Discover the Best Tropical Islands: A Paradise of Sun, Sand, and Serenity
Are you in dire need of a tropical escape? Look no further! This article unveils a mesmerizing lineup of the best tropical islands around the world that will instantly transport you to paradise. From the picture-perfect beaches of the US and British Virgin Islands, to the lush landscapes of Bali and the stunning coral reefs in the Maldives, get ready to be enchanted by these idyllic destinations. So sit back, relax, and let us whisk you away to the ultimate tropical getaway!
These nine islands are situated 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away from the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. Although technically subtropical islands, the Azores offer a unique getaway experience beyond the typical resort vacation. The islands are known for their abundance of hiking trails and stunning natural beauty.
Each of the islands has its own distinct characteristics. Rent a car and explore the scenic roads of the main island, São Miguel, where you'll discover secluded beaches and picturesque waterfalls. Pico is renowned for its wine, while São Jorge offers incredible hiking opportunities. One of the best aspects is that the Azores are conveniently located near both Europe and North America, making it a perfect stopover destination for those traveling between the two continents.
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BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE AZORES: Out of the Blue – This boutique hostel features a stunning interior, fast Wi-Fi, and a beautiful garden with hammocks for ultimate relaxation.
To begin planning your trip, take a look at my budget travel guide to Portugal!
***Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the incredible tropical islands in the world. There are countless others that are worth exploring, but it would take a lifetime to visit them all (although I would certainly be up for the challenge!).
That being said, I believe these tropical islands are some of the best in the world. Each one offers a slice of paradise and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
But don't just take my word for it. Book a trip and experience the beauty of these islands for yourself!
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Thomas (US Virgin Islands)
Immerse yourself in island life on one of the world's best tropical destinations, featuring stunning beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life – all without leaving the United States.
As someone who has lived on St. Thomas for a few years now, I can confidently say that it is one of the most accessible tropical destinations from mainland United States, whether you're on the east coast or the west coast. Despite its easy accessibility, this small island offers a plethora of exciting activities and experiences.
St. Thomas is renowned for its world-class beaches such as Magens Bay, upscale beachfront resorts, delectable dining options, and opportunities for island hopping to nearby tropical destinations like Water Island, St. John, St. Croix, the British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Croix (US Virgin Islands)
Indulge in local rum and escape to white-sand beaches in this tropical paradise within the United States.
Although I reside on nearby St. Thomas, St. Croix, the larger tropical island of the US Virgin Islands, holds a special place in my heart. It may very well be my favorite destination in the US Virgin Islands.
St. Croix has a unique multicultural atmosphere, showcasing the best aspects of various Caribbean nations with a strong Latin influence from its Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. The local cuisine and traditions reflect this diverse heritage.
As for the top activities on St. Croix, the island offers incredible diving opportunities at world-renowned sites like the Cane Bay Wall and the Frederiksted Pier. Sandy Point Beach is a personal favorite among the beaches in the US Virgin Islands, while hiking to the Annaly Bay Tide Pools offers an exhilarating adventure.
Other must-visit attractions include the three properties managed by the US National Park System: Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park & Ecological Preserve, and Christiansted National Historic Site.
John (US Virgin Islands)
Savor rum drinks under palm trees after an invigorating hike in the Virgin Islands National Park.
Thanks to the Virgin Islands National Park, St. John is perhaps the least developed of the main islands in the Virgin Islands and the wider West Indies. This island's natural beauty is unparalleled, with untouched rainforests seamlessly merging with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.
My wife and I frequently visit St. John from our home on St. Thomas, as it is just a short ferry ride away. It is our favorite Caribbean destination to immerse ourselves in nature through hiking, snorkeling in vibrant coral reefs, or simply enjoying a blissful day at one of the many stunning beaches.
Best Tropical Islands: US British Virgin Islands
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The Virgin Islands are divided into the US Virgin Islands, which include St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, and the British Virgin Islands, comprising Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and several smaller islands and cays. All these islands belong to the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. On the US side, St. Croix is a charming, historic, and culturally diverse island, St. John is a popular eco-friendly destination, and St. Thomas is a chic and sophisticated island.
On the British side, the islands are less developed but more exclusive, catering to affluent luxury travelers and sailing enthusiasts.
British Virgin Islands
Sail through the 60 islands of the BVIs and discover secluded coves, vibrant beach bars, and pristine beaches.
The British Virgin Islands consist of an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, comprising four main islands and 60 smaller islets and cays. Each main island offers its own unique experiences. Jost Van Dyke is famous for its iconic Soggy Dollar Beach Bar, while Anegada hosts a vibrant lobster festival. Tortola's Road Town showcases Caribbean and cultural heritage, and The Baths of Virgin Gorda features stunning rock formations.
With so many islands to explore, the best way to experience the BVIs is by boat – either by chartering one for a week or ferrying between islands while staying on Tortola, the largest island. The most convenient way to reach the British Virgin Islands is by ferry or water taxi from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
The Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
The Mamanuca Islands, Fiji If you're dreaming of an idyllic South Seas island bathed in sunshine, the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji are a perfect choice. Just a short boat ride from the charming town of Nadi, this collection of approximately 20 islands is known for their picturesque palm-fringed beaches, crystal-clear waters, and thriving coral reefs.
When you first set eyes on these tropical wonders, it's easy to understand why they have been featured in movies like Survivor and Cast Away. The best Fiji island for you to stay on will depend on your budget and interests.
Accommodation options range from lively backpacker resorts to family-friendly hotels with traditional thatched bures and luxurious hideaways.
Around a mile away from Tavarua Island Resort, you'll find one of the world's top surf breaks, Cloudbreak. However, this legendary break can be accessed from other island resorts as well.
Fijians are known for their warm hospitality, making the islands a wonderful destination for families with children seeking relaxation. Numerous family-friendly resorts can be found here as well.
Kaua'i, Hawaii Known as the Garden Isle, Kaua'i is a tropical paradise with lush rainforests, waterfalls, and awe-inspiring green coastal peaks that attract nature enthusiasts from around the globe. This island is a natural masterpiece, characterized by dramatic lava-sculpted landscapes, and it offers a more laid-back ambiance compared to its popular sister islands, Maui and Oahu.
Despite being home to one of the rainiest places on Earth, Kaua'i boasts various microclimates, and the area around tourist-favorite Poipu tends to be drier.
