The Best Island Paradise Destinations: From Maldives to Seychelles and More

2023-10-18 08:46:09 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.

Are you ready to be whisked away to the best island paradises in the world? Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey where turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and stunning landscapes await. From the breathtaking Maldives to the captivating Greek islands, and the exotic shores of Bali, this article will take you on a virtual tour of the most idyllic destinations on Earth. So prepare to be captivated, indulge your wanderlust, and discover the true meaning of a tropical paradise.

Fulidhoo, the Maldives

The Maldives has always been known for its beautiful paradise islands, but many believed that visiting them required a hefty amount of money. However, I proved that belief wrong back in 2014 when I booked a trip to this island nation and discovered that it's actually possible to visit the country for as little as $50 a day. The secret is simple: instead of staying at expensive resort islands with overwater bungalows and ridiculously priced bottles of water, opt for the local islands. Having been to both a resort island and a few local islands in the Maldives, I can confidently say that the islands I visited were equally stunning. The beach on Fulidhoo, for example, was just as impressive as the beach on the resort island of Olhuveli, except I was only paying $50 a night on Fulidhoo instead of $500 a night. It's safe to say that the beaches on Fulidhoo were incredibly beautiful. Another advantage of staying on a local island like Fulidhoo is that you get a unique insight into local Maldivian life, something that's impossible to experience on the resort islands. You also get to try more of the traditional Maldivian dishes instead of the international cuisine at the resorts. Personally, Maldivian breakfasts are my favorite type of breakfast from any country in the world! And guess what? Fulidhoo is also a wonderful destination for solo female travelers. Whenever I ventured out alone, I would strike up conversations with local women, sharing a bar of chocolate and exchanging stories about our different ways of life. This type of interaction didn't happen as often when I was exploring with my boyfriend. Read all about it: Fulidhoo: The Only Tourists on the Island | How to Travel the Maldives on a Budget

Dhow construction in Nungwi, Zanzibar

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi is a small island located in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Krabi province in Thailand. It's famous for its stunning turquoise lagoon, beautiful white sand beaches, and rocky cliffs. This island is the perfect destination for relaxation, snorkeling, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife. It's particularly popular among young people.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is a small Indonesian island situated between Lombok and Java. It is widely recognized as one of the most breathtaking paradise islands in the world. Bali attracts many tourists thanks to its pristine and picturesque beaches, ancient temples, and stunning rice paddies. The island is also known for its tropical climate, water sports, and various outdoor activities.

Phuket, Thailand: an island connected to the mainland

Phuket is an island located in the Andaman Sea and is connected to the mainland peninsula by a bridge. It is one of Thailand's most popular holiday destinations. The beaches surrounding Phuket are known for their white sand, crystal clear water, and diverse marine life, making it a perfect diving location. Additionally, the beaches of Phuket offer great waves for surfing, attracting water sports enthusiasts. Two of the notable beaches, Ao Kata Yai and Ao Kata Noi, are famous for their breathtaking sunsets.

Phuket is not only known for its beach experiences but is also a hub for gastronomic delights and vibrant nightlife. As the sun sets, beaches like Patong and Karon come alive, hosting extravagant parties. The city itself reveals its history through its Portuguese and Chinese colonial architecture, reflecting its past as an important commercial port on the sea route to Asia. A visit to Phuket would be incomplete without seeing the Great Buddha monument, an iconic symbol of the island, and Wat Chalong, the most revered Buddhist temple there.


People walking down a stone causeway leading to the white-washed Old Town town in Naxos, Greece

While most visitors to the Cyclades, an island group off mainland Greece, flock to Santorini or Mykonos, I recommend heading to Naxos to beat the crowds. Naxos is equally stunning and picturesque, but without the overwhelming number of tourists and high prices. This charming island is home to white-washed villages and pristine beaches, offering a serene Mediterranean experience.

Whether you're looking to relax on the beach, go hiking, enjoy water sports, or delve into history by visiting ancient temple gates, medieval castles, and mountains like Mount Zeus (the mythological birthplace of Zeus), Naxos has it all. It's a perfect destination to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy a slice of Greek heaven.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN NAXOS: Soula Naxos – This budget-friendly hotel is located in Saint George Beach, just 20 meters from the ocean and 2 minutes from the center of town. It offers free Wi-Fi and lovely views from the rooftop terrace.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Naxos!


