By guest blogger – Laura Hoot
When it comes to romantic getaways, nothing beats the Caribbean. Long walks on the beach, spectacular sunsets, great food and stunning scenery – all that’s missing for the ultimate romantic vacation is the two of you! Every island in the Caribbean is different, offering its own unique blend of culture, geography and history, so we’ve put together a handy guide to the top 5 most romantic Caribbean destinations to help you can start planning that second (or first) honeymoon!
1. Grand Turk Island, Turks and Caicos – The Turks and Caicos Islands are as close as you can get to that deserted island feeling. There are more than 40 islands in this pretty chain just south of the Bahamas, but fewer than ten have anyone living on them. There are no fast food restaurants, big-name stores, or sprawling resorts – you’re away from it all.
Grand Turk Island is a tropical paradise you can explore together. If you’re adventurous, Grand Turk is popular with snorkelers and scuba divers for exploring one of the world’s largest coral reef systems. Popular dive sites include the Grand Turk Wall and the Columbus Landfall Marine National Park.
There are many popular dive shops that will take you out on guided excursions or rent you snorkel gear for an hour or two of fish-gazing. Check out Grand Turk Diving, Blue Water Divers, or Oasis Divers for equipment rentals, single-tank dives, night dives – or just casual boat tours.
2. Curaçao – Curaçao is not only colorful and fascinating, but is also unique within the region. This is a great place to visit if you enjoy photography, European culture, or looking for a different kind of Caribbean experience.
Curaçao is less than 50 miles east of Aruba, and its capital city of Willemstad has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Willemstad and Curaçao is set apart from other islands by their strong connection to their Dutch past and their brightly colored architecture. Every building in Willemstad seems to be painted a different color, from bright pink and vibrant orange to navy blue and emerald green. Even though the capital is small, more than 750 buildings have been declared national monuments.
Spend a day or two wandering hand-in-hand through the historic walled Punda District and the neighboring Otrabanda District and visit the charming cafés and distinctive shops. Local artists have painted all the alleyways in the Punda district, and the effect is like walking through a beautiful outdoor art exhibit.
3. St. Maarten/Saint Martin – If you’re having trouble picking an island, the gorgeous island of St. Maarten (or Saint Martin) gives you variety – half the island is French and the other half is Dutch. There are two different governments, two different languages, and two entirely different cultures to explore on one small island.
Unlike most other Caribbean islands, which changed hands between European powers several times during their history, this island decided to split itself in two back in 1648, and it seems to have worked out nicely. France still has authority over the northern part of the island, and the Netherlands remains the authority over the south. Over hundreds of years of division, each half has developed and retained its own style and flavor.
The Dutch side is home to the lovely city of Phillipsburg, and is the more heavily populated part of the island. This is where you will come to shop. Phillipsburg is only about four blocks in size, so it’s easy to stroll from shop to shop. Make sure to stop at Blanc du Nil where they sell only white clothing to show off your Caribbean tan.
On the French side is Marigot, the island’s largest city, where you can find some of the best French restaurants in the world outside of France. Le Chanteclaire is a great place for that romantic, candlelit dinner for two. Located right in the Marigot harbor, and it’s famous for its signature dessert Le Innommable (“the No Name Dessert”), a pastry with chocolate, vanilla ice cream and a vanilla sauce.
There are 25 miles of wonderful hiking trails on both sides of the island, including a lovely hike along Simpson and Mullet Bays, and it is easy to cross the border between the two halves. On a side note, the European style beaches (i.e., clothing optional) are on the French side.
4. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular places to visit in the Caribbean. Instead of opting for the all-inclusive beach resort, consider making some time to explore the romantic city of Santo Domingo. It is the oldest European city in all of the Americas, teems with history and fantastic museums, and offers tropical beaches to boot.
If you enjoy museums, there are three right on the Plaza de la Cultura. Spend an afternoon wandering between the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of History and Geography, and the National Museum of Natural History.
Santo Domingo’s walled Old Town is reminiscent of Spain, with delightful winding streets and alleyways, abundant flowers, wrought-iron balconies and charming, outdoor cafés. You can stroll, shop and dine along the oldest street in the New World, the Calle de las Damas. You can tour Fort Ozama, the very first fort, and the Cathedral Santa Maria la Menor, the first cathedral ever built in the Americas.
The city is also a great vacation destination for foodies, so make sure to plan for a romantic dinner for two at El Mesón de la Cava, which is built right inside a cave and serves some of the finest food in Santo Domingo.
5. Antigua – For the quintessential Caribbean beach escape, head to Antigua. The island is only 14 miles by 10 miles, but it boasts 365 beaches. The island also has strong ties to Britain, excellent cricket matches, great shopping and nice restaurants.
For shopping, head to the public market on Market Street in St. John’s for local crafts, jewelry and souvenirs. When you’re hungry, head to Nelson’s Dockyard in Falmouth for everything from burgers to fine dining. The Admiral’s Inn is the perfect place for a romantic dinner of fresh seafood, as it’s set in a beautifully restored 17th century building.
Many say the most beautiful beach is Half Moon Bay Beach near Freetown. For a romantic day alone together, head to the deserted beach on the tip of Johnson’s Point. Remember to bring your own bottle of wine and picnic lunch, because this beach is truly untouched and undeveloped, with no amenities.
Another great day trip is to hire a boat to go to the pink sand beaches of Barbuda. This tiny and sparsely populated island was one of the late Princess Diana’s favorite places in the world—and for good reason. It’s absolutely breathtaking, and home to an excellent bird sanctuary.
With so many romantic locations to choose from, the Caribbean is a great choice for your next escape. The only question is which islands to choose.
About The Author
Laura Hoot has been writing professionally since 2004 and manages HomeAway.com’s Travel Ideas site. She also runs a household of three dogs, a cat, two chickens and a baby boy. She’s written for USA Today’s travel site, GirlsGetaway.com, Cheapo Air and Travels.com among other sites.