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The best island vacations provide affordable luxury with breathtaking scenery, a tranquil ocean, delicious seafood, and countless exciting activities.
The globe is full of stunning islands quickly gaining popularity as vacation spots.
20 Best Island Vacations in the World
When you have no idea where to begin searching for the best islands to visit, you may feel overwhelmed. Every region has something unique to offer, from the remote islands of the Caribbean and East Asia to the picturesque villages and cliffs of Europe.
Most of the best islands on our list provide a little bit of everything, from cultural sights to pristine wilderness to beachside repose.
These islands span a wide range of costs and areas.
We include both the best-known islands in the world and some hidden treasures quickly rising in popularity. If you plan a trip, keep reading to learn which 20 islands are the best.
1. Best Island Vacations: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, is located on the northern coast of the island, and it is a beautiful metropolis. In addition, it’s one of the best and cheapest islands to visit in the US. Given its current undervaluation, the price is fair.
The Pina Colada was created in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which happens to be home to several excellent eateries and bars.
If you want to view some of the most stunning scenery on Earth, walking around Old San Juan is one of the best things to do. Among the several cliffside forts worth seeing are Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristóbal.
Chocobar Cortes and the world-famous Calle Fortaleza, the best islands to visit, are worth checking out due to the hundred umbrellas decorating the sidewalks. The island’s many alluring beaches are another top selling point.
Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The bioluminescent bays of San Juan are a tourist hotspot because, at night, the water glows like a million stars. What’s more, a trip through the El Yunque rainforest is likely one of the most visually stunning experiences.
San Juan is one of the best cheap islands to visit because of its reasonable prices. Hostels are abundant, and many are clean and friendly to people on a tighter budget.
Compared to other well-known beach locations, the cost of living here is surprisingly inexpensive, especially for food and transportation. Both the old and the new coexist together in San Juan.
2. Best Island Vacations: Bali
In all honesty, Bali deserves its reputation as one of the world’s most frequented island vacation spots. There is no shortage of things to do or see in Bali. The island is home to everything from quaint fishing towns with pagodas to sandy beaches with water as clear as glass to hidden volcanoes deep in the jungle.
Bali is a fantastic destination for a low-cost honeymoon because it is home to some of the friendliest and most kind people you will ever encounter.
Bali is among the greatest islands to visit because its citizens are kind and hospitable, unlike people in some other nations who could be wary of tourists. Don’t be surprised if someone invites you over for supper when you first meet them.
3. Best Island Vacations: The Maldives
The Maldives is one of the best islands to visit in the world, attracting an increasing number of visitors each year.
Although traveling to this country, home to some of the most beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean may be time-consuming and costly, it is well worth it.
Though the Maldives isn’t the most accessible location, the pristine waters and stunning beaches make the trip worthwhile. Despite the high number of tourists, the beaches are clean and not too crowded.
These islands may be the best spot to unwind and relax on vacation. Bungalows at several resorts are situated directly on the beach, giving guests the sensation of total seclusion. The Maldives are also perfect for a getaway on a secluded island.
4. Best Island Vacations: Koh Samui, Thailand
Koh Samui, despite being one of the less well-known locales on our list of the best islands to visit, is a consistent choice among readers.
The second-largest island in Thailand, Koh Samui, is a well-liked destination for tourists because of its palm-lined beaches, coconut fields, and thick forests.
Koh Samui is home to some of the world’s finest spas and resorts at a fraction of the cost of more well-known islands like Hawaii or Bora Bora. Whatever hotel you choose in this paradise, you will be treated like a king or queen thanks to the legendary Thai hospitality.
A few of the world’s best island retreats may be found on Koh Samui, making it one of its most intriguing attractions.
The Wat Phra Yai Temple is one of Thailand’s most impressive Buddhist structures. The island, connected to Koh Samui by a causeway, is home to a golden Big Buddha monument measuring 12 meters in height.
