Paradise

Top 25 Islands in the World (Photos)

There’s only one way to avoid the quickly approaching winter: plan a luxurious—and warm—island vacation. See the 25 top picks for where to soak up the sun.

Who doesn't love a luxurious island trip? The sun, the sand, the water. As winter starts to descend, readers pick their 25 favorite islands in the world. Get ready for some vacation envy.

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24. Amelia Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 83.8

 

Scenery: 85.7
Friendliness: 84.8
Atmosphere: 86
Restaurants: 79.4
Lodging: 83.7
Activities: 82.1
Beaches: 85

 

Whether it's the seemingly endless "green space," or the "unbelievably hospitable" locals, readers agree that this Florida island is a "beautiful, history-filled family location." Hike a trail through Fort Clinch State Park, or explore the downtown area for "year-round festivals, fun, and shopping."

Getty/Tan Yilmaz

24. Prince Edward Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 83.8

 

Scenery: 92.2
Friendliness: 93.7
Atmosphere: 89.9
Restaurants: 71.5
Lodging: 72.7
Activities: 77.9
Beaches: 77.9

 

Prince Edward Island offers "enjoyable atmosphere and great mussels" for seafood lovers. Our readers appreciated its "ruggedness and beauty of nature." "The beaches, the food and the people enforce that simple can be extraordinary," one reader said. "This might be my favorite place on Earth." "The scenery and beaches are outstanding and there is genuinely an unspoiled, pristine air about the island."

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23. Elba & Tuscan Archipelago

Readers' Choice Rating: 83.9

 

Scenery: 87.5
Friendliness: 89.6
Atmosphere: 85.4
Restaurants: 84.2
Lodging: 78.9
Activities: 68.8
Beaches: 86.4

 

With "world-class restaurants tucked into little villages that you would never expect," Elba takes good food seriously. Our readers went on culinary cruises, which were "a real treat somewhat off the normal tourist path." Visit the hill town of Marciana Alta for "food to die for" and Zero Gradi for its gelato.

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22. British Virgin Islands

Readers' Choice Rating: 84.2

 

Scenery: 93.6
Friendliness: 86.4
Atmosphere: 89.9
Restaurants: 71.6
Lodging: 84.9
Activities: 83.5
Beaches: 89

 

The "warm island breezes" and "clear waters" make these islands a "heaven" for sailing enthusiasts. Charter a captained vessel or go bareboating if you're feeling independent, and then "dip in and out of remote coves and snorkeling spots with ease." Make sure to check out the "lovely beaches" at Jost Van Dyke, the "volcanic islands" at Tortola, and the Baths at Virgin Gorda, a "must-see."

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21. Hilton Head

Readers' Choice Rating: 84.4

 

Scenery: 85.2
Friendliness: 85.7
Atmosphere: 85.4
Restaurants: 83.3
Lodging: 82.2
Activities: 84.5
Beaches: 84.4

 

With "pristine beaches," "shopping to satisfy everyone," and "fabulous restaurants to suit every taste," it's no wonder that our readers found this South Carolina island so relaxing. "You breathe deeper—the sound of the ocean instantly makes you feel at ease," says one reader. When not lounging ocean-side, explore the "fantastic bike trails," or take advantage of the "terrific golf for all levels."

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20. Seychelles

Readers' Choice Rating: 84.5

 

Scenery: 97.9
Friendliness: 89.6
Atmosphere: 93.8
Restaurants: 82.5
Lodging: 100
Activities: 90.5
Beaches: 100

 

Look forward to "the most stunning beaches in the world." There is "so much culture, nature and beauty" to experience, making this "paradise on Earth." "The beauty of this place cannot be overstated" and "the water is so blue and so warm, you can literally swim forever." The friendly locals and few tourists make this spot "the best place for swimming on the beaches, diving or snorkeling."

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19. Nantucket

Readers' Choice Rating: 84.9


Scenery:
96.7
Friendliness: 80.5
Atmosphere: 93
Restaurants: 89.9
Lodging: 88.4
Activities: 83
Beaches: 79

 

The "nice cobblestone village" coupled with the "rugosa roses" in the "salt air" define this comfy Massachusetts island, bringing you "back to the early settler days." "You feel like you are part of the old seafaring lives of whalers and fisherman," remarks one reader. Of course, the island still features "all modern comforts," including "the best beaches on the East coast," according to another reader.

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17. Lanai

Readers' Choice Rating: 85.0

 

Scenery: 90.5
Friendliness: 88.4
Atmosphere: 90.1
Restaurants: 75.5
Lodging: 87.4
Activities: 79.8
Beaches: 82.1

 

This "beautiful hidden gem" is a perfect place for those seeking some "secluded luxury." Our readers marvel at how the island captures the "Hawaii of old," describing Lanai as "rugged and prime for exploration, yet made accessible by the refined resorts." Remember to go snorkeling at Manele Bay, where you may very well end up swimming with "a school of about a hundred spinner dolphins," undoubtedly "an amazing experience," according to one reader.

