From Bermuda to the Big Island and from St. Thomas to St. Lucia, islands are popular destinations for romantic getaways. Here are five slightly under-the-radar and surprisingly affordable isles you should consider if youre feeling an urge to try something new:
Corfu This Greek island may not be as famous as its chicer siblings, Santorini and Mykonos, but it is perhaps even more beautiful, with photogenic bays and beaches and charming Corfu Town, filled with French- and Venetian-inspired architecture, centuries-old fortresses, and inviting cafes. Dont miss a climb up the Old Fortress for panoramic views and a peek inside the 16th-century Church of Spyridon, Corfus patron saint, who is entombed there. Stay at Grecotel Eva Palace (www.grecotel.com/corfu/eva-palace), a hillside resort offering sweeping views (shown above at left) of the Kommeno peninsula and the Ionian Sea, and conveniently located just 6 miles from Corfu Town, from $209/night.
Lanai Neighboring Maui may get all the hype, but this small and sleepy Hawaiian island without a single traffic light offers the most peaceful ambience and the best luxury deal in the state especially if you love to golf. Theres not much to do besides relax by a pool or on a beach, tee off on two world-class courses, or rent a Jeep to explore natural treasures such as the lunar-like Garden of the Gods, but thats the whole point. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele (www.fourseasons.com/koele), a tranquil, 102-room upcountry manor hotel with an inviting porch and genteel croquet lawn set amid lush landscaping and flanked by towering Cook Islands pines, from $295/night (stay three nights and the rate falls to $197/night).
Curaçao Home to one of the most picturesque harbor towns, Willemstad, and the most authentic Dutch heritage in the Caribbean, arid and sunny Curaçao (one of the ABC islands along with neighboring Aruba and Bonaire) makes for a delightful spring getaway. Divers and snorkelers will adore the islands sublime blue water and coastal caves, hikers can tackle 1,240-foot Mt. Christoffel, and foodies can taste test local Krioyo treats such as stoba (lamb stew) and keshi yena (stuffed cheese). Stay at Hotel Kura Hulanda, a romantic and luxurious 80-room property (shown at right) that encompasses eight blocks of 17th- and 18th-century buildings in Willemstad, with three fabulous restaurants, a casino, and a spa, from $160/night.
Isla Mujeres This small and colorful Mexican island (it translates to Island of Women) is located just a 20-minute ferry ride away from the bustle of Cancun and is all about relaxation. Formerly a fishing village, it measures just 5 miles by 1 mile and retains many of its rustic charms. Rent a golf cart to explore sights ranging from a turtle farm (where hatchlings are protected and released into the wild) and Punta Sur, where a Mayan temple dedicated the goddess Ixchel once stood. Stay at Hotel Villa Rolandi (www.villarolandi.com), an intimate and welcoming whitewashed resort with 35 rooms and suites, a private beach, two infinity pools, and a restaurant featuring Chef Daniele Mullers Swiss-Northern Italian cuisine, from $181/night.
Vieques Another sleepy island, this time located a short hop by air or ferry from Puerto Rico in the so-called Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques is home to postcard-perfect deserted white-sand beaches, a bioluminescent bay (kayak it during a waning moon, and the water glows with tiny luminous blue creatures) and, frankly, not much more. Its a great spot if you want to avoid crowds and find a patch of perfect sand to call your own. Stay at the W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island, the islands only full-scale resort where the 157 rooms and suites are spacious and chic, Alain Ducasse serves sexy Cariibean cuisine at miX on the Beach (shown at left), and the vibe is relaxing but youthful, from $259/night.