You know you’ve escaped civilization when you’re swimming through a coral garden, with only green sea turtles and tropical fish for company. That’s the enticing promise of a trip to Palawan, a chain of white-sand islands in the Philippines.
Palawan is the latest far-flung beach destination to capture the imagination of travelers, specifically, discerning T+L readers who voted it the No. 1 island in the latest World’s Best survey. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the greater the distance traveled, the greater the rewards.
Related: Best Places to Travel in 2014
That said, readers recognized worthy getaways all over the map, from the sultry island of Sicily (No. 8)—where vineyards and ancient ruins vie with beaches for your attention—to the heart-shaped paradise of Moorea, a French Polynesian island known for its blue lagoons and luxurious hideaways.
You can also take your pick from notable islands near America’s East and West coasts: Prince Edward Island, with its seaside cottages and red sand dunes, and Maui, which trumped the other Hawaiian islands, coming in at No. 3 overall.
Whether you prefer a quiet sliver of sand a few time zones from home, or a more accessible and bustling local scene, you’ll find inspiration among these top-rated islands.