© Grand Tour Collection / 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. 6 Moorea, French Polynesia

5 of 11

Score: 87.904

This heart-shaped island levitating on the South Seas has convinced even the most selective travelers that there is such a thing as paradise on Earth, thanks to impossibly blue lagoons and rugged, rainforest-blanketed mountains. The less-trafficked sister island of Bora Bora offers coconut-strewn beaches and an intoxicating aroma of vanilla, grapefruit, and Tahitian gardenia, as well as thatched bungalows at luxe properties such as the InterContinental and views of Tahiti, only 11 miles away, at The Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort. Friendly Tahitians are full of local lore. It’s believed that the beaches along Cook and Opunohu Bays was formed by the tail of a giant yellow lizard, and that—perhaps more believably—James Michener’s novel, Tales of the south Pacific, was inspired by this otherworldly land. 

Moorea

World's Best Islands

No. 6 Moorea, French Polynesia

Score: 87.904

This heart-shaped island levitating on the South Seas has convinced even the most selective travelers that there is such a thing as paradise on Earth, thanks to impossibly blue lagoons and rugged, rainforest-blanketed mountains. The less-trafficked sister island of Bora Bora offers coconut-strewn beaches and an intoxicating aroma of vanilla, grapefruit, and Tahitian gardenia, as well as thatched bungalows at luxe properties such as the InterContinental and views of Tahiti, only 11 miles away, at The Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort. Friendly Tahitians are full of local lore. It’s believed that the beaches along Cook and Opunohu Bays was formed by the tail of a giant yellow lizard, and that—perhaps more believably—James Michener’s novel, Tales of the south Pacific, was inspired by this otherworldly land. 

© Grand Tour Collection / 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.  

Did you enjoy this article?

Share it.

Explore More