Santorini, Greece is often debated whether it falls under the tropical category or not. When we visited, it was scorching hot and had a definite tropical feel. While most people associate Santorini with its iconic blue-domed churches, the island offers much more, including stunning beaches like the Black Beach, Red Beach, and Amoudi Bay.

Ithaca, Greece

I consider myself lucky to have friends who know how to sail. Every few years, we charter a yacht in the Greek Ionian and spend a week exploring paradise. Our favorite destination is Ithaca. I absolutely adore this island.

Ithaca is less crowded compared to the more famous Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos. It receives fewer tourists than its Ionian neighbors, Corfu, Lefkada, and Kefalonia. Ithaca has a relaxed vibe, incredible food, wonderful beaches (although some are rocky), and friendly locals. What makes it even more special is that the waters around Ithaca are relatively warm. Even I, who normally finds the Mediterranean chilly, couldn't resist jumping into the water repeatedly. The beauty of Ithaca truly comes alive when you explore the charming village of Kioni, spend time in the picturesque village of Frikes, or indulge in the amazing restaurants located in Vathy’s bay. Ithaca has it all.

Ithaca is not just for sailors; it's easily accessible from the mainland and easy to navigate once you're there. I truly hope to visit one day when I'm not on a sailing adventure because all my previous visits have felt too short.

Read all about it: 11 Highlights From My First Trip to Greece | Conquering My Fear of Sailing in Greece

Anse Source d'Argent on La Digue in the Seychelles

The Canary Islands

Aerial view with Puerto de la Cruz, in background Teide volcano, Tenerife island, Spain

The Canary Islands, situated just off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa, form a Spanish archipelago. These islands offer diverse experiences for travelers seeking an island lifestyle. Tenerife, the largest of the islands, boasts a variety of attractions, including one of the world's largest Carnival festivals held every February and two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the city of La Laguna and Teide National Park, home to Mount Teide, Spain's highest mountain and the third-largest volcano globally.

For pristine beaches, head to Fuerteventura. If you're a hiking enthusiast, Gran Canaria offers incredible and diverse landscapes. No matter which Canary Island you choose, you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of tropical island life.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE CANARY ISLANDS: Lagarto house – This relaxed hostel in Tenerife offers an outdoor pool, complimentary bikes for beach access, a BBQ area, and a fully-equipped kitchen.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Spain!


Bright image of wooden promenade at the waterfront of Bridgetown in Barbados.

Barbados, part of the West Indies located in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean, is a vibrant island with a mix of West African, Portuguese, Creole, and British cultures. Its capital and largest city, Bridgetown, offer a lively nightlife scene, making it a great destination for those who love staying out until the early morning hours.

Similar to Bermuda, Barbados boasts incredible beaches and caving opportunities. It's also a world-class surfing destination. Food lovers will enjoy the amazing culinary options, with options ranging from expensive, gourmet meals to delicious local cuisine.

While there are luxurious options, it's also possible to visit Barbados on a moderate budget, making it one of the more affordable islands in the Caribbean.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN BARBADOS: Monteray Family Hotel – This two-star property is located just a 2-minute walk from the white-sand Dover Beach. It offers fully equipped kitchenettes, private terraces, and air-conditioning.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to the Caribbean!

The Florida Keys

Key West in Florida offers an island experience reminiscent of the Caribbean rather than the United States. Taking a road trip to the Florida Keys and reaching Key West gives you the feeling of reaching the end of the world.

Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the many bars along the strip, attend lively festivals, or visit the Southernmost Point in the continental US. Don't forget to take a boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles off the coast of Key West. The park features a pristine fort, stunning beaches, and excellent snorkeling. It's also the most remote national park in the US, apart from Alaska.

The true beauty of the Florida Keys is best experienced away from the tourist hotspots. The sights are best appreciated while parasailing or while crossing the bridges that connect the islands. Discover more fun facts about Florida.

Cay Caulker

Cay Caulker in Belize is a true slice of paradise. The island prohibits motorized vehicles, creating a relaxed and tranquil environment. It's an excellent place to unwind and enjoy the beautiful coral reef and crystal-clear waters through scuba diving and snorkeling. Don't miss the opportunity to swim with nurse sharks at Shark Ray Alley.

We found a fantastic place to stay called Deb and Dave's Last Resort. The property is run by a lovely couple who share our good taste in names!


Did you know that Africa is home to incredible tropical islands? Zanzibar, also known as the Spice Island, is a tropical paradise located off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in the world.

