Islands are generally pretty gorgeous. They are islands after all. But the ones that made it to our top 10 of the most scenic islands in the world, are just crazy beautiful. See for yourself.
Think I missed one? Share your favorite island in the comments section, or take my poll at the bottom of the page!
10. REUNION ISLAND
This is one of the Indian Ocean’s last great island adventures. Dramatic volcanic peaks and lush tropical wilderness, with a French identity and a rich melting pot of cultures, beautiful La Reunion is quite unlike its beach paradise neighbour Mauritius. In fact it’s more like an epic real-life Jurassic Park backdrop, with emerald forests, tumbling waterfalls, awesome mountainscapes, and soul-stirring panoramas. The formidable Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes, adds to the thrill. We recommend combining La Reunion with Mauritius, as relaxing on a white sand beach in one of Mauritius’ ultra-luxurious resorts perfectly complements the sightseeing, activities and more modest accommodations on offer in La Reunion and it’s just a short direct flight away.
- My selection of luxury hotels: LUX* Ile de La Reunion.
9. TASMANIA (AUSTRALIA)
More than 20% of Tasmania has been declared a World Heritage area, and nearly a third of the island is protected by national parks, a pristine yet accessible wilderness of dramatic coastlines, thick forests and snow-capped mountains. Separated from the Australian mainland during the last Ice Age, for nearly 10,000 years the island has evolved in splendid isolation, creating a living museum of some of the world’s oldest and rarest plants and animals. The untamed beauty of Tasmania’s Island Heritage is so precious it meets more World Heritage criteria than anywhere else on the planet. Here, you can find countless world-class nature and adventure experiences, be captivated by the Aboriginal heritage and Australia’s early convict and settler history, and stay at some of the world’s most exclusive wilderness lodges.
- My selection of luxury hotels: Saffire Freycinet, Cradle Mountain Lodge, Islington Hotel, MONA The Pavilions, The Henry Jones Art Hotel.
8. BALI (INDONESIA)
The most famous island in Indonesia, Bali is called the famed island of the Gods. With its varied landscape of sandy beaches, hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and cliffs, gorgeous waterfalls, as well as lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides, some people claim that Bali is a paradise on earth. In addition to that, Bali is also home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world. But Bali also has a colorful and deeply spiritual culture, which is why it is known as the “island of a thousand temples”. There are sea temples, directional temples and so many others so that 1,000 is an understatement. