Striped beach umbrellas nestled together like cogs and terrycloth towels smothered nearly every inch of sand. As we stood before the sea of people and hollering vendors hawking their wares, we struggled to recognize the postcard-perfect cove we saw online.
Though having traveled the world on our honeymoon the past six years, we know a thing or two about tenacity and were determined to find our slice of paradise. We trudged past the throngs of sunbathers and through the shallow waves until we reached a rocky outcropping. We scaled the boulders, jumped over tide pools, and tiptoed past a sea lion–until we found it: a pristine beach cove with waves gently lapping on the sand and only two sets of footprints.
While you can make any beach destination fabulous with a sense of adventure and humor, we’re going to save you the guesswork (and the rock climbing). Since we left on our honeymoon in January 2012, we’ve been scouring all seven continents for the world’s most romantic destinations. And after road tripping 28,000 miles around North America this year, we’ve also discovered how many seductive retreats are on our own coastline or just an island hop away. From rocky coves backed by rain forests to little known tropical isles, these are our 10 favorite beaches for couples looking to get away from it all.