The old Stone Town is a historical gem, embodying the island's rich history as a center of the spice trade. Fun fact: Freddie Mercury of the rock band Queen was born on this island!

Zanzibar's turquoise waters are unlike anything I've ever seen, and when the tide goes out, the coastline becomes even more breathtaking. Nungwi is a must-visit destination for relaxing on the beach. Be sure to check out the Best Beaches in Zanzibar for more inspiration.

After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, we loved unwinding and relaxing in Zanzibar.

The Seychelles

A boat anchored near a small island in the Seychelles during a beautiful sunny day

The Seychelles, located over 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) off the east coast of Kenya, is a pure paradise. If there's anywhere in the world that could convince me to give up everything and live in a beach hut, it would be the Seychelles. With perfect beaches, crystal clear water, numerous islands to choose from, and plenty of seclusion (many of the islands are uninhabited), the Seychelles is a dream destination.

This group of 115 islands offers everything a beach lover could ask for. It's an amazing place to visit for its diverse marine life, nature preserves, and marine parks, two of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, it's important to note that these islands can be quite expensive. That being said, with careful planning, it is possible to visit on a budget. The best time to visit is during the cool season from May to September when there is less rain.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE SEYCHELLES: Jeanny's Apartments – A beachfront three-star hotel on Grand'Anse Praslin with free breakfast, free parking, and a friendly staff.

To start planning your trip, read my budget travel guide to the Seychelles!

La Digue, The Seychelles

If you're searching for a paradise island, look no further than La Digue in the Seychelles.

This island country, located off the coast of southeast Africa, comprises 115 beautiful spots of sand. But don't be overwhelmed, there are just three main islands that you won't want to miss out on: Mahe (the island you'll fly into, with heritage buildings and fantastic hiking), Praslin (which is full of magnificent beaches), and La Digue (which is home to even more magnificent beaches).

On La Digue, head straight to Anse Source d'Argent, regularly voted the best beach on the planet. Here, you can bury your toes in the softest white sand, wade out in the warmest turquoise water, and marvel at the unique granite rocks that give this beach a truly prehistoric vibe.

And the best part? It's possible to visit this incredible beach on a budget. Yes, really. Stay at Chez Mera, which is highly-reviewed and rated 9.6 on Booking, for only per night. On Praslin, there's La Residence D'Almée for just a night. And on the island of Mahe, I recommend the incredible Chez Coco at a night. Who knew you could visit paradise without spending hundreds of dollars a night?

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are a one-of-a-kind destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This volcanic archipelago is located more than 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. It consists of a dozen main islands and several islets. The Galapagos Islands are one of the most unspoiled places on the planet and a true Mecca for nature lovers. If you want to go on a photo safari in a perfect setting, the Galapagos Islands are for you. The archipelago is also renowned for its many endemic species, such as marine iguanas and giant tortoises.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

If you're looking for a paradise that's a little more off-the-beaten-path, the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique could be exactly what you're searching for.

This archipelago has endless sandbanks. To visit, base yourself in Vilanculos and pay just $30 a night for a private room at a kickass hostel on the beach. Vilanculos is the gateway to exploring the islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, some of the most breathtaking spots on the planet.

Head to Ilha de Magaruque, the third-largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, and have one of the best African travel experiences. Spend the day on a beautiful beach, snorkel alongside octopi, keep an eye out for elusive dugongs, enjoy a fresh seafood barbecue, sail in an old fishing boat, and take stunning photos of the sandbanks from the top of dunes.

Whitsunday Islands, Australia

The Whitsunday Islands are an archipelago of 74 islands, most of which are uninhabited, located in the northeastern part of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. This archipelago consists of two main islands, Hayman and Hamilton, and 72 smaller islands. The Whitsunday Islands are one of Australia's major tourist attractions, with over two million visitors a year. They are famous for their white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, hiking trails, and turquoise waters. Additionally, there are plenty of water sports activities available.

Kangaroo Island

Beautiful South Australian Beach Australia is home to many incredible islands, including Kangaroo Island. While not as popular as New South Wales and Queensland, South Australia is a special destination.

Kangaroo Island is home to what was voted Australia's most beautiful beach, Vivonne Beach. It was chosen for its pristine, clear waters and lack of crowds. Kangaroo Island offers not only beauty but also a variety of things to see and do, especially for wildlife lovers. Enjoy encounters with kangaroos, koalas, seals, and explore a place so remarkable that it is called the Remarkables!

  • Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island – We stayed at Seascape Lodge. For more Kangaroo Island accommodations, explore TripAdvisor.
  • Read all about our time on Kangaroo Island: Check it out here!

Fraser Island

The secluded tropical paradise of Fraser Island, Australia Fraser Island in Australia isn't on many lists of tropical islands, but it should be. Its beaches are gorgeous! Exploring the 75-mile beach of Fraser Island is a grand adventure and a great tropical vacation. The resorts offer swimming pools, and you can swim in the freshwater beaches with pure white sand. There are champagne pools for relaxation and plenty of spots to unwind.

Fraser Island feels completely off the beaten path. Dingoes walk the beaches, and single-track trails go through the interior jungle to secluded lakes.

See all about it here on our Fraser Island Tour

Exuma Cays

Exuma Cays from Above – a tropical paradise just a short flight from the US mainland The Exumas of the Bahamas were probably the very first islands that took our breath away. When looking out the windows of our twin otter plane, we were stunned by the beauty of these 365 atolls in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

To me, this photograph captures that dreamy tropical island scene that we all want to escape to. The turquoise waters and white sand beaches make the Exumas the perfect escape. We had never seen such pristine and smooth white sand on completely secluded beaches until our trip to the Exumas.

We stayed at the lovely family-run Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay. It is a small island in the Exumas and offers a fantastic experience in the heart of the Exumas' 360 islands. Explore more hotels in the Exumas at

The Perhentian Islands

Colorful jetty sticking out into the clear turquoise waters off a beach in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Located on the eastern coast of Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands consist of two main islands: Perhentian Kecil ("Lesser Perhentian") and Perhentian Besar ("Greater Perhentian"). Both islands are covered in palm trees and offer wide beaches and crystal blue water. Despite being the smaller island, Kecil is busier and offers more budget-friendly accommodation and activities. Besar has more resorts and caters to families, honeymooners, and upscale travelers.

While there isn't much to do on the islands other than relaxing on the beach, that's part of their charm. The Malay word "Perhentian" roughly translates to "stopping point" and aptly describes how most travelers end up staying longer than anticipated. The islands are also great for divers and snorkelers, with reefs and clear waters teeming with coral, sea turtles, sharks, and colorful fish.

A strong monsoon season limits the best time to visit to between March and October. During other times, it's best to head to Thailand, where the weather is nicer.


  • Go Jungle Trekking
  • See Turtles at Turtle Beach
  • Go Diving
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE PERHENTIAN ISLANDS: Senja Bay Resort – Located just one minute from the beach, this budget hotel offers both fan-cooled and air-conditioned rooms, free Wi-Fi, and an outdoor swimming pool.

To start planning your trip, read my budget travel guide to the Perhentian Islands!

Aitutaki, the Cook Islands

More than anywhere on this list, Aitutaki meets my definition of a paradise island.

I mean, just look at the color of that water! Sometimes I can't believe I actually took this photo. Sometimes I can't believe a place like this actually exists. Sometimes I can't believe that I was actually there.

Aitutaki is amazing.

When you take a tour of Aitutaki's lagoon, you'll typically be taken to four desert islands and three separate snorkeling spots, and they all look photoshopped. On my tour, I got to snorkel with giant trevallies, swim above giant clams, marvel at bright purple coral, explore a shipwreck in the shallow lagoon waters, get my passport stamped at the world's smallest post office, and generally feel as though I was skipping through the pages of a travel magazine.

The white-sand beaches, the photogenic palm trees, the turquoise waters — it all comes together to make Aitutaki one of the most special places on the planet.

Read all about it: You Have to Take a Lagoon Cruise in Aitutaki | What's it Like to Travel in the Cook Islands? | How to Visit the Cook Islands on a Budget

The Cook Islands

Person snorkeling in the Cook Islands

Another South Pacific island group, the Cook Islands are located off the map and are less visited compared to some of their neighbors. Consisting of 15 islands scattered over an area of almost 2 million square kilometers (756,000 square miles) in the Pacific Ocean, these tiny islands were named after James Cook, the explorer who "discovered" them (though they had been inhabited by indigenous Polynesians since 1000 CE).

With few amenities, the Cook Islands are the perfect place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. Rarotonga, the largest and most visited island, is worth a visit, but I recommend exploring a few other islands as well. Once you leave the main island, you'll have miles of beaches and crystal-clear waters virtually to yourself, perfect for snorkeling, diving, swimming, and sea kayaking.

