Image: Tasmania
Courtesy of Anthology
Tasmania, Australia is perfect for the been-there, done-that crowd looking for an off-the-grid utopia.
updated 12/4/2008 2:51:16 PM ET 2008-12-04T19:51:16

Real life is the enemy of sexiness. Real life is a bad economy, mortgage worries, global warming. Sexiness is the act of shedding worries and slipping off the constraints of real life. Best of luck doing that at home. While finding a sexy beach is a good start, at this point you need more. You need the total escape that comes only with an island, preferably one that's not merely physically set apart from the mainland but that feels a million miles away. The type where inhibitions are lessened, the locals friendlier and more open-minded, and where less actually is more. Whether you choose a beachy scene like Mykonos or an energetic city island like Hong Kong, these are the places where it's okay to meet a stranger on the beach or at a club and embark on a licentious adventure. Or where you and your partner can forget about the horrors of the boring old real world and get back to sexy.

For a complete slideshow of the World’s Sexiest Islands, click here.

1. Mykonos, Greece

Perfect for: Insatiable singles with the fortitude to play on the beach all day every day and dance at the clubs all night every night.

The scene:Mykonos is a party-hardy island that burned itself out in the 1990s amid a glut of U.K. package-tour revelers pounding cheap ouzo. But the heat returned with a spate of high-end openings that enticed the beautiful (and randy) crowd back. Welcoming to both gays and straights, the postcard-perfect Greek isle encourages bare-chested mash-ups with a schedule that begins with an eye-opener on the beach, segues into afternoon naps, sunset cocktails, late dinners, and dancing till the sun comes up. Depending on your whim, any particular night you can opt for Galleraki, a small bar favored by the Greeks; the excellent DJs at the intimate Astra; or the gay mecca Pierro's. Or you might make for a massive dance hall such as Cavo Paradiso. Whatever your choice, a heady buzz, loud music, and beautiful gyrating bodies are a certainty.

Don't miss: Going Mykonos's full Monty. Tops are optional on most beaches, but you'll see the most skin and general frolicking on the southern coast's infamous Paradise and Super Paradise beaches. Enjoy the glories and recoil at the horrors, but remember that taking pictures is bad form.

Between the sheets: The island still gets its share of budget-minded lager louts, so hedge your bets by staying at the Belvedere in Mykonos Town. Whether or not you agree that all-white everything is still chic or just tired, you can't fault the worldly crowd it attracts. Trust us, they know where the party will be that night.

2. Fernando De Noronha, Brazil

Perfect for: An exotic, return-to-Eden honeymoon.

The scene: When Brazilians dream of going to an island with that special bikini-ed someone, they dream of this place, 250 miles off the northeastern coast. Reached by small plane from the city of Recife, Noronha is a remote volcanic archipelago with calm, pool-like waters on the leeward side and violent, passionate waves on the other. Along the main island's seven square miles, you'll discover more than a dozen individual beaches, each with its own character. Some visitors will also find its environmentally conscious stance sexy: Waters are so pristine that in certain areas, you are not even allowed to swim with suntan lotion.

Don't miss: The perfect, calm waters off of Baía do Sancho. You'll have to negotiate a vertiginous cliff side using slippery metal ladders. (A charm of Brazil is the absence of personal injury lawsuits—it's all at your own risk.) Back on terra firma, you'll find velveteen waters and hollow formations in the rock to indulge in private moments.

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Between the sheets: There are no major hotels on the island and all accommodations are inland, so as not to spoil the sea views. But the Pousada Maravilha is a sexy little spot frequented by São Paulo jet-setters and models from Rio, with eight private bungalows, a sauna, and an infinity pool. If you're looking for more basic (i.e., cheaper) digs, the family-owned Pousada do Vale is much closer to the beach than most places—a five-minute walk—and has two-story bungalows with balconies and an outdoor barbecue.

3. Anguilla

Perfect for: A long-weekend jaunt for "reconnecting"—preferably with as few clothes as possible.

