25 Best Islands to Visit Around the World, According to T+L Readers

Looking for an unforgettable island getaway? Here, readers voted for the best islands on the planet, as part of our annual "World’s Best Awards" survey for 2024.

<p>MelanieMaya/Getty Images</p>

MelanieMaya/Getty Images

Islands often promise travelers an escape to paradise. Yes, the pristine beaches and clear waters make for an idyllic setting for relaxation and rejuvenation — but these destinations below can also host a range of exciting activities, from surfing and snorkeling to attending regional festivals and sampling local cuisine.

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Islands were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Natural attractions/beaches

  • Activities/sights

  • Restaurants/food

  • People/friendliness

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved

The top 3 winners included two destinations that need little introduction: The Maldives (No. 1) and Bali (No. 3). But sneaking in at No. 2 is the under-the-radar Vietnamese island of Phú Quốc, located off the country’s western shoreline in the Gulf of Thailand. Greece, which has more than 6,000 islands and islets, has four winners on the list: Milos (No. 4), Crete (No. 6), Corfu and the Ionian Islands (No. 20), and Páros (No. 24). Three Italian islands — Ischia at No. 11, Sicily at No. 17, and Sardinia at No. 21 — made the cut this year, and don’t forget Thailand, represented by Koh Samui in ninth place and Phuket at No. 16.

Read on for the full list of islands that were crowned the world’s best.

The Full List

1 . Maldives

<p>Evgeniya Vlasova/Travel + Leisure</p>

Evgeniya Vlasova/Travel + Leisure

In the Indian Ocean, along the equator, sits a string of 1,192 islands (of which only 200 are currently inhabited): The Maldives. Its name alone conjures visuals of luxurious overwater bungalows and emerald waters. One T+L reader wrote that “the location is just as beautiful as every picture you have seen.” Another raved that the “marine life there is beyond expectation.” (The Maldives is home to roughly three percent of the planet’s reefs and its biodiversity makes it a top snorkeling and diving destination.) The resounding sentiment was summed up by one enthusiastic reader’s three words: “Paradise on Earth.”

Reader Score: 95.63

2. Phú Quốc, Vietnam

<p>@ Didier Marti/Getty Images</p>

@ Didier Marti/Getty Images

Phú Quốc, off the western coast of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, is an emerging tourism destination — and that's its greatest strength. While several beaches in Southeast Asia are developed, Phú Quốc maintains an understated tranquility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in luxe accommodations: the island’s most indulgent hotel is Regent Phu Quoc, which has a rooftop infinity pool and suites with private pools.

Reader Score: 94.41

3. Bali, Indonesia

<p>Daniel Gorostieta/Travel + Leisure</p>

Daniel Gorostieta/Travel + Leisure

Called the “Island of the Gods,” Bali’s rich heritage can be experienced through its traditional ceremonies, old temples, and intricate dance performances. T+L readers echoed praises for the Balinese people and the value for money, with one reader summing it up well: “Great beach, great food, good hospitality.”

Reader Score: 93.26

4. Milos, Greece

<p>Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure</p>

Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure

The Greek island of Milos is home to dramatic rock formations like Sarakiniko Beach, which boasts a moon-like landscape thanks to its volcanic pumice formations. There’s plenty of adventure for thrillseekers, like exploring submarine caves and sea tunnels, but this Cycladic Isle is also rich in history, with ancient ruins like the Catacombs of Milos and the Ancient Theater of Milos.

Reader Score: 93.08

5. Dominica

<p>gydyt0jas/Getty Images</p>

gydyt0jas/Getty Images

Dominica entices travelers with unspoiled natural beauty and eco-adventures. The island is nicknamed “Nature Island” for its dense rain forests, volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, and black-sand beaches. The underwater world also attracts scuba divers and snorkelers, with healthy, vividly-colorful coral reefs, marine life, and volcanic formations.

Reader Score: 92.47

6. Crete, Greece

<p>Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure</p>

Gautier Houba/Travel + Leisure

Go to Greece's largest island if you want stunning beaches like Balos Lagoon, which boasts out-of-this-world blue waters, or Elafonisi Beach, an iconic pink-sand beach. Or, visit ancient Minoan ruins like the Palace of Knossos or walk through Chania’s Old Town to see Turkish and Venetian architecture. Outdoor lovers can hike the Samaria Gorge, which takes travelers through Crete's White Mountains. According to one T+L reader, the people of Crete were “so friendly and helpful to travelers.”

