The 15 Best Islands in the World in 2018

Palawan Island, Philippines
Photo: Maurizio Delbono/Getty Images

To island-hop some of the most beautiful havens in the world, book a trip to Asia, which lays claim to six of this year’s top 15 destinations. But if you only have a week, you’ll hardly suffer. Each of the islands on this list is worth a visit on its own, from the perennial World’s Best list-makers Maui and the Galápagos to Portugal’s rising star, the Azores, with its friendly locals and awe-inspiring landscapes. 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. Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards This year’s winners include surprises as well as familiar favorites. The Edenic Philippine outpost of Palawan scored the top spot on this list in 2013 and in 2017; it also makes the grade this year, although it cedes the top spot to a surprise entry. It remains in fine company, voted in along with its sister island Cebu. A returning favorite is Tasmania, beloved for its wild beauty as well as its burgeoning culinary scene, which has food and wine fans singing its virtues between courses. Explore the northern coast of the island, to which fairy penguins return at night to roost, and the secluded Boat Harbour beach, where you may not see another living being. Also heralded for its seclusion — as well as its beaches, diving, and mountainous beauty — is Indonesia’s Lombok, an island just east of Bali that one reader dubbed “Romance Island.” In fact, Indonesia seems to have the joys of island life down to a science, laying claim to the top three spots people most enjoy visiting. Read on for the full list of 15 winners.

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15. Azores, Portugal

Miradouro da Grota do Inferno, in Sao Miguel, Azores Portugal
Francisco Solipa/Getty Images

Score: 88.37

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14. Maui, Hawaii

Hookipa bay beach, Maui island, Hawaii islands.
Getty Images

Score: 88.42

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13. Orkney Islands, Scotland

Rackwick Bay, Isle of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland
De Agostini via Getty Images

Score: 88.50

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12. Cook Islands

The Cook Islands of the South Pacific
James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Score: 88.52

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11. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Espinoza Point, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Mary Ann McDonald/Getty Images

Score: 88.53

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10. Tasmania, Australia

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
Getty Images

Score: 88.70

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9. Páros, Greece

Boats moored on the waterfront at Naoussa, Paros, The Cycaldes, Greece
Mark Avellino/Getty Images

Score: 88.76

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8. Cebu, Philippines

Cebu, Philippines
Getty Images

Score: 89.10

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7. Mauritius

Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius
Peter Schickert/Getty Images

Score: 90.00

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6. Palawan, Philippines

Palawan Island, Philippines
Maurizio Delbono/Getty Images

Score: 90.04

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5. Waiheke, New Zealand

Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island
Getty Images

Score: 90.21

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4. Maldives

Getty Images

Score: 90.48

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3. Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok island
Artur Debat/Getty Images

Score: 93.88

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2. Bali, Indonesia

Indonesia, Bali, Candidasa Lagoon
Michele Falzone/Getty Images

Score: 94.06

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1. Java, Indonesia

Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia
Vincent Boisvert/Getty Images

Score: 95.28

Java, with a population of 140 million, makes its first appearance on this list. Celebrated for its ancient culture, breathtaking vistas, and UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Borobudur Temple Compounds, the island also offers the opportunity to indulge in modernity (five-star hotels abound). Waterfalls, volcanoes, protected parks, and white-sand beaches also allow visitors to get away from the thrum.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.

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