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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 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 Santorini

#1 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This popular honeymoon spot also caters to a variety of other 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 View 23 photos
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#2 Honolulu - Oahu

#2 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: With Honolulu's high-rise hotels and commercialized Waikiki area, Oahu is the most urban of all Hawaii's islands. But it does have a rural, untouched side to it, particularly on the North Shore, where pro surfers ride the waves on Sunset Beach. Read More »

Wakiki Beach View 46 photos
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#3 Maui

#3 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Maui offers opulent resorts, dramatic scenery and adventurous activities all in one. Nothing beats spending a day on Wailea's golden shores or cruising the Road to Hana. If you're up for the challenge, plan to hike the dormant Haleakala volcano. Read More »

Hula Dancing View 44 photos
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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, interact with Sumatran elephants or simply lounge on one of the many resplendent beaches. Read More »

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Sunrise View 21 photos
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#5 Kauai

#5 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 »

Napali Coast View 38 photos
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#6 Hawaii - The Big Island

#6 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 and lush rainforests dot the island. Plus, the tropical isle's active volcano, Kilauea, makes for a fun adventure. Read More »

Hawaii - The Big Island View 18 photos
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#7 Phuket

#7 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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. Read More »

View 17 photos
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#8 Tahiti

#8 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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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#9 British Virgin Islands

#9 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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 sailing and seclusion. Plan to sail between islands – there are more than 60 to choose from. Read More »

Snorkeling in the BVI View 20 photos
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#10 Corfu

#10 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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 Archaeological Museum of Corfu. Read More »

Corfu coast View 31 photos
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#11 Bora Bora

#11 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: Bora Bora offers you the chance to lounge on white sand, 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 View 15 photos
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#12 Cyprus

#12 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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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#13 Capri

#13 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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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#14 Galapagos Islands

#14 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 »

Galapagos Sea Lions View 18 photos
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#15 Lana'i

#15 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: If you're really looking to get away from it all, Lanai may be the island for you. Top sights like Shipwreck Beach and the Munro Trail are literally off the beaten (or paved) paths. When you're ready to get back to civilization, you'll have the posh Four Seasons Resort Lanai at your fingertips. Read More »

Hulopoe Bay View 17 photos
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#16 Guadeloupe

#16 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: More than 70 percent of Guadeloupe's territory is protected as a natural reserve, making it ideal for eco-conscious travelers in search of an unspoiled backdrop to their outdoor (or underwater) adventures. Active types looking to make the most out of a day at the beach will find some stunning scenery in Guadeloupe National Park. Read More »

Guadeloupe View 24 photos
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#17 St. Lucia

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

St. Lucia View 24 photos
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#18 Cozumel

#18 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: This 250-square-mile island off the Yucatán Peninsula tends to get congested with cruise ship passengers, but if you venture away from the downtown area and out onto the water, you'll be rewarded with shallow reefs perfect for scuba diving. Read More »

Cozumel View 20 photos
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#19 Crete

#19 in Best Islands in the World

Why go: 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. Read More »

Sitia Promenade View 17 photos
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#20 Fiji

#20 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: Travelers can hike the volcanic Mamanuca Mountains, hit the boutiques of Suva or venture beneath the surface and snorkel with the island's colorful fish. Read More »

Fiji View 24 photos
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