World's Best Islands 2015

© iStockphoto

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. 9 Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

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Score: 87.31

A vast, 1,600-mile sweep of coral reef unfurls from the northeastern tip of Australia, teeming with more than 400 species of marine life spanning from the great baleen whales to thorny urchins. Divers can be found year-round in this labyrinth of 3,000 plus individual reefs, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and the largest living feature on Earth, made from billions of coral polyps. Of all the region’s castaway islands (approximately 900) it’s the Whitesundays, at the threshold of this coral paradise, that we love most, thanks in large part to the blinding-white strip of sand known as Whitehaven Beach. The spectacular biodiversity is reflected in the incredible mélange of resorts scattered amongst the Great Barrier Reef. While the enormous, 244-room Hayman Island has acres of marble flooring and a swimming pool seven-times the Olympic standard, modest Qualia has 60 intimate bungalows outfitted with private terraces and kwila hardwood.

Great Barrier Reef Islands

World's Best Islands 2015

No. 9 Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Score: 87.31

A vast, 1,600-mile sweep of coral reef unfurls from the northeastern tip of Australia, teeming with more than 400 species of marine life spanning from the great baleen whales to thorny urchins. Divers can be found year-round in this labyrinth of 3,000 plus individual reefs, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World and the largest living feature on Earth, made from billions of coral polyps. Of all the region’s castaway islands (approximately 900) it’s the Whitesundays, at the threshold of this coral paradise, that we love most, thanks in large part to the blinding-white strip of sand known as Whitehaven Beach. The spectacular biodiversity is reflected in the incredible mélange of resorts scattered amongst the Great Barrier Reef. While the enormous, 244-room Hayman Island has acres of marble flooring and a swimming pool seven-times the Olympic standard, modest Qualia has 60 intimate bungalows outfitted with private terraces and kwila hardwood.

© iStockphoto
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