The islands have similar weather to the rest of the area, with hot and humid temperatures year-round.


  • Watch a traditional dance show
  • Explore Aitutaki Island
  • Hike Around Rarotonga
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE COOK ISLANDS: Ranginui's Retreat – Located on the scenic Ootu Beach, this budget hotel offers free airport transport, free kayak rentals, and an outdoor swimming pool.

To start planning your trip, read my budget travel guide to the Cook Islands!

Turks and Caicos

A constellation of 40 coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, Turks and Caicos is the epitome of tropical luxury. Celebrated for its postcard-perfect beaches, the islands are home to the world-renowned Grace Bay, frequently hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches globally. The powdery white sands juxtaposed against the azure waters create a scene straight out of a dream.

But what truly sets Turks and Caicos apart is its underwater realm. With one of the most extensive coral reef systems, it's a diver's paradise, teeming with marine life and vibrant corals. For those seeking tranquility, the islands' upscale resorts offer sublime relaxation. History enthusiasts can explore the colonial past of Cockburn Town. A visit to Turks and Caicos goes beyond a vacation, offering indulgence for the senses, with a promise of serenity and adventure in equal measure.

Did you enjoy our round-up of the best tropical islands? Pin this post to Pinterest for future reference.

And there you have it, our choices for the best tropical islands to visit in the world. Do you have a favorite tropical vacation destination? What did we miss?

Read Next:


Montego Bay – the tropical island of Jamaica is one of our favorite destinations in the West Indies for a perfect tropical vacation. While it's known for package tours, Jamaica offers so much more when you venture beyond your resort. You'll discover a country rich in culture, exciting activities, and friendly locals. And of course, the beaches are stunning. We've had the pleasure of visiting Jamaica multiple times and we're still eager to explore more!

We've stayed at various accommodations throughout Jamaica and have always been pleased with our experiences. Whether you're a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a group of friends, or a family, Jamaica has something for everyone. From adults-only resorts to hotels with kids' clubs to vibrant nightclubs, there are options to suit all preferences. Don't forget to check out TripAdvisor for reviews and bookings that meet your needs.


Maui is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the world, exuding that relaxed tropical vibe. Situated in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands offer an abundance of attractions. While the Big Island boasts bustling nightlife and Oahu features towering highrises, Maui has managed to maintain its laid-back ambiance. Having visited Maui a few times ourselves, we always discover incredible things to do, whether it's learning to surf, stand up paddleboard, drive along the scenic Hana Highway, marvel at whales, or even master the art of making Poke.

With its world-class surf breaks, pristine white and black sand beaches, volcanic hikes, and enchanting jungle waterfalls, you'll never want to leave Maui once you set foot on this island paradise!

Where to stay in Maui? We've personally experienced a range of hotels, each offering a distinct and unique experience. We confidently recommend all of them.


Stunning North Shore of Oahu! We had the incredible opportunity to view the island of Oahu from the sky during a helicopter flight. Witnessing the surf breaks on the North Shore from above was truly awe-inspiring. I can't even imagine surfing those massive waves!

Oahu is an island abundant in history and natural beauty. It's a place where you can pay your respects at Pearl Harbor, witness awe-inspiring surf on the North Shore, and experience a bustling scene of shopping and dining. It truly is an amazing destination to explore.

When planning a trip to Hawaii, Oahu is an excellent choice. Every Hawaiian island has something special to offer, from the Big Island of Hawai'i to Lanai or Molokai. You can't go wrong with a visit to any of these incredible tropical islands. For a glimpse into our helicopter flight over Oahu, check out our video.

To delve deeper into Hawaii, check out our post on the Best Island to Visit in Hawaii. This way, we can move on to exploring other tropical islands worldwide.

Grand Cayman Island

Loved Starfish Point in Grand Cayman! This beautiful tropical paradise in the Cayman Islands boasts mesmerizing blue waters, making it one of the world's best tropical destinations. Grand Cayman is renowned as a scuba diving mecca, thanks to its crystal-clear waters.

There's so much to do on the island. You can hike to the breathtaking Crystal Caves, swim and play with stingrays at Stingray City, and indulge in some of the best dining experiences in the Caribbean. If you're seeking the ideal accommodation, head to 7-mile beach where you'll find resorts lining the soft white sand, offering a plethora of watersports activities.

Koh Mook, Thailand

I’ve been fortunate to visit around a dozen Thai islands over the past decade, and one of my absolute favorites is Koh Mook.