5. Best Island Vacations: The Azores
Google’s image search for “The Azores” will return results that seem like they were taken from an old postcard.
The nine-island archipelago of the Azores is in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal and is home to some of Europe’s most stunning landscapes and the finest of Southern European culture.
The Azores are well-known for their beautiful flower-filled meadows and year-round forest cover.
All the islands have beautiful beaches, bright lakes, and historic Portuguese settlements. Coming here is like opening a time capsule; you will be transported to a location where the contemporary world hasn’t been for generations.
6. Best Island Vacations: Hawaii
Due to the sheer number of Hawaiian islands, we couldn’t possibly choose just one to feature.
Kauai is one of the best islands to visit and is perfect for those who want to be alone in nature.
The Big Island is one of the best islands to visit, with many places to explore that showcase the best of Hawaii’s natural beauty, including two active volcanoes and indigenous cultural sites.
Honolulu offers it all if you’re looking for outdoor adventures, historical sites, or cultural experiences. Lanai is the most remote of the Hawaiian islands, yet its pristine landscapes will surely put you at ease.
Beautiful sandy beaches stretch for kilometers along the coast of Maui, making it an ideal spot for a beach vacation.
Your time in Hawaii will be unforgettable regardless of how many islands you see or whatever one you choose to stay on. Countless boats and even aircraft are available for getting from one island to another. Not everywhere can be seen in a day. In fact, some need weeks or months.
7. Best Island Vacations: Aruba
Just off the coast of Venezuela sits the Dutch foreign territory of Aruba. As a result of its stunning scenery and ease of access, it has long been a favorite vacation spot.
It has perfect weather for nine months out of the year and beautiful beaches, making it a genuine Caribbean paradise. Aruba is one of the best islands to visit, as it relies heavily on tourism for its economy and is quite accommodating to visitors.
Numerous scuba divers from around the globe go to Aruba and the surrounding Caribbean region to explore the area’s many shipwrecks. Urban neighborhoods of Aruba are well-known for their beauty and unique blend of Dutch and Caribbean traditions.
Oranjestad, the capital, is the country’s cultural and artistic center. There’s a lot to do on this island, from exploring the stunning cliffs to relaxing on the beach all day or visiting many other sites that are just as beautiful.
There are many boats and even aircraft for getting from one island to another. Not everywhere can be seen in a day; some need weeks or months.
8. Best Island Vacations: Galapagos Islands
More than two centuries ago, Charles Darwin employed local creatures to comprehend better and explain evolution, which increased the number of visitors to the Galapagos Islands.
Visitors to some of the best islands will likely be taken aback by what they see, just as Charles Darwin was centuries ago.
The unique fauna of the Galapagos Islands is one of the islands’ defining features. Giant tortoises stroll the beaches of the Galapagos Islands, while iguanas and sea lions provide entertainment. You may experience thrilling rock climbing on these islands in the world’s second-largest crater.
Most visitors to these Ecuadorian islands are adventurers and nature enthusiasts, but the islands also provide several quiet retreats. Plenty of space is available for those who spend the day reclining on the beach.
The Galapagos Islands are one of the best places to volunteer with wildlife. You may help with turtle population research and habitat restoration here.
9. Best Island Vacations: Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
In recent years, Croatia has emerged as one of the most popular new tourist hotspots. Dubrovnik, in the south, is home to a considerable population.
While Dubrovnik is well worth a visit, the best islands off the Dalmatian coast, located a bit farther north, are where you should spend your vacation.
Hvar, the sunniest of the Adriatic islands, is the most frequented vacation spot. Take a short boat ride from Hvar to one of the adjacent islands, where rocky beaches and turquoise water await. Islands like Bra, Korula, and Vis are all great options.
There are charming villages to discover on every island, as well as delicious seafood and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Each visitor may find an activity that suits their interests on these islands.
