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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.

Between the palm-fringed beaches, cobalt-blue lagoons, and underwater coral forests, the South Pacific invites travelers to live out their castaway fantasies — only instead of spending hours chatting up volleyballs, they can bask in the barefoot luxury of overwater spas and multicourse tasting menus. And as T+L readers will attest, that's just the beginning. 

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. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities. 

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort
Credit: Courtesy of InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

The Brando, which tied for No. 3, on the private atoll of Tetiaroa just 30 miles north of Tahiti, was the only spot outside of Bora-Bora to make this year's list. Named for former owner Marlon Brando, the eco-minded resort is famed for its discretion and pristine luxury — everyone from the Obamas to Leonardo DiCaprio has found respite there. "It's the ultimate private island experience," wrote one reader. "This is where you go when you really want to get away from it all!" 

Still, the majority of T+L readers pointed to resorts on Bora-Bora as the ultimate South Pacific escapes. Located on the Motu To'opua island, the Conrad Bora Bora Nui (the other No. 3) captivates upon arrival, when its half-mile-long, white-sand beach comes into view. "The best arrival experience on their private boat," declared one reader, who was also impressed with "an absolutely dreamy overwater bungalow." The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort (No. 2), with the largest overwater villas in the South Pacific,  is particularly well-known for its five restaurants, including a fine-dining option by esteemed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.   

But it was the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa that readers found most impressive. Find out why below.

1. InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa 

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort
Credit: Courtesy of InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Located on the island of Motu Piti Aauand only 20 minutes from Bora Bora airport, the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa caters to guests with a plethora of dining experiences, from sand-in-your-toes casual meals to fine-dining marathons to breakfasts in a canoe, if so desired. "The food at all the restaurants was superlative, and the expert bartender made some fantastic cocktails," wrote one reader, who also praised the on-site activities. "I truly enjoyed the nighttime stargazing boat tour and Polynesian dances." Another can't-miss: the spa, where treatment rooms look out onto the water. (Don't worry if your treatment has you facing down — there are also viewing windows built into the floors.)

Score: 97.33 
More information: intercontinental.com

2. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort 

The St. Regis Bora Bora
Credit: Courtesy of The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

Score: 96.89 
More information: marriott.com

3. (tie) The Brando 

The Brando
Credit: Courtesy of The Brando

Score: 95.29 
More information: thebrando.com 

3. (tie) Conrad Bora Bora Nui 

Conrad Bora Bora Nui
Credit: Courtesy of Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Score: 95.29 
More information: hilton.com 

5. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora 

Four Seasons Bora Bora
Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons

Score: 93.69 
More information: fourseasons.com

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