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17. Nevis

Readers' Choice Rating: 85.0


Scenery: 91.7
Friendliness: 88.9
Atmosphere: 88.9
Restaurants: 82.9
Lodging: 86.7
Activities: 74.1
Beaches: 81.3

 

Our readers think of Nevis as a "secret hideaway," the "hidden gem of the Caribbean." Though it's a small island, they say "there's more to do than you would think, and the greatest attraction is the natural beauty." In addition to friendly people and great food, they also loved the "fantastic hotels" and the "many fantastic, affordable rental villas." Overall, Nevis is a "warm, friendly, safe island" and a "great family destination."

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16. Vancouver Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 85.5

 

Scenery: 96.4
Friendliness: 90.9
Atmosphere: 94.2
Restaurants: 83.2
Lodging: 85.3
Activities: 87.3
Beaches: 68.7

 

Readers implore visitors of this "captivating" "gem in Canada" to stay as long as possible, since there is simply "so much to see and do." It's ideal "if you are an outdoor enthusiast or interested in artists like potters and glassblowing," but Vancouver Island also offers more laid-back pursuits such as "lovely scenery and lots of wineries to visit." Whether our readers traveled here for the salmon fishing, the sailing, the "beautiful beaches" or the "wonderful people," they seem to agree that, as one reader put it, it's "the epitome of being in the Pacific Northwest."

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15. Whitsunday Islands

Readers' Choice Rating: 85.7

 

Scenery: 93.9
Friendliness: 87.7
Atmosphere: 90.9
Restaurants: 73.1
Lodging: 87.8
Activities: 85.0
Beaches: 79.0

 

"What a beautiful island," said one reader. "The sand is beautiful, the water is warm," perfect for snorkeling and sailing, as many of our readers recommend. "Beautiful location and an excellent starting point to see the Great Barrier Reef."

Richard Cummins/Corbis

14. St. John

Readers' Choice Rating: 85.8

 

Scenery: 94.1
Friendliness: 85.5
Atmosphere: 90.4
Restaurants: 73.3
Lodging: 82.0
Activities: 83.6
Beaches: 92.3

 

Readers find the "natural beauty" of St. John to be unparalleled. Most of the island is a preserved national park, allowing visitors to enjoy the "emerald green beaches" and exotic "native fauna and flora." Bounce around the numerous cays in a kayak, or snorkel at Trunk Bay, where you might end up swimming "with a hawksbill turtle."

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13. Tasmania

Readers' Choice Rating: 86.0

 

Scenery: 95.0
Friendliness: 95.0
Atmosphere: 95.0
Restaurants: 73.3
Lodging: 71.0
Activities: 85.1
Beaches: 78.4

 

This "fascinating place" has "a rich cultural history." Our readers found "wonderful beaches, great hiking trails and very friendly people." "Fantastic scenery and a look at what Australia was like before tourism."

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12. Santorini

Readers' Choice Rating: 86.6

 

Scenery: 98.3
Friendliness: 89.8
Atmosphere: 94.4
Restaurants: 79.8
Lodging: 86.8
Activities: 78.4
Beaches: 68.9

 

"There is no place like Santorini, in the whole world" say our readers, who love the "whitewashed buildings, wonderful beaches and views to die for." Their best memories are of the caldera vistas, the black-sand beach and the "crystal clear water," but they also cast their votes for the island's great shopping" and "awesome food." One reader said to "stroll the streets, walk the stairs down to the sea level and just revel in the beauty and friendliness of the people on this charming island." Another added, "It's also a great place for first-time divers due to the calm seas."

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11. Bermuda

Readers' Choice Rating: 87.1

 

Scenery: 93.1
Friendliness: 89.4
Atmosphere: 90.4
Restaurants: 77.5
Lodging: 84.1
Activities: 81.0
Beaches: 89.5

 

For a "fun blend of British, American, and Caribbean Culture," Bermuda is the place to be. It offers "endless activities: historical sites, golf, scooters, superb shopping and dining, museums, gardens, perfumeries and aquariums, too!" Go for a snorkel or explore the many private coves to truly experience the island's "lovely scenery," which is highlighted by the "pink sand beaches and aqua blue waters."

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10. Big Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 87.6

 

Scenery: 93.9
Friendliness: 90.7
Atmosphere: 92.2
Restaurants: 77.5
Lodging: 85.6
Activities: 90.6
Beaches: 80.8

 

Whether it's the "smell of Plumeria flowers," the "glow of the lava at night," or the general "Aloha spirit," our readers can't get enough of this appropriately named island. This "wonderful family destination" has "something for everyone." In the mood to shop? Swing by the "great open farmers market in Kona," before travelling across the island to the rural Hilo area, where you can find "beaches of any color sand you wish."

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9. Great Barrier Reef Islands

Readers' Choice Rating: 87.8

 

Scenery: 93.7
Friendliness: 93.1
Atmosphere: 92.5
Restaurants: 73.0
Lodging: 79.7
Activities: 90.2
Beaches: 83.2

 

The Great Barrier Reef consists of more than 3,000 individual reef systems and hundreds of islands, and our readers found plenty of "wonderful excursions." One said "everyone should come and snorkel because it's an awesome opportunity to see a whole different side to the ocean…truly breathtaking." The reefs are "full of life" and "one of nature's greatest treasures." "A must-go destination," the Great Barrier Reef Islands offer "adventures for all levels of people."

