Advertisement

This year's World's Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year's honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.

The best islands in the world, according to T+L readers, are the kind of Instagram-perfect destinations that travelers fantasize about on winter evenings: dreamy, sun-drenched landscapes surrounded by the bluest waters. And since there's an island destination for everyone, what constitutes "paradise" likely boils down to specific interests — history, culture, heart-pumping adventure, or something else entirely. 

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.

Milos island, Cyclades, Greece
Sarakiniko beach, Milos island, Cyclades, Greece
| Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

Looking to spot iguanas lazing about and sea lions playing with snorkelers in the waters off the white beaches? The Galápagos (No. 10) is for you. For unrivaled diving, there is Koh Samui in Thailand (No. 7) and the Philippines' Palawan (No. 19). If you're hoping to spend your days indulging in homemade pasta and wine from local vineyards, consider Sicily (No. 6) or Sardinia (No. 16).

Plenty of options abound for those who want to stay closer to home. "Bring a camera, lots of reading material, and walk the fabulous powdery beach," said one reader of Harbour Island (No. 17), a Bahamian paradise renowned for its pink sands. Another favorite: the volcanic island St. Lucia (No. 20). "Anse Chastanet Beach is beautiful with the black sand and small snorkeling area," shared a voter. "You have to pay a fee for usage, but it is worth it."

As in so many years, it was a Greek island that emerged as readers' top choice. Find out why they consider Mílos No. 1 among the best islands in the world.

1. Mílos, Greece

Milos island, Greece
Mandrakia, Milos island, Greece
| Credit: Getty Images

Located in the middle of the Cycladic islands, Mílos rose from its No. 3 spot last year thanks to friendly locals who welcome visitors to explore the quaint villages (Trypiti is famous for its windmills, Plaka for its sunsets), extraordinary tavernas, and dozens of picturesque beaches that vary in color depending on whether they are formed from shells, stones, or sand. Visitors will find many options for lodging. "We stayed at a small B&B right on the water," shared one reader. "Great location." But if you're looking to spoil yourself, consider splurging on Milos Cove, a minimalist 42-room aerie where private pools offer unrivaled views of the Aegean.

Score: 95.50

2. Folegandros, Greece

Folegandros island, Cyclades, Greece.
Cycladic architecture in Chora village, Folegandros island, Cyclades, Greece.
| Credit: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Score: 95.47

3. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Young Island at sunrise in St. Vincent, West Indies
| Credit: Aurora Open/Getty Images

Score: 91.69

4. Madeira, Portugal

Madeira island, Portugal
Two people admiring sunset from Pico do Arieiro. Madeira island, Portugal
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 91.56

5. Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Islands, India
Sea Fan with scuba diver in background off Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands archipelago, India
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 91.24

6. Sicily, Italy

Sicily, Italy
Piazza Duomo in Sicily, Italy
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 90.49

7. Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand
Sunny beach on AngThong National Park in Koh Samui, Thailand
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 90.34

8. Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bali, Indonesia
| Credit: Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.32

9. Island of Hawaii

Island Of Hawaii, USA
USA, Hawaii, Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea erupting, Island Of Hawaii, USA
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 90.06

10. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Group of Galápagos Sea Lions, Ecuador
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 90.00

11. Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii, USA
Snorkelers with Variety of Tropical Reef fish in Kauai, Hawaii
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 89.88

12. Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii; USA
Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii; USA
| Credit: Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.76

13. Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
Oia Santorini Greece
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 89.61

14. Maldives

Maldives
Couple snorkelling towards tropical beach, Maldives
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 89.55

15. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
Boats Moored In Sea At Harbor By Town Against Clear Blue Sky, Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
| Credit: EyeEm/Getty Images

Score: 89.10

16. Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia, Italy
Cala Goloritze in Sardinia, Italy
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.75

17. Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island, Bahamas
Beautiful tropical beach at Harbour Island, Bahamas
| Credit: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Score: 88.74

18. Aruba

Aruba
Natural Pool in Arikok National park on the North coast of Aruba
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.72

19. Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, Philippines
Kayaking excursion through Palawan, Philippines
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.63

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia
Between the Pitons, St. Lucia
| Credit: iStockphoto/Getty Images

Score: 88.41

21. Mallorca, Spain

Majorca, Spain
Cyclist on narrow road beneath towering rock formations above Sa Calobra; Majorca, Spain
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.39

22. Anguilla

Anguilla
Mead's Bay at Anguilla
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.25

23. Eleuthera, Bahamas

Eleuthera Island, Bahamas
district of Governor's Harbour (Central Eleuthera); Eleuthera Island, Bahamas
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.20

24. (tie) Seychelles

Seychelles
Picture of one of the most famous beach in the world, Anse Source d'Argent in Seychelles
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.00

24. (tie) Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
Buddah Statues, Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Lanka
| Credit: Getty Images

Score: 88.00

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.