The Top 3 Canadian Islands

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.

Some islands call for sarongs and swimsuits; others for hiking boots and trekking poles. According to T+L readers, the best islands in Canada — of the more than 52,000 — fall into the latter group. Three in particular tend to resonate year after year, beloved by World's Best voters for their rugged beauty and ability to whisk travelers away from the daily grind.

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.

A plethora of activities await on Vancouver Island (No. 3). There's whale watching, whitewater rafting, and world-class surfing for those willing to brave the icy waters. Gastronomes can enjoy wine tours at vineyards and meals at heralded restaurants in Victoria, a cultural hot spot with vibrant art galleries, museums, and live theatre; to entertain children, there's the Victoria Bug Zoo, which has the largest tropical insect collection in North America. On top of all that, the island is home to the Wickaninnish Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property with 45 rooms overlooking the Pacific Ocean that readers voted as the No. 2 resort hotel in Canada.

Cape Breton Island, Canada
Kayaking in the Cape Breton highlands, Cape Breton Island, Canada. Adam Hill/Courtesy of Destination Cape Breton

Across the country is Prince Edward Island (No. 3), which is famous as the setting of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Exterior shots for Netflix's television series based on the main character, Anne With an "E," were also filmed here, showcasing the island's dramatic cliffs, red sand beaches, and charming fishing villages and farms, which provide the island with seafood and produce for its acclaimed restaurants. Not shown in the series: PEI's golf courses, which rank among the best in the country.

For all of Vancouver Island's and Prince Edward Island's accolades, it was Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, that scored the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Below, what makes it No. 1 among the best islands in Canada — and a don't-miss for your next vacation.

1. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island, Canada
Tents on seashore at sunset, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Getty Images

World-class golf? There are two championship courses at the luxurious Cabot Cape Breton resort. Breathtaking whale watching? Indeed — visitors love seeing the majestic mammals swim off the island's coast. Beyond that, there is the 185-mile Cabot Trail from which to explore the northern highlands. History buffs can learn about Indigenous culture during tours with representatives of the Mi'kmaq nation. There are also countless spots for seafood lovers, several of which serve some of the best lobster rolls in the Maritimes. Wrote one visitor, "Friendly, friendly people, great sightseeing, seafood everywhere! Wonderful."

Score: 85.41

2. Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island, Canada
woman on a hike in the forest, Vancouver Island, Canada. Getty Images

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 84.77

3. Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island, Canada
East Point Lighthouse, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Getty Images

Score: 83.63

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2021.

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