DOWN SOUTH | Have Love, Travel: Five romantic destinations for couples

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A couple lounging by the beach with beer in hand. Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering.

Traveling has eccentric ways of testing a couple’s strength. From personal experience, you can see the best and worst versions of yourself and your partner’s when you are on the road. But I won’t have it any other way. Traveling allows me to know my partner well. Together, we traveled to fourteen countries together. There are 195 countries in the world.

We do not know what’s going to happen to us in the future, but here are some of the places we have been to and the place we want to experience that other couples might consider for their best luxury vacations.

Falling in love with East Coast, Australia

A mama kangaroo and her joey spotted on the hill by Emerald Beach, New South Wales, Australia. Photo by jona Branzuela Bering.

For a Filipino, the hurdles of filling up 19-pages of tourist visa application online for Australia could be intimidating. But once it is done, Australia is a gift from Mother Nature. We rented a campervanned and explored the places from Syney to Cairns. And for me, one of the most romantic things a couple does is waking up early in the morning and witnessing the rising of the sun with a cup of coffee in hand.

East Coast or Australia in general can be challenging financially, but it was all worth it: seeing platypus and kangaroos in the wild, chasing waterfalls after waterfalls, and trodding on beautiful beaches after beaches, and listening to the different chirps of lorikeets and cockatoos.

Buying a Little Time in Bali, Indonesia

A family on vacation in Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering.

We spent our New Year’s Day in Bali back in 2015 washing dirty clothes in a tub. When the clock almost struck midnight, we walked to Jimbaran beach barefoot and joined the festivity of laughter, firework displays, hopes, and wishes for the coming year. We spent six days in Bali back then. Three nights in southern Kuta and another three nights in Padangbai before ferrying to Lombok. We spent an entire month skewering Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Mt. Bromo, Bali, and Lombok. It was a tiring affair.

Two years later, we came back, and this time around we spent an entire month in Canggu area. Bali, the second time around, was slow and routinary. And I would not have it the other way. Traveling nonstop can be exhausting. You need that place where you feel contented with the simplicity of the scenery: the blooming of the plumeria, the hush of the afternoon wind, the gliding of the kites on the horizon, the barking of the neighbors’ dogs, and the solemn walks on the beach and in the ricefields.

Bali, the second time around, was slower and more contented.

Romancing Italy
Italy is home to some of the finest romantic cities that can be found anywhere else in the world. In addition, the country is full of charming people, cultural history and an exciting art scene. There can be nothing more romantic than taking a gondola ride in the floating paradise of Venice. The city is well connected with most European and US destinations, making even a weekend getaway possible. Venice offers a great selection of hotels, especially near the St Mark’s Square, which are ideal for honeymooners and anniversaries.

The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence, is not only a must visit city for art buffs but for couples as well. Hotels close to the Duomo and the Uffizi offer spectacular views of the river, like the Lungarno, which overlooks the river Arno.

If you want to feel the ocean breeze, the idyllic resort of Capri is just the place to spend quality time with your partner. Lovers would enjoy a trip to Grotta Azzurra, one of the most popular attractions of the city. The awesome blue light which the cave emits gives an out of the world feel.

Walking on the beach during sunset, now that’s romantic. Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering.

Aloha, Hawaii
Hawaii has so many attractions, it is no wonder that it is a prime option of most couples, whether on a honeymoon or on a trip to rediscover their love for each other. In this island of pristine sand beaches and cascading waterfalls, just about any activity you partake in is bound to titillate your sweetheart. To start with go for a spin on Tantalus Drive (Oahu) for electrifying views of downtown Honolulu from Diamond Head. After sundown, just pull the car yo the roadside and enjoy the twinkling lights below with your mate. Next head for the Kaanapali Beach (Maui) to witness the nightly tiki torch lighting in the background of the Black Rock outcrop.

Grab your partner’s hand and visit Anaeho’omalu Bay (Big Island) for the most ideal spot to view the sunset while sitting on the fine sands. Take your sweetie pie’s breath away by taking her on a steep winding drive to the Waimea Canyon (Kauai) to see the views from the Kalalau Valley lookout point.

Some couples travel to places that have lovely natural beauty around. Photo by Jona Branzuela Bering.

Gracious Greece
Almost any couple can satisfy their penchant by wandering through historical villages, taking in the vibrant nightlife and relaxing on the most picturesque beaches on the Greek Islands. This region is said to be the most romantic spot on earth, where a wedding is considered to be the ultimate ceremony. The breathtaking scenery, not only adds to the height of the nuptial delight, but couples and honeymooners too, revel in these dream settings.

Corfu is an island of cheerful locals amid a scenic landscape. Couples will enjoy the long walks along the Mon Repos Palace and visit Pontikonisi chappel, a well known venue for most weddings. Santorini island is said to be the best for romantic sojourns and are commonly listed as prime wedding and honeymoon destinations in any travel planner. The small town of Monemvasia is located in a unique setting of an old castle by the sea. The narrow streets and the restored houses afford a perfect background for long romantic walks during sunset.

Another island which is not only picturesque, but provides a getaway for couples is Symi. The region has a pretty harbor and is surrounded by almost 2500 classic mansions, scattered all over the island. Close to Athens, lies Spetses, a tiny cosmopolitan township which is the right place to spend a weekend for a relaxing romantic escapade. The region is replete with luxury accommodation, high end restaurants and chic bars around the port of Dapia. A trip on a horse drawn carriage, with your loved one, will take you past grand mansions and over the narrow cobbled streets, for an unforgettable close bonding experience.

Jona Branzuela Bering, Palanca awardee and author of the poetry collection Alang sa Nasaag (For the Lost), blogs at Backpacking with a Book. She left her beautiful life in Cebu to pursue her goal of traveling long-term abroad. She’s currently based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Follow her travels on Instagram @backpackingwithabook.