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Best Islands in the World

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

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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#1 Santorini

#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 Churches
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Belongs on List? Yes No

#2 Galápagos Islands

#2 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 »

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Belongs on List? Yes No

#3 Bora Bora

#3 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 »

Welcome to Bora Bora
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#4 Bali

#4 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: With 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 many resplendent beaches. Read More »

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Sunrise
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#5 Mykonos

#5 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 »

Windmill
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#6 St. Martin - St. Maarten

#6 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This half-French, half-Dutch island bursts with activity. The streets of the islands capitals, Marigot and Philipsburg, are filled with exotic eats and vibrant nightlife. Outside the cities, gorgeous mountains and shorelines await. Read More »

Loterie Farm
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Belongs on List? Yes No

#7 St. Kitts & Nevis

#7 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 »

Palm Trees Sway
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#8 Maldives

#8 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 »

Prime Real Estate
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Belongs on List? Yes No

#9 U.S. Virgin Islands

#9 in Best Islands in the World

Why Go: "U.S." may be in the name, but once you get here, you'll know you're not in Kansas anymore. Life moves at a slower pace and iguanas stake as much claim to the sidewalks as you do. Take the hint and stretch out on Trunk Bay's sands or grab a drink at the Cruzan Distillery. Read More »

St. Thomas Cruise Harbor
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#10 Fiji

#10 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 »

Whatever Floats Your Boat
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#11 Crete

#11 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 »

Sitia Promenade
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#12 Seychelles

#12 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 »

Photo Opportunity
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#13 Cayman Islands

#13 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 »

Grand Cayman Sunset
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#14 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
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#15 Maui

#15 in Best Islands in the World

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

Hula Dancing
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#16 Anguilla

#16 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Thanks to an embargo on cruise ships, casinos and high-rise hotels, Anguilla is a low-key island. Spend the day sprawled out on Rendezvous Bay, then listen to some home-grown reggae at lounges like Dune Preserve when the sun goes down. Read More »

Anguillian Shipwreck
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Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Mayreau

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Belongs on List? Yes No

Dominica

Indian River

Dominica

Belongs on List? Yes No

Hawaii - The Big Island

Hawaii - The Big Island

Hawaii - The Big Island

Belongs on List? Yes No

Kauai

Lighthouse at Sunset

Kauai

Belongs on List? Yes No

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