Reader Score: 92.38

7. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

<p>Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure</p>

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

For an adventure in the Med, look no further than Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands. Hvar’s old town, often called the “Queen of the Dalmatian Islands,” has quaint squares, centuries-old edifices, and a medieval fortress that overlooks the Adriatic Sea. A vibrant nightlife adds to the unforgettable experience.

Reader Score: 91.53

8. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

<p>nodramallama/Getty Images</p>

nodramallama/Getty Images

Readers love this South American destination for the chance to see an unparalleled diversity of wildlife in their natural habitat, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and sea lions. Exploring the volcanic archipelago allows travelers to learn about the evolutionary adaptations that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection — paired with fun day trips like snorkeling or observing rare birds. One T+L reader described these islands as “an archipelago that makes science fun.” Another said, “These islands are beautiful and a ‘must’ for all lovers of nature.”

Reader Score: 91.26

9. Koh Samui, Thailand

<p>lkunl/Getty Images</p>

lkunl/Getty Images

Koh Samui is renowned for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes, offering the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. Travelers can indulge in luxury beachfront resorts, savor delicious Thai cuisine, and experience the island's vibrant nightlife. With opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and exploring nearby islands, Koh Samui also offers adventure in the tropical paradise. One T+L reader applauded the island’s “beautiful beach and nightlife” while another raved about the island’s “excellent value.”

Reader Score: 91.03

10. Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

<p>Nicky Dowling/Getty Images</p>

Nicky Dowling/Getty Images

Arguably Australia’s most famous landmark, this reef — last year’s No. 1 island in the world — is the world's largest coral reef system. It stretches 1,400 miles off Australia’s northeastern coast, home to a stunning array of marine life (tropical fish, sharks, dolphins, and more) that creates a world-class snorkeling and diving destination.

Reader Score: 90.99

11. Ischia, Italy

<p>© Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images</p>

© Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

This picturesque island in the Bay of Naples brings to mind lush landscapes, rugged coastline, and volcanic terrain. It’s roughly the same distance from Naples as the iconic island of Capri, but far less crowded and much more affordable. Travelers can learn about the region’s fascinating past at sites like the Aragonese Castle and the ancient ruins of Villa Arbusto, and indulge in a little R&R at one of the island’s many thermal spas.

Reader Score: 90.95

12. Cuba

<p>Anna Haines/Travel + Leisure</p>

Anna Haines/Travel + Leisure

Visitors love walking the streets of Havana, taking in the city’s beautiful architecture and complex history. There are other adventures to be had, too: lounging on the powdery sands of Varadero, hiking in the Viñales Valley, or swimming in the crystal-clear waters of María la Gorda.

Reader Score: 90.61

13. Palawan, Philippines

<p>Tessa Desjardins/Travel + Leisure</p>

Tessa Desjardins/Travel + Leisure

This thin island off the western coast of the Philippines is known for its unparalleled natural beauty, including limestone cliffs, lagoons, and rain forests. Travelers can explore preserves such as the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, and learn about cultural practices from Indigenous communities like the Batak and Tagbanua tribes.

Reader Score: 90.59

14. Fiji Islands

<p>Matteo Colombo/Getty Images</p>

Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Fiji is world-famous for its beaches and secluded shores, like those on Yasawa and Mamanuca islands. It's home to some of the best diving and snorkeling sites as well as inland excursions like kayaking and zip-lining. Travelers shouldn't miss a chance to immerse themselves in Fijian culture through attending a meke dance performance, or partaking in a kava ceremony.

Reader Score: 90.56

15. Golden Isles (Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, St. Simons Island), United States

<p>elan7t50/Getty Images</p>

elan7t50/Getty Images

Located off the coast of Georgia, this little-known group of islands offer some of the most picturesque coastal scenery in the United States. The beaches are dotted with golden sand dunes and swaying palms, while the towns like Brunswick and St. Simons Island make for great shopping and dining. Nature enthusiasts of all ages can explore the salt marshes of Jekyll Island by kayak, or hike through the maritime forests of Cumberland Island.

Reader Score: 90.29

16. Phuket, Thailand

<p>Andre Malerba/Travel + Leisure</p>

Andre Malerba/Travel + Leisure

From the lively shores of Patong Beach to the secluded bays of Kata and Karon Beaches, on Phuket there's a beach for every type of traveler. Known as the "Pearl of the Andaman Sea," this Thai island is often a gateway to destinations like the Phi Phi Islands, James Bond Island, and Similan Islands. For those looking for more cultural immersion, the Old Town contains a bustling market, and the Wat Chalong temple is always worth a visit.

