© Natalie Crow / GeoEx

There are hundreds of thousands of islands dotting our oceans and lakes—as many as 180,000 in Finland alone—but only 10 of these enticing, secluded spots get to crown Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Islands list. 

No. 1 Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

10 of 11

Score: 90.815

This wildlife-filled archipelago, hundreds of miles off Ecuador’s shores, has long tempted thrill-seekers and photography enthusiasts with its pods of sea lions, flightless cormorants, the world’s only seafaring lizards, and short-feathered penguins that dart casually across the equator. Volcanic landscapes and beaches relatively untouched by tourism are best seen by sea, and cruise ships, such as Silversea's 100-passenger Silver Galápagos, pair travelers with naturalists for a truly educational experience. Luxury in this isolated ecosystem took an evolutionary leap with the debut of Pikaia Lodge, a carbon-neutral, five-star resort with its own giant tortoise reserve, which lets you explore the islands at your own pace—with the help of a private yacht, of course. 

Galapagos

World's Best Islands

No. 1 Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Score: 90.815

This wildlife-filled archipelago, hundreds of miles off Ecuador’s shores, has long tempted thrill-seekers and photography enthusiasts with its pods of sea lions, flightless cormorants, the world’s only seafaring lizards, and short-feathered penguins that dart casually across the equator. Volcanic landscapes and beaches relatively untouched by tourism are best seen by sea, and cruise ships, such as Silversea's 100-passenger Silver Galápagos, pair travelers with naturalists for a truly educational experience. Luxury in this isolated ecosystem took an evolutionary leap with the debut of Pikaia Lodge, a carbon-neutral, five-star resort with its own giant tortoise reserve, which lets you explore the islands at your own pace—with the help of a private yacht, of course. 

© Natalie Crow / GeoEx

World's Best Islands

Discerning readers have ranked their favorite island oases in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, and this year’s results prove that no destination is too remote when pristine, white-sand beaches and exotic fauna await.

For the third time in the World’s Best Awards two-decade history, the wild islands of the Galápagos secured the No. 1 spot. Despite being 600 miles west of South America, this primordial sanctuary continues to lure travelers with the promise of encounters with playful sea lions and flamboyant blue-footed boobies.

With untamed Tasmania, the jagged mountains peaks of Moorea, and Australia’s vibrant Great Barrier Reef islands rounding out the list, this year’s selection is a clear departure from 2014, which reflected a certain national pride (Hawaiian islands filled four of the top 10 overall spots). Now, distant and unusual shores are back on travelers’ minds.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fulfilling fantasies of coconut palms and luaus. And for that reason, Maui and Kauai are back again, marking 20 consecutive years on the Top 10 Overall list.

Plot your next getaway to one of these incredible islands, where being encircled by water is only part of the appeal.  

Did you enjoy this article?

Share it.

Explore More