Underwater, vibrant coral reefs await with turtles and tropical fish. On land, you can relax on golden beaches, admire the breathtaking scenery from the cliffs overlooking Hanalei Bay, hike along the velvety peaks of the majestic Napali Coast, and explore the enchanting, jungle-filled Waimea Canyon, stretching over 10 miles. Other highlights include tropical gardens, waterfalls, charming coastal towns, and fantastic surf breaks. It's not uncommon to share the beach with resting monk seals – nature truly reigns supreme on this island, adding to its allure.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Kauai
Big Island Hawaii
Situated over 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) off the west coast of mainland USA, Hawaii's largest island has an extraordinary range of activities to offer. What sets it apart from other islands is Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, which houses two of the world's largest and most active volcanoes. This park has earned recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve due to its exceptional natural value. Visitors can explore volcanoes, hike through old lava tubes, and witness the mesmerizing sight of new lava flowing into the ocean.
Moreover, the island boasts numerous waterfalls, excellent snorkeling and diving spots, and the lush wilderness of Waipi'o Valley, which was once a royal residence. Big Island truly has it all – after all, it's Hawaii, so you can't go wrong!
The wet season occurs from October to March, during which the weather is cooler. However, it's worth noting that weather conditions can vary significantly between each island, so it's always best to be prepared!
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BEST PLACE TO STAY IN HAWAII: My Hawaii Hostel – This hostel is conveniently located and offers free parking, Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, and a comfortable indoor/outdoor common area for relaxation.
To begin planning your trip, take a look at my budget travel guide to Hawaii!
The stunning North Shore of Oahu offers breathtaking views of its beautiful beaches. Taking a helicopter flight allowed us to fully appreciate the magnitude of the waves for surfing. The island of Oahu holds a rich history and natural beauty. In addition to exploring the renowned Pearl Harbor and paying respects to fallen heroes of World War II, visitors can witness incredible surf on the North Shore and discover a wide range of shopping and dining options. Oahu is an amazing island to visit and a top choice for a trip to Hawaii. To explore more Hawaiian islands, including the Big Island of Hawai'i, Lanai, and Molokai, check out our video of our helicopter flight over Oahu.
Maui, one of the most beautiful islands in the world, embodies the laid-back and tropical vibe of the Pacific. While other Hawaiian islands offer nightlife and high-rises, Maui has maintained a relaxed and low-key atmosphere. There are countless amazing activities to enjoy on the island, from surfing and stand-up paddleboarding to driving the famous Hana Highway and observing whales. With its world-class surf breaks, magnificent beaches, volcanic hikes, and enchanting waterfalls, Maui is a paradise you won't want to leave. We have personally stayed at various hotels on Maui and can confidently recommend each one for a unique experience.
Boracay, situated in the Western Visayas islands of the Philippines, is an idyllic tropical destination. Its White Beach features incredibly soft sand often compared to baby talc, making it the finest beach in the world. Visitors can indulge in beachside relaxation, get massages, and enjoy beach establishments. After sunset, the atmosphere transforms into a lively scene of dancing and partying. The island offers a plethora of outdoor activities such as sailing, kayaking, trekking, golfing, diving, mountain biking, boating, windsurfing, and more. Boracay is truly a destination that combines everything for an unforgettable vacation.
Ko Lipe, located in the Andaman Sea near the Malaysian border, is a breathtaking island in Thailand. It is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is renowned for its thriving coral reefs and pristine sandy beaches. The main beaches on Ko Lipe are Pattay and hat Chao Le, and beyond the shoreline, the island offers exceptional diving opportunities. Divers can explore dive sites like the 8 Mile Rock Pinnacle and the notable Yong Hua shipwreck. Festival season from May to November showcases the rich cultural traditions of the local islanders, the Urak Lawoi, through their impressive ceremonies and wooden boat floating rituals. Ko Lipe is a true tropical gem worth visiting.
Bali and the Gili Islands
Bali, chosen time and time again as one of the best islands in the world, offers a complete tropical experience. It boasts excellent surfing, delectable cuisine, affordable prices, vibrant parties, friendly locals, volcanic hikes, and captivating temples. Additionally, the nearby Gili Islands provide another incredible island getaway. Both Bali and the Gili Islands offer a range of activities and constant pleasant weather, making them an ideal tropical vacation destination. To find the best places to stay in Bali and the Gili Islands, we recommend checking out Tribal Bali, a unique coworking space and hostel with great amenities. Start planning your Bali trip by reading our budget travel guide.
Bali, Indonesia, is a tropical paradise with a spiritual ambiance that entices travelers. From fragrant incense-filled temples to vibrant rice paddies and friendly locals, Bali offers a range of highlights. This affordable destination is perfect for those seeking cheap tropical vacations, as food and accommodations are relatively inexpensive. Whether you're looking for a lively beach scene with plenty of shops and restaurants in Kuta or Seminyak, a family-friendly atmosphere with gentle waves in Sanur, or an emerald escape in the lush hills of Ubud, Bali has it all. Don't forget to indulge in affordable spa treatments and choose from a variety of accommodation options, ranging from budget hostels to luxurious beach resorts and villas staffed with personal chefs and drivers. Don't miss out on exploring the neighboring island of Lombok as well.
Bora Bora, Tahiti
Bora Bora in Tahiti is the epitome of a South Pacific paradise. With its lush landscapes, emerald peak, crystal-clear lagoon, and coconut palm-fringed beaches, it truly astounds. Bora Bora offers a mix of natural beauty and cultural appeal, as the official language is French and the cuisine showcases Gallic influences. Visitors can enjoy a range of water sports, kayak to tiny motu islands, embark on picturesque hikes, go shark diving, and create unforgettable memories. It's no wonder that Bora Bora is often considered a top honeymoon destination and one of the best tropical vacations for couples. Experience the ultimate tropical vacation in Bora Bora by staying at one of the best resorts on the island.
Immerse yourself in pure luxury and the unique beauty of Tahiti, the dream destination for honeymooners and the birthplace of over-water bungalows. Tahiti is one of the most sought-after honeymoon destinations in the world, and for good reason. With its private island resorts and opportunities for pure relaxation, it offers an unparalleled tropical island experience. Indulge in the serene atmosphere alongside your loved one.
The Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are a bucket-list destination known for their extraordinary wildlife and natural wonders. Located 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, these islands are a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. Formed from active volcanoes, they are famous for being the birthplace of Darwin's theory of evolution. Here, you can encounter unique species such as marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, orcas, manta rays, and the iconic Giant Galapagos tortoise. It is important to be mindful of the fragile ecosystem and the impact of climate change on the islands. Take the opportunity to explore the Galápagos Islands while ensuring responsible travel practices. Engage in activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and diving to fully experience the wonders of this incredible destination.
