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TRAVEL SLEUTH - ROMANCE IS JUST AN ISLAND AWAY
 
(2016 - Winter Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



Think of an island, any island. Simply hearing the word stirs thoughts of solitude and romance. It’s a dreamy vision, the notion that perhaps somewhere far away, there are still secret sultry places where no one else has trod.

A total escape may seem a tall order in our connected world now, but even on discovered tropical islands, couples are finding private places to call their own. Relaxing seclusion is a heavenly find, mellowed even more by the feel of the sun, sea and sand, by the picnics and private conversations or by what is seen, heard, touched or tasted.

Such moments are unpredictable. There’s no precise formula, however when travellers are asked for their opinion on the most romantic islands, there are many common elements. For instance, a place is delightful when couples experience genuine friendliness, freedom and safety, undisturbed natural surroundings and accommodation comfort with the lightest carbon footprint. Tantalizing food, options for fresh-air activity, and shared moments involving natural wonders, ageless cultures or history also register highly in the selection process.

In Aruba, for example, head off-road in a jeep to see the preserved cave drawings by Amerindian and Arawak societies dating back 1,000 to 4,000 years. In St. Croix, cycle across the island with a lunch-hut stop to taste roti, curried goat or pot fish and fungi. On New Zealand’s South Island, hike along the renowned Milford Track for several sunny days and starry nights. In Kauai, navigate footpaths deep into red-rock Waimea, the “grand canyon” of Hawaii. In South Korea, spend your honeymoon on the volcanic Jeju Island, the No. 1 destination for Korean honeymooners.

We all have our favourite islands; however the following pop up regularly on “the world’s most romantic” list:

MALDIVES

Where: In the Indian Ocean, 623 kilometres from Kanyakumari on the southwest tip of India.

When: Warm, tropical weather year-round, from 25 to 29 C. Days with the most sunshine are between January and April.

Why: The Maldives are top rated because once you find yourself on any of the 1,100 sugar-sand isles here, it is so sublime you may easily feel you and your sweetie really did find a treasure island. Resorts and restaurants are known for exquisite cuisine, which artfully fuse Mediterranean with South Asian treats. visitmaldives.com

SANIBEL ISLAND

Where: Connected to the Florida mainland by causeway, it lies in the Gulf of Mexico just a 35-minute drive from Fort Myers. 

When: Sunniest months are April, May and June. Expect rain showers from June to September and the coolest (20 to 22 C) daytime temperatures are December through January.  

Why: First-rate ecology protection in Sanibel means you’ll share the habitat with dolphins, manatees and sea turtles offshore. And as you wind down after perhaps a day of shelling, golfing or boating, you’ll witness a magnificent sunset from almost any location on the island. Spa treatments for two are also popular at the resort hotels. FortMyers-Sanibel.com

SANTORINI

Where: A Greek island in the Cyclades group of the Aegean Sea, approximately 250 kilometres from Athens and around 100 kilometres north of Crete.

When: Not a winter destination when chilly and wet. Sunniest days are April through September (average 28 C) and May is when tourists generally start to arrive.

Why: Santorini is a postcard-perfect Greek isle. Here, a chalk-blue sky meets a deep navy Mediterranean Sea while the landscape is punctuated by clusters of whitewashed villages and bright-white churches, each bearing a symmetrical Greek cross on top of their signature blue domes. Not jaw-dropping enough? How about the sky-high Santorini coastline, a massive volcano rock face that soars 300 metres up from the sea? santorini.gr

TAHITI

Where: Talk about remote! Situated in the South Pacific cluster known as French

Polynesia, 118 islands of Tahiti are 4,400 kilometres south of Hawaii and 5,700 kilometres east of Australia.

When: The average daily temperature is

25 C year-round and it is sunniest in May, June, September and October. The rainy months are January through April as well as November and December.

Why: Sail into the exotic, step into history. Tahiti’s hypnotic shorelines, flanked by green rolling hills and framed by sugar-white beaches with swaying palms along gentle turquoise lagoons, are still very much the way the 18th-century European navigators must have first seen it. Today, visitors can remain connected to the sea by staying in an overwater bungalow, each one built on stilts above the lapping tide. tahiti-tourisme.com

HARBOUR ISLAND

Where: It’s a little pink dot in a spearmint sea located just off the northeast coast of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

When: November, December and January are sunny and dry with temperatures hovering between 18 and 25 C. The best bet for sunshine is March through April, with increased shower activity happening May through October.

Why: On this tranquil piece of paradise, cars are not allowed. No problem because Harbour Island is only five kilometres long. From the air, the entire coastline is a shade of pink due to the red shells of countless little sea creatures resting in peace. Go barefoot or be pampered with accommodation and fresh seafood served in the glimmer of candlelight. bahamas.com

SAINT JOHN

Where: It’s at the top of the long north-south chain of the U.S. Virgin Islands found on the eastern side of the Caribbean Sea. 

When: There is little seasonal change here, although rainfall occurs between May and October, with temperatures ranging from

22 C at night to a daytime high of 30 C.  

Why: It’s off the grid. There’s no airport and two-thirds of the island is a protected lush mountainous national park. Camp or stay in plush, eco-sensitive accommodation. Evenings centre on long romantic meals accompanied by soft musical entertainment or a chance to chill out with locals at a favourite dance club. visitusvi.com

 
 
 
 
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