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Tiki Torches, Sunsets and a Barefoot Dinner for Two

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How to plan a romantic dinner on the beach for your next tropical vacation

Imagine a sandy stretch of strand arched in a graceful parenthesis.

The ocean glows luminous turquoise and one by one the last rays of the day’s sunshine disappear into the horizon.

A tanned couple wearing all white sand at the surf’s edge, their feet in the water.

They hold crystal flutes filled with champagne.

But wait. There’s more! There are tiki torches! And a table for two is being prepared by a formally clad waiter. There are two possibilities: This couple is either celebrating a very special occasion or we’ve stumbled on a commercial shoot for a luxury resort.

Planning a “destination dinner” on a beach may not come with all the potential complications of planning a destination wedding, but there are several things to decide and plan for ahead of time.

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First ask yourself: “What is it about dinner on the beach that appeals to me?”

Without going too psychoanalytical here over this, clarify why a romantic dinner on the beach is something you want.

Is it a bucket list item, or perhaps something you and your spouse/significant other have been talking for a while about doing together? Did you see a picture in a magazine? Are seclusion and privacy most important to you?

Maybe you’ll discover that you love the sandy shore so much in the daytime that when it comes down to it, you don’t really get wanting to eat dinner on it.

Or even if you do enjoy the thought of having sand between your toes while you feed each other chunks of lobster, maybe what you really want is the sunset, champagne and the $9.99 tiki torch.

dinner on the beach in Aruba
Passions at the Beach in Aruba

Based on your personal definition of barefoot elegance, determine your budget.

Whether you are visiting Hawaii, Tahiti or the Caribbean, luxurious beachfront resorts the world over often take full advantage of their magnificent locations and onsite restaurants to deliver unforgettable private dining experiences. Featuring five-star cuisine and service, these are often once in a lifetime events where every desire and detail is attended to. As you can imagine, this comes at a price.

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The best mid-range options can often be found in resort areas. See if there are any oceanfront restaurants that set up tables each evening in the sand. Bear in mind that you will be paying a premium for location. If you are a gourmand trying to stretch the budget a bit, you may be better off planning your own picnic.

While some amazing experiences just happen, a romantic picnic on the beach at sunset is not one of them. But depending upon your preferences and planning, the picnic option can fit a wide range of budgets. To ensure a truly special moment in time, you will need to do some investigating and planning before your trip.

Anini Beach, Kauai

Check with caterers at the destination ahead of time  to see what they offer as far as picnic baskets and a la carte options.

Some may even offer private chef services (which can easily be at least as expensive as the above resort option.) But whether you choose to put a bottle of Dom Perignon or Totts, caviar or crudités, hummus or pate in your cooler or picnic basket, will determine the cost.

Additionally, caterers are usually well connected with the local destination wedding scene and can make suggestions for the best and most accessible private beach locations.

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Always ask about refund, raincheck, and tipping policies. If paying a caterer and/or personal chef, find out exactly what is and isn’t provided and check for testimonials both on the company website and around the Internet.

Always err on the side of being clear on exactly what you would like. If there is resistance on their part or if a price quote feels too high, go back and ask yourself again, what it is about this experience that appeals. Private beach dining is as exclusive as it gets by definition, so be sure to book as far in advance as possible.

If going the DIY route be sure to make a list of any details you need to take care of ahead of time.  We’ve made a list above to get you started.  And lastly, remember that the sunset, the beach and being together? Those parts are free.

*First two photos courtesy of business websites, third by the author

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About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

7 thoughts on “Tiki Torches, Sunsets and a Barefoot Dinner for Two”

  1. Great tips, Margo! I would like this sort of thing IF I could have the dinner in a secluded place. The idea of sharing such romance with dozens of other couples isn’t in the least appealing. 🙂

  2. Krista – I’m pretty sure from what I know about you, you are a DIY picnic kind of Travel Belle. If you actually wanted to, I have no doubt you could even build a whole business around the concept in Australia if you lived near the beach 🙂

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