World's Best Islands 2013
No. 22 Cook Islands
This South Pacific island group’s low-key resorts make an affordable alternative to its five-star neighbors Tahiti and Bora-Bora. Snorkeling, kayaking, and motu walking—the local pastime of wading in the shallow waters between islets—add to the appeal. For a secluded beach, head to One Foot Island; drumbeats at sundown signal the last boat back to neighboring Aitutaki Island.
Where to Stay: In one of the overwater bungalows at Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa, on a private island at the edge of the lagoon.