Is there anything more madly romantic than the thought of an island getaway? Avoid the hordes by looking beyond the usual suspects and trying one of these offbeat atolls instead – from remote archipelagos to private patches of sand just big enough for two.
Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Isle appeal: Uninhabited atolls reached in exotic style
The best, and most romantic, way to explore the 32 coral atolls of the Quirimbas is by Arabian dhow. Charter one of these traditional sailing vessels and let the crew navigate you to untouched islets where palm trees and turtles are the only residents. Each evening you’ll be deposited on deserted beaches, to eat fresh fish and camp out on the sand.
Isle appeal: Beautiful beaches, away from the crowds
The city of Salvador has more than 2 million inhabitants. But just 90 minutes by ferry (or 30 by seaplane) lies an easy escape. Tinharé is a peaceful, palm-edged isle where the pace is slow – motorised vehicles are not allowed and your bags will be transferred from the jetty to your pousada by wheelbarrow. The beaches are sublime: try Second Beach for all-night parties, or Fourth Beach for quiet time alone.
Honeymoon Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Isle appeal: Where castaway fantasies come true
Set sail across this ridiculously elysian South Pacific lagoon with Captain Fantastic – not only will he stop at Aitutaki’s best snorkel spots and reel off local history, he’ll drop anchor at Honeymoon Island, a well-named hump of sand lapped by turquoise blue. While you take a dip, the Captain will cook up a fishy feast – or you can arrange to be marooned there overnight...
Isle appeal: Your own lighthouse, on your own outcrop
It’s just 120m long and 36m wide, but it’s all yours... The rocky islet of Host is a five-minute boat ride from Vis Harbour, giving ’mooners the best of both worlds: easy access to the delights of quiet, vineyard-cloaked Vis (itself an ideal isle for couples) plus a truly isolated retreat. The accommodation is amorously atmospheric, too – stay in Host’s converted 19th-century lighthouse, and cuddle up on the terrace to watch sunsets over the sea.
Algonquin Island, Ontario, Canada
Isle appeal: The classic Canadian cabin, on a private isle
Most Canadian cabins are intrinsically romantic: they conjure thoughts of snuggling by open fires, nostrils tingling with the scent of pungent pine. This one’s even better: nestled on Algonquin Island, in the midst of Kawawaymog Lake, it’s only accessible by canoe. While here, paddle out to look for moose, star-gaze from the deck or get steamy in the floating sauna.
Wilson Island, Queensland, Australia
Isle appeal: Barefoot luxury on a tiny isle
OK, it’s not cheap – but this is being shipwrecked in style. Wilson Island, a minuscule coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, offers just six snazzy tents, complete with king-size beds, sea views, binoculars and hammocks. It also sits within a national park, and is popular with green and loggerhead turtles – take an evening stroll along the sand and you’ll likely not be alone...
Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden
Isle appeal: Wilderness romance, right near the city
Leave scenic Stockholm to paddle its outlying archipelago in a kayak built for two. There are around 30,000 isles and islets here, so finding one without other people should be a cinch. Also, wild camping (done respectfully) is legal in Sweden, so when you find that perfect private cove, pitch your tent there and claim it as your own.
Seabird Key, Florida, USA
Isle appeal: A tropical retreat, shared only with the birds
The Florida Keys aren’t exactly a secret, but it’s possible to escape here nonetheless. Seabird is ten acres of private isle just off Marathon; it has its own palm-tickled beach, nearby coral reefs, tropical forest heavy with birds and a graceful villa, where every porch has a pretty view. Hire the island and you also get kayaks, a sailing boat and a 19-foot whaler in which to play.
Isle appeal: Santorini sunsets – without the crowds
Santorini is the quintessential Greek honeymoon island. And, yes, its sunken caldera and taverna-tumbling hillsides are pretty dreamy – but they’re pretty busy too. To find sunset-over-the-sea views that are just as good – but without the glut of people – try peaceful Ikaria. This small Aegean isle has little tourism and is tricky to reach, but is all the more unique for it. Come for great food, a village-to-village walking trail, thick forests and empty beaches. Come for all the romance, none of the crowds.
Isle appeal: Utter isolation in paradise
Not one isle, but a clutch of them, in remotest Indonesia – that’s Siroktabe. Stay for a week and flit between the island group’s deserted shores, camping in basic tents, fishing for your supper and snorkelling prolific waters. A captain will guide you round – or, for the full Crusoe-n-Friday adventure, arrange to be ‘safely stranded’: left to your own devices, but with a guide on call on the island next door.