The 5 Best Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

The best islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, according to Travel + Leisure readers, exceed expectations not just for their natural beauty but also for the friendliness of the people.

The soft-sand beaches, technicolor marine life, and sky-scraping mountains of Oceania's islands form the basis for many a daydream. Remote and often quite off-grid, the best islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific offer the opportunity for a rejuvenating escape, but for curious travelers, they're also windows into some of the world's longest-living Indigenous cultures.

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 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.

Aerial panorama of the sunset over the Waya island in Fiji
Didier Marti/Getty Images

French Polynesia continues to be a favorite destination for Travel + Leisure readers, with the majority of the winning islands in this territory. Bora Bora moved from No. 5 to No. 3, with one fan gushing that it's "one of the most beautiful places I've ever been."

This year's No. 5, Tahiti, earned similar praise. "A vacation of a lifetime if you choose to visit," a commenter said. The largest island in French Polynesia, it's also easier to get to than the other islands in the South Pacific.

The islands of the Great Barrier Reef — which stretches nearly 1,300 miles along the northeastern coast of Australia — retained their No. 4 spot. Ambitious efforts by the Australian government and scientists are underway to save the bright coral reefs and resident marine life, and many resorts in the area, including Intercontinental Hayman Island, are pitching in as well.

Read on to see which other places readers deemed the best islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific — and why Fiji has yet again captured the No. 1 spot.

1. Fiji Islands

Treasure island resort, Fiji
Bruce Hood/Getty Images

An archipelago of 300 islands in the Coral Sea, Fiji has no shortage of things to do, both on land and in the water. Among the most popular activities: hiking up volcanic trails and searching for marine life during snorkeling and diving excursions. Still, the biggest differentiator, according to T+L readers, is the hospitality. "Very friendly people, and the service is the best," commented one reader. Another person echoed the sentiment: "The happiest place on earth. I love Fiji and the people."

Score: 92.38

2. Moorea, French Polynesia

Taahiamanu is a public beach in the north of Moorea island, French Polynesia.
CampPhoto/Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.24

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Overwater bungalows at resort in Bora Bora
M Swiet Productions/Getty Images

Score: 87.70

4. Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

An aerial view of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia
Mint Images - Art Wolfe/Getty Images

Score: 86.90

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

French Polynesia, Tahiti island, rainbow
Aldo Pavan/Getty Images

Score: 83.44

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