Reader Score: 90.20

17. Sicily, Italy

<p>Lara La Monaca/Travel + Leisure</p>

Lara La Monaca/Travel + Leisure

Sicily is a paradise for food lovers: from produce like citrus fruit and olives to fresh seafood and wine made from grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Etna. Since the island's calendar is filled with events — carnivals, religious processions, food and wine festivals — there's always something happening on the island.

Reader Score: 90.14

18. Anguilla

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

From the crystal waters of Shoal Bay East to the secluded coves of Maundays Bay and Meads Bay, this Caribbean island is the perfect place to bask in the sun, swim, snorkel, or simply relax. One T+L reader wrote, “Anguilla is paradise,” while another said that visiting this “hidden gem is like having the island to yourself.”

Reader Score: 90.02

19. Moorea, French Polynesia

<p>Powerfocusfotografie/Getty Images</p>

Powerfocusfotografie/Getty Images

Lush green mountains, overwater bungalows, and turquoise lagoons await visitors to Moorea. Travelers can immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions of French Polynesia by watching Polynesian dance performances or learning about the ancient art of tattooing.

Reader Score: 89.70

20. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Greece

<p>Anna Mardo/Getty Images</p>

Anna Mardo/Getty Images

These mountainous isles off the coast of Greece and Albania are known for their unspoiled nature reserves and picturesque, culture-rich towns such as Lefkada and Fiskardo, where travelers can visit 14th-century castles and wander the bustling marinas. Corfu’s laid-back atmosphere and relaxed pace of life makes it a peaceful destination for recharging amid tranquil surroundings.

Reader Score: 89.42

21. Sardinia, Italy

<p>Aldo Pavan/Getty Images</p>

Aldo Pavan/Getty Images

Sardinia boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches in the Mediterranean, with white sand and turquoise water. Highlights to visit include the Costa Smeralda shoreline, the secluded coves of Cala Gonone, and the dramatic cliffs of Cala Luna. In the medieval towns of Alghero and Cagliari, expect narrow cobblestone streets and ancient churches and fortifications.

Reader Score: 89.39

22. Madeira, Portugal

<p>Violetta Smiranova/Travel + Leisure</p>

Violetta Smiranova/Travel + Leisure

If you're looking for a weather-proof destination, Madeira is it — the island enjoys year-round pleasant temperatures. No matter what season, travelers should explore sites like the Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the coastline of Ponta de São Lourenço. The island's gastronomy is its own attraction, with fresh seafood, regional specialties such as espetada and bolo do caco, and world-famous Madeira wine.

Reader Score: 89.12

23. Skye and the Hebrides, Scotland

<p>Jess Macdonald/Travel + Leisure</p>

Jess Macdonald/Travel + Leisure

Skye and the Hebrides offer some of the best scenery in Scotland, with rugged coastlines and towering seaside cliffs. There are some iconic landmarks, too, like the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing on Skye. The islands — which host a vibrant arts scene of galleries, craft shops, and music festivals — are also perfect for birdwatching, fishing, and stargazing.

Reader Score: 89.05

24. Paros, Greece

<p>Amanda Blackard/Travel + Leisure</p>

Amanda Blackard/Travel + Leisure

In this Greek paradise, the popular beaches to visit include Golden Beach and Santa Maria — for a more secluded choice, try Kolymbithres Beach with its unique rock formations. Travelers can explore the narrow cobblestone streets of Parikia, the island's capital, to see whitewashed buildings and bustling waterfront, or wander through the labyrinthine alleys of Naoussa, a fishing village known for its nightlife and traditional tavernas.

Reader score: 88.97

25. Zanzibar, Tanzania

<p>MariusLtu/Getty Images</p>

MariusLtu/Getty Images

On the eastern coast of Tanzania, this island’s rich history, cultural diversity, and popular beaches attract discerning travelers. Wander through the streets of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to take in Zanzibar’s blend of African, Arab, Indian, and European influences found in the architecture, cuisine, and local traditions. From the popular shores of Nungwi and Kendwa to the coves of Matemwe and Paje, there's a beach for everyone here.

Reader Score: 88.95

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