Hvar is well-known for its lively nightlife, which can hold its own against Ibiza. You can spend your private island vacation eating, drinking, and partying here. Vis is where you’ll find the magnificent Blue Cave, while the Dominican monastery on Bra goes back to the 15th century.
10. Best Island Vacations: Lamu Island, Kenya
Most tourists visit Kenya for its safaris, but few realize that the country also has fantastic, low-cost island holiday choices.
Lamu Island is a beautiful beach resort located north of Mombasa off the coast of Kenya. It has a wide range of hotels for visitors of all tastes and budgets.
Because it is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili hamlet in East Africa, the old town is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Considering the island’s rich Islamic and Swahili heritage, visiting Old Town alone is necessary.
There are plenty of low-cost housing and dining choices on Lamu, making it an ideal destination for a budget vacation. In addition to a wide selection of low-priced places to dine, the city also has many well-acclaimed hotels that cost under $40 per night.
11. Best Island Vacations: Ko Tao, Thailand
Ko Tao, located in the Gulf of Thailand, was given its name because of the abundance of sea turtles in the area.
Visitors may bask in the sun for 300 days a year while enjoying the privacy of the white sand beaches that are protected by the surrounding hills, some of which are so steep that they can only be crossed by four-wheel-drive cars.
Hiking, bouldering, rock climbing, scuba diving, and snorkeling are just some of the active pursuits available to tourists.
12. Best Island Vacations: Rosario Islands, Colombia
The Rosario Islands, off the coast of Colombia in the Caribbean, are one of the most undervalued island vacation locations in the region.
Many different lodging alternatives are available on each of the 27 islands in this archipelago, ranging from eco-lodges to luxury resorts to low-cost hostels. These islands all boast picture-perfect white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, and they are all easily reachable from Cartagena, Colombia, via speedboat or ferry.
Jamaica is a must-see on every Caribbean cruise itinerary, and you won’t want to miss out on the best cruises to Jamaica for a true Caribbean vacation. Cartagenans take day excursions to the best islands to enjoy the resorts and nightlife, and the beach clubs there are the most lively.
Picture yourself scuba diving in pristine waters, kayaking through tranquil mangrove swamps, and enjoying other inexpensive speedboat island adventures.
Vacation spots on Rosario Island are renowned for their relaxed atmosphere, but the adjacent Isla Bar might be more your speed if you’re seeking a lively island escape.
For many, Playa Blanca in Cartagena is the city’s greatest beach. More restaurants, pubs, and nightlife can be found there, and it’s just 45 minutes away by shuttle or even less by cab.
Every country in the Americas is represented at its bustling international airport. When planning your next island getaway, you can count on simple, low-cost transportation options and reasonably-priced lodging.
13. Best Island Vacations: Bora Bora
Bora Bora is another great option if you’re looking for a tropical paradise to visit as a couple. Since it’s such a common place for couples to go on honeymoons, many hotels and spas cater to those needing PDA.
Despite its relatively modest dimensions (the island is just a little over six miles long), this place is quite stunning. Due to its stunning beaches and towering cliffs, this South Pacific island is generally ranked as the most beautiful in the region.
Bora Bora’s residents are among the nicest you’ll encounter due to the island’s reliance on tourism.
Bora Bora is a paradise for adventurers, with excellent trekking, scuba diving, and snorkeling opportunities. If you’re looking for beautiful scenery, a hike up Mount Otemanu is necessary. Overall the unique blend of nature, cultural heritage, and fun sights you can explore makes it one of the best tropical vacation spots.
14. Best Island Vacations: Andaman Islands, India
The Andaman Islands, located in the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar, are a relatively unexplored jewel that boasts some of the planet’s last intact natural ecosystems.
To protect the native fauna, flora, and ecosystems, only a small fraction of the 36 islands in the archipelago are accessible to visitors.
The Andaman Islands have some of the world’s best scuba diving and palm tree-lined beaches. These islands are excellent destinations for explorers who want to see nature in its purest form.
