The world’s islands take up 9,963,000 square kilometers, and Planet Earth has roughly 900,000 of them — 200,000 are sea islands. Here are thirty islands you must visit immediately — or at the very least fantasize about!
1. Praslin Island, Seychelles
You can pick any island in Seychelles’ 155-strong archipelago and immerse yourself in unrivaled paradise. Seychelles sits 1,000 miles off the coast of East Africa. Praslin Islands’ numerous white-sand, granite-lined beaches have immaculate, clear-blue waters, friendly locals, and world-class snorkeling.
Seychelles is home to a unique form of double coconut, the coco de mer; Praslin has a plantation with an interesting coco de mer hiking route for visitors.
2. Milos, Greece
Milos has something for every visitor profile: dozens of white-sand beaches with pristine, turquoise waters, while there are incredible historical sites and old villages to peruse for others.
Those who enjoy history will marvel at the many ancient ruins across the island, with its prehistoric Bronze-Age settlement and ancient Hellenic battleground sites, including one which hosted a famous skirmish between the ancient Athenians and Spartans.
3. Reunion Island, France
France’s tropical diamond in the Indian Ocean is a former colony-turned-French overseas territory. This wonderful spectacle competes with the most beautiful islands in the world, with world-class secluded beaches and bays, mountains, and volcanoes.
Piton de la Fournaise is an active shield volcano that has erupted more than 100 times since records began — most recently in 2022.
4. Capri, Italy
The Amalfi Coast in Italy has elicited platitudes from countless writers, poets, and musicians. These portrayals of the landscape match the glowing tourist reviews just as Capri matches the stunning mainland landscape.
In Capri, lucky visitors can enjoy epic drives along elevated coastal roads where spectacular cliff-hugging towns and fishing villages wait around each corner. The island’s rugged terrain drops into perfectly blue coves and lagoons, and Capri’s interior has miles of Unesco-protected ancient beech forests.
5. Skellig Michael, Ireland
Home to the iconic lightsaber handover scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Skellig Michael is a windswept, grassy island off the coast of Ireland. Since Star Wars was filmed there, visitor traffic has increased. However, if you wish to visit, take a number — only 180 guests per day are allowed to visit the Unesco-protected island for 2.5 hours at a time.
6. The Azores, Portugal
Portugal has several tropical overseas territories, including the Azores, an archipelago between Western Europe and the U.S.A. The islands’ latitude is level with Delaware, but its longitude puts it right in the Gulf Stream.
This subsequent climate means the Azores have warm, verdant conditions all year — this paradise is mostly unspoiled, with whale watching, scuba diving, and world-class outdoor adventures all year round.
7. Skye, Scotland
The Western Hebrides is a band of emerald-green, weather-battered mountains islands that hug Scotland’s western coast. Skye is a filmmaker’s dream, with misty valleys and otherworldly rock formations adding dramatic atmosphere to its wealth of history and National Trust-protected outdoor spaces. However, if it is a beach holiday you seek, maybe Skye isn’t for you: even in the summertime, rain is common.
8. Tahiti, French Polynesia
In the South Pacific, thousands of miles from most mainland, sits Tahiti, another archipelago of stunning, white-sand beaches flanked by tumbling, green mountains. Adventurers have a world of activities to choose from, including the world-famous Teahupoo: the heaviest reef barrel in the world.
9. Sicily, Italy
I went to Sicily as a child and remembered an island of rocky beaches and aquamarine waters, mountains with villages perched atop their peaks, and proud locals who welcomed us off the street for a glass of wine. No mountain town is more stunning than Gangi, an ancient urbanization with Etna’s menacing, frosted peak in the distance.
Sicily’s famous volcano Mount Etna is designated a Unesco Decade Volcano for its volatile behavior and proximity to civilization. Cable cars and bus tours operate for visitors, while more brave souls can hike to Etna’s rim.
10. Phu Quoc, Vietnam
While most Vietnam visitors flock to Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay in the north, Vietnam has a great weekend getaway to the south: Phu Quoc. Sitting below the border with Cambodia, Phu Quoc is renowned in Vietnam for its white-sand beaches, reefs, and miles of backcountry roads made for exploring by motorbike. Visitors can arrive by plane or even brave a two-day motorcycle road trip from Saigon, then cross by ferry.
11. Palau, Micronesia
The best reason to visit the Western Pacific enigma is the variety of sealife and quality of diving experiences, including Jellyfish Lake, famous in more influencer videos than necessary but still a strong bucket-list contender worldwide.
Scuba heads will enjoy its 700 coral species and 1,300 plus fish varieties; adventurers can enjoy sea-kayaking between the Rock Islands, a collection of 300 green limestone islets scattered across perfect aquamarines waters.
12. Svalbard, Norway
Those who seek extremes may find their match in Norway’s Svalbard, which is halfway between Norway’s northern coast and the North Pole. The Arctic island provides a far-flung choice for anyone looking for an adventure. Svalbard is also home to a huge colony of dangerous polar bears known to attack.
This gorgeous Pacific Island is made for those who enjoy world-class tropical beaches, luxury resorts, and cascading volcanic peaks as their backdrop. With clear waters, welcoming locals, and some of the world’s best diving, snorkeling, and surfing, Fiji is worth the daunting, expensive journey most people must make.
14. Saint Lucia
Most Caribbean islands are low in elevation, though Saint Lucia sits in the windward islands of the Lesser Antilles, a collection of volcanic islands on the edge of the Caribbean Plate. Its rugged Piton Mountains offer stunning vistas to complement its array of luxury beach resorts, charming, early 20th-century French-style towns, and vibrant rainforests.