This island paradise has everything you could possibly desire. It offers a welcoming local community and some of the best restaurants I've come across in Thailand. When I visited Koh Mook, it felt like a place where you could arrive and spontaneously decide to stay for months.

Koh Mook features two main beaches: Sivalai Beach and Charlie Beach, each with its own unique atmosphere. Sivalai Beach is a tranquil spot, often blissfully empty during my visits. It offers shallow seas, soft sands, and a grand array of palm trees. On the other hand, Charlie Beach is popular among backpackers, featuring vibrant crowds and the renowned Mong Bar, where you can enjoy fantastic mango shakes right on the beach.

I have to share my experience of Koh Mook's Emerald Cave, which became one of the most unforgettable highlights of my time in Thailand. You start by leaping off your longtail boat and entering a small, dark hole. Paddling through the tunnel for about 20 meters, guided by a waterproof torch, you suddenly turn a corner to discover an incredible secluded beach surrounded by majestic limestone cliffs. This hidden gem remains invisible from anywhere else on the island, and if you time it right, you may even have the whole place to yourself.

I can safely say it was one of the most magical moments of my travels.

Read all about my love for Koh Mook and the Trang Islands in my articles:

- Why Koh Mook is My New Favorite Thai Island

- The Ultimate Guide to the Trang Islands in Thailand

The lagoon in Aitutaki, the Cook Islands. It definitely has to be the prettiest place I've ever visitedAitutaki, the Cook Islands

Huahine, French Polynesia

Huahine holds a special place in my heart as my favorite island in French Polynesia, surpassing even Bora Bora, which is a true testament to its beauty.

Huahine offers breathtaking beaches, just as stunning as those in Bora Bora, but at a much more affordable price. In fact, it's one of the more budget-friendly islands I've visited in French Polynesia. During my stay, I only paid $43 per night for a lovely guesthouse. For just $5 a day, I could rent a bicycle, and most of my meals cost around $10 daily.

In contrast to the more crowded destinations like Bora Bora, Tahiti, or Moorea, Huahine remains tranquil and uncrowded, making it a haven of peace and relaxation.

This South Pacific island has everything you could desire: pristine white sand beaches, majestic palm trees bordering every road, extinct volcanoes to conquer, sparkling lagoons to paddle in, dense jungles to explore, smooth cycling routes, and even serene vanilla bean plantations to wander through. In my eyes, it truly is a paradise island.

To learn more about my love for Huahine and my experiences traveling in French Polynesia, check out my articles:

- Why Huahine is My Favorite Island in the South Pacific

- What's it Like to Travel in French Polynesia?

Anse Source d'Argent on La Digue in the Seychelles

Bali and the Gili Islands

a gorgeous beach with a boat parked along the shore in the Gili Islands, Indonesia

Bali, a tourist hotspot, consistently ranks among the world's best islands. It offers a fantastic surfing scene, incredible cuisine, affordability, vibrant parties, friendly locals, captivating temples to explore, and even volcanoes to conquer. Bali truly has it all.

But Indonesia has more to offer than just Bali. The nearby Gili Islands provide another phenomenal island getaway. Both destinations offer an active tropical vacation, and the weather remains consistently pleasant throughout the year, with slightly drier conditions from April to October. Bali and the Gili Islands are so close to each other that you should consider visiting both during your trip to fully indulge in the wonders of this idyllic region.

For the best choice of accommodation in Bali and the Gili Islands, I recommend Tribal Bali (located in Canggu). It's not only a fun coworking space and hostel, but it also features an on-site bar, infinity pool, pool table, and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.

To kickstart your trip planning, make sure to read my budget travel guide to Bali!

The Maldives

The stunning, clear tropical blues waters of the Maldives along a narrow white-sand beach

Situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives comprises a chain of 1,000 islands, with only 200 inhabited by humans, and a mere 5 hosting substantial populations. This nation primarily consists of coral atolls that barely peek above sea level. In fact, during the devastating 2004 tsunami, numerous islands were completely washed away. To mitigate future tsunamis, the government has constructed flood barriers. However, the Maldives stands as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

These small coral islands encompass excellent diving and snorkeling spots, along with picturesque white-sand beaches, and offer warm hospitality from the locals. Private resorts abound in the Maldives, making it a luxury destination sought after by many.

Fortunately, you can reach the Maldives affordably, as Thai AirAsia offers inexpensive flights to and from Thailand (round-trip flights for as low as $300 USD!).