San Blas Islands
San Blas Islands, located in Panama, are often overlooked but offer a secluded and rustic tropical getaway. Comprising 378 islands, the San Blas Islands provide unique charm and character. Surrounded by the MesoAmerican Reef, they are perfect for snorkeling, diving, and sailing. These mostly uninhabited islands are under the care of the Guna indigenous people, ensuring an authentic experience and a chance to disconnect from the outside world. Accommodations range from simple huts to hammocks and tents, immersing visitors in the serenity of the islands. Embark on sailing expeditions to explore the surrounding waters. The San Blas Islands offer an off-the-grid island experience that is truly unforgettable.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye in Belize is a popular destination and the largest of the country's 200 cayes. Located off the Yucatán Peninsula, it offers stunning Caribbean beaches perfect for fishing and diving. While swimming may be limited due to the turtle grass flats, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve compensates with exceptional diving and snorkeling just a short distance from the shore. Exploring this underwater wonderland allows encounters with nurse sharks, stingrays, and a variety of marine life. Anglers flock to Ambergris Caye to fish for bonefish and try their luck with permit, tarpon, snook, and barracuda. The colorful town of San Pedro adds to the island's charm, with its golf carts, local cuisine, and strong Mexican influence due to its proximity to Mexico. Choose from a range of top-rated beach resorts for your accommodation in Ambergris Caye.
The Beautiful Isla de Providencia (Old Providence)
Located between Costa Rica and Jamaica, Providencia is an enchanting part of Colombia. Isla de Providencia comprises the smaller islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina, which together cover a total area of 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles). It is a true natural wonder, serving as the focal point for the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO Marine Protected Area, and being home to the 2,400-acre Old Providence McBean Lagoon national park.
Unlike its more luxurious Caribbean counterparts, Providencia offers more affordable accommodations in the form of budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Due to the necessity of transportation by ship or airplane, prices are not excessively cheap. However, the lack of non-native property owners prevents excessive development, allowing the island to maintain its simple yet stunning beauty. If you seek a rustic and non-touristy getaway, Isla de Providencia might just be the perfect destination for you!
Popular Activities to Enjoy
- Embark on a Hike to El Pico
- Engage in Diving & Snorkeling Adventures
- Relax and Unwind on Playa Manzanillo
To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Colombia!
Discover the Beauty of the Dominican Republic
Aerial view of Bavaro beach, Punta Cana, Dominican RepublicOn the eastern side of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic stands as a top choice for travelers on a budget. However, this popular vacation destination offers much more than its stunning beaches and all-inclusive resorts.
Rich in history and culture, often referred to as "DR," the country showcases a diverse range of eco-systems within the Caribbean region. From lush jungles and arid deserts to serene mangroves, vibrant coral reefs, vast savannas, and majestic green peaks, the Dominican Republic truly has it all.
Venture beyond the tourist areas of Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, and La Romana, where all-inclusive resorts line the picturesque palm-fringed beaches. Here, countless adventures await. Scale the highest peaks in the Caribbean, navigate the exhilarating white waters of the Río Yaque del Norte, hike through the lush jungles to uncover breathtaking waterfalls, bike along alpine trails within the enchanting pine forests, and discover the untouched beaches of the Samaná Peninsula. Cultural attractions also abound.
The capital, Santo Domingo, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beckons visitors with its charming colonial architecture and captivating history. However, if your goal is to simply bask under the sun on a gorgeous beach, dive into the crystal-clear waters, swim, surf, or snorkel, the Dominican Republic offers abundant opportunities to fulfill your desires.
Experience the Magic of Santorini, Greece
The best island vacations happen in Greece The decision to include Santorini, Greece in this post was not an easy one. Is it truly a tropical destination? Well, during our visit, the weather was hot, and it undeniably had a tropical vibe. While it leans more towards a Mediterranean climate, it generally maintains pleasant temperatures throughout the year. Moreover, Santorini is undeniably one of the most breathtaking islands we have ever encountered. While many people envision Santorini for its iconic blue domes, the island boasts a plethora of stunning beaches, including the Black Beach, Red Beach, and Amoudi Bay.
Uncover the Beauty of the Whitsunday Islands in Australia
The Whitsunday Islands, a mesmerizing group of 75 islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia, are renowned for their white sandbars and stunning underwater formations in crystal clear waters. The striking contrast between the pristine white beaches and the turquoise waters is truly remarkable. Furthermore, the Whitsundays are located within the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, making it an ideal destination for fully immersing in the rich marine life.
When it comes to the best way to explore the mesmerizing coral reefs, booking a liveaboard cruise is highly recommended. This allows for ample time to truly experience the wonders of the islands.
Among the islands, the largest and most famous is Whitehaven Beach, which is surrounded by breathtaking coral reefs and boasts crystal clear waters. It is difficult to find a better coral reef experience than the one surrounding the Whitsundays. Additionally, this area is perfect for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. For a luxurious tropical vacation in Australia, there is no better place to be than the Whitsunday Islands.
Discover the Tranquility of the Whitsunday Islands (Australia)
Sail, Snorkel, and Dive into the World's Largest Coral Reef System.
During my initial months-long backpacking trip, I had the incredible opportunity to set sail in the enchanting Whitsunday Islands in Australia. Even to this day, I struggle to find anything quite as marvellous as the breathtaking string of islands, particularly the powdery white sands of Whitehaven Beach.
Situated within the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the archipelago offers unparalleled opportunities for snorkeling and diving. Sailing charters depart from Airlie Beach daily, a vibrant town boasting backpacker hostels, high-end resorts, and delightful dining options. The village can be accessed via a bus ride from larger cities like Brisbane and Cairns or by flying directly to the regional airport (PPP).
Escape to the Scenic Beauty of Cay Caulker, Belize
Cay Caulker in Belize is a truly idyllic haven. This little slice of paradise enforces a no motorized vehicles policy, providing the perfect setting for relaxation. The stunning coral reef and crystal-clear waters off the coast create an awe-inspiring environment for scuba diving and snorkeling. For an unforgettable experience, a visit to Shark Ray Alley to swim with the nurse sharks is an absolute must.
We stumbled upon an exceptional place to stay called Deb and Dave’s Last Resort. The fantastic couple who runs it perfectly enhances the overall experience with their warm hospitality.
Indulge in the Tranquility of the Abacos, The Bahamas
Palm-fringed island in the Abacos | Photo Copyright: Karen HastingsSituated almost 300 kilometers east of Florida, the enchanting Abacos, located in the Bahamas, offer unparalleled waters for boating and sailing. Nestled away from the bustling tourist spots of nearby Florida, these peaceful Atlantic islands, often referred to as the Out Islands or Family Islands, exude a sense of tranquility. Secluded pine-fringed beaches, thriving coral reefs, and serene fishing villages, where golf carts and boats are the primary modes of transportation, create an ideal atmosphere.
