The Top 15 Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas in 2017

Playa Larga, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Photo: shakzu/Getty Images

It’s no fun getting away from it all when you find yourself huddled on a beach with everyone else doing the same. But as these beautiful islands attest, it’s still possible to spend time with your book or your beloved — and not be held hostage to a stranger’s cell phone exchanges. 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.

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15. Nevis

Nevis Island
Hiral Gosalia/Getty Images

Score: 81.99

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14. The Abacos, Bahamas

Lighthouse, Elbow Cay, Hope Town, Abacos islands, Bahamas
Sherry Galey/Getty Images

Score: 82.01

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13. Aruba

Harbor, Oranjestad, Aruba
vale_t/Getty Images

Score: 82.31

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12. St. Lucia

The Pitons, St. Lucia
Paul Baggaley/Getty Images

Score: 82.61

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11. St. Bart’s

Corossol Beach, St. Barths
Richard Broadwell/Getty Images

Score: 83.35

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10. Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
cdwheatley/Getty Images

Score: 83.44

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9. Turks and Caicos

Half Moon Bay, Turks & Caicos Islands
Jo Ann Snover/Alamy

Score: 83.96

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8. Exuma, Bahamas

Compass Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Patrick Phelan/Alamy

Score: 84.08

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7. Bermuda

Harbour, Hamilton, Bermuda
Gavin Hellier/Getty Images

Score: 84.10

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6. Harbour Island, Bahamas

Valentine's Marina, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Sylvain Sonnet/Getty Images

Score: 84.36

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5. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Cruz Bay Harbor, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Hiral Gosalia/Getty Images

Score: 84.38

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4. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Chasing Light Photography Thomas Vela/Getty Images

Score: 85.03

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3. Vieques, Puerto Rico

Palm trees, Vieques, Puerto Rico
Donald Nausbaum/robertharding/Getty Images

Score: 85.06

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2. Culebra, Puerto Rico

Playa Larga, Culebra, Puerto Rico
shakzu/Getty Images

Score: 86.03

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1. Anguilla

Beach, Anguilla
thierrydehove/Getty Images

Score: 86.87

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?

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