The Top 15 Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas in 2017
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 hotels, resorts, 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.
Some of the choices — such as Anguilla, which won top honors for the first time ever in our survey — offer an intoxicating mix of secluded beaches where you can be the only inhabitant and extraordinary restaurants should you care to break bread with other humans. There are plenty of luxurious hotels to go around, too. On Shoal Bay East, newcomer Zemi Beach House is a breath of fresh air thanks to its sleek, minimalist rooms and its spa set in a Thai home (yes, the building was brought all the way over from Asia). Zemi placed 10th this year in the region’s Resort Hotel category. The Four Seasons recently took over the Viceroy — but Meads Bay, an exquisite stretch of sand from which one can watch migrating whales (while raising a flag for a rum punch) remains unchanged.
Two Puerto Rican destinations also ranked high on the list, as travelers continue to go beyond San Juan and explore the quieter, more rustic isles of Culebra and Vieques. These off-the-beaten-path places keep company with pristine spots like St. John and Virgin Gorda, islands known for their natural attractions: two-thirds of St. John is a protected national park, while Virgin Gorda is home to the famous Baths. The Bahamas — an archipelago of some 700 islands — won three spots in the top 15: the Abacos, Harbour Island, and Exuma, where our readers raved about pigs who act like porpoises. (Who knew that swimming with pigs was possible, let alone so much fun?) And Bermuda, of course, takes its proper seat on the list for its pink sand, sophistication, and proximity to the United States.
All of these honored islands have their individual appeal, but they do share the most coveted qualities: breathtaking landscapes where the din of civilization — and other people’s cell phone calls — seem a world away.
14. The Abacos, Bahamas
12. St. Lucia
11. St. Bart’s
10. Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
9. Turks and Caicos
8. Exuma, Bahamas
6. Harbour Island, Bahamas
5. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
4. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
3. Vieques, Puerto Rico
2. Culebra, Puerto Rico
Finding a destination with unpopulated shores and stellar food might seem to be an unreasonable request. But not on Anguilla — where there are 33 pristine stretches of sand as well as some of the finest food in the Caribbean. Visit Palm Grove, a seaside shack nestled into the mile-long crescent of Junks Hole Bay, for grilled lobster and johnnycakes prepared while you snorkel. Lounge at Little Bay — accessible by boat or climbing down a cliff with a frayed rope — and experience a place out of one’s winter fantasies. When describing Anguilla, one reader said: “There’s nothing touristy. Just great, welcoming people and beautiful beaches.” Who can argue with that?