Travelers looking for a serene getaway often take to an island, seeking the solace of sun, sand, and sea. There are a myriad of options to choose from, such as the Polynesian island of Tahiti or, closer to home, North America's Bermuda.
In our annual World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks people to score travel experiences across the globe, evaluating everything from cruise lines and airports to resorts, cities, and hotels. When it came to islands, readers scored the best according to characteristics like romantic charm and the friendliness of the people.
Some of the more remote islands dominated this year's list of the world's friendliest, with spots in the Philippines accounting for all of the top four destinations.
While the politics of the nation have grown ever-more volatile, the people of the islands remain friendly to visitors exploring their scenic home. For many travelers, it's especially helpful that English is one of the official languages of the Philippines, and that islanders are so welcoming of tourists.
Favorites like Bali and Bora-Bora also made the top 15, with a couple of European islands in the mix as well. Long-time visitors to Europe who have seen classics such as Capri and Santorini have new reasons to return to the region. This year, the Italian island of Ischia and Paros, in Greece, won over readers with their friendly locals.
Ischia, for example, offers a different kind of island experience than the usual resort and beach-going vacation. This small island is a cozy fishing village, and it is also home to geothermal beaches and baths. Plus, visitors to the island can enjoy the cuisine that the entire country is known for.
Notably absent from this year's list? Any U.S. islands (though Hilton Head in South Carolina did manage to snag the No. 18 spot). Hawaii's Kauai, Maui, Lanai, and the Big Island all dropped off the list, as did last Washington State's San Juan Islands (last year's runner-up) and the No. 1 friendliest island in 2015: Mackinac Island in Michigan.
Travelers in need of a hospitable, personable island retreat should consider this list a definitive guide to the friendliest islands on Earth.