10 Romantic Getaways to Cross off Your Bucket List

Grab your passport and plan your escape to these dreamy locales.

By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterJune 28, 2016
By Liz Weiss, Staff WriterJune 28, 2016, at 3:30 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

10 Romantic Getaways to Cross off Your Bucket List

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A couple vacations on a beach.
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Up the romance factor in spark-kindling destinations across the globe.

Maybe your ideal escape involves enjoying candlelit meals in a far-flung overwater bungalow in the Maldives, or taking off on a wind-swept South African safari filled with adrenaline-fueled adventures such as game drives and stargazing. Or perhaps your perfect trip involves soaking in enchanting clifftop views of the Pacific from Big Sur, California, or strolling among the whitewashed villas and iconic blue domes of Santorini. Whether you're itching for an exhilarating adventure, a culture-fueled city break or a secluded beach retreat, these expert-endorsed spots are sure to make you and your better half swoon.
Tropical Island and lagoon, Maldives, Indian Ocean
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(Getty Images)

The Maldives

The Maldives, an island country 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka between the Arabian and Laccadive seas, offers a postcard-worthy setting with its coral sands and magnificent reefs. "Who doesn't love the idea of clear waters and overwater bungalows?" says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, executive editor of XO Group Inc. There's also delicious cuisine and plenty of opportunities for amorous experiences, she adds. At luxury resort COMO Maalifushi, for example, the staff will arrange gourmet picnics, Cooper explains. Clara Sedlak, senior editor at high-end travel site Jetsetter.com, echoes similar sentiments. "The islands are perfect for couples who just want to relax and hole up at a gorgeous resort," she says. Plus, active types can explore Malé, the vibrant capital city of the Maldives.
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Up the romance factor in spark-kindling destinations across the globe.

Maybe your ideal escape involves enjoying candlelit meals in a far-flung overwater bungalow in the Maldives, or taking off on a wind-swept South African safari filled with adrenaline-fueled adventures such as game drives and stargazing. Or perhaps your perfect trip involves soaking in enchanting clifftop views of the Pacific from Big Sur, California, or strolling among the whitewashed villas and iconic blue domes of Santorini. Whether you're itching for an exhilarating adventure, a culture-fueled city break or a secluded beach retreat, these expert-endorsed spots are sure to make you and your better half swoon.

The Maldives

The Maldives, an island country 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka between the Arabian and Laccadive seas, offers a postcard-worthy setting with its coral sands and magnificent reefs. "Who doesn't love the idea of clear waters and overwater bungalows?" says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, executive editor of XO Group Inc. There's also delicious cuisine and plenty of opportunities for amorous experiences, she adds. At luxury resort COMO Maalifushi, for example, the staff will arrange gourmet picnics, Cooper explains. Clara Sedlak, senior editor at high-end travel site Jetsetter.com, echoes similar sentiments. "The islands are perfect for couples who just want to relax and hole up at a gorgeous resort," she says. Plus, active types can explore Malé, the vibrant capital city of the Maldives.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur's striking coastal scenery, rugged hiking trails and laid-back ambiance add to its romantic allure. "The views are gorgeous and it's the perfect road trip for any season," Sedlak says. She suggests driving along Highway 1 and stopping near Bixby Bridge, which overlooks a deep 100-foot canyon and affords iconic cliffside vistas of the Pacific Ocean. She also recommends hitting the pristine trails among redwood groves at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. For a stay to remember, spring for a suite at the intimate Post Ranch Inn, she says. With wood-burning fireplaces and cliffside infinity pools, the scenic retreat is sure to woo your partner.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cooper points to Cartagena, Colombia, as a hidden gem with its well-preserved, whitewashed and terracotta walls, fashionable art galleries and boutiques and excellent restaurants and museums. Here, adventurous types can enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving while relaxation seekers enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides along cobblestone streets, she says. Cartagena also offers a convenient coastal retreat, Sedlak notes. "Leave enough time to take in sights like the Catedral de Cartagena, a Spanish-style Catholic Basilica, and the Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower), which served as the gateway to the walled city in the 1600s," she advises.

