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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Islands in the World

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Seclusion, sprawling beaches, rolling waves and untouched pockets of wilderness are all credentials to be included among the best islands in the world. According to experts and U.S. News readers, the islands listed here boast a little something that keeps travelers enchanted. Consider which islands you favor, cast your vote below and help us rank next year's best coastal locales. 

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Santorini

Gold Badge #1 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This honeymoon spot caters to all sorts of travelers. Beach bums can unwind along Santorini's red sands, foodies can savor aromatic Mediterranean flavors and history buffs can explore the remains of Thira and Akrotiri. Read More

Santorini View 14 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Bora Bora

Gold Badge #2 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Bora Bora offers you the chance to lounge on white sands, stretch your legs along the trails to Mount Otemanu's summit and sleep in thatched-roof huts suspended over the turquoise South Pacific. Read More

Bora Bora View 15 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

St. Martin - St. Maarten

Gold Badge #3 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This half-French, half-Dutch island bursts with activity. The streets of the islands capital's, Marigot and Philipsburg, are filled with exotic eats and vibrant nightlife. Outside the cities, a gorgeous scene of mountains and shorelines awaits. Read More

St. Martin - St. Maarten View 18 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Bali

Gold Badge #4 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: With its skyline of gorgeous mountains and pointed pagodas, it's no wonder Bali is often referred to as heaven among visitors. On this Indonesian island, you can tour ancient temples, play with Sumatran elephants or simply lounge on one of the island's many resplendent beaches. Read More

Bali View 21 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Maldives

Gold Badge #5 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: These tiny islands in the Indian Ocean exude seclusion. You can spend your days snorkeling over coral reefs and lounging on the sun-bleached sands. Or, you can watch sunset over the waves from your palatial resort. Read More

Maldives View 26 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

St. Kitts & Nevis

#6 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: It's no wonder that these islands draw celebs in droves. Who wouldn't want to recline on beautiful beaches or explore Brimstone's ancient fortress? From sand bars to beach bars, St. Kitts & Nevis give visitors an authentic Caribbean experience. Read More

St. Kitts & Nevis View 19 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Fiji

#7 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: These islands' white-sand shores offer fantastic scenery. But there's more to Fiji than what you'll see from your beach towel: Hike the volcanic Mamanuca Mountains, hit the boutiques of Suva or go down under and snorkel with the island's colorful fish. Read More

Fiji View 24 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Mykonos

#8 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Mykonos is like Santorini's wild sibling: This Greek island pulsates with a party beat nearly 24 hours a day. But there's a peaceful side to this island as well. For a more relaxed environment, watch the sun set over the Mediterranean from The Windmills' high perch. Read More

Mykonos View 14 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Maui

#9 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: As far as Hawaiian retreats go, Maui takes the cake. You'll find opulent resorts, dramatic scenery and adventurous activities all in one place. Nothing beats spending a day on Wailea's golden shores or cruising down the Road to Hana. Read More

Maui View 23 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Crete

#10 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: With authentic Greek restaurants, charming oceanfront villages and excellent beach weather, Crete is a favorite among worldwide travelers. For a dose of history, visit the archaeological sites and museums that bring the island's ancient past to life. Read More

Crete View 17 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Seychelles

#11 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: It may not have the luxurious reputation of the Maldives, but Seychelles does have striking scenery. This chain of islands off the eastern coast of Africa will astound you with its fawn-colored sands, massive boulders and calm waters, not to mention its giant tortoises. Read More

Seychelles View 21 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Cayman Islands

#12 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Whether you're looking for a new adventure or some peace and quiet, these three islands northwest of Jamaica have everything you need to experience something new. You can scuba dive in vibrant reefs, make some new friends at Stingray City or kick back at Seven Mile Beach. Read More

Cayman Islands View 15 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Kauai

#13 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Kauai is the oldest and most rugged of the Hawaiian archipelago. Adventure-seekers will love traversing the Kalalau Trail and hiking Waimea Canyon, while the Na Pali Coast beckons to photographers with its gorgeous ocean vistas. Read More

Kauai View 19 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

St. Lucia

#14 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This tropical Eastern Caribbean island is a geological wonder, offering visitors the opportunity for both adventure and relaxation. Explore the flora and fauna at the Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall or challenge yourself to a hike up Gros Piton. Read More

St. Lucia View 11 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Hawaii - The Big Island

#15 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: The pure versatility of the Big Island's geography is enough to earn it recognition as one of a kind: Black-sand beaches line some shores, while lush rainforests populate nearby areas. Plus, the tropical island's active volcano, Kilauea, makes for a fun adventure. Read More

Hawaii - The Big Island View 18 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

Galápagos Islands

#16 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Darwin's wonderland hasn't lost its magic, and you won't be disappointed by what you find. Massive turtles and bizarre birds wander just feet away. This isn't your typical getaway, but a trip to the Galápagos is one you'll never forget. Read More

Galápagos Islands View 21 photos
Belongs on List? Yes No

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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

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Dominica

Dominica

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U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands

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Anguilla

Anguilla

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