Are you looking for an island in the sun where you can swim in turquoise water, sip on cocktails and enjoy fresh seafood delights? If you’re a beach bum in search of the world’s best holiday spots, a couple looking for a romantic holiday in the sun, or just a traveller whose main purpose is to avoid winter, here is our pick of top 10 island destinations.
10. Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali is known as “The Island of the Gods” and when you survey the beautiful and diverse landscape it’s not hard to believe something Divine created the island. The paradise island is home to picturesque mountains, fertile rice terraces that cling to hillsides, and attractive coastlines. In 2010 Bali won Travel + Leisure magazine’s Best Island award, thanks to the beautiful surroundings, wide range of tourist attractions, friendly locals and an excellent variety of local and international restaurants. Spend lazy days on the beach at Jimbaran, join the surfers at Kuta beach and enjoy the upmarket restaurants at Seminyak. Experience the colourful and deeply spiritual culture of Bali by visiting the Buddhist monastery Brahma Vihara Arama, taking a dip in the Banjar Hot Springs, or visiting the peaceful Ulun Danu Temple complex at Lake Bratan. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even climb the volcanic Mount Batur, which periodically produces slightly disturbing noises and plumes of smoke.
9. Koh Samui, Thailand
Like many of its South East Asia neighbours, Thailand also has its fair share of beautiful islands. One of Thailand’s holiday hotspots is the stunning island of Koh Samui (Ko Samui). Located in the Gulf of Thailand this is a scuba divers paradise. The crystal clear water and fabulous coral in the nearby Ang Thong National Marine Park draw millions of tourists each year. Koh Samui is the perfect place to soak up the sun, with a variety of beautiful beaches to choose from including the popular Cheweng Beach, Budda Beach and Mae Nam. When you’re not relaxing on the beach you can spend your time sampling local cuisine and exploring the delightful Thai villages, temples and gardens.
The island paradise of Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean and is blessed with world famous white coral beaches and clear warm water that will delight any beach lover. The beaches at Grand Bay, Belle Mare and Pereybere are the perfect place to swim, snorkel, and go jet skiing, sailing or windsurfing. Enjoy fabulous, fresh seafood as the friendly locals bring in the catch-of-the-day, see the rare flora and fauna in the Black River Gorges National Park, visit the bustling markets in Port Louis, and play a round of golf at the world-class Le Touessrok Golf Course. The beautiful sub-tropical climate of Mauritius means that it’s the perfect island getaway year round.
7. Maui, Hawaii
The Hawaiian island of Maui has all the ingredients for a fabulous island holiday. Holidays in Maui mean you’ll have plenty of opportunity to experience some of the best of Hawaii. Snorkel at Black Rock near Kaanapali Beach, take a road trip on the picturesque Hana Highway, do some whale watching from Lahaina, hike in Haleakala National Park and enjoy a buffet dinner and traditional Hawaiian dancing at a luau.
6. Santorini, Greece
It may not have soft powdery beaches, palm trees and crystal clear water, but the Greek island of Santorini is something quite extraordinary. The whitewashed villages of Thira, Imerovigli, Firastefani and Oia are perched high above the sea, clinging to the hillside and have bustling shops, taverns, hotels and cafes that line narrow cobblestone streets. Here you can relax on the black sandy beaches of Perivolos, Perissa and Cape Columbo, learn about the history of the island at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, tour a local winery and watch incredible sunsets from Oia.
The island of Barbados is located in the Caribbean and is a place where luxury and relaxation are top priority. Spend a day on the fine white sandy beaches, snorkel around the coral reefs, go wreck diving under warm turquoise water, sip on a rum punch, take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Welchman Hall Gully, tour Sunbury Plantation House and take a day trip to the neighbouring island of Dominica, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. The bustling towns, friendly locals and wide variety of activities available make Barbados an ideal island holiday destination.
The sun-drenched Bahamas are made up of around 2000 islands, cays and islets, surrounded by warm, clear water that teems with life. The Bahamas offer a wide range of world-class activities and stunning beaches. It’s the perfect place for water sports like snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, kayaking and deep-sea fishing. Take an island-hopping boat tour, go on a wild dolphin excursion, take a Bacardi Rum factory tour, see iguanas, Caribbean parrots and colourful orchids along the Bimini Nature Hiking Trail, go shopping on Grand Bahama, and enjoy and evening of Calypso music. The Bahamas are bursting with colour, music and character, and enjoy lovely warm weather throughout the year making it an ideal island holiday spot.
3. US Virgin Islands
The pristine beaches of the US Virgin Islands are the perfect place to laze in the sun or go sailing, snorkeling, kayaking and water skiing. These Caribbean islands consist of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas and some smaller islands. Visit Paradise Point and take a tramway for some stunning views of Charlotte Amalie Harbor and the rest of the island, visit a wildlife refuge in St. Croix, relax on the beautiful beach at Cramer Park, take a stroll through St. George Botanical Garden and walk along Annaberg Trail on St. John.
2. The Seychelles
The 115 islands that make up the Seychelles are something dreams are made. They are little slice of heaven and once you’ve experienced the perfect paradise of the Seychelles you may find it hard to get back on the plane when it’s time to go home. The islands are located off the east coast of Africa and are home to some of the world’s most exquisite beaches of soft white sand sandwiched between crystal clear water, smooth boulders and swaying palms. The warm waters are perfect for swimming, sailing and snorkelling. Take a glass-bottom boat to Baie Ternay, hike along the coastline from Beau Vallon to Anse Major, visit the Vallee de Mai national park, take a tour of a colonial Creole-style plantation house and shop at the bustling market in downtown Victoria. The best time to visit the Seychelles is during from May to September, when temperatures are pleasant and there isn’t too much rain.
1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “island paradise” is tropical bungalows built over water, then Bora Bora is the place for you. The island is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world, which is not surprising. What’s more romantic than spending time in a postcard perfect island? Here you can relax on the beach while sipping a Tahitian cocktail, snorkel, enjoy the best seafood, and even take a dip in the ocean right from your bungalow. It’ll be easy to forget your troubles when you’re surrounded by the serenity and beauty of Bora Bora. It doesn’t get much better than this little slice of heaven.