Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and here is my advice; get rid of the roses and chuck the chocolate and give a gift that you will remember forever. Nothing is more romantic than time away from the day-to-day grind of life where you can really focus on the one you love. So, cut out a picture of your favorite destination or one of these romantic hot spots listed here and put it in your Valentine’s card. I guarantee it will be the best gift ever. Here are three of my favorite places for an intimate and romantic time away.

Love on the rocks

The Wickaninnish Inn is an enchanting and critically acclaimed destination perched on the awesome western edge of beautiful British Columbia. Built on an outcropping of rock that juts into the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by dense old growth forest, it recently won the “Most Excellent Eco-Resort in North America” by Conde Nast.

Each of the rooms offer breathtaking water views, fireplaces, and furniture made from recycled old growth fir and driftwood. Winter and spring is the off-season and the area around the lodge and the small town of Tofino is quiet. It is the perfect escape where hiking the forest, kayaking the sound, and staying off grid is the only thing to do.

One hidden spot I particularly recommend is Hot Springs Cove. There are no roads to get there, only a bumpy and exciting hour-long boat-ride followed by an amazing 30-minute hike along the pristine coastline. At the end of the hike you will be rewarded with a natural hot springs with a temperature of around 120 degrees bubbling from the dark soil amid ferns and huge conifers. The water cascades down the rocks into several natural pools and then into the ocean. Bathers can stand under the hot waterfall or sit in one of the many natural pools including one pool at the bottom where at high tide the cold waves of the ocean rush in giving you a hot and cold bath all at once.

Finish one of your days with a romantic dinner at The Point, the fine dining restaurant in the inn. The dining room faces the pounding surf with glass all around and a huge pounded copper fireplace to drive away the wet chill that often fills the air. Make your plans by visiting their web site at

Burning love

Get your honey heated up and head to a wonderful private retreat on the edge of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Head to Hawaii’s Big Island to the town of Volcano, which sits just minutes away from the entrance to Volcano National Park and check into the romantic private retreat called, At the Craters Edge. With only three rooms you are guaranteed privacy at this beautifully designed hideaway. The rooms feature huge windows and sliding glass doors giving full views into the tropical foliage around the property that make it seem that you are floating in an adult tree house. Being on the rainy side of the island you can rest assured that at least one night you will cuddle up to the gentle sound of rain falling on the tin roof. Because of the proximity to Mauna Loa (the other volcano) and its observatory there are no street lights and almost no outdoor lights of any kind in the town of Volcano. So, each room is furnished with flashlights as well as top of the line linens, a deep Jacuzzi bath, and fresh fruits and breads. Get even more romantic and take a stroll along the raised wooden walkway meandering through the tall trees and ferns to a secluded spa area for a Jacuzzi or sauna.

One thing not to miss is the night hike to see the oozing glowing lava spit and steam as it hits the ocean. Plan your trip to At The Crater’s Edge by visiting

California romance

There is simply no more beautiful place to be with that special someone than on the Monterey Peninsula. The quaint towns, the blue waters, and windswept coast all seemed designed to kindle the flames of love. One of the best places for romance is the L’Auberge Hotel and restaurant (

Built in 1929 after a villa in Prague, it is now one of the most luxurious places to stay in Carmel. Each of the 20 rooms features a unique tub which is the focal point of the bathroom. The hotel also offers top of the line linens, flat screen TV’s, and amazing photography by Helmet Horn done just for the hotel. Rooms range from $295 to $650.

The restaurant is also well worth a visit. The attention to every detail is very evident here from the menu made of pressed copper to the elegant and simple décor. With only 10 tables make a reservation and plan to spend a long, leisurely evening enjoying wines from around the world paired with exotic dishes. The chef changes the menu with the season to take advantage of the local fresh fare. This fall the menu featured cauliflower mousse with fennel seeds and cumin oil, abalone with chanterelle mushrooms, and duck breast with root vegetables. The tasting menu is the best way to go to get a variety of the chef’s special dishes.

Get close to your special someone on a kayak built for two from Adventures by the Sea ( Guided tours around the bay are the perfect way to see the wildlife.

Dan Dawson is a travel journalist and dedicated world traveler who has written articles for many publications on adventures abroad. He is also the marketing manager for the Big Blue Bus. Tell him about your favorite vacation spot at

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