World's Best Islands 2011
Art Kowalsky / Alamy
An ancient island that endured one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, Santorini, 120 miles southwest of mainland Greece, feels like no other place on earth. Here, everything is brighter: the whitewashed cube-shaped houses, the lapis lazuli sea, and the sunsets that light up the caldera. So it seems about time that Santorini captured the No. 1 island title for the first time in World’s Best Awards history—beating out Maui, Bali, and the Galápagos. For the ultimate trip, base yourself in picturesque Oia, on the island’s northern tip, where hotels are set on cliffs above the glittering Aegean Sea.