British Loyalists settled on these islands, leaving behind a rich heritage that can be witnessed through the charming and vibrant colonial cottages lining the narrow streets. The areas of Elbow Cay, known for its famous candy-striped lighthouse, the captivating Green Turtle Cay, which immerses visitors in the old-world charm of the Bahamas, and the mesmerizing Treasure Cay in Great Abaco with its ravishing white-sand beach embraced by stunning turquoise waters, are prime destinations for a peaceful vacation. Other popular islands include Guana Cay, Walker's Cay, and Man "O' War Cay.
Engaging in fishing, diving, snorkeling, relaxing, and mingling with the locals are highly recommended activities throughout the Bahamas, with miles of pristine beaches offering ample opportunities to find your own private patch of soft, white sand.
Discover the Best of Tropical Paradise in the Bahamas
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The Bahamas is a coral archipelago comprised of 700 islands and over 2000 cays, scattered across 100,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, around 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The population of the islands ranges from deserted to bustling, and the most frequently visited ones are Grand Bahama and Paradise Island. Home to the magnificent Andros Barrier Reef, the Bahamas is a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts and is known for being one of the best tropical island destinations in the Caribbean.
Exploring Thunderball Grotto, made famous by the James Bond movie Thunderball, and witnessing the black coral gardens of Bimini should not be missed. The crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas are renowned as some of the clearest in the world, providing incredible visibility of up to 200 feet or more. Discovered by Christopher Columbus, exploited by the Spanish, and frequented by pirates, the Bahamas now warmly welcome visitors from across the globe. It is an ideal destination for a family vacation, offering a wide range of attractions and activities, from captivating historic tours to lavish resorts for the ultimate pampering experience. Whether you choose to partake in fishing, boating, kayaking, diving, or simply relaxing on one of the spectacular white beaches, the Bahamas has something to suit every taste.
Experience the Tropical Paradise of The Bahamas
Photo Credit: [@ugljevarevic/DepositPhotos]When it comes to seeking a tropical getaway, few places can rival The Bahamas. With its luxurious resorts, azure waters, and soft sandy beaches, The Bahamas offers the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. However, this stunning archipelago is not only for leisure-seekers, as it also caters to the adventurous spirits. From scuba diving and snorkeling to windsurfing and kiteboarding, there is no shortage of exhilarating activities to keep you engaged. Let's not forget the exquisite culinary experiences, whether indulging in fresh seafood or savoring a plate of conch fritters. Your taste buds are sure to be delighted in The Bahamas.
Escape to the Beauty of Barbados
Photo Credit: [@phb.cz/DepositPhotos]Vacationing in Barbados is an unforgettable experience. From the moment you arrive, you'll be captivated by the island's natural beauty. The white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters are reminiscent of a postcard, and the lush green hills and gardens are simply breathtaking. The locals go above and beyond to make visitors feel welcome, and it doesn't take long to fall in love with the laid-back lifestyle of the island.
Discover the Enchanting Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Located on the eastern coast of Malaysia, the Perhentians consist of two main islands, Perhentian Kecil ("Lesser Perhentian") and Perhentian Besar ("Greater Perhentian"). These islands are characterized by their palm tree-lined beaches and crystal blue waters. Despite being the smaller of the two islands, Kecil offers a livelier atmosphere with more affordable accommodations and a broader range of activities. On the other hand, Besar boasts more upscale resorts, making it a preferred choice for families, honeymooners, and luxury travelers.
Visitors to the Perhentian Islands can spend their days lounging on the beach, taking breaks from the previous night's festivities. With a name translating to "stopping point" in Malay, the islands truly encapsulate an atmosphere of relaxation. Diving enthusiasts and snorkelers will be delighted by the diverse coral, sea turtles, sharks, and vibrant fish residing in the reefs and clear waters.
It is worth noting that a strong monsoon season affects the timing of visits, which is best between March and October. During other times, it is advisable to explore other destinations such as Thailand, where the weather is more favorable.
Popular Activities to Engage in
- Embark on a Jungle Trekking Adventure
- Encounter Turtles at Turtle Beach
- Explore the Underwater World through Diving
To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to the Perhentian Islands!
Unveil the Wonder of Phuket, Thailand
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Among the breathtaking islands of Southern Thailand, Phuket, the largest and most popular, stands out. Located on the Andaman Sea, Phuket boasts revered beaches such as the crystal-clear waters of Surin Beach and the stunning sunsets viewed from LaemPhromthep Viewpoint near Laem Singh Beach. Chinese influences permeate the island, from its restaurants to its shrines. Each year, a Chinese Vegetarian Festival takes place. Visitors will be captivated by the famous James Bond Island in PhangNga Bay, vibrant nightlife along Bangla Road, and glittering pagodas at WatChalong temple. To gain insight into the Chinese influence, a visit to the Phuket Thaihua Museum is highly recommended.
Experience the Marvels of the Andaman Coast, Thailand
Phi Phi Island The Andaman Coast provides a convenient base for exploring the stunning islands of the Andaman Sea. These lush limestone peaks emerge from turquoise waters, forming one of the most awe-inspiring seascapes on the planet.
Renowned islands include the Phi Phi Islands, such as Ko Phi Phi Don, known for its numerous resorts, and Ko Phi Phi Leh, which served as the filming location for the movie "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. While these islands are part of the popular Phuket Day Trip circuit, it is still possible to find serene and unspoiled spots further away. Phang Nga Bay is home to more than a hundred emerald isles, including the famous James Bond Island.
Khao Sok National Park | Photo Copyright: Karen HastingsKrabi or popular Phuket, Thailand's largest island, are popular areas to use as a base for exploring the captivating natural beauty. The mesmerizing scenery continues inland at Khao Sok National Park, where you can immerse yourself in the lush jungle-clad peaks and interact with elephants.
Accommodation options range from homestays and budget-friendly bamboo shacks on the beach to luxurious villa-style resorts perched on cliffs overlooking the sea. Even high-end resorts tend to be more affordable compared to other tropical destinations.
This destination is an excellent choice for those seeking an exotic culture, fiery cuisine, and stunning scenery without breaking the bank. It is advisable to avoid the southwest monsoon, which typically affects the coast from the end of May to the middle of October.
Southern Thailand’s Islands
Famous long-tail boats of Thailand in Krabi Province Thailand has some of the most stunning islands and beaches around the world. We could write a whole article or photo story just about its incredible offshore getaways! Thailand's islands range from remote and unspoiled paradises to retreats filled with luxurious resorts lining white sandy beaches.