15. Corsica, France
The revered French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica; his heritage was Italian due to the island’s former Italian status. Corsica is perfect for a driving holiday, immersing oneself in medieval villages, picturesque harbor towns, or well-kept sandy beaches. Corsica is also a hunter’s dream; the island’s interior has plentiful untouched moss-covered, old-growth forests, influencing its rustic, game-heavy cuisine.
16. Langkawi, Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the more developed South-East Asian countries, so its tourist spots have great infrastructure. Langkawi sits in the Straits of Malacca, west of the mainland.
Dozens of secluded islets teaming with coral reefs and diverse sea life surround the island, making it perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. On land, the island is ideal for small families to enjoy its attractions and duty-free shopping.
17. Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
Those French colonialists knew how to choose a territory, and one can only imagine how mindblowing it was to see Bora-Bora for the first time. Its epic, rugged mountains drop into sparkling lagoons lined by luxury beach bungalows.
In more modern times, the island serves as a dream tourist destination. The locals’ warmth matches its natural tropical beauty — their welcoming ceremonies lead many to describe this South Pacific jewel as the most romantic place on Earth.
18. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural wonders, including Tubbahata Reefs Natural Park, the protected El Nido municipality, and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. Think stunning tropical beaches, limestone rock formations, lagoons, and one of the world’s coolest underground rivers. Visitors must experience Palawan before tourism engulfs the paradise.
19. The Falkland Islands
This windswept outpost sits between Cape Horn and Antarctica and is a British overseas territory. The Falkland Islands (las Malvinas in Spanish) have barely any trees and may appear bleak to nature lovers. Still, wildlife fans will be in Heaven — the archipelago has 500,000 pairs of breeding penguins, various whale species, and rare birds. The Falklands are a destination for those who enjoy solitude — and strong wind.
From a distance, Malta is a mere speck in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, but it is a thriving country with incredible history. Malta’s strategic proximity between continents has seen the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Greeks, and Moors all occupy the island — and its neighboring Gozo and Comino. Subsequently, the cuisine and people are uniquely Maltese, drawing influence from their ancestors.
21. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Pilgrims flock to many of Indonesia’s 18,110 islands yearly to enjoy their bounties, but if a tropical beach sounds boring, imagine one patrolled by real-life dinosaurs — Komodo dragons.
Towards the eastern nether regions of Indonesia, Komodo is an island like no other. Visitors can expect to pay north of $250 to witness these deadly reptiles growing up to three meters long.
22. Wadjemup (Rottnest Island), Australia
Nothing says “visit me” more than a vehicle-free island. Wadjemup is a nature reserve only navigable by bike or by walking its postcard-perfect beaches. An easy overnight stop from Perth, the island is home to the world’s only colony of Quokkas, possibly the cutest little mammals alive — and known as the happiest.
23. La Digue
Another Seychelles island, La Digue, is a unique place and car-free. Instead, one must arrive by boat to explore this tiny, tropical dreamscape. The island is mostly jungle but interspersed with friendly nature trails and cycle paths leading to exquisite, secluded mango-tree-fringed beaches.
L’Union Estate takes up much of La Digue. Giant resident tortoises inhabit the nature reserve, which is also a resort. There are few places where you can walk with tortoises and swim with their marine cousin on the same day — other than La Digue.
24. The Maldives
The Maldives are a pipe dream for most people alive. However, those blessed enough to find themselves on any of its 1,000 tropical reef-protected islands will be in for a treat. So if lounging on a five-star bungalow deck above a glass-clear sea, swimming with manta rays, or enjoying a sunset in luxury settings is your thing, the Maldives are waiting for you.
25. Santorini, Greece
If there were a postcard that summarized the pinnacle of Greek island living, it would originate in Santorini. It is famous for its otherworldly, whitewashed stucco architecture, hugging steep hills that plummet into the sparkling Mediterranean. Santorini at sunset is a place where the romantic setting will sway any marriage proposal.
26. The Cook Islands
Regardless of protected status or Unesco privilege, South Pacific islands are mostly unspoiled because of their distance from anything. The Cook Islands, named after Captain Cook, was part of New Zealand before it became autonomous.
Like much of the South Pacific, the Cook Islands are an archipelago comprising 15 islands and two giant reefs. It doesn’t matter which one you visit; each is as beautiful as the next. However, the main population lives on the volcanic Rarotonga.
27. The Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
The Dalmatian Coast is Eastern Europe’s answer to Route 101, with steep, granite mountains falling into clear waters and fishing villages below. Hundreds of little islands pepper this stretch of land, offering ferries over to the occupied islands. Hvar is a great example of a typical Croatian island featuring old villages, country roads, coves, bays, and forests. Croatia is still relatively unspoiled, so it is time to go there soon.
28. Boracay, Philippines
A short flight from the Philippines’ capital Manila is the crowd-pleasing Boracay. The curiously bone-shaped island has won best-island awards in several polls, with its long, southwest-facing beach ideal for sunset walks, beach massages, and al-fresco dining in any of the island’s various restaurants.
29. Vieques Island, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has many wonderful locations; the neighboring Vieques is a short boat ride away. The island has rolling hills and is mostly dry, tropical brush. However, its beaches are renowned for their perfect white sand and clear waters. Moreover, Vieques’ bioluminescent lagoons broke the Guinness World Record for being the brightest in the world, making the eight-mile detour from the mainland worth every minute.
30. Sri Lanka
Known as the Heart of the Indian Ocean and the Teardrop of India for its shape, Sri Lanka is a sizeable island with much to explore. Outstanding beaches and luxury resorts skirt the island’s coast, while the mountainous interior has miles of jungles. Activities abound for families, including an elephant orphanage, Unesco-protected temples, and many colonial throwback experiences, such as the old British East-Indian Company’s tea plantations.
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