Top 10 Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific
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 antipodes and the South Pacific don't require a hard sell. With thousands of unblemished beaches, multiicolor coral forests, and top-tier luxury hotels and resorts, these islands are the stuff of choose-your-own-adventure, bucket-list fantasies. And though the best islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific may be quite remote, that's simply part of the draw.
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.
The islands of French Polynesia continue to be a favorite for T+L readers, with the majority of the winners hailing from this picturesque region, including honeymoon favorites Moorea (No. 3) and Tahiti (No. 9). "The beaches and lagoons were incredible, and the resort and our overwater bungalow were amazing," one reader said of Moorea. "All of the locals and employees at the resort were so warm and friendly! We cannot wait to go back… well worth the long plane ride."
New Zealand's Waiheke Island (No. 6), just under an hour's ferry ride from Auckland, is always popular for city slickers looking for a short break to explore gold-standard vineyards and otherworldly beaches. The Great Barrier Reef snagged the No. 4 spot, with one reader touting its "endless adventure and beauty."
And though it slipped from No. 1 to No. 10, the Cook Islands, located northwest of Tahiti, still wowed readers with its beyond-blue waters and Polynesian culture. "Amazing place to be, and amazing people," one reader declared.
But it's Fiji — an archipelagic paradise in the South Pacific — that took top honors this year. Read on to find out what makes it so impressive, and for the full list.
The 300-plus islands of Fiji are a nature lover's paradise, with up-high hiking trails, year-round balmy weather, and next-level properties (many on their own private islands, like Vatuvara and Kokomo). "Beautiful! Sparsely populated, and the people were exceptionally friendly," enthused one reader about this beautiful Melanesian nation. Of course, the crystal-clear waters teem with life and are a major draw for snorkeling and diving. Exploring the coral reefs brings the opportunity to see a diverse array of species, including manta rays, sea turtles, parrotfish, and giant clams.
2. Kangaroo Island, Australia
3. Moorea, French Polynesia
WBA Hall of Fame honoree.
4. Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia
5. Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
6. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
7. Huahine, French Polynesia
8. Tasmania, Australia
9. Tahiti, French Polynesia
10. Cook Islands
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.