Snorkeling, serenity, sensational food…check! These winners have it all.
It’s no fun getting away from it all when you find yourself huddled on a beach with everyone else doing the same. But as these beautiful islands attest, it’s still possible to spend time with your book or your beloved — and not be held hostage to a stranger’s cell phone exchanges.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Some of the choices — such as Anguilla, which won top honors for the first time ever in our survey — offer an intoxicating mix of secluded beaches where you can be the only inhabitant and extraordinary restaurants should you care to break bread with other humans. There are plenty of luxurious hotels to go around, too. On Shoal Bay East, newcomer Zemi Beach House is a breath of fresh air thanks to its sleek, minimalist rooms and its spa set in a Thai home (yes, the building was brought all the way over from Asia). Zemi placed 10th this year in the region’s Resort Hotel category. The Four Seasons recently took over the Viceroy — but Meads Bay, an exquisite stretch of sand from which one can watch migrating whales (while raising a flag for a rum punch) remains unchanged.
Two Puerto Rican destinations also ranked high on the list, as travelers continue to go beyond San Juan and explore the quieter, more rustic isles of Culebra and Vieques. These off-the-beaten-path places keep company with pristine spots like St. John and Virgin Gorda, islands known for their natural attractions: two-thirds of St. John is a protected national park, while Virgin Gorda is home to the famous Baths. The Bahamas — an archipelago of some 700 islands — won three spots in the top 15: the Abacos, Harbour Island, and Exuma, where our readers raved about pigs who act like porpoises. (Who knew that swimming with pigs was possible, let alone so much fun?) And Bermuda, of course, takes its proper seat on the list for its pink sand, sophistication, and proximity to the United States.
All of these honored islands have their individual appeal, but they do share the most coveted qualities: breathtaking landscapes where the din of civilization — and other people’s cell phone calls — seem a world away.