The Top 25 Islands in the World
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.
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
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.
2. Folegandros, Greece
3. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
4. Madeira, Portugal
5. Andaman Islands, India
6. Sicily, Italy
7. Koh Samui, Thailand
8. Bali, Indonesia
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 90.32
9. Island of Hawaii
10. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
11. Kauai, Hawaii
12. Maui, Hawaii
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.76
13. Santorini, Greece
15. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
16. Sardinia, Italy
17. Harbour Island, Bahamas
19. Palawan, Philippines
20. St. Lucia
21. Mallorca, Spain
23. Eleuthera, Bahamas
24. (tie) Seychelles
24. (tie) Sri Lanka
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.