If you thought the best islands around the globe were just about sun, sand & surf, read on...
WHILE THEY might all seem the same to some, there’s more to an island than just sun, sand and surf. The 10 postcard-perfect islands, named by TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards as the world’s best, feature stunning scenery, amazing hotels, bustling nightlife and an abundance of activities in addition to spectacular beaches.
Winners were selected by TripAdvisor, a travel planning and booking site, based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for three essential vacation features: hotels, restaurants and attractions. Here are the top 10…
The Hawaiian island of Maui is a destination for true nature lovers. The ethereal bamboo forest and churning waterfalls in Haleakala National Park can be explored via the Waimoku Falls Trail. Stretch out on warm golden sands or hit the surf for an unforgettable windsurfing or snorkelling session. Driving the scenic road to Hana along the island’s north-eastern shore will be among the most spectacular journeys of your life. Time stands still at the Hawaiian village of Keanae, definitely worth a visit.
Even if you’ve never been to this Cyclades island in the Aegean Sea, you will still fall in love with it immediately—it has candy-coloured houses carved into cliffs, sapphire waters and gleaming white buildings topped with half-spheres the colour of a stormy sky. Here you’ll find peace, as you roam the black sand beaches or the streets of a provincial village like Imerovigli. Beautiful Oia is world famous for its sunsets, which seem tinted with every shade of an artist’s palette.
Is there anything better than stretching out like a cat in a warm patch of Jamaican sun? Only if you sprinkle your island vacation with a dash of adventure. Known fondly as ‘the land of wood and water’, Jamaica’s forests feature prime hiking and birdwatching. History buffs can check out the heritage sites of Trelawny, while reggae and dancehall fans will love the authentic music clubs of Kingston. Montego Bay is perfect for snorkelling and shopping.
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
The most populated of the Turks and Caicos islands, Providenciales is one of the world’s top beach destinations. The diving and snorkelling is as convenient as it is stunning, thanks to miles of coral reef that’s easily accessible from the shore. The upscale resorts and captivating beachscapes of Grace Bay make it a popular choice for waterfront escapes. The cliffs and crags of Chalk Sound make a lovely backdrop for kayaking the bright turquoise waters.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures, as you dive along coral ridges or the colourful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The ‘artistic capital’ of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
Majorca, Balearic Islands
The dreamy island that provided inspiration to Chopin and Miró now has a reputation as a spring break beach destination. Don’t worry, though, if you’re vacationing over elementary school spring break—there’s plenty for the younger crowd. Marineland’s dolphin and sea lion shows and children’s beach attract families. And if you have a Thomas-obsessed toddler, the antique train that travels between Palma and Soller is a must-see.
Mauritius is arguably Africa’s wealthiest destination, a tropical paradise with tons to do. Port Louis, the modern capital of this 38-mile-by-29-mile island, is a bustling port with a revitalised waterfront and a busy market. But most visitors gravitate towards resort areas such as Mont Choisy, quiet Trou-aux-Biches and the more bustling Flic en Flac, popular with scuba divers. Rivière Noire is ideal for those looking for great deep-sea fishing.
Thailand’s largest island is an international magnet for beach lovers and serious divers, who enthusiastically submerge themselves in the Andaman Sea. Blue lagoons and salmon sunsets make for a dream-like atmosphere and, indeed, a vacation here can feel a bit surreal. Watersports are the most popular activities, though once you’ve had enough sun there’s still plenty to explore at the island’s aquariums, gardens and Buddhist temples.
Bora Bora, Society Islands
Turquoise lagoons, soft white sands and deep tangerine sunsets set the scene for romance on the island so nice they named it twice. Mingle with tropical fish, as you flutter around Coral Gardens or Tupitipiti Point, or relax in a self-driving tour, as you take in beautiful views of the once-volcanic Mount Otemanu. At the Lagoonarium, you can watch shark feedings and swim with turtles. Cap it all off with a succulent meal at one of the island’s fine French restaurants, then sip a tropical cocktail under the stars.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha is a Unesco World Heritage Site with a delicate ecosystem. Visitors are restricted, but the lucky few are rewarded with unrivalled beaches and soothing warm waters filled with dolphins and sea turtles, making Noronha one of the world’s top diving destinations. On land, hike the ecological trails of Jardim Elizabeth, the Esmerelda Coast or Sancho Bay, which culminates in a climb up a steep set of stairs carved into the split of a cliff.