The Best Islands in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific in 2016

Waiheke Island Worlds Best Islands
Photo: Kieran Scott

Who doesn’t fall for Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific? Famous for their sunrises, painterly landscapes, and varied cuisine, this region's islands offer travelers a respite (or downright decampment) from the chaos of the day-to-day. 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, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands on their natural attractions and beaches, activities and sights, food, friendliness, and overall value. Not surprisingly, scuba diving and snorkeling are key draws for our readers. In Palau, an archipelago east of the Philippines, a must-do is snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake, which is home to millions of non-stinging jellyfish. The Great Barrier Reef, one of the planet's great ecological treasures, ranked No. 2; the surrounding islands offer one-of-a-kind chances to explore the sea life that surrounds it. Another highlight for readers familiar with this part of the world was access to natural terrain and outdoor activities. Tasmania, Australia, ranked fourth this year, is known for its protected parks. Travelers can hike through the preserves or visit one of the wildlife sanctuaries where injured or orphaned Tasmanian devils are rehabilitated. Moorea, No. 3 this year, is less well known than its neighbor Bora-Bora, but intrepid travelers praised it for its untrammeled scene, rating it higher than other islands in French Polynesia. Food and wine seem to be the factors that put Waiheke Island at the top this year. The New Zealand island is popular with visitors for its acres of vineyards and beautiful scenery. Kick back and sample one of the local wines while indulging in the fresh Kiwi dishes. We won’t blame you if you never want to leave.

01 of 05

No. 5: Palau

Palau Worlds Best Island
Getty Images/Flickr RF

Score: 86.52

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No. 4: Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania Worlds Best Island
Getty Images

Score: 86.61

03 of 05

No. 3: Moorea, French Polynesia

Moorea French Polynesia Worlds Best Island
Jessica Sample

Score: 87.08

04 of 05

No. 2: Great Barrier Reef Islands, Australia

Great Barrier Reef Islands Worlds Best
Petrina Tinslay

Score: 87.41

05 of 05

No. 1: Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island Worlds Best Islands
Kieran Scott

Score: 90.00

Only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, this isle off New Zealand’s North Island is a popular getaway from the bustling city. The 36-square-mile island has olive groves that produce exceptional oils, as well as more than 20 vineyards, so be sure to sign up for a tour and a tasting. Visitors also love the thriving artistic community and outdoor activities.

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