The scene: Sixteen miles long and three miles wide, Anguilla has 33 of the most fantastic beaches in the Caribbean, and there are no T-shirt or postcard stands sullying any of them. Gargantuan cruise ships aren't welcome, either. What does this mean to you? Well, as you cuddle on the sand with the warm sea nibbling at your toes, you won't be set upon suddenly by a sunburned family of six toting digital cameras. And you won't have to contend with tacky casinos or skyline-wrecking high-rise hotels, as Anguilla doesn't allow those, either. Who might you be seeing instead? Celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé, or Jennifer Aniston, who come here for the same reasons you do: mind-blowing beaches and no fears of being photographed by gawkers.

Slideshow: Caribbean way of life

Don't miss: Lunch on the islet of Scilly Cay. Stand at the dock in the harbor and wave your arms to call over the restaurant's boat. Five minutes across the water awaits a feast of grilled seafood, rum punch, and a live jazz guitarist. Since there's no electricity, the live lobsters are kept in natural tide pools. Argue over which is better—the food or the setting.

Between the sheets:Anguilla's beaches are hard to beat, and the best is arguably the two-mile-long, white-sand-carpeted Shoal Bay East. So make your daily commute as painless as possible, and stay at , located on the beach itself. This 27-suite property has a happy-go-lucky vibe, in no small part because of the crowd that comes for the open-air restaurant Kuyah and its rollicking bar. Body shot, anyone?

4. Hong Kong

Perfect for: Playboys (and playgirls) looking for international action with a bit of Eastern flair.

The scene: Since Hong Kong has gone back to China, the city feels even more like a beacon of sexiness in a gray, smog-filled sea. With the world's most sensual skyline, gaggles of fusion restaurants, and private clubs filled with a global (and beautiful) clientele, this city has seen it all at one time or another. You'll be partying with other scene-chasers from London, Singapore, Los Angeles, and Dubai.

Slideshow: Alluring Asia

Don't miss: The nightlife. Hong Kong in the dark somehow feels like the set of an old Bond film or a noir spy thriller. Start out at the Kee Club, a private boîte where upscale locals make flirty eyes at financiers and moguls. When it gets late, head for the sweaty dance hall Volar, which throws nightly parties and hosts world-class DJs.

Between the sheets: Hong Kong caters to those in the know, so better put yourselves in the hands of those who really do. The Peninsula Hong Kong is marking its 80th anniversary this year, and the concierge can get you access to the Kee Club or anywhere else you might desire. It has 300 rooms with bathrooms clad in cool marble. Book one in the modern tower, which has sensational views over Victoria Harbor.

5. Kauai, Hawaii

Perfect for: The couple that likes to take their desires off the beaten path.

The scene: Maui is too family-oriented to be sexy. For a throwback island with a primal vibe, make for Hawaii's most northerly hunk of rock, Kauai. This is the real Hawaii: Instead of loud silk shirts with flowers on them, you'll find rippling fields of luscious hibiscus. Instead of locals performing in grass skirts, you'll find them out in the sea, communing with the waves.

Slideshow: Polynesian paradise The landscape is so potent and sensual that most visitors can't help but be overcome. Sharp, high mountains rise out of the thick green foliage, and dramatic cliffs give way to cerulean waters. You'll want to embrace all that raw beauty—and each other.

Don't miss: The all-but-inaccessible Na Pali Coast. Kauai is a get-out-there-and-do-it place, and the roads that ring the coast will bring you to most of the oceanside highlights. But adventurous souls will love the fierce Na Pali cliffs, which can only be reached by sea or by foot. Those waters can be awfully rough, so consider the Kalalau Trail, a footpath high above the coastline. It's an extremely strenuous 11 miles, but the first four hours are enough to get your heart thumping and your soul stirring—an awfully good excuse for fruity drinks later back at the hotel.

Between the sheets: This is not the kind of island where you want staff barging in to find you in some degree of undress. In the free spirit of the place, look to Pure Kauai, which rents out all types of private villas. Score an intimate cottage or a sprawling estate, and order up just the amount of staff and service you prefer. Or none at all.

6. Caye Caulker, Belize

Perfect for: Laid-back lovers who want to live in their swimsuits (or less).