Koh Lipe is one of our favorite islands, but Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao are all equally beautiful. And let's not forget the amazing state of Krabi with its stunning karst formations and white sand beaches. That's why we can't choose just one tropical island from Thailand for this list. They are all absolutely gorgeous!
Located right on the Malaysian border, the journey to Koh Lipe is definitely worth it. Southern Thailand's beaches are adorned with longtail boats, creating the perfect tropical setting for anyone visiting the region. And let's not overlook the many undeveloped islands in Thailand. If you book a kayaking tour with John Gray, you can even spend a night camping on a secluded beach.
Beautiful South Australian Beach Who knew Australia had so many islands? Another hidden gem in Australia is Fraser Island. While South Australia may not attract as many tourists as New South Wales and Queensland, Kangaroo Island stands out as a special destination.
Kangaroo Island is home to Australia's most beautiful beach, Vivonne Beach. It was voted the best beach in the country for its pristine and crystal-clear waters, as well as its lack of overcrowding. So it's only fitting to include it in our travel guide of the world's best islands. Kangaroo Island is not just visually stunning, but it also offers a plethora of things to see and do, especially for wildlife enthusiasts. From kangaroos and koalas to seals and the extraordinary Remarkables, there's something for everyone.
- Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island – We recommend Seascape Lodge. For more Kangaroo Island accommodations, check out TripAdvisor.
- Read all about our time on Kangaroo Island here!
The Canary Islands
Located just off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa, the Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago owned by Spain. Comprising of 7 main islands, each offers a unique experience for travelers seeking to relax and enjoy island life.
Tenerife, the largest of the islands, has a little bit of everything. It is home to one of the largest Carnival festivals in the world, held annually in February. Additionally, Tenerife boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the city of La Laguna and Teide National Park, which houses Mount Teide, Spain's largest mountain and the world's third-largest volcano.
For pristine beaches, head to Fuerteventura and bask in the sun. And if you're up for some hiking, Gran Canaria offers diverse and breathtaking landscapes. No matter which Canary Island you choose, you'll have the opportunity to experience one of the world's best tropical island destinations.
MOST POPULAR ACTIVITIES
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE CANARY ISLANDS: Check out Lagarto House - a chill hostel in Tenerife with an outdoor pool, bikes for beach access, a BBQ area, and a fully-equipped kitchen.
To start planning your trip, take a look at my budget travel guide to Spain!
Maldives is a Tropical Paradise
We may not have been to Bora Bora, but we have experienced the pure bliss of the Maldives. The famous overwater bungalows in the Maldives perfectly epitomize luxury escapes. It's hard not to feel like you've found paradise when staying here.
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is truly a stunning island. The velvety white sandy beaches are perfect for leisurely walks, and the crystal-clear turquoise waters are warm and inviting. Imagine swaying in a hammock under palm trees while enjoying the ocean breeze.
The Maldives offers excellent diving opportunities with its abundant coral reefs. It's especially famous for its sea turtles, which we had the pleasure of encountering during our snorkeling trip. Cultural experiences are also available on the islands. So make sure to include the Maldives in your tropical island destinations.
We stayed at: Cinnamon Donveli, a resort with exclusive overwater bungalows. We also enjoyed our time at Cinnamon Hakkua Hura, a family-friendly resort offering surfing, overwater bungalows, and a beautiful sandy beach.
- Read more: Explore the 10 Best Things to do in the Maldives
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Visitors often equate paradise with the thousand islands that make up the Maldives. Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, these islands offer unspoiled beauty and seclusion. Each of the 90 resorts is situated on its own private island, providing a truly exclusive experience. From the remarkable undersea restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island to the Four Seasons Maldives annual surfing championship at KudaHuraa, there is plenty to see and do. Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound, with vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life. The powdery white sand beaches and turquoise waters are perfect for beach lovers. Honeymooners, eco-travelers, and nature enthusiasts will find their slice of paradise in the Maldives.
Aerial view of MauritiusKnown as the "pearl of the Indian Ocean," Mauritius is a breathtaking island paradise located off the coast of Madagascar. Its volcanic landscapes give the island a unique and striking beauty. Luxury resorts with spas and golf courses are nestled along the pristine sandy beaches.
Beaches are a highlight of Mauritius, with Le Morne beach, Flic en Flac, and Pereybere standing out among the best. Many visitors also make a trip to Iles aux Cerf to enjoy the idyllic lagoon. With its turquoise waters, Mauritius offers a range of aquatic activities such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, kitesurfing, sailing, and deep-sea fishing.
Mauritius is also known for its rich biodiversity, with numerous endemic species of plants and animals, including the famous dodo bird. Nature lovers can hike to Chamarel Waterfall, climb the UNESCO-listed Morne Brabant, and spot the island's diverse bird species.
And let's not forget about the culinary delights of Mauritius. The local cuisine reflects the island's multicultural heritage, blending Indian, African, Chinese, and French influences.
With its abundance of rewarding experiences, it's no wonder Mauritius is a popular choice for a tropical honeymoon.
Port Douglas, Australia
Four Mile Beach Port Douglas is a dream destination for adventure-seeking nature lovers. Located about an hour's drive north of Cairns in Queensland, this upscale town has transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a popular tropical tourist resort. It serves as a convenient base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, two of Australia's most diverse and stunning ecosystems.
The Great Barrier Reef, known for its fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities, lies just a short distance from Port Douglas. On the other hand, the Daintree Rainforest, a part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, extends to the reef-fringed waters of Cape Tribulation.
Port Douglas itself is lined with lush streets adorned with mango trees, palms, upscale shops, cozy cafes, and art galleries. One of its star attractions is Four Mile Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand enveloped by tropical jungle. Swimming is restricted during marine stinger season, but it remains a favorite spot for leisurely walks.
Other popular tourist attractions in Port Douglas include the Wildlife Habitat, where visitors can interact with native animals, and the Flames of the Forest Aboriginal Culture and Rainforest Dining Experience. Fishing trips and expeditions through the rugged Cape York Peninsula are also highly sought after.
The winter season, spanning from May to September, offers the best weather conditions for visiting, with cooler temperatures and drier weather prevailing.
The secluded tropical paradise of Fraser Island, Australia Fraser Island may not often feature on lists of tropical islands, but it definitely should. Its beaches are absolutely stunning! Exploring the 75-mile beach of Fraser Island in a four-wheel-drive vehicle is an adventure like no other, making it an ideal tropical vacation destination. You'll find resorts with swimming pools, freshwater beaches with white sand where you can swim, champagne pools for relaxation, and countless spots to simply unwind and take in the beauty.
