The Best Islands in Africa and the Middle East
Safaris may be the first thing you think of when imagining an African vacation. But the continent’s islands are every bit as bucket-list-worthy. With lush rain forests, idyllic fishing villages, and sugar-soft sands, these destinations are ideal honeymoon getaways, offering the perfect contrast to the savannas and grasslands of the mainland. But how do the various islands stack up? We put the question to T+L readers to find out — and here are the places they voted best in the world.
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, Zanzibar, the palm-fringed archipelago of tropical islands off the coast of Tanzania, is back on the list. Portuguese, Arabic, and African cultures are all evident here, making it an attractive option for vacationers craving more than sun and sand. “There are beautiful beaches and great history, all on the same island,” raved one reader.
Last year’s winner, the Seychelles, is also on the list this year. Ever since Kate Middleton and Prince William honeymooned here in 2011, this archipelago of 115 islands has been synonymous with next-level luxury. But the destination has more to offer than swank hotels — namely, Creole cuisine, uninhabited shores, and endless nature trails. Half of the land is protected, giving native species, such as the Aldabra giant tortoises and the Seychelles warbler, the chance to thrive. And there are several marine parks offshore.
As incredible as the Seychelles may be, there was another destination that resonated more with our readers this year. Read on to see which island took the No. 1 spot.
3. Zanzibar, Tanzania
The Indian Ocean nation off Africa’s southeast coast is as dreamy as they come: think powdery beaches, cascading waterfalls, colorful reefs, and lush botanical gardens. And now that some airlines, like KLM and Thomas Cook Airlines, have launched new service there, it’s never been easier to get to (our editors even named it one of the top places to travel in 2018). Once you’ve arrived, drop your bags at the newly reopened One&Only Le Saint Géran, which is set on a private peninsula on the island’s eastern shore. You can spend your days being pampered at the spa and tucking in to fresh seafood at the hotel’s five-star restaurants, which take the island’s mash-up of African, Indian, Chinese, and Creole influences as inspiration. Don’t leave without hitting the bustling Port Louis market, where you can pick up exotic spices and homemade crafts, and exploring La Vanille Nature Park, a wildlife reserve that is home to Mauritian bats and many other rare species.
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.