The scene: This tiny spray of an island ten miles off the coast of Belize will bring to mind the music and ultra–easygoing spirit of another island—Jamaica. Most locals speak Creole-accented English peppered with "hey, mon," and the sounds of reggae often float in the air. The vibe is totally appropriate: The pace is molasses-slow, and a pleasant breeze continually blows through the brightly painted stilt houses. There are no cars on Caye Caulker, just golf carts and bicycles, and it doesn't take long to hoof it anywhere. Which leaves the rest of the day open for drinking Belikin beers under a coconut tree next to the pebbly shore. Time slows waaay down. Bohemian, easy, and very sexy.

Don't miss: Belize's barrier reef, one of the largest in the world. It's a very short boat ride from Caye Caulker to Shark Ray Alley and its thickets of colorful fish and friendly manta rays. Snorkeling trips are dirt cheap, and guests gather conch shells as they dive. The captain of the boat will pry out the delicious meat and prepare it right on the boat for a sumptuous—and crazily fresh—lunch.

Between the sheets: Saying that Caye Caulker's accommodations are modest is pure understatement, but the lack of pretension is one of the island's greatest charms. The Tree Tops Guesthouse, just off the water, has rooms outfitted in wood furniture, clean white sheets, and ceiling fans. The two suites (which start at under $100 a night) have private balconies with views to the ocean.

7. Manhattan, New York

Perfect for: Anyone looking for great food, endless drinks, and millions of singles to share them with.

The scene: It's easy to forget that Manhattan is an island, too, at least until you have to take a traffic-clogged bridge or tunnel to get there. New York City is special because of all the striving, hot young singles who have left their own uncool towns to make it here. The upshot, even if you're just visiting Manhattan, is the chance to eat, drink, dance, and potentially hook up with them in a relatively confined space. (Despite their reputation, New Yorkers are very easy to chat up in a bar—just don't try it on the street or subway.) As for where to see those fast-walking studs and beauties, well, they're everywhere. Take a stroll in Union Square, in Nolita, along Fifth Avenue. Then follow the best-looking ones into that restaurant/pub/gallery/boutique they're headed into.

Slideshow: The Big Apple

Don't miss: Happy hour, which runs from the time when everyone empties out of their offices and goes out for "just one drink" until 4 am. For a good look at the latest/greatest spots, see our updated New York nightlife guide. The sexiest bars are those behind Manhattan's cocktail renaissance, with hand-chipped ice, fresh-squeezed mixers, and innovative concoctions. At places like Death & Co. and the Pegu Club, the drinks are good, but the eclectic, smart, and hot-looking clientele is even better.

Between the sheets: Midtown is not so sexy, Wall Street less so (especially these days). You want to hang where the actors, artists, models, and other beautiful people actually live. So book a night at Robert De Niro's new Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca. It's warm and friendly, with decent-size rooms, and the bar and restaurant, Ago, is hopping with hotties, even if the food's only so-so.

8. Ischia, Italy

Perfect for: Frazzled lovers who need some R & R away from the daily grind.

Slideshow: Italian dreams

The scene:Capri may shine in the limelight, but nearby Ischia is ideal if you're looking to drown out the hubbub. Only 20 miles from the madness of Naples, this volcanic isle is freckled with geothermal pools. It's a green, sun-spoiled place where the major pursuit is lounging on the rocks between dips in the hot springs and spa sessions. It's perfect for quieting those aching BlackBerry thumbs. And if you want to get a little dirty, there's plenty of volcanic mud in the offing.

Don't miss: Doing as the Italians do: Rent one of the many small boats from the port town of Ischia Porto and circumnavigate the small island. Make time to stop at the many beaches and coves accessible by sea. Waters are usually calm and the locals good seamen, so even a dinghy will do.

Between the sheets: Talk about drama. The très chic Mezzatorre Resort sits on a rugged cliff overlooking the sea. Located on the northwest point of the isle among ample greenery, it feels remote but is actually only three and a half miles from town. There's a large pool, and you can swim in the bay below. Opt for an "open plan" suite, which has a living room, private garden, and plunge pool with Jacuzzi.

9. Vieques, Puerto Rico

Perfect for: Nighttime romps on the beach under the stars.

Slideshow: Picturesque Puerto Rico

The scene: Funny how years of U.S. Navy target practice discourages depressing overdevelopment. The military stopped dropping practice bombs on Vieques years ago, but the island has still managed to resist ugly megaresorts and soulless strip malls (you can't always say that about the rest of Puerto Rico). What you will find: long stretches of empty beaches and a relaxing quietude. You'll be hard-pressed to find such a quintessentially Caribbean yet still unspoiled island so close to home.

