We’re barely feeling autumn’s chill, but some folks already have their minds on warm island getaways. Recently, Condé Nast released its Readers’ Choice Awards for the fifteen best islands in the world outside the U.S. Over 300,000 readers weighed in on their favorite places to lounge seaside.
Usually when we Americans think of island travel destinations, we think of the Caribbean. Just a plane hop away, the Caribbean is home to idyllic beaches and crystalline seas. You can’t go wrong with Turks and Caicos, which consists of forty islands (only eight of which are inhabited), and is accessible by its two international airports. Just east on the other side of Cuba and a mere one-hour flight from Miami are the Cayman Islands. Adventure and sports enthusiasts alike will bask in the Cayman way of life, which includes hiking, snorkeling, sailing, and golfing. Travel west of Puerto Rico to the decadent St. Barts, known as a haven of celebrities and a little piece of Europe in the Caribbean. Move north you’ll find Bermuda, which, while located in the North Atlantic, is decidedly Caribbean in vibe. Riddled with watery underground caverns, you can try spelunking seaside and take some time to walk the pink sand beaches.
Americans typically visit Europe to soak up the arts and culture. But let’s not forget the vast and varied oceanfront. Condé Nast’s readers didn’t – four of the top fifteen islands are located in Spain, Italy and Greece. Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean and boasts beautiful beaches and classic colorful Italian cities. Crete and Mykonos are home to unmistakable Greek culture, landscape, and mythological history, in addition to their gorgeous seaside. Mallorca is home to classic Mediterranean blue waters and a laid-back Spanish charm.
Now turn your attention north. Do you associate Canada with gorgeous seaside views and balmy weather? Most of us don’t. But Vancouver Island on Canada’s Pacific coast made the list of most beloved places to sun and swim. Other activities available to travelers are salmon fishing, wine tasting, strolling along nature trails, and sailing.
From the South Pacific to the Western Pacific, if you’ve got time to travel, you’ll find the lion’s share of Condé Nast’s readers’ favorite beaches. Head to French Polynesia and visit Tahiti, where you can take in black-sand beaches, lagoons, waterfalls and two extinct volcanoes. Or you can take your travel and little further and make your way to Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation made up of thousands of volcanic islands. Bali was listed as a favorite by Condé’s survey, and it’s no surprise, given its iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. Just south, in sprawling Australia, you’ll find the Great Barrier Reef, a living structure that consists of more than 3,000 individual reef systems, hundreds of islands, and myriad colorful and exotic fish and sea life.
If you want the chance to double-down on beautiful beaches, head to the Philippines, comprised of more than 7,000 islands and home to three of Condé readers’ fifteen top beaches – Cebu, Palawan, and Boracay. Cebu is the most densely populated island in the Philippines and is famous to locals and travelers alike for its beaches on the mainland and across many of the surrounding islands. Think white sand and azure beaches. Palawan, a tiny island located on the eastern most side of the Philippines. This island is home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River. The river travels five miles through an underground cave system and guests to the island can take advantage of guided boat tours. Coming in at just four square miles, diminutive Boracay makes up for what it lacks in size by character. With powdery white sand, shallow azure water, and a thriving nightlife, Boracay is a must for places to visit if you find yourself dreaming of sea and sand.