The Top 5 Islands in Mexico and Central and South America
As much as our readers appreciate beautiful beaches, they expect a more diverse experience when traveling to Mexico and Central and South America. The islands that T+L readers rated the best in the region offer much more, from wildlife found nowhere else to archaeological sites that date back to the 13th century.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure 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 World's Best Awards 2019
For the fourth year in a row, two islands in Belize made the list. Caye Caulker (No. 5) is a spit of limestone — measuring about five miles long and one mile wide. Scuba divers flock there to experience what’s called the Great Blue Hole. Ambergris Cay (No. 4), the country’s biggest island, is also popular for those seeking underwater adventure — as is Mexico’s Isla Mujeres (No. 3), which is surrounded by coral reefs.
Coming in at No. 2 is Easter Island, where the experience is less about the water and more about its rich history — which includes towering moai, the monolithic statues that are scattered across the rolling hills. As one reader wrote, “The history is fascinating. The moai are unique. It is a beautiful island, unlike anywhere else in the world. The people are very friendly and eager to share their culture.”
And for the 16th year in a row, the Galápagos took the No. 1 spot. Read on to find out why.
5. Caye Caulker, Belize
4. Ambergris Cay, Belize
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 80.75
3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 82.95
2. Easter Island, Chile
1. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 88.73
This Ecuadoran archipelago has been a T+L reader favorite since the World’s Best Awards debuted — and has held the No. 1 spot for 16 years. Nature lovers are drawn to its diverse wildlife, from blue-footed boobies to giant tortoises. The islands are most often explored by expedition cruise, but there are also some land options (like the super-luxe Pikaia Lodge). As one reader said, “The best trip I have ever taken, anywhere! Period. I have wanted to go here ever since I was a girl and saw the Disney documentary on the islands in the 1960s. Life changing!” Another put it simply: “The Galápagos Islands are by far the most unique and beautiful places I have ever visited.”
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.