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Outstanding natural beauty, clear blue ocean, delicious seafood, and plenty of things to do in an affordable package — the best island vacations provide all this and more.
Beautiful islands, which are gradually becoming popular vacation spots, can usually be found in every region of the globe.
20 Best Island Vacations in the World
Knowing where to begin looking for the world’s best islands to visit can be confusing. Each region has something unique to offer, from exotic locations in East Asia and the Caribbean to charming villages and cliffs in Europe.
Most of the best islands to visit on our list contain all three, so you can find anything you’re searching for there — cultural attractions, pure environment, or just some downtime on the beach. This list includes islands in a wide range of price ranges and geographic locations.
We show you some of the most well-known and much-frequented island hot spots and some lesser-known jewels that are gaining popularity with tourists. Keep reading to discover the 20 best islands to visit for your upcoming trip.
1. San Juan, Puerto Rico
The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan, is a beautiful metropolis on the island’s northern coast. Furthermore, it is one of the cheapest islands to visit in the U.S. Considering how underappreciated it currently is, the price is understandably low.
The Pina Colada was invented in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the city’s historic old town is home to many lively restaurants and taverns.
To see the best of Earth’s natural beauty, consider enjoying the city on foot as one of the most remarkable ways to spend time in Old San Juan. Visit the cliffside fortresses of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal.
You may also visit Chocobar Cortes and the world-famous hundred-umbrella Calle Fortaleza. The island’s many pristine beaches are a major draw as well. Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Tours of the bioluminescent bays in San Juan are quite popular, as the waters there glow like a thousand stars in the dark. Furthermore, a trip through the El Yunque rainforest will likely be one of your life’s most visually stunning experiences.
Perhaps one of the best cheap islands to visit, one of the nicest things about visiting San Juan is how affordable it is. Several friendly, hygienic hostels are available for those on a tighter budget. Compared to other top beach locations, the cost of meals and transportation here is shockingly inexpensive.
San Juan is a location where old and new worlds collide beautifully.
Bali justifiably has a place among the world’s most sought-after island vacation spots. Sand beaches overlooking some of the bluest water you’ll find anywhere, fishing towns with gorgeous pagodas, and towering volcanoes tucked in verdant jungles — Bali has it all.
A great option for one of the best budget-friendly honeymoons, Bali’s people are among the warmest and most welcoming you’ll ever meet.
Bali’s natives are kind and friendly, unlike those in other countries who may feel threatened by visitors. When you first meet someone, don’t be shocked if they invite you over for supper.
3. The Maldives
More and more people visit the Maldives yearly because it is one of the most photogenic locations on the planet. Even while traveling to this country of the best island vacations in the Indian Ocean might be time-consuming and costly, it is well worth the trouble.
The Maldives isn’t the easiest place to get to, but the incredible clarity of the sea and the untouched beauty of the beaches makes any trip worth it. Many people come here, yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at the clean and quiet beaches.
You may find peace and quiet on these islands, making them the best vacation spot. Individual bungalows on the water’s edge are a common feature of many resorts, allowing guests to feel wholly alone throughout their stay. The Maldives is also a great place to go for a private island vacation.
4. Koh Samui, Thailand
Although it is one of the lesser-known destinations on our list of the best islands to visit, Koh Samui remains a firm fan favorite. Koh Samui, the second biggest island in Thailand, is a popular tourist destination due to its palm tree-lined beaches, coconut fields, and dense woods.
Some of the world’s finest spas and resorts may be found in Koh Samui for far less money than they would cost on more well-known islands like Hawaii or Bora Bora. Any hotel you choose in this paradise will make you feel like royalty, thanks to the legendary Thai service.
Some of the best island vacations of Koh Samui’s most interesting attractions are cultural.
Wat Phra Yai Temple is home to a golden Big Buddha statue that stands 12 meters tall on a little island that bridges to Koh Samui and is widely considered among Thailand’s most beautiful Buddhist structures.
5. The Azores
If you do a Google image search for “The Azores,” you will get results that seem like they were taken from a postcard.
The nine island vacation spots that make up the Azores archipelago off Portugal’s coast combine the finest Southern European culture with some of Europe’s most stunning landscapes. The Azores are known for their year-round forest cover and gorgeous spring and summer meadows dotted with wildflowers.
Beautiful beaches, colorful lakes, and centuries-old Portuguese settlements can be found on each island vacation spot. Visiting here is like visiting a time capsule, transporting you to a location that the contemporary world hasn’t touched in centuries.
Because of Hawaii’s sheer number of best islands to visit, we couldn’t choose just one to highlight, so here are several:
- Kauai is the most prominent island vacation spot, and it’s ideal for individuals who want to get away from it all in the wild.
- The best of Hawaii’s natural beauty includes two active volcanoes and indigenous heritage sites are only two of the many attractions on the Big Island.
- Natural attractions and a plethora of cultural events give Honolulu something for everyone.
- Lanai is the farthest away from the Hawaiian islands, and its pristine natural beauty will put you at ease.
- Maui’s stunning shoreline stretches for kilometers, making it ideal for a vacation at sea.
Your Hawaii vacation will be unforgettable whether you stay on one of these stunning island vacation spots or explore many.
Transport between the island vacation spots is easy, with frequent boats and even aircraft. Although some locations might be explored in a single day, some call for a more extended period.
Located on Venezuela’s coast, Aruba is a Dutch overseas territory. Its stunning natural beauty and convenience have made it a popular vacation spot for decades.
It has excellent weather for nine months out of the year and beautiful beaches, making it a genuine Caribbean paradise. Since tourism accounts for almost all of Aruba’s revenue, the island vacation spot is extremely friendly to vacationers and explorers alike.
Divers from around the globe go to Aruba and the surrounding Caribbean to explore the intriguing shipwrecks. Aruba is known for its charming urban centers, which blend Caribbean and Dutch cultural elements.
Oranjestad, the capital, is both culturally and aesthetically significant. Dive and snorkel in the clear waters, trek to spectacular cliffs, or relax on the beach all day; this island has it all.
8. Galapagos Islands
Charles Darwin made the Galapagos island vacation spots famous more than 200 years ago when he utilized the local species to decipher and explain evolution. These islands continue astounding people as they did for Charles Darwin hundreds of years ago.
The distinctive fauna of the Galapagos is one of its outstanding features. The coastlines of the Galapagos are lined with enormous tortoises that stroll the beaches, scary yet exciting iguanas, and amusing sea lions. The second-largest crater on earth is located on the islands, offering thrilling excursions up steep cliffs.
There are many tranquil areas on these Ecuadorian islands, despite the fact that explorers and wildlife enthusiasts are the primary visitors to this location. There is plenty of space for those who wish to laze about on the beach all day. The Galapagos is also one of the best places to volunteer with wildlife. You can help restore habitats and research the local turtle populations here.
9. Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
Over the last several years, Croatia has emerged as one of the most popular new travel destinations. The city of Dubrovnik in the south draws a large population. While Dubrovnik is worthwhile, it’s also a good idea to go a little farther north to the best island vacations off the Dalmatian coast.
The most well-known island vacation spot in the Adriatic is Hvar, which has the greatest sunshine of any island. You may take a short boat ride from Hvar to neighboring islands, including Bra, Korula, and Vis, and the rocky beaches provide breathtaking views of the azure ocean.
Each island vacation spot has charming communities to discover, mouthwatering seafood, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Everybody can find something on these islands.
It is well known that Hvar has a vibrant nightlife that matches Ibiza, where you can just eat, drink, and be merry to truly enjoy your island vacation. While Vis is home to one of Europe’s most magnificent sights, the Blue Cave, Bra contains a Dominican monastery from the 15th century.
10. Lamu Island, Kenya
While most people are familiar with Kenya for its safaris, they may not realize that it also offers fantastic opportunities for cheap island getaways.
Lamu Island, off the coast of Kenya just north of Mombasa, is an ideal beach resort location with a wide range of hotels to suit any traveler’s needs and budget.
Because it is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili community in East Africa, the old town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The island is rich in Swahili and Islamic culture and heritage, and a visit to Old Town alone is a must.
Reasonably priced hotels and dining make this island an excellent budget vacation spot. The town boasts several reasonably priced dining alternatives, and many well-rated motels can be had for $30–$40 per night.
Combine a safari with a trip to the beach on your next vacation to Kenya.
11. Ko Tao, Thailand
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Tao is named because of the abundance of sea turtles that may be found there.
Visitors may enjoy the 300 days of sunlight each year while lounging on the white sand beaches protected by the surrounding hills, some of which are so steep that they can only be traversed by four-wheel-drive cars.
Hiking, bouldering, rock climbing, scuba diving, and snorkeling are just a few active pursuits available to vacationers.
12. Rosario Islands, Colombia
The Rosario Islands, found in the Caribbean not far from Colombia’s coast, are among the region’s most undervalued island vacation spots.
There are eco-lodges, hotels, and even hostels on the 27 islands that make up this archipelago, all of which are located above pristine sand beaches and crystal blue seas and are easily accessible from Cartagena, Colombia, either by speedboat or ferry.
When in the Caribbean, you should also consider the best cruises to Jamaica for an authentic Caribbean experience. Some of the best island vacation resorts attract day-trippers from Cartagena, and their beach clubs are more lively than the others. Envision inexpensive speedboat tours of the islands, superb snorkeling and diving, and kayaking through mangrove woods.
