The Best Islands in Canada in 2016

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Photo: Andrew Hetherington

Island life in Canada is perhaps a road less traveled: the island destinations that our voters rated are a departure from the aqua-blue water, piña coladas, and white-sand beaches you typically imagine when you daydream about your next island getaway. What these oases do provide is quite unique: natural Canadian beauty, ample opportunity for adventure, local island charm, and some of the best seafood in North America. 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 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. For voters, one of the biggest reasons to visit the top Canadian islands is to experience the breathtaking — and rugged — landscape. You can hike through old-growth forests to hidden hot springs, or watch whales breaching through the gray-blue waves of the Pacific. Adventure lovers can also seek out ocean kayaking or ride horses through the wildflowers. There are plenty of other reasons to love Canada’s windswept islands, of course. Readers raved about the friendly locals and commented on the relaxing atmosphere. “The people of Cape Breton Island are very helpful, and love to tell island stories — they’re very kind, loving people,” wrote one reader. Another agreed that the "remote and quiet" island was called home by very lovely people. Expect hyper-local cuisine and supremely fresh seafood. “The lobster lunch,” recalled one pleased traveler, “was out of this world.” Pair anything you order with an British Columbian wine, and you’ll feel instantly connected to these lands, which sometimes seem at the edge of the earth. For those who love the great outdoors, a trip to any of these Canadian islands is guaranteed to be an exceptional experience.

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No. 3: Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
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Score: 82.29

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No. 2: Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island
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Score: 82.75

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No 1: Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Andrew Hetherington

Score: 85.22

Equal parts romantic and wild, Vancouver Island has nabbed the No. 1 spot for two years in a row. As one reader says, “from wilderness to the culture of Victoria, the island offers a wide range of activities in a small locale.” Visitors have the opportunity to see Vancouver Island from many perspectives: approach by seaplane, summit craggy mountains blanketed in dense forests, or take an epic whale watch. For those undeterred by the possibility of storms or persistent fog, Vancouver Island is an incredibly rewarding — and deeply Canadian — destination.

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