The optimal time to visit the Maldives is from November to May, when the weather is cooler and drier. June to October experiences wetter and hotter conditions due to the monsoon season.

For the most popular activities in the Maldives, consider going diving or snorkeling, exploring Malé (the capital), or experiencing the thrill of parasailing. Sands Exotic Hotel in Thulusdhoo is a wonderful budget-friendly choice for your stay, featuring free breakfast, basic amenities like flatscreen TVs and air conditioning, and its close proximity to the beach.

Jump-start your trip planning by consulting my budget travel guide to the Maldives.

The Perhentian Islands

Colorful jetty sticking out into the clear turquoise waters off a beach in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Found on the eastern coast of Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands consist of two main islands: Perhentian Kecil (Lesser Perhentian) and Perhentian Besar (Greater Perhentian). Both islands boast palm tree-lined beaches, crystal-clear blue waters, and breathtaking natural splendor. While Kecil is the smaller island, it offers more bustling activity, affordable accommodation options, and a multitude of things to do. In contrast, Besar caters more to families, honeymooners, and luxury travelers, with numerous resorts.

There isn't much to do on the Perhentian Islands beyond basking on the beach and recovering from previous night's revelry. It's the perfect spot to hang a hammock, and the Malay term "Perhentian" translates fittingly to "stopping point," as most visitors find themselves staying longer than planned. Divers and snorkelers will find the islands particularly appealing due to their vibrant coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks, and diverse marine life.

A strong monsoon season restricts the best time to visit, which falls between March and October. During other times, it's best to head to Thailand for better weather.

For the most popular activities on the Perhentian Islands, go jungle trekking, visit Turtle Beach to see the turtles, or embark on a diving adventure.

Senja Bay Resort is a fantastic choice for your stay, conveniently located just one minute from the beach. The resort offers both fan-cooled and air-conditioned rooms, free Wi-Fi, and an on-site restaurant.

To kick off your trip planning, explore my budget travel guide to the Perhentian Islands.


Brightly painted buildings on the tropical island of Curaçao in the Caribbean

Situated in the Caribbean Sea, the Dutch-owned island of Curaçao is an absolute gem. Voted as one of the top Caribbean islands, Curaçao offers a fusion of tropical charm and Dutch allure. Its capital, Willemstad, is a bustling city adorned with vibrantly colored Dutch architecture and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As the largest and most populated of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao boasts an extensive array of activities and a thriving social scene. It's a favorite among younger travelers seeking the perfect blend of stunning beaches, sun-drenched days, and unforgettable nightlife. While privacy may be a rarity, the island compensates with romance and endless fun.

The weather in Curaçao remains pleasantly stable year-round, with constant warmth and ample sunshine. Rainfall occurs mostly between November and January, and you don't need to worry about hurricanes as Curaçao lies outside the hurricane belt.

For the most popular activities on the island, consider joining a kayaking tour, embarking on a half-day fishing trip, or experiencing a speedboat adventure snorkeling session.

First Hostel Curaçao, located in an old ice cream factory in Willemstad, is an excellent choice for your stay. This hostel offers an outdoor pool, a dive shop, a relaxing terrace, and air conditioning.

To start planning your trip, consult my budget travel guide to Curaçao.

The San Blas Islands

A thatched hut off the coast of the San Blas Islands in PanamaPanama is an underrated destination in Central America, including the San Blas Islands. This group of 378 islands is a popular choice for sailing and boat tours, and there are also resorts available for a more luxurious stay.

These islands, mostly uninhabited and under the control of the Guna indigenous people, offer a great off-the-grid island getaway. The accommodations here are simple huts, hammocks, and tents, and there are numerous beautiful spots for sailing, diving, and snorkeling.

If you're looking to explore beyond the islands, you can also book sailing expeditions here. A typical 3-day/2-night sailing tour costs around $285 USD, including food, while a longer 4-5-day trip costs $400-$520 USD.


BEST PLACE TO STAY THE SAN BLAS ISLANDS: Discovery Gunayar – This laidback lodge is located just one minute from the beach, offering rustic but comfortable accommodations for travelers who want to relax and unwind.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Panama!


Aruba, with the least amount of rainfall in the Caribbean Islands, is a top choice for year-round travel. The trade winds keep the temperature comfortable, averaging at 82 degrees.

Being located outside the hurricane belt, Aruba is a great option during the stormy months from June to November.