Tokyo

"Everything here – from food to art to landmarks – is a site to be seen," Cooper says. In Tokyo, you can take in cutting-edge sites and forward-thinking art, theater and dining scenes. Plus, culture vultures can catch a glimpse of iconic sites like the Meiji Shrine before admiring the captivating views from the top of the Tokyo Tower. And after taking in Tokyo's neon-lit streets, you can indulge in soothing spa treatments and exclusive activities at Aman Tokyo, an urban hotel in the city's Nihonbashi district. Here, you can enjoy browsing Tsukiji Fish Market with the hotel's acclaimed chef in the morning, Cooper explains. Best of all, you can easily extend your trip to Kyoto to admire ornate palaces and epic temples.

South Africa

If you're itching to go on a safari, it's hard to top the stunning surroundings of the Singita Ebony Lodge in Sabi Sand, a privately managed game reserve next to Kruger National Park. The high-end retreat features 12 "tent-style" suites, complete with canvas- and glass-enclosed walls and private plunge pools. Plus, each suite offers an outdoor pavilion overlooking "the banks of the Sand River and the surrounding ebony and jackalberry trees," Sedlak says. When you're not on an expert-led safari walk, you'll find plenty of ways to stay busy. "Activities are as epic as ever and perfect for active duos: game drives, archery, guiding walks and stargazing," Sedlak says.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

If you're searching for a classic seaside escape, it's hard to beat the charming cliffside villages, rolling hills and pristine beaches of the Amalfi Coast. "Everything there is romantic, from the rocky beaches to the food to the hotels, which almost all overlook the sea," Sedlak says. She suggests picking up a car and driving along the scenic coast to hit the romantic areas of Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. "The classic romantic destinations are touristy but so worth it," she says. In terms of accommodations, Sedlak points to La Sirenuse, Hotel Eden Roc and Palazzo Murat in Positano and Santa Caterina Hotel in Amalfi as superlative options for romance seekers.

Canyon Point, Utah

If you're craving an off-the-grid getaway, consider retreating to Utah, where you'll find stunning dunes, mountain ridges and rustic desert scenery. Amangiri resort is especially striking, Sedlak says. "It’s hidden away on 600 acres of Utah wilderness and completely blends seamlessly with the canyons of the American Southwest," she describes. And inside each of the high-end suites, you'll find a fireplace and, in some rooms, a private roof terrace or plunge pool. Plus, "the property has an [Instagram]-worthy pool, which wraps around the landscape's curved dunes and arid plateaus," Sedlak adds. Outside the lavish accommodations, you can let sparks fly with a hot air balloon ride or a desert horseback ride.

Havana

For a memorable urban escape, head to Havana, the capital city of Cuba. It's easy to get swept away in the centuries-old buildings and cobbled streets of Old Havana. You'll feel like you're stepping back in time as you take in all that this fascinating city has to offer, Sedlak says. "Havana's narrow streets are crowded with gleaming 1950s Ford Fairlanes and pristine Chevy Bel Airs," she adds. What's more, "there are colorful art deco and colonial facades, the waterfront esplanade, the Malecón, where locals gather in the evenings to sing," she explains.

Napa Valley, California

Wine-loving duos shouldn't overlook Napa Valley, Cooper says. With its rolling hills and morning mist, Napa offers spectacular scenery, along with incredible spas, scenic trails and an array of Michelin-starred restaurants, she says. Plus, the area hosts an abundance of intimate inns and lavish resorts, and of course, hundreds of wineries and caverns to explore. And after all, it's hard to match sharing a glass of top-notch Cabernet while admiring an enchanting sunset with your better half, Cooper adds.

Southern Thailand

If you want an under-the-radar, far-flung escape, head to Krabi Island, an unspoiled gem that's "a little more undiscovered than some of the other areas," Cooper says. Here, you'll find Buddhist temples, lush jungles and white-sand beaches. And thanks to the area's idyllic location, near Mu Ko Lanta National Park, you'll find the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, with opportunities for kayaking, rock climbing and laying on pristine beaches, she adds. Best of all, at Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, you can steal away to an intimate ocean-facing villa and enjoy complete pampering, thanks to the resort's high staff-to-guest ratio, she says.
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Liz Weiss, Staff Writer

Liz Weiss is a senior editor at U.S. News & World Report. With more than six years of ...  Read more

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