Fraser Island feels like a hidden oasis, with dingoes wandering along the beaches and single track trails leading through the interior jungle to secluded lakes. Check out our Fraser Island Tour to learn more about this enchanting destination.
Palawan (The Philippines)
Embark on an adventure through the Philippines' best tropical islands while visiting the islands' numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
When it comes to the best tropical islands in the Philippines, it's nearly impossible to choose just one - the country has thousands of them. However, Palawan stands out, primarily because of its easy accessibility, natural beauty, and abundance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of its notable attractions is the Puerto Princesa Underground River, recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Palawan offers the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers, couples, and families. Upon arrival, you'll find various accommodation options, ranging from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly hostels.
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Beloved by divers from all over the world, Cebu is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for adventurous tourists. Long and narrow, Cebu Island is located in the Visayas archipelago, roughly in the center of the Philippines Islands. It is characterized by a narrow, sandy coastline, limestone plateaus, and fertile coastal plains. Rugged mountain ranges rise up to 3,300 feet at the highest point, and hills traverse the island from north to south.
Cebu's appeal lies in its beaches, breathtaking coral atolls, smaller surrounding islands, and vibrant fishing scene. The best beaches feature expansive stretches of fine white sand, while the best diving spots are found off the northern tip of the island at Bantayan and Malapascua islands. If you ever tire of the sun and water, Cebu City awaits, offering lively bars, diverse restaurants, the fascinating Museo Sugbo, the stunning Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, and the mesmerizing Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary.
The Cook Islands
Indulge in pristine white sand beaches on this beautiful tropical getaway in the South Pacific.
The Cook Islands are an untouched gem of the South Pacific, nestled between French Polynesia and American Samoa. Though slightly challenging to reach, these 15 islands offer some of the most pristine beaches, stunning coral reefs, and crystal-clear waters you'll ever encounter.
Rarotonga, the country's most accessible and largest island, is filled with secluded yet thrilling adventures like buggy rides, snorkeling with sea turtles, and indulging in local cuisine.
And while you'll find a range of small and quiet resorts, the Cook Islands stand apart from other destinations due to the absence of skyscrapers, mega-resorts, and large hotels that often dominate beachfronts.
Turks and Caicos Islands
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The Turks and Caicos Islands, consisting of smaller Turks Islands and larger Caicos Islands, are renowned for their fantastic reefs, magnificent beaches, and friendly locals. These islands, classified as British Overseas Territories, are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 620 miles from Miami. They have become incredibly popular vacation destinations, offering excellent opportunities for snorkeling, diving, fishing, and various water sports.
Most accommodations are found on Providenciales, located in the Northwest Caicos Islands. Providenciales boasts 12 miles of hotels along the pristine Grace Bay Beach. Known as a party island, it features luxury resorts, upscale shops, and fine dining. Other notable islands include North, South, and Middle Caicos, Salt Clay, and Grand Turk - the capital city of Cockburn Town. Regardless of where you choose to spend your vacation, rest assured that the islands will offer spectacular beauty and the perfect piece of paradise.
Explore the 115 islands of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Seychelles, an independent island chain off the coast of East Africa, is renowned for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and ancient tropical rainforests home to rare bird species and giant tortoises. It is a top choice for honeymooners and luxury travelers.
To reach Seychelles, search for flights that land at Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on the main island of Mahé. Direct flights are available from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Johannesburg, and other major African cities.
Situated in the Caribbean Sea, Curaçao is a tropical island owned by the Netherlands. It is recognized as one of the best destinations in the Caribbean. Curaçao resembles a tropical version of Holland, with its bustling capital, Willemstad, featuring brightly colored Dutch architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town.
As the largest and most populous island in the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao offers plenty of activities and a vibrant social scene. It is particularly popular among younger travelers who enjoy the beaches, sunbathing, and nightlife. While it may lack privacy, it compensates with its romantic and fun atmosphere.
The weather in Curaçao remains fairly stable throughout the year. It is typically hot and sunny, with occasional rainfall between November and January. Additionally, the island is located below the hurricane belt, so there is no need to worry about hurricanes!
MOST POPULAR ACTIVITIESFirst Hostel Curaçao – This hostel, located in a former ice cream factory in Willemstad, offers an outdoor pool, a dive shop, a relaxing terrace, and air-conditioning.
If you're planning a trip, check out my budget travel guide to Curaçao!
Photo Credit: Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris CasinoAruba is a hidden gem located in the Caribbean. The island is famous for its white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and friendly locals. Visitors can indulge in various activities, including sunbathing on Eagle Beach and exploring Arikok National Park. Shopping enthusiasts will also enjoy the duty-free stores offering local crafts and designer brands. And no trip to Aruba is complete without savoring the delicious Caribbean seafood dishes.
Vieques (Puerto Rico)
Witness the mesmerizing glow of the world’s best bioluminescent bay at night.
Vieques and Culebra, two outlying islands of Puerto Rico, lie to the east of mainland Puerto Rico.
There are numerous options for accommodations in Vieques, including resorts, boutiques, and private apartments.
Vieques offers an array of exciting activities, such as snorkeling around coral reefs and kayaking in Mosquito Bay. It is easily accessible via a cheap ferry service from Ceiba or daily flights from San Juan.
Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment, combines history, culture, and natural beauty.
Starting in Old San Juan, you can explore the entire tropical island, experiencing cultural sites, riding the waves in Rincon, climbing historic lighthouses, hiking to refreshing waterfalls, and exploring ancient cave systems.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, you can simply unwind and enjoy a Piña Colada under the shade of palm trees on one of Puerto Rico's stunning beaches. As US residents do not require a passport to visit, it is one of the most popular tropical islands to explore!
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Known as the Isle of Flowers, Martinique is celebrated for its breathtaking natural beauty. Its cultural heritage is centered around Fort-de-France on the west coast. Must-visit attractions in the capital city include the ornate Schoelcher Library, historic St. Louis Cathedral, and charming La Savane Park. Balata Gardens, located just outside the city, is a must-see with its stunning collection of begonias, bromeliads, and bamboo. The island's northern side features Mont Pelée, an active volcano. Thrill-seekers can go hiking, canyoning, and rappelling at its base. An important monument to visit is Anse Cafard, which overlooks Diamond Beach and commemorates a sunken slave ship.
San Andres (Colombia)
Discover the delights of fresh seafood and Colombian cuisine influenced by African and Caribbean flavors on this lesser-known tropical island.
