The Best Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific
Take a moment to reacquaint yourself with a map of the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia. Then locate your appetite, your bathing suit, and your hiking shoes, and book the next flight. This part of the world offers it all.
Maybe you’ll be so entranced by watching the sea life from your overwater cabana in French Polynesia that you will survive on room service. It’s entirely possible that the thrilling, hyper-local culinary scene in Tasmania will keep you moving from meal to incredible meal with only occasional sights of the extraordinary wildlife. One thing is clear: you won’t be bored for one minute on any of these adventure-filled islands, voted best by T+L readers.
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
Two revered destinations in French Polynesia make the list again this year: Moorea is a family-friendly option to the celebrity-favored (and generally more expensive) Bora-Bora, where the St. Regis and Four Seasons, both hotel winners this year, have established luxury lagoon outposts. Wrote one reader of Bora-Bora, “Prettiest water anywhere in the world.” Moorea draws experienced divers eager to swim with the lemon sharks and explore the underwater Garden of Roses, as the coral reef is known.
Gorgeous views are a given in any of these destinations, but especially if you hike into the jungles of the Cook Islands, located between Hawaii and New Zealand. Surfers and beach lovers both agree on the reef-protected island of Rarotanga: the northern end offers up challenging churn while the rest of the atoll has calm waters perfect for snorkeling and whale watching.
What could possibly be more spectacular? Apparently one destination can… it was voted into the top spot by readers for the second year in a row. Read on for the answer, and to see how the other islands scored.
5. Bora-Bora, French Polynesia
4. Moorea, French Polynesia
3. Cook Islands
2. Tasmania, Australia
1. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
This 12-mile-long island can be reached in less than an hour by ferry from Auckland, yet it feels far from the madding crowd. Visitors call its beaches unrivaled and praise its verdant beauty, stellar vineyards, and artsy scene. “A lovely day trip from Auckland to visit the wineries,” said one reader. You can consider a stay at the bohemian, three-room Oyster Inn, or book yourself into luxury at Delamore Lodge, which has its own helipad for easy commuting.
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.