15. Best Island Vacations: The Isle of Skye, Scotland
The term “Isle of Skye” originates from the Old Norse word meaning “cloud island,” which is how the island was originally known. This island off the coast of Scotland lives up to its name since it is both gorgeous and rough.
The bulk of our list consists of tropical and Mediterranean islands. However, there is one exception.
Even when blanketed in fog, the Isle of Skye remains one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The mist creates a calm environment, perfect for taking in the sounds of crashing waves and watching raindrops dance over the moors.
The island reveals rolling green hills dotted with sheep, several old castles, and excellent hiking opportunities when the fog lifts. The local pubs, museums, and distilleries should not be overlooked.
16. Best Island Vacations: Tasmania, Australia
Consider Tasmania if you’re seeking a top island destination for exploration. You may find a hiker’s paradise off the southern coast of Australia, complete with tough paths that lead to breathtaking vistas.
Even though it’s smaller than Australia’s other five states, the island is nevertheless rather sizable.
It’s almost the same size as the Republic of Ireland. Beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons can be found on the Freycinet Peninsula, and the surrounding region is rich with stunning natural features.
You’ll discover warm hospitality among the island’s hospitable locals, as well as the region’s delightful weather, intriguing history, delicious cuisine, excellent wine, and laid-back way of life.
17. Best Island Vacations: Palawan, Philippines
The Philippine island of Palawan is one of the most secluded getaways in all of Southeast Asia. Indeed, it is a beautiful place, a small slice of paradise.
This mystical spot is unparalleled in its splendor, yet it isn’t as well-known to travelers as some other destinations on our list.
It’s easy to believe you’ve come to the end of the world when you sit on the edge of the granite cliff and gaze down at the blue lake below.
UNESCO has recognized several of the fishing villages on these islands as World Heritage Sites due to their historic significance.
One of the world’s greatest places to go scuba diving is at the Japanese wreckage off Coron Island. Take a tour of the Puerto Princesa Underground River or embark on a safari in the Calauit Game Preserve to observe some very unique animals.
18. Best Island Vacations: Te Waipounamu/South Island, New Zealand
The South Island of New Zealand, or Te Waipounamu as the native Maori people call it, is the ideal vacation spot for explorers rather than sunbathers.
South Island is well-known for its stunning beaches and many opportunities for mountaineering and ziplining through the island’s verdant tropical forests.
The main island of New Zealand has everything a traveler might desire.
Glaciers provide the water for the island’s beautiful, icy blue lakes, while the island’s natural hot springs offer much-appreciated relief. Queenstown is a wonderful jumping-off place for tours of nearby wineries and other outdoor activities.
19. Best Island Vacations: Seychelles
Although neighboring island countries like the Maldives may get more attention, Seychelles is quickly becoming a well-liked vacation destination in its own way.
This African country, which consists of a string of islands in the Indian Ocean, has some of the world’s most breathtaking natural settings.
Mahé, Seychelles’ most populous and developed island, is where your journey will begin. It is one of the best islands to travel to if you want to disconnect from the world for a while. Numerous five-star hotels and the country’s picturesque capital may be found in this area.
Those seeking tranquility may hop a boat to the adjacent islands of Praslin and La Digue. You could think you’ve landed on another planet as you bike over the smaller, less populated islands.
20. Best Island Vacations: Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca is one of the best islands in the world for a large group holiday, which is why it is so popular with European tourists. This little island in the Mediterranean is easily reached by car and offers a variety of attractions to visitors.
The beautiful beaches and clean seas of Mallorca are well-known, and so are the island’s charming northern mountain villages, with their cobblestone streets and warm bed and breakfasts.
While it does have its share of rural regions, the island is also home to some luxury hotels. This island has something for everyone, making it ideal for gatherings or vacations with various interests.
Visit a winery, take a train through the mountains to the north, or see a show in a cave to the east. Missing out on the seafood paella and other delectable meals would be regrettable.