The historic Commissioner's House, surrounded by fortified walls in the Caribbean sea, on the island of Bermuda

As Great Britain's oldest colony, Bermuda is known as one of the most stunning islands in the world. However, it is also quite expensive. The resorts here cater to an upscale crowd due to the presence of banks and tax-avoiding businesses. Nevertheless, Bermuda should not be overlooked!

Despite the need for a decent budget, Bermuda offers some of the most beautiful beaches in North America and the Caribbean. The locals are friendly, and the food is world-class. Along with picturesque beaches, there are caves to explore, hiking opportunities, and excellent snorkeling and diving. Bermuda is renowned as the shipwreck capital of the world, with over 300 shipwrecks to discover.


  • Visit the Crystal and Fantasy Caves
  • Climb the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse
  • Explore the Royal Naval Dockyard
BEST PLACE TO STAY IN BERMUDA: Blue Horizons Guest House – This cozy three-star guesthouse, located close to the beach, offers a homely vibe and helpful staff.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Bermuda!

Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island is a small paradise on earth situated southeast of Tahiti and off the coast of Chile. This volcanic island is famous for its mysterious and monumental stone statues called Moai, which overlook the beaches. Easter Island, one of the most beautiful islands in the world, provides an idyllic setting for relaxation and enjoying nature.

The Seychelles

A boat anchored near a small island in the Seychelles during a beautiful sunny day

The Seychelles, located more than 2,000 kilometers off the east coast of Kenya, are pure paradise. With over 115 islands to choose from, this destination is perfect for beach lovers. The Seychelles offer diverse marine life, nature preserves, and marine parks, with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites among them. However, keep in mind that these islands can be quite expensive, though it is possible to visit on a budget with proper planning. The best time to visit is during the cool season from May to September when rainfall is lower.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE SEYCHELLES: Jeanny's Apartments – This beachfront three-star hotel in Grand'Anse Praslin offers free breakfast, free parking, and friendly staff.

To start planning your trip, read my budget travel guide to the Seychelles!

Palawan, Philippines: the UNESCO world heritage

The Philippines is home to more than 7,000 islands, making it nearly impossible to discover them all. Each island has its own unique features, from the volcanic mountain of Mayon in Albay to the Rice Terraces of Banaue. Several areas in the Philippines have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but Palawan is often considered the closest to paradise. El Nido, characterized by its hidden lakes, mysterious atolls, deserted beaches, and turquoise waters, is one of the highlights of Palawan.

The Azores

the rolling hills of the Azores in Portugal

Located 1,500 kilometers off the coast of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are subtropical islands that offer a unique getaway beyond the typical resort experience. With plenty of hiking opportunities and breathtaking natural beauty, each of the nine islands has its own charm. São Miguel, the main island, features secluded beaches and picturesque waterfalls. Pico is known for its wines, and São Jorge offers excellent hiking. Being close to both Europe and North America, the Azores also serve as a convenient stopover point for travelers between the two continents.


BEST PLACE TO STAY IN THE AZORES: Out of the Blue – This boutique hostel offers a gorgeous interior, fast Wi-Fi, and a beautiful garden with hammocks for ultimate relaxation.

To start planning your trip, check out my budget travel guide to Portugal!

***This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the best tropical islands in the world. There are countless other islands worth visiting, but it would take multiple lifetimes to explore them all!

That being said, I believe these are some of the finest tropical islands in the world. Each one offers its own unique paradise. However, don't just take my word for it – book a trip and experience the beauty firsthand!

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights using Skyscanner, my favorite search engine that covers global websites and airlines to ensure the best deals.

Book Your Accommodation

If you prefer hostels, book through Hostelworld. For guesthouses and hotels, use as it consistently offers the most affordable rates.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Protect yourself against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations with travel insurance. It's essential for comprehensive protection. My top recommendations are:

Want to Travel for Free?

Travel credit cards let you earn points for free flights and accommodations – without extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to start earning rewards.

Ready to Book Your Trip?

Visit my resource page for the best travel companies. I recommend them based on personal experience and they are the best in the industry.

In a world filled with countless breathtaking destinations, these idyllic island paradises stand tall above the rest. From the pristine shores of the Maldives to the vibrant culture of Bali, each location offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you choose to explore the crystal-clear waters of the Seychelles or indulge in the tranquility of The Azores, these islands are sure to captivate your heart and leave you longing for more. So pack your bags, leave your worries behind, and embark on an extraordinary journey to these best-kept secrets of the world. The island paradise of your dreams awaits!

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