© Dr. Marli Miller/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

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. 8 Kauai, Hawaii

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Score: 87.882

Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian Island, formed when lava bubbled up from the ocean floor 5 million years. To this day, it maintains a certain sense of dignity that is not uncommon amongst the community’s elders. For example, it's defiantly more low-key than its glamorous sibling to the east, though no less dramatic. Can't-miss sights include Pali Ke Kua, or Hideaways beach, kept secret by towering black lava walls, as well as the Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast, both banded by scenic hiking trails and switchbacks. Development isn't unheard of here; Kauai has its famed golf courses and high-profile resorts. But nature still asserts itself in the form of the spiked Anahola Mountains and the bluffs above Hanelai Bay. From here, you get what may arguably the most impressive vista in the state: clouds evaporating over a perfect crescent moon of beach.

Kauai

World's Best Islands

No. 8 Kauai, Hawaii

Score: 87.882

Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian Island, formed when lava bubbled up from the ocean floor 5 million years. To this day, it maintains a certain sense of dignity that is not uncommon amongst the community’s elders. For example, it's defiantly more low-key than its glamorous sibling to the east, though no less dramatic. Can't-miss sights include Pali Ke Kua, or Hideaways beach, kept secret by towering black lava walls, as well as the Waimea Canyon and Na Pali Coast, both banded by scenic hiking trails and switchbacks. Development isn't unheard of here; Kauai has its famed golf courses and high-profile resorts. But nature still asserts itself in the form of the spiked Anahola Mountains and the bluffs above Hanelai Bay. From here, you get what may arguably the most impressive vista in the state: clouds evaporating over a perfect crescent moon of beach.

© Dr. Marli Miller/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

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.  

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