Who doesn’t want a taste of the good life on an island? Where you can kick off your shoes, leave work at the door, and where cocktails aren’t simply available — they’re encouraged.
But island vacations aren’t just about lounging on the beach – though that is a significant part of it. They can also be full of adventure, water sports, animal viewing, and ancient cultures dating back thousands of years. So, whether you want a traditional tropical beach vacation or a trip to an unusual habitat undisturbed by tourism, there’s an island waiting for you.
1: Bora Bora
On the volcanic island of Bora Bora, beach bliss is the order of the day. While the island’s massive blue lagoon is the major draw, many visitors come for the island’s stunning white beaches and ultra-luxury resorts, which offer romantic over-water bungalows. Bora Bora has more to offer than just the beach if you’re willing to venture out.
Hike Mount Pahia’s slopes for 360-degree vistas, dive the coral gardens at the island’s northern tip, and swim with sea turtles as part of a local conservation project. Scuba diving with a PADI certification can bring you up close and personal with manta rays, lemon, blacktip, and grey reef sharks.
The picturesque Maldives archipelago, located in the midst of the Indian Ocean, is breathtakingly lovely. The Maldives, which are close to the equator, have a balmy, tropical environment that is ideal for leisurely beach days all year. This archipelago of low-lying islands is known for its high level of luxury and emphasis on slow living.
The Maldives’ luxury housing is out of this world, perfect for honeymooners — choose from underwater villas, over-water villas, and everything in between. There’s also an underwater restaurant for people who like to eat while surrounded by tropical fish schools.
You may spend your days sipping cocktails and sunbathing in the Maldives, interspersed with a snorkelling, diving, or surfing expedition to keep things fresh.
Bali, arguably one of the most popular islands on the planet, is a yogi and surfer’s paradise, with retreats held on a regular basis. While Bali has been increasingly commercialised in recent years, with everything from backpackers to top-rated villa hotels, there is still enough of culture to be found.
Balinese temples, traditional villages, and tourist towns can be found in the Land of the Gods, which is surrounded by forest-clad volcanoes, magnificent beaches, and undulating rice terraces. The primary attraction in Bali is the Uluwatu Temple. It is one of the best sites on the island to watch the sunset, as it is perched on the brink of a cliff.
Water kids will be at home in Bali as well. It’s a terrific snorkelling and diving location because it’s part of the Coral Triangle, which has the largest biodiversity of marine life.
Santorini, a volcanic island, is undoubtedly one of the most well-known islands on the planet. This Greek island is known for its beautiful sunsets, which are characterised by whitewashed and blue-domed Cycladic settlements clinging the caldera cliffs above the edge of the Aegean.
Relax on the volcanic beaches, stroll through the alleyways of Oia town, wine and dine at gourmet tavernas, or sail out into the sunset on a luxury catamaran tour. You’ll surely rub elbows with the affluent and famous, as it is one of Greece’s most costly islands. Santorini is unique not only because of its beauty but also because of its Mediterranean climate.
5: St Lucia
The once-colonial island of Saint Lucia, a tropical getaway in the Eastern Caribbean, is about as picturesque as it gets. It is unabashedly photogenic, with the distinctive Pitons, lush jungles, clifftop waterfalls, banana and pineapple farms, and some of the most gorgeous volcanic beaches.
While many visitors fly in to enjoy the island’s top-notch beach resorts and visit the charming fishing towns, Castries, the melting-pot capital, is also a popular cruise port. Saint Lucia has it all, from sulphur springs and isolated bays to bustling markets and Caribbean dance celebrations.
The Seychelles is one of those prestigious island getaways. These 115 granite islands in the Indian Ocean, which are popular among the affluent and famous, are exquisite to say the least. It is a natural nirvana, encompassing a victory of nature reserves, golden beaches, jungles, and spectacular coral reefs.
Each island has something unique to offer: Mahe for a culturally rich experience, La Digue for a more natural encounter, Praslin for beach hopping, and Silhouette for fantastic diving. In the Seychelles, you’ll encounter protected bird species like the rare Seychelles black parrot, which is also the national bird, and share the beaches with huge 100-year-old Aldabra tortoises.
7: Ko Phi Phi
One of Thailand’s most well-known archipelagos is Ko Phi Phi. It is most known for a beautiful natural bay that was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Beach. While many visitors travel to Phi Phi for Maya Bay, there are numerous other attractions to draw you to the island.
With pearl-white sand beaches and green waterways, the six islands of Phi Phi are breathtakingly gorgeous. Hire a longtail boat and spend your days swimming and snorkelling amid the amazing aquatic life. The nearby islets, such as Monkey Beach, are worth a visit because they are home to a slew of cheeky tree-swinging monkeys.
The Hawaiian island of Kauai, affectionately known as the Garden Isle, is an exquisite area full of gushing waterfalls, tropical jungles, isolated beaches, and mountainous coasts. A journey to Kauai isn’t your typical beach vacation. There are adventures around every turn here, and your experience is all up to you.
Make memories while ziplining through the rainforest, hiking to waterfalls, kayaking along meandering rivers, and seeing dolphins and whales. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to natural wonders: stroll through the majestic Waimea Canyon and visit the Insta-famous Napali Coast, which has been featured in over 60 films and television shows.
9: Faroe Islands
To see everything the 18 volcanic Faroe Islands have to offer, plan on spending at least a week there. The island kingdom, which is only a short flight from the UK, has long been connected with the Kingdom of Denmark, but it is truly self-governed. What makes the archipelago so unique is how underestimated and untouristy it is.
Did you know that from November to February, you may view the Northern Lights here? It’s a favourite site for wildlife aficionados seeking a view of thousands of coastal birds, including clifftop puffin colonies, in addition to its breathtaking landscape of majestic valleys, secluded settlements, and jaw-dropping waterfalls.
Hvar is a Croatian island off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Hvar is known for its summer beach parties and glamorous nightlife scene, but it has much more to offer than raves and hangovers.
Take your time learning about the island’s history by visiting the oldest port town in Croatia, Stari Grad, and the Venetian-style fortification built on a mountaintop above Hvar Town. Alternatively, take in the island’s gorgeous natural beauty, which includes quiet beaches and inland violet lavender fields, as well as undulating vineyards known for their superb Croatian wines.