Inspiration from across the world for a holiday to remember – here are the top 10 islands in the world, as voted in the 2013 Traveller’s Choice Awards from Trip Advisor which are awarded by millions of real travellers.*
Ambergris Caye, the largest island of Belize. Ambergris Caye hovers in a holiday sweet spot: just enough amenities to make it exciting, but not so overdeveloped that you’re tripping over flip-flopped tourists. A mangrove swamp is the eye of this white beach island, the largest in Belize, and golf carts are the main form of transportation along the sandy roads. Reef divers drool over the Belize Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole, a 400-feet deep circle of limestone that teems with angelfish, elkhorn coral, cleaner shrimp and stalactites.
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Ecotourism is alive and kicking on St. John. There’s more than enough to do on land, from watching for wildlife in the national park to hiking miles of trails or strolling sandy white beaches. Hit the water for amazing snorkeling, swimming, even underwater photography—of course. This is the Caribbean, after all.
Bora Bora, in the South Pacific Ocean. The relatively small island of Bora Bora is an activity giant, offering visitors the chance to experience a 4×4 safari, sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings, or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat. And Bora Bora is a superlative romantic spot. Fall captive to this lush gem of a Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach; visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench; or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu.
San Juan Island, in the north-west U.S. state of Washington. An island holiday on San Juan Island in…Washington? Don’t mistake it for a tropical destination. San Juan Island is a scenic scape that proudly features beaches, orca pods and one of the country’s largest lavender farms. Lime Kiln Point State Park is the perfect place for whale watching, while Pelindaba Lavender Farm will set you up with a lifetime supply of the fragrant purple plant. The bustling Friday Harbour is a jackpot of restaurants and shops, plus unique attractions like the 19-acre sculpture garden at Westcott Bay Reserve.
Santorini, Greece. Glamourous Santorini is deliciously different. Geographical newness is in part to thank. The island’s popular black volcanic Perissa and Kamari beaches are big draws, as is its arguably most famous Red Beach near Akrotiri (which is the place to go for archaeology buffs). Santorini curves round a giant lagoon in the Cyclades islands, offering stunning views from sky-high towns, eclectic cuisine, lovely galleries, thriving nightlife and excellent wines.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Isla Mujeres offers a wide variety of tempting options for beach lovers, and is a relative bargain. Snorkel with tropical fish amid coral reefs, skim the blue waters by kayak or boat, or windsurf along the shores of soft, sandy beaches. On land, you can sunbathe, dine on seafood, dance to Latin rhythms, tour on a moped or belly up to the bar for fresh, delicious drinks.
Moorea, French Polynesia. The world’s largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3,000 separate reefs. The island of Moorea serves as the perfect base camp for snorkelers and scuba divers seeking to come face-to-face with the diversity of life that darts among the coral. Non-swimmers can enjoy the same parade of astounding creatures from the dry perch of a glass-bottomed boat. Formed when half of a monolithic volcano crumbled to the blue-green sea, Moorea is an achingly exquisite heart-shaped island that is simply paradise found.
Koh Tao, Thailand. Drifting serenely in the Gulf of Thailand, the palm-fringed island of Ko Tao takes its name from the abundant sea turtles that reside on its shores. White sand beaches sheltered by steep hills – some only accessible with four-wheel drive vehicles – and 300 days of sun per year invite long afternoons of lounging.
Easter Island, South Pacific. Located in the South Pacific more than 2,000 miles off the Chilean coast, Easter Island’s not the easiest place to reach. (If you’re interested, the easiest access is by air from Santiago or Tahiti.) But isolation has helped preserve the 1,500-year-old mysterious congregation of volcanic rock sculptures (maoi) that’s the island’s biggest claim to fame. After exploring the unique landscape, relax on an uncrowded beach and ponder one of the most mysterious places on Earth.
Nosy Be, Madagascar. “Nosy Be?” Is that a typo for “Noisy Bee?” Nope. It means “big island” and it is just that; a large island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, lazy lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and intricate coral reefs that are practically begging to be explored. Flora and fauna lovers will be in seventh heaven at the beautiful Lokobe Nature Special Reserve. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.
* Copy courtesy of Trip Advisor.
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