o’s 2000 film, The Beach, might have been universally panned by critics but it was responsible for how teenage girls (and some boys) at that time defined paradise. Up until today, I know a few people who would still play All Saints’ “Pure Shores” (from the film’s soundtrack) when lounging at the beach and watching the sunset.
The beach has always been associated with romance. There’s something about the three S’s—sun, sand and sea—that we find amorous. Being at the beach enables us to escape from the fast-and-furious realities of the daily grind, giving us the opportunity to slow down and flirt with paradise. And the occasional hot stranger in as little clothing as possible.
This is why when travel publication Travel + Leisure asked its readers to choose the top islands for romance for its annual World’s Best Awards, people were quick to vote for their favorite romantic destinations—a lot of which are island paradises that set the backdrop for some of the most romantic adventure films ever made.
Topping the tally is Bora Bora, a favorite holiday spot that rose to prominence because of Hollywood stars who vacationed there. It’s also the main setting of the rom-com, Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn
, Jason Bateman
and Kristen Bell
. T+L describes the locale as “a geographically blessed sliver of French Polynesia.”
’s favorite island, Capri in Italy, nabs the second spot in the list. “Known for its limestone cliffs and waterfront villas,” this Italian hideaway has always been popular, with plenty of artists and writers of the latter 19th century referencing the island-resort in their work. Meanwhile, at number three and four are Santorini, Greece and Kauai, Hawaii. The former was featured prominently in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Our very own Boracay makes the list at number five. One of the Philippines’ most popular tourist spots that was once a best-kept secret, “this five-mile-long island now rivals better-known Asian destinations such as Phuket and Koh Samui.” Boracay has consistently been in several best-of lists since last year.
Next up is the Maldives, which has enjoyed being the prize of choice of many game shows on TV. Celebrities have been known to escape to this archipelago, home to some high-end resorts.
Maui, where one is said to be able to take a journey back in time, occupies the seventh place in the T+L list while Moorea in Tahiti, “the less-visited sister island of Bora Bora,” placed one notch lower. At number nine is Puerto Rico’s Vieques, an emerging beach escape that promises a lot of peace and quiet.
Rounding out the top 10 is Bali, where the “love” portion of Eat, Pray, Love took place. The film is credited for giving Balinese tourism a boost. But of course, Bali has always been in the consciousness of citizens of the world, thanks to its idyllic landscapes, traditional temples and art and mountains that meet the sea.