Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked the best islands in the world.
Is your favorite on the list? Read about all the best cities, hotels, resorts, spas, and cruise lines in the world in our Readers’ Choice Awards 2014.
30. Aquidneck Island (Newport), Rhode Island
Readers’ Rating: 81.011
The largest island in Narragansett Bay is where you’ll find Newport, one of our ten best small cities in America, lined with elegant Gilded Age mansions straight out of an Edith Wharton novel. The City by the Sea is also a center for sailing.
Pro tip: The Newport Jazz Festival, held in August each year, has played host to countless musical greats—Duke Ellington, Nina Simone, and John Coltrane, to name just a few. Pay a visit during the summer to see the next big thing in jazz.
Getting there: Drive to Aquidneck Island from Providence, only about 40 minutes away.
29. Vancouver Island, Canada
Readers’ Rating: 81.122
Vancouver Island is consistently one of our readers’ top islands in Canada; they implore you to stay as long as possible, since there is simply “so much to see and do.” Pick from salmon fishing, wine tasting, sailing, strolling along beaches and nature trails, or learning about glassblowing.
Pro tip: Check into Wickaninnish Inn, “a paradise at the end of the world,” says our readers. This cedar-plank inn is at the gateway to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. After a walk on “one of the most beautiful beaches,” enjoy a hot soak in an oversized tub with aromatherapy bath salts.
Getting there: Fly to Vancouver and then hop one of BC Ferries’ 25 routes to 47 terminals on Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia.
28. Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Readers’ Rating: 81.285
A getaway for affluent Southern vacationers since the 19th century, this narrow island is known for its picturesque marshlands, long stretches of Atlantic beachfront, golf and fishing.
Pro tip: Wild Dunes Resortis built on 1,600 acres of beachfront. Golf, play tennis, bike, or just stretch out on the sand.
Getting there: It’s less than a 20-minute drive to the island from downtown Charleston.
27. Hilton Head, South Carolina
26. Anna Maria Island, Florida
25. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Readers’ Rating: 81.432
This singular island was voted the most photogenic place on earth in 2014, and it’s no wonder. Shielded by a protective barrier reef, Bora Bora’s famous lagoon is all the colors of the rainbow, crisscrossed by (friendly) manta rays and sharks.
Pro tip: Bora Bora’s luxe accommodations are mostly in thatched-roof bungalows extending over the lagoon. The swankiest of all is the St. Regis, complete with a spa that has its very own island.
Getting there: Hop on a local flight to the island from Tahiti, which takes about 45 minutes.
24. British Virgin Islands
23. Frisian Islands, Germany
Readers’ Rating: 81.868
This archipelago threads its way north along the coastlines of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, shielding the Wadden Sea mudflats (a wildlife-rich UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the North Sea waves. The islands are a popular summer getaway for well-heeled Northern European vacationers.
Pro tip: The island of Sylt is Germany’s answer to the Hamptons, combining windswept dunes and colorful lighthouses with upscale resorts and fine dining.
Getting there: It’s a three-and-a-half-hour train journey from Hamburg to Sylt.
22. Prince Edward Island, Canada
21. Skiathos & Sporades, Greece
20. Öland, Sweden
Readers’ Rating: 82.143
A vacation spot for Sweden’s royal family, this island in the Baltic Sea is a popular summer getaway for commoners, too. Here you’ll find pretty beaches, dramatic limestone outcroppings, fairy-tale forests, and hundreds of antique windmills. The whole southern portion of the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its well-preserved farming settlement.
Pro tip: Öland is brimming with historical sites, from the prehistoric standing stones at Gettlinge to the medieval ring fort of Eketorp. There’s also Borgholms slott, the ruins of a 12th-century castle ravaged by a 19th-century fire.
Getting there: Just off of mainland Sweden, the island is accessible by car or bus via the Öland Bridge.
18. Moorea, French Polynesia
17. Bali, Indonesia
16. Oahu, Hawaii
15. Sea Island, Georgia
Readers’ Rating: 82.514
Old Southern charm—and old money—oozes from every pore of this private island just beyond the Georgia marshlands. The area is divided between two high-end resorts, the Sea Island Beach Club and the Cloister, and has played host to famous guests over the years: Calvin Coolidge, Eugene O’Neill, and Bill Clinton among them.
Pro tip: The Cloister is as luxurious as resorts come, with a Mediterranean aesthetic, a world-class golf course, horseback riding, a spa, and miles of private beach.
Getting there: It’s a 90-minute drive from either Jacksonville, Florida, or Savannah to Sea Island.
13. Menorca, Spain
12. Boracay, Philippines
Readers’ Rating: 82.683
This itty-bitty island (10 square miles) in the Western Philippines is as close to the tropical idyll ideal as you’ll find in the Philippines, with gentle coastlines and transporting sunsets. Add in a thriving nightlife scene, and you have one of the top tourist spots in the region.
Pro tip: The aptly named White Beach is Boracay’s main draw, with powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Getting there: Fly from Manila to Caticlan in Malay; from there, pump boats ferry passengers to White Beach.
11. Tasmania, Australia
10. Big Island, Hawaii
9. Kangaroo Island, Australia
Readers’ Rating: 82.803
Though Australia’s third-largest island is only ten miles off the coast of Adelaide, its bucolic way of life has remained largely untouched by mainland development. And thanks to its watery isolation, Kangaroo Island has remained predator-free, leaving it home to a huge variety of wildlife: koalas, spiky echidnas, long-nosed bandicoots, sea lions, platypuses, and of course, kangaroos.
Pro tip:To experience the island’s natural grandeur, both animal and geological, visit Flinders Chase National Park. Admirals Arch is an otherworldly natural rock formation carved out by the sea, beneath which you can observe colonies of fur seals.
Getting there: Regional airlines fly between Adelaide and Kangaroo Island’s Kingscote (30 mins). You can also take a 45-minute ferry ride from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw on the island.
8. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
7. Santorini & Cyclades, Greece
6. Great Barrier Reef & Whitsunday Islands, Australia
5. Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
4. Kauai, Hawaii
3. Maui, Hawaii
2. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Readers’ Rating: 86.574
Though it’s only a short trip from downtown Charleston, this small barrier island on the Atlantic coast can feel like it’s a world away—whether you’re planning a day on the links or a day at the beach.
Pro tip: The island is dominated by the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which is home to 90 holes of golf spread over five courses, many with scenic ocean views. The PGA Championship was held here in 2012. There are also extensive tennis, spa, and dining offerings.
Getting there: It’s a 33-mile drive from Charleston International Airport to the island, which is located just off the mainland.