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8. Oahu

Readers' Choice Rating: 88.0

 

Scenery: 92.0
Friendliness: 84.8
Atmosphere: 86.7
Restaurants: 85.1
Lodging: 85.5
Activities: 92.2
Beaches: 91.0

 

Our readers praise this island's "great diversity of landscape" which seamlessly mixes "city and island culture." "Oahu offers you the excitement of Honolulu, the surfer lifestyle of the North Shore and everything in between," says one reader. Checking out the "lively street scene" near the famous Waikiki Beach is a must, and if you're feeling patriotic, stop by Pearl Harbor for some authentic American history.

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7. Moorea

Readers' Choice Rating: 88.5

 

Scenery: 97.9
Friendliness: 92.4
Atmosphere: 94.2
Restaurants: 69.8
Lodging: 88.0
Activities: 87.5
Beaches: 88.3

 

Moorea's "beautiful, lush scenery, beaches and really great restaurants" won over our readers. The "tropical beauty with a French flair" has a lot to offer with its "beautiful lagoons, land tours, and scootering." One reader said "even taking the local bus around the island is interesting."

Courtesy Lodge at Sea Island

6. Sea Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 88.6

 

Scenery: 90.7
Friendliness: 88.5
Atmosphere: 91.8
Restaurants: 85.1
Lodging: 92.1
Activities: 90.1
Beaches: 81.9

 

Sea Island is the epitome of "world elegance in the deep south." "Brimming with unparalleled gracious and southern hospitality, Sea Island is a magical place dripping in Spanish moss, luxury, charm, and sunshine," one reader said. Described as "a world of its own," Sea Island is "heaven on earth."

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5. Bora Bora

Readers' Choice Rating: 89.3

 

Scenery: 98.7
Friendliness: 91
Atmosphere: 94.1
Restaurants: 74.3
Lodging: 93.1
Activities: 85.9
Beaches: 89.5

 

Bora Bora is "the place to go when you want to decompress," notes one reader, who appreciated the "stunning tropical beauty and friendly natives." Described as "millennia away from the real world," this island offers many above-water bungalows, from which you can take in the "unreal" ocean scenery. But don't just stare, get your feet wet: Bora Bora "is as beautiful below the water as it is above," complete with the "thrill" of swimming with the "amazing sea life."

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4. Kiawah Island

Readers' Choice Rating: 89.4

 

Scenery: 93.8
Friendliness: 87.9
Atmosphere: 92.2
Restaurants: 78.5
Lodging: 90.5
Activities: 86.6
Beaches: 90.3

 

This "gorgeous island paradise" is a prime spot for a "vacation away from all the hustle and bustle of mainstream America," as one reader notes. Kiawah also boasts an impressive nature preserve, so between trips to the expansive beaches and matches on the tennis court, make sure to check out the exotic wildlife. And don't forget your golf clubs because "no other courses compare" to those of Kiawah, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championship.

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3. Maldives

Readers' Choice Rating: 89.6

 

Scenery: 95.2
Friendliness: 91.0
Atmosphere: 93.1
Restaurants: 81.9
Lodging: 93.3
Activities: 87.0
Beaches: 98.5

 

Our readers found this island nation to be the epitome of "rest, relaxation, and indulgence," citing the "polished, polite" service, the "gorgeous resorts" and the "superb villas." Diving into the "turquoise water," lounging on the "white sands," and dining under the "incredible sunsets" make the Maldives experience "more picturesque than postcards can portray."

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2. Kauai

Readers' Choice Rating: 92.1

 

Scenery: 98.5
Friendliness: 93.2
Atmosphere: 96.0
Restaurants: 81.3
Lodging: 89.0
Activities: 93.5
Beaches: 92.5

 

"A little slice of heaven," as one reader puts it, Kauai is praised as more laid-back than its Hawaiian counterparts. Indeed, the "warm and inclusive" attitude of the locals combined with the "lush vegetation and sleepy little historic towns" make for a distinctly relaxed feel. Yet there's certainly still some "heart pounding adventure" to be found: an open-door helicopter ride over the island is readily available for those who dare.

Piumatti Sergio

1. Maui

Readers' Choice Rating: 93.9

 

Scenery: 98.1
Friendliness: 92.6
Atmosphere: 95.8
Restaurants: 88.9
Lodging: 92.1
Activities: 95.2
Beaches: 95.6

 

Readers rave about this "veritable paradise," calling it a "combination of tropical ambience and American comforts." With an abundance of activities offered, from whale-watching to nature hikes to watersports, "you will never have a dull moment." To experience Maui's unending natural beauty, drive along the Road to Hana, a 68-mile scenic route featuring awe-inspiring waterfalls and ending at the breathtaking Seven Sacred Pools.