Don't miss: The glowing nighttime waters of Mosquito Bay. You may have heard of the bioluminescent critters that make the waters glow, but imagine floating with your lover in gentle swells as both the sky above and the waters around sparkle with light.

Between the sheets: Vieques is no longer a beach-shack type of place since openings like the so-hip-it-stings Bravo Beach Hotel, with its minimalist furniture. But for the pitch-perfect spot for lovers, we recommend the Inn on the Blue Horizon. With only a handful of rooms, done up with ceiling fans and four-poster beds, it's a flashback to the romantic Caribbean, where you won't be bothered unless you want to be. There's a 50-foot pool or a short walk to the beach, and the open-air Blue Moon Bar is the kind of place where you can make easy friends.

10. Miami Beach, Florida

Perfect for: Sun-starved singles ready to make sexy time.

The scene: You're looking for a year-round party place that's easy to get to, always warm, and where bare skin conquers all? Let's be honest: Miami Beach is still it. It's undeniable that the barrier island spits in the face of good taste—where else do you see zebra thongs and anabolic biceps proudly shown off with zero sense of irony? (South Beach's patron saint, after all, is still Gianni Versace.) Best to simply embrace it. Stay at the latest overpriced beach hotel (currently, that would be the Gansevoort South), spring for bottle service at the hot club of the moment (Set, same owners as Mansion), and go skin-tastically wild. Just bring enough dough to throw around, and as many of your good-looking, single friends as you can fit on the plane.

Slideshow: Super South Florida

Don't miss: The beach itself. Yes, it sounds obvious, but too many visitors get caught up in their hotel's poolside scene to appreciate the beauty and extraordinary width of Miami Beach's excellent strand, which runs nearly uninterrupted for the length of the island. The water's warm, the sand is clean, and the local are an eyeful. If you lean toward Latin love, you'll find South Americans south, near 2nd and 3rd streets. The hard-bodied gay scene is centered around 12th Street. But, really, just pick a spot, rent a chair, and do as the locals do: Eat, drink, swim, and flirt.

Between the sheets: The Gansevoort has huge rooms, an outpost of New York's Philippe Chow restaurant, and a shark-filled tank in the lobby. Throw the bucks you save on airfare into bottles of Champagne at the expansive 18th-floor roof pool and bar (adults only, mind you).

11. Tasmania, Australia

Perfect for: The been-there, done-that crowd looking for an off-the-grid utopia.

The scene: Few places are as edge-of-the-world as Tasmania, Australia's smallest state, located beneath the continent's southeast coast; beyond lies only turbulent ocean for thousands of miles. Australians long dismissed Taz as a backwater, leaving islanders to their own devices. The result is a bunch of independent types who'd eat Crocodile Dundee for breakfast. But despite that sexy swagger, they're friendly, fun, and always up for a drink. And yes, quite a few look like "Transformers" actress Rachael Taylor, who hails from here. The place is awash in Eden-like abundance, from dense old forests squawking with birds, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils to pristine waters filled with crabs, oysters, and fish. The Mediterranean climate also means great wines. Share one with a local.

Slideshow: Awesome Australia

Don't miss: A hike along the Bay of Fires, the most pristine and sun-stunned coast imaginable. A guide picks you up from the Mount William National Park and takes you along the utterly deserted, numbingly gorgeous coastline, which has no roads. You end up at the strikingly modern Bay of Fires eco-lodge. It's a four-day trip, but you've come all this way, so make time for the once-in-your-life experience.

Between the sheets: Tasmania has more than 26,000 square miles filled with wildly diverse topography, so it's worth spending time both on the coast and in the interior. Inland, try the Lodge at Tarraleah, a luxury property abutting the forested highlands. The fireplaces, spa, and massive wine cellar are perfect foils for the roughly beautiful countryside. When you're ready for some beach time, opt for the less blustery eastern coast. The Avalon Coastal Retreat is a stunning glass-and-steel rectangular building with an enormous patio that opens onto the sea. If you can't make it happen here. ...


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