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Best Islands in the World

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Sprawling beaches, rich cultures and untouched pockets of wilderness are just a few alluring characteristics of 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 list of best coastal locales. 

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#1 Tahiti

#1 in Best Islands in the World

When you're not sipping tropical cocktails in your overwater bungalow, explore Tahiti's striking natural wonders, including La Plage de Maui and the Fautaua Waterfall. Looking for more adventure? Hop a boat to Tahiti's sister island, Moorea, home to the breathtaking Magic Mountain. Read More »

Colorful Tahiti View 25 photos
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#2 Santorini

#2 in Best Islands in the World

Though it's a popular honeymoon spot, Santorini is more than a hideaway for amorous duos. Beach bums can unwind along Santorini's red sands, foodies can savor aromatic Mediterranean flavors during a winery tour and history buffs can explore the remains of Thira and Akrotiri. Read More »

Santorini Churches View 23 photos
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#3 Cyprus

#3 in Best Islands in the World

With its honey-colored beaches, forested nature trails, wine routes and a healthy dose of religion and culture, Cyprus has the ability to appeal to a wide array of traveler interests. For coastal views and archaeological ruins, visit the city of Paphos – the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite. 

Cyprus
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#4 Phuket

#4 in Best Islands in the World

This dreamy Thai island in the Andaman Sea balances cosmopolitan flair with rugged beauty. Here, you'll find white sand beaches sidled up next to mountainous rainforests, and a rollicking nightlife scene in Patong. For a dose of culture, visit the Wat Chalong Buddhist temple. Read More »

View 17 photos
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#5 Capri

#5 in Best Islands in the World

Thanks to its luxurious resorts and shops, this small Italian island is a favorite among well-heeled vacationers and daytrippers. For an unforgettable view of Capri, the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, take the chairlift up to the summit of Monte Solaro.

Capri
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#6 Galapagos Islands

#6 in Best Islands in the World

In the 100-plus years since Darwin discovered this natural wonderland, the Galapagos have yet to lose their 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 »

Galapagos Sea Lions View 18 photos
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#7 Hawaii - The Big Island

#7 in Best Islands in the World

The pure versatility of the Big Island's geography is enough to earn it recognition as one of a kind. Alongside the island's black sand beaches and lush rainforests sits Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, home to one of the world's most active volcanoes, Kilauea. Read More »

Rainbow Falls View 35 photos
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#8 Bora Bora

#8 in Best Islands in the World

A quintessential Bora Bora vacation includes days spent lounging along secluded white sands, boat trips through clear aquamarine waters and 4x4 tours through the island's lush nooks and crannies. Splurge on your own overwater bungalow for the full Bora Bora experience. Read More »

Welcome to Bora Bora View 27 photos
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#9 Kauai

#9 in Best Islands in the World

Kauai is the oldest and most rugged of the Hawaiian archipelago. Adventure-seekers will love hiking Waimea Canyon, while the Napali Coast beckons to photographers with its gorgeous ocean vistas. Meanwhile, beach bums will want to head to the shorelines of Po'ipu or Hanalei Bay. Read More »

Napali Coast View 38 photos
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#10 Bali

#10 in Best Islands in the World

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, stroll among intricate rice paddies or simply lounge on one of the many resplendent beaches. Read More »

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Sunrise View 38 photos
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#11 Corfu

#11 in Best Islands in the World

The Greek isle of choice for travelers on a budget, Corfu is home to a bevy of sprawling, pebbly beaches (Glyfada is a perennial favorite). When you need a break from the sand and surf, explore the island's cultural offerings, including the Paleokastritsa Monastery or the Palaio Frourio. Read More »

Corfu coast View 31 photos
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#12 Crete

#12 in Best Islands in the World

With authentic Greek cuisine, charming oceanfront villages and excellent beach weather, Crete is a favorite among travelers. For a dose of history, visit the archaeological sites and museums that bring the island's ancient past to life, such as the Palace of Knossos or the Venetian Fortezza. Read More »

Sitia Promenade View 17 photos
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#13 Singapore

#13 in Best Islands in the World

A visit to this island is less about relaxing along tropical white sand beaches and more about soaking up the fast-paced, cosmopolitan atmosphere of an Asian mega-metropolis. Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the island aboard the Singapore Flyer, or for a dose of nature, head to the unusual Gardens by the Bay urban jungle. Read More »

Singapore View 13 photos
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#14 Turks & Caicos

#14 in Best Islands in the World

Home to one of the largest reef systems in the world, Turks & Caicos is a diver's paradise. Above the surface, this network of 40 islands plays host to a bevy of luxurious hotels and picturesque beaches perfect for sunbathing or horseback riding. Read More »

Grace Bay Cabanas View 18 photos
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#15 Maldives

#15 in Best Islands in the World

A trip to the Maldives will require patience (there are no direct flights from the U.S.) and plenty of cash. But what this Indian Ocean paradise lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in striking beaches and exceptional scuba diving and snorkeling conditions. Read More »

Prime Real Estate View 29 photos
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#16 British Virgin Islands

#16 in Best Islands in the World

The British Virgin Islands are considered the most exclusive and least developed islands of the Caribbean – perfect for travelers with deep pockets and a love for boating and seclusion. Plan to sail between islands – there are more than 60 to choose from. Read More »

Snorkeling in the BVI View 31 photos
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#17 Canary Islands

#17 in Best Islands in the World

Adventure travelers flock to this Spanish archipelago thanks to its four national parks (Parque Nacional del Teide, home to the world's third-largest volcano, is a particular favorite). But those in search of dreamy shorelines won't be disappointed, especially at Playa de Maspalomas and Playa de Las Teresitas. Read More »

Canary Islands Landscape View 15 photos
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#18 North Island, New Zealand

#18 in Best Islands in the World

Considered one of the world's largest islands, North Island is home to some of New Zealand's most popular cities, including Auckland and Wellington. Travelers who explore beyond the big cities will be rewarded with pristine beaches, rolling farmland, lush forests and a dynamic Maori culture.

North Island
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#19 St. Lucia

#19 in Best Islands in the World

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 or challenge yourself to a hike up Gros Piton. Read More »

St. Lucia View 24 photos
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#20 U.S. Virgin Islands

#20 in Best Islands in the World

"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 Rum Distillery. Read More »

St. Thomas Cruise Harbor View 24 photos
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