noting you’ll need a guide as the initial path to the valley can be hard to find.
Where should we stay?
Situated on its own private island, a simple 20-minute speedboat ride from the airport lies the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort. There’s a swim-up cocktail bar in one of the many swimming pools, a gym, tennis courts and four restaurants to choose from. To learn a little more about this part of the world, cultural activities include: how to open a coconut (not as easy as it looks), coco leaf braiding and ukulele lessons. Or swing by the water sports area to pick up a paddleboard and go out to sea. Prices start at £586, but as the average price in a Bora Bora resort can be closer to the £1,000 this one is relatively (!) reasonable.
Find your own romantic island below:
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 11 June 2019.