Things To Consider When Choosing the Best Island Vacations
You should think about things like the weather, the budget, the means of communication, and the prevalence of infectious diseases, among others, while planning your next island vacation.
Having a tropical environment makes these islands more vulnerable to hurricanes and other forms of extreme weather.
Although many islands have defenses against storms, catastrophic events may nevertheless cause widespread devastation.
During your comfort and safety, plan your trip for the best time of year and pack accordingly. Linen pajamas are great options for women’s pajama sets, so don’t forget to bring yours along.
You shouldn’t schedule a trip to an island during the hurricane or monsoon season, which might occur at any time of year.
As more people decide to take island holidays, the average price per person has increased. However, the cost of staying at a resort or a local institution varies substantially on many of the islands on our list.
Find less costly venues to stay while on vacation by traveling outside of the main tourist regions.
All travelers should anticipate the likelihood of communication hurdles with the natives. You shouldn’t have any trouble engaging with locals as long as you remain in the more popular parts of the aforementioned islands, as virtually everyone speaks English fluently.
In more rural locations, though, you can encounter locals who can only communicate with you in their tongue. Even if it seems impossible, there are always communication methods that should help you reach your destination.
Break out of your shell and try to pick up some rudimentary phrases in the local language to increase your chances of making fast friends. In a tropical region, you could get a sickness that isn’t present in colder regions.
Visitors visiting some islands may be at a higher risk of contracting diseases because they lack knowledge of the area.
You should research the necessary vaccines and other measures to take to prevent illness before visiting an island. Finally, consider some of the best travelers insurance that can cover any unfortunate and rare accidents you may experience during your trip.
Best Island Vacations – FAQs
While we believe this piece has narrowed your island-hopping focus to the best options, we recognize that you still may have questions.
How Do I Get To My Best Island Vacations?
All of the islands on our list are easily reachable by airplane. Almost every major airport offers direct flights to various overseas locations, including Mallorca and South Island. The best islands to visit from the mainland will be at least two hops away.
It is simple to fly to any of these breathtaking tourist destinations.
Are There Any Special Visa Requirements for the Best Island Vacations?
While most islands are only offshoots of larger countries’ mainlands, some of the more interesting and beautiful ones are independent states in their own right. Therefore, islanders are subject to the same visa regulations as mainlanders.
To find out whether you need a visa for your next travel, visit the website of the foreign embassy in your own country.
How Removed Are These Vacation Islands From Mainland Amenities?
The reply to this question may change depending on the island you’re talking about. The only way to solve this problem is to know which island you want to visit. You may take a boat to the mainland if you’re on the Dalmatian islands, Mallorca, or Puerto Rico’s Flamenco island.
When compared, the Andaman Islands are farther distant. Worried about withdrawing into yourself too much? Try one of these locations instead, which are closer to the nation that is home to such a culture.
Is There an Environmental Impact of Traveling to the Best Island Vacations?
We are all too familiar with the effects of climate change. Due to their low elevation and scarcity of land, islands are among the most at-risk places.
Fortunately, many of the islands we’ve chosen provide visitors with environmentally responsible lodging and entertainment options.
Are the Best Island Vacations Good for Families?
The best islands in the world are perfect getaways for families. Their compact size makes exploring them less daunting than the typical mainland tourist hotspot.
Despite their relatively small size, many of these destinations attract visitors of all ages because of the wide range of exciting recreational and cultural pursuits they provide.
The Best Island Vacations: Final Verdict
This lengthy list features some of the world’s best island vacation spots. The islands here cater to all types of vacationers, whether they are in search of quiet on an East Asian beach or excitement among South America’s strange flora and fauna.
From what we’ve gathered, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a fantastic destination for a quiet vacation. It has beautiful beaches, crystal blue water, interesting landmarks, delicious restaurants, and lively nightlife.
Pick the top island vacation on our list that seems like the most fun to you, and your travels may begin there.