The Rosario Island vacation spots are known for their laid-back atmosphere, but the adjacent Isla Bar may be more your speed if you’re seeking a lively island holiday.
Playa Blanca is often regarded as Cartagena’s most excellent beach; moreover, it is just 45 minutes by shuttle or even less by cab from Cartagena, and it offers much more in the way of dining options, beachside watering holes, and nightlife.
Its busy international airport is served by direct flights from all over the Americas. Expect simple and cheap transportation to your next island getaway and low-priced lodging.
13. Bora Bora
Bora Bora is another great option if you’re looking for a tropical paradise for a couples trip. Since it is a favorite honeymoon destination, numerous hotels, and spas cater to those looking for a bit of romance.
Despite being just around six miles long, this island is stunning in its compactness. With its dazzling beaches and towering cliffs, this South Pacific island is often cited as the region’s most picturesque. Since tourism provides 100 percent of Bora Bora’s revenue, the people are among the most welcoming you’ll encounter.
The island vacation spot of Bora Bora is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with fantastic opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, and trekking. To see some of the most stunning scenery in the world, a trip up Mount Otemanu is a must.
14. Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman island vacation spots in the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar are another hidden treasure that boasts some of the last remaining unspoiled ecosystems on Earth.
To protect the native species, beaches, and jungles, just a few of the archipelago’s 36 islands are accessible to visitors.
The Andaman Islands are home to some of the world’s best diving destinations and some of the softest sand beaches framed by palm palms. If you’re an adventurer who wants to see nature in its purest form, these islands are for you.
15. The Isle of Skye, Scotland
The name “Isle of Skye” originates from an Old Norse term for “cloud island,” which is how the island was first described. This island off the coast of Scotland is as lovely as it is harsh, and the name fits.
The remainder of our list consists of tropical and Mediterranean islands, but this one is definitely worth a detour. Even when blanketed in fog, as it frequently is, the Isle of Skye remains one of Europe’s most breathtaking destinations. The mist makes for a peaceful environment, perfect for listening to waves crashing and watching raindrops fall from the sky over the undulating moors.
The island is covered in mist, but when it lifts, it reveals green hills filled with sheep, several castles from the Middle Ages, and excellent trekking opportunities. Don’t overlook the local pubs, galleries, or whiskey distilleries.
16. Tasmania, Australia
Consider Tasmania if you want one of the best islands to visit for adventure. Located off the southern coast of Australia, it is a hiking paradise with strenuous routes that reward visitors with breathtaking panoramas. The island may be smaller than the other five Australian states, but it is still rather sizable.
It’s about the same size as the island nation of Ireland. Stunning natural features abound in this region, from the towering mountains and deep woods to the pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear blue bays of the Freycinet Peninsula.
In addition to the warm weather, rich history, delicious cuisine, excellent wine, and laid-back island lifestyle, you’ll encounter very hospitable people.
17. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan, an archipelago in the Philippines, is one of Southeast Asia’s most remote island getaways. It’s absolutely breathtaking and seems like a little piece of paradise. This enchanted place may not be as well-known to travelers as the others on our list, but its beauty is incomparable.
You’ll feel like you’ve arrived at the end of the world as you stand on the brink of the rocky cliff and stare out over the clear, turquoise lake below. Many areas of these island vacation spots have been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, peppered with picturesque fishing communities that have been around for generations.
One of the top diving sites in the world is the Japanese shipwreck off Coron Island, which you may visit. Visit the Puerto Princesa Underground River on a boat trip, or a safari at the Calauit Game Preserve to witness rare animals.
18. Te Waipounamu/South Island, New Zealand
The South Island of New Zealand (called Te Waipounamu by the indigenous Maori people) is an ideal island vacation spot for thrill-seekers rather than beach bums.
South Island is famous for its stunning beaches and the many opportunities it provides for exploring the island’s high mountains and soaring over verdant rainforests on a series of ziplines. New Zealand is made up of two islands, but the bigger of the two has everything someone could want.
Glaciers provide the island’s beautiful, ice-blue lakes with water, while the island’s natural hot springs offer welcome relief. Queenstown is a great base for outdoor activities and wine tours of nearby wineries.
While adjacent island countries like the Maldives may get more attention, Seychelles is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination in its own right.
This African country comprises several islands in the Indian Ocean, and its landscapes are among the most breathtaking you’ll ever see.
Mahé, the biggest island vacation spot in Seychelles, is where your journey will begin. It’s one of the best islands to visit for a digital detox. You’ll find a bevy of five-star resorts and the country’s charming capital here.
Take a boat to the surrounding islands of Praslin and La Digue, which are close by and provide a tranquil retreat. Smaller, less populated islands give the feeling of visiting another world as you bike across them.
20. Mallorca, Spain
One of the best islands for a group getaway, Mallorca is a popular choice for European tourists for good reason. This little island off Spain’s coast is easily navigated by car and has lots to offer visitors.
Mallorca is known for its beautiful beaches and clear sea, as well as its charming mountain villages in the north with their narrow stone alleys and cozy bed and breakfasts, and its lively nightlife in the island’s capital.
The island has several five-star hotels, as well as other more tranquil, rural communities. There is something for everyone on this island, making it ideal for groups or families with a wide range of interests.
Sample some wine while riding the rails through the mountains to the north, or catch a performance in an underground cavern to the east. Don’t overlook the seafood paella and other delicious dishes.
Things To Consider When Choosing the Best Island Vacation
When planning your next island vacation, there are a few things you need to keep in mind, from the weather and the price to communication and infectious diseases.
Many of these islands have a tropical climate, making them vulnerable to hurricanes and other forms of extreme weather. Even though many islands have defenses against hurricanes, major catastrophes may still cause widespread devastation.
Make sure you prepare yourself for the weather by packing proper attire and planning the right season to visit. Consider packaging linen pajamas, a great material option for pajama sets for women. Plan your island getaway outside of the hurricane and monsoon seasons, which come and go depending on where you go.
Costs for island getaways are rising as more people choose to take them. Prices on several of the islands on our list, however, vary widely depending on whether you stay in a resort or a local establishment. Go outside the typical tourist destinations to discover cheaper places to stay while on vacation.
Ease of Communication With Locals
The potential difficulty of communicating with locals is something that all travelers should think about. Assuming you stick to the more touristy parts of the aforementioned islands, you should have little trouble communicating with locals since almost everyone can speak fluent English.
However, if you go to more rural locations, you may encounter people who are fluent exclusively in the regional tongue. Though this may seem difficult, there are always methods of communication that should help you reach your destination.
Get out of your comfort zone and make an attempt to acquire some basic phrases in the local language to increase your chances of making quick friends. Traveling to a tropical location may expose you to illnesses that aren’t present in temperate regions.
Visitors to some islands may be at increased risk of contracting diseases because of their unfamiliarity with the area.
If you plan on traveling to an island, you should research the necessary vaccinations and other measures to take in order to prevent illness before leaving.
Consider improving your immunity by taking natural health supplements like the best probiotics for your women and the best probiotic supplements for men.
Best Island Vacations FAQs
We hope this article has helped you narrow down your options for the best islands to visit, but we realize you may still have some questions.
How Do I Get To My Island Vacation?
Airports may be found on all of the islands that we’ve included in our list. International flights to some, like Mallorca and South Island, are available from almost every major airport.
Traveling to the best islands to visit from the mainland will be a two-part or more process for others. All of these stunning tourist destinations are easily accessible by airplane.
Are There Any Special Visa Requirements for Island Vacations?
Some of the best islands to visit are sovereign states in their own right, although most are really mainland provinces of much larger countries. This means that islands will have to follow the same visa rules as mainlanders.
Learn whether a visa is necessary for your travel by checking the foreign embassy’s website in your own country.
How Removed Are These Vacation Islands From Mainland Amenities?
The answer to this question will change depending on the island you go to. This is a question that can only be answered by knowing which island you want to visit. If you go to Flamenco island in Puerto Rico, Mallorca, or the Dalmatian islands, you may take a ferry to the mainland.
The Andaman Islands, on the other hand, are farther away. Fear of being too cut off from society? Try one of these locations closer to the nation hosting such civilization instead.
Is There an Environmental Impact of Traveling to Islands?
The effects of climate change are unfortunately felt everywhere. Due to their low elevation and lack of land, islands are among the most vulnerable regions. Fortunately, many of the islands we’ve chosen provide eco-friendly lodging and entertainment options for visitors.
Are Island Vacations Good for Families?
The best islands to visit are fantastic places for families to take a vacation. They are simpler to get about since they are often smaller than a typical vacation spot on the mainland. Although small in area, they often provide a wide range of natural and cultural pursuits that appeal to visitors of all ages.
The Best Island Vacations: Final Verdict
On this long list, we’ve covered some of the best island vacations available. There is an island here for every kind of tourist, from those seeking quiet alone on a beach in East Asia to those seeking adventure among South America’s exotic animals.
Based on our research, San Juan, Puerto Rico is one of the best island vacation spots for a relaxing getaway. It has the best of everything — pristine beaches, blue waters, historical places, lively restaurants, and taverns.
Your last remaining step is to choose the best island vacations from this selection that most interests you and begin your explorations there.