In the eyes of Travel + Leisure readers, the world’s best islands promise much more than aquamarine waters, dramatic coastlines and pristine beaches. All are proof that we are not only excited to explore again, but re-examining what an ideal island experience might entail.
Every year, as part of our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to give their opinion on travel experiences around the world – to share their opinions on the best cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, etc Readers rated the islands based on their sights and activities, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
The majority of the more popular islands offer crystal clear sands and thriving marine life that can be explored by divers of all skill levels. Examples: the Maldives (n°2), Bali in Indonesia (n°3) or Phuket in Thailand (n°7). Readers also flocked to islands rich in culture and gastronomy, from the ancient ruins and unrivaled food of Mílos, Greece (#4) to the nightlife of Ibiza, Spain (#17).
Readers’ enthusiasm for Phu Quoc (#14) in Vietnam earned it a spot on this list thanks to its white-sand beaches and delicious cuisine. The island is renowned for its production of fish sauce and peppercorns, as well as its coral reefs and dense rainforest.
But this category, according to T+L readers, has a new winner this year. Read on to find out why Ischia in Italy took the title of the #1 island.
1. Ischia, Italy
Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, an hour by ferry from Naples, Ischia has drawn more traveler attention after featuring prominently in Elena Ferrante’s novel “My Brilliant Friend,” which HBO recently adapted into a series. It earned the top spot thanks to its picturesque villages, hot springs and unspoilt beaches, including Le Fumarole and its geothermally heated sand. A reader added praise for the “very kind and helpful” locals. While there are myriad villas for rent, there is also the complete five-star experience of Mezzatorre, managed by Pellicano Hotels. It overlooks the Bay of Naples and features a 16th-century watchtower, in which some of its 52 rooms and suites are located, as well as a spa and 17 acres of grounds.
3. Bali, Indonesia
Member of the WBA Hall of Fame. Score: 92.51
4. Milos, Greece
5. Fiji Islands
6. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
7. Phuket, Thailand
9. Boracay, Philippines
10. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
11. Palawan, Philippines
12. Paros, Greece
13. Azores, Portugal
14. Phu Quoc, Vietnam
15. Moorea, French Polynesia
16. Cebu, Philippines
17. Ibiza, Spain
18. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
19. Madeira, Portugal
20. Maui, Hawaii
Member of the WBA Hall of Fame. Rating: 89.55
22. Crete, Greece
23. Mackinac Island, Michigan
24. Island of Hawaii
25. Kiawah Island, South Carolina