San Andres, a Caribbean island off the coast of Nicaragua and governed by Colombia, is a hidden paradise in South America. The island is easily accessible by plane from Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Cartagena, and other major Colombian cities, making it one of the best tropical vacation destinations in the region.
San Andres is renowned for its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, attracting scuba divers and snorkelers. The island's unique cuisine is influenced by African, Spanish, and Caribbean cultures, resulting in a delectable array of seafood dishes, coconut rice, plantains, and tropical fruits.
FAQs About the Most Beautiful Tropical Islands
Con Dao Islands (Vietnam)
Immerse yourself in Southeast Asia's finest coral reefs while scuba diving or snorkeling.
The Con Dao Islands in Vietnam offer a unique tropical getaway for travelers in Southeast Asia who seek tranquility away from major cities. Besides their haunting history, which includes former prison camps scattered across the islands, these volcanic islands are also home to world-class beaches like Dam Trau, Nhat, and Bai Dat Coc. Visitors can choose between budget-friendly guesthouses and luxurious resorts, arriving via daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City or a ferry ride from Vung Tau.
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a small Polynesian volcanic island belonging to Chile. Designated as a World Heritage Site, this island is famous for its archaeological park containing 900 monumental statues known as Moai.
These statues, which measure an average of 13 feet in height and weigh about 14 tons, were created between the 10th and 16th centuries by the island's early inhabitants. Researchers still puzzle over why the Rapa Nui people went to such great lengths to create them and how they sculpted them with primitive tools. The fate of the Rapa Nui people also remains a mystery. They established a unique culture separate from the influences of other Polynesian islands. One theory suggests that they created these statues as a tribute to their ancestors but were eventually forced to leave due to the depletion of the island's resources. Today, Rapa Nui is an almost barren island, devoid of trees and eroded soil. Only these colossal monuments remain, serving as a testament to human achievements and resilience.
The Galapagos (Ecuador)
Support conservation efforts for some of the rarest and most endangered wildlife species on the planet.
The Galapagos Islands offer breathtaking landscapes and a haven for rare wildlife species.📍 Find it on Google Maps | Discover Places to Stay in The Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are a renowned destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This archipelago, consisting of volcanic islands located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, provided inspiration to Charles Darwin in formulating the theory of evolution.
To this day, the Galapagos Islands boast rare and iconic wildlife such as giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, and iguanas. The surrounding waters are equally impressive, featuring mesmerizing migrations of hammerhead sharks, frequent appearances by manta rays, and whale sharks.
Getting to the Galapagos Islands may require some effort, with daily flights departing from mainland Ecuador in Quito and Guayaquil. Once on the islands, guided tours and boat trips are the best ways to explore and make the most of your trip.
The Florida Keys
Exploring Key West in the Florida Keys feels more like being in the Caribbean than the United States. It's a fantastic road trip to drive to the Florida Keys, and reaching Key West feels like reaching the end of the world.
Visit the bustling strip of bars, attend a festival, or see the Southernmost Point in the continental US. Be sure to take a boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, which is located 70 miles off the coast of Key West. The park features a pristine fort, beautiful beaches, and excellent snorkeling. It is also one of the most remote national parks in the US, outside of Alaska.
The true beauty of the Florida Keys can be experienced away from the tourist areas. Parasailing and observing the bridges that connect each island provide incredible sights. Read more fun facts about Florida here.
Florida Keys, USA
Aerial View Home to the only coral reef in the United States, the Florida Keys offer a tropical escape with fantastic fishing and beautiful palm-lined beaches. Stretching more than 110 miles south of Miami, and ending about 90 miles from Cuba, these coral islands are connected by causeways, allowing for a drive along the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Key West.
Top attractions in the Florida Keys include natural and cultural wonders. Key Largo is home to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for excellent diving and snorkeling. Bahia Honda State Park features stunning beaches. Of course, you shouldn't miss the vibrant Key West, renowned for its anything-goes atmosphere, colorful Caribbean-style houses, and rich Hemingway history. Don't forget to visit the southernmost tip of the United States – it's one of the top things to do in Key West.
Although not regarded as the top beach destination in the USA, the Florida Keys still offer beautiful stretches of mostly man-made shoreline. Many of these beaches are accompanied by popular beach resorts with palm-filled grounds and stunning views of the crystal-clear turquoise water.
Fishing enthusiasts can also find their paradise in Islamorada, known as the "Sportfishing Capital of the World," where tarpon, bonefish, and permit can be caught. Marathon is another excellent spot for fishing. The surrounding waters host major fishing tournaments each year. These destinations also offer a range of beautiful resorts.
While visiting, be sure to try some conch, a type of marine snail, as well as the famous key lime pie.
Key West and the Florida Keys (USA)
Embark on a road trip along the Overseas Highway from Key Largo to Key West and then set sail for the enchanting Dry Tortugas.
It's amazing that some of the world's finest tropical islands can be found right within the continental United States. Just south of Miami lies the Florida Keys, a chain of islands stretching 120 miles from Key Largo to Key West. This island paradise is full of charm and perfect for a breathtaking road trip on the iconic Overseas Highway.
Start your adventure with unforgettable scuba diving experiences in Key Largo's Molasses Reef before heading further south for thrilling deep-sea fishing charters in Islamorada. Take a break at Bahia Honda State Park near Marathon and explore the historic town of Key West. Finally, complete your journey with a memorable sailing charter to Dry Tortugas National Park and the remarkable Fort Jefferson.
Montego Bay – a tropical island in Jamaica
Jamaica, located in the West Indies, is one of our favorite islands. It offers the ultimate tropical vacation destination for package tours. However, venturing beyond the confines of your resort reveals a country filled with vibrant culture, exciting activities, and friendly people. And of course, the beaches are simply magnificent. We've been to Jamaica four times and still have so much more to explore!
We have stayed at various accommodations throughout Jamaica and have always been satisfied. The island caters to couples, friends, and families, offering everything from adults-only resorts to hotels with kids' clubs and nightclubs for the party-goers. For reviews and bookings that suit your needs, check out TripAdvisor.
- Read More: 14 Fun and Unique Things to do in Jamaica
Take in the stunning views of Exuma Cays from above – a tropical paradise just a short flight from the US mainland. The Exumas are a group of islands in the Bahamas that left us breathless from the moment we looked out the window of our twin otter plane. These 365 atolls in the middle of the Caribbean Sea are a sight to behold.
This photograph perfectly captures the idyllic scene of a dreamy tropical island that we all yearn to escape to. The turquoise waters and pristine white sand beaches of the Exumas create the perfect setting for a getaway. During our trip, we were amazed by the untouched beauty of the secluded beaches with their smooth, white sands.
We had the pleasure of staying at the delightful family-run Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay, a small island in the Exumas. Being run by locals, it provided an exceptional experience in the heart of the magnificent Exuma islands. For more hotel options in the Exumas, visit Booking.com.
Discover the pink sand beaches of Bermuda. Before visiting Bermuda, all we knew were the old tales we heard about the Bermuda Triangle as kids. However, those days are long gone, and Bermuda has become a premier island destination known for its colonial heritage buildings and stunning beaches.
While Bermuda's season may be shorter compared to other Caribbean islands, there is no shortage of things to do. Hop on a motorbike and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, enjoy the pink sandy beaches, dive into the vibrant underwater world, and soak in the charm of the delightful towns.
The beaches of Bermuda are truly beautiful, especially the Pink Sand Beach at Horseshoe Bay. Its powdery sand leads you to clear turquoise waters, creating a picturesque scene.
Experience a unique blend of Asian and European cultures, including the historic city of George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Penang Island, located on the northwest coast of Malaysia, offers a fascinating cultural experience influenced by European, Indian, and Asian roots. The island's British colonial architecture blends harmoniously with ancient temples, mosques, tropical rainforests, and pristine beaches, creating a truly unique and picturesque setting.
When visiting Penang, you'll never run out of exciting things to do. Embark on hikes, go snorkeling or scuba diving, and explore the beautiful temples and colorful buildings scattered throughout the historic city of George Town, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you're planning a trip to Penang, check out Nate's comprehensive article on where to stay in Penang for helpful recommendations.
Culebra (Puerto Rico)
Immerse yourself in one of the best tropical vacation destinations with easy accessibility from the United States.
Culebra is a charming small island nestled between the eastern coast of Puerto Rico and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Alongside its sister island, Vieques, these Puerto Rican islands are often referred to as "the Spanish Virgin Islands." They are known for their unspoiled beaches, including the breathtaking Flamenco Beach.
Reaching Culebra is convenient with multiple options, including a short plane ride from San Juan, a boat tour from Fajardo, or a ferry ride from Ceiba. Once you arrive, you'll find a range of accommodations, from hillside cottages to small beachside hotels, offering a perfect retreat.
Anguilla is the epitome of paradise in the northern Caribbean and a dream vacation destination. This small, flat island is surrounded by powdery white sand beaches, swaying sea-grape trees, and majestic coconut palms that rustle in the warm trade winds, creating a tranquil atmosphere. While colorful shabby-chic beach bars and roadside grills abound, Anguilla also offers a luxurious and swanky experience for those seeking upscale comforts.
Getting around the island is easy, whether by bike or car, and nearby cays are a short sail away. The Heritage Collection showcases Anguilla's boat-building heritage, and Prickly Pear Cay is perfect for a day of snorkeling and barbecue. Meanwhile, Shoal Bay, ranked as the world's top beach, invites you to unwind and relish in its beauty.
Immerse yourself in the unique paradise of Zanzibar, influenced by Arab, Indian, and African traditions among the world's most sought-after tropical destinations.
Zanzibar Island, often overlooked as a pristine tropical island destination on the east coast of Africa, is a hidden gem worth discovering. This captivating island offers the same level of beauty and charm as other tropical paradises, while also providing unique cultural experiences.
While on Zanzibar, be sure to explore the historic Stone Town, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dive into the crystal-clear blue waters and discover the abundance of tropical fish while snorkeling or diving. Major airports worldwide offer direct flights to Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (ZNZ), making it easily accessible for travelers.
Trinidad & Tobago
Experience the vibrant cultural Carnival celebration before unwinding on white-sand beaches overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Trinidad & Tobago is a stunning island country consisting of two main islands sharing the same name. It serves as a beacon of cultural influence throughout the entire region. Notably, the country hosts the Caribbean's largest celebration, the Carnival Festival. This annual event showcases the rich culture, liberation, and dance through vibrant costumes and lively music.
Nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers will find ample opportunities to indulge in the island's beauty, including its magnificent beaches, hiking trails, and wildlife reserves such as the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Choose from a variety of accommodations, including private guesthouses, apartments, and luxury resorts along the oceanfront.
Ibiza, known worldwide for its nightlife, also offers stunning beaches for an exceptional tropical island vacation.
Ibiza, located in Spain's Balearic Islands, is renowned as one of the top tropical destinations in the world. While it is famous for its vibrant nightlife, Ibiza also boasts some of Europe's most stunning beaches. The island is easily accessible, with direct flights from major European cities to Ibiza Airport.
Ibiza offers a plethora of eclectic activities, including enjoying pristine beaches, embarking on countryside hikes, and exploring mysterious ruins believed to be remnants of Atlantis. Food enthusiasts can indulge in classical Spanish cuisine infused with an abundance of fresh seafood. Accommodation options range from luxury resorts to backpacker hostels and private villas.
Discover the rich cultural heritage, unique landscapes, and breathtaking underwater formations of Palau.
Palau is a unique string of 500 islands nestled in the Pacific Ocean, offering a hidden gem for tropical island vacations. These islands remain relatively untouched, and can be easily accessed from Guam, Taipei, Manila, and Seoul. The main islands of Koror and Babeldaob provide various accommodation options, including budget-friendly guesthouses and luxurious resorts.
While in Palau, be sure to explore some of the world's healthiest coral reefs by joining one of the many dive or snorkeling charters. Discover hidden waterfalls, take scenic hikes, and witness unique natural wonders like Jellyfish Lake, which is home to millions of harmless jellyfish.
Bimini (The Bahamas)
Relax on a peaceful island just a short ferry ride away from Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Bimini is a small chain of islands located in the Bahamas, just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The island is easily accessible from Miami or Fort Lauderdale via a 20-minute flight or a two-hour ferry ride. Upon arrival, you can hop on one of the many fishing charters and try your luck at landing the next big catch in the surrounding waters, which are famously known as "The Sportfishing Capital of the World."
Non-fishers will appreciate the pristine beaches that stretch along the islands, inviting you to soak in the turquoise waters and enjoy diving or snorkeling. Don't forget to sample the delicious fresh conch fritters at one of the many seafood shacks that dot the shoreline.
With so many incredible options to choose from, it's hard to pick just one best tropical island. From the crystal-clear waters of Bora Bora to the vibrant marine life of the Galápagos Islands, each destination offers its own unique charms. Whether you're seeking relaxation on the white sands of the Maldives or adventure in the lush jungles of Bali, there's a tropical paradise out there waiting for you. So grab your passport, pack your swimsuit, and embark on a journey to discover the best tropical island that suits your desires. The world is your oyster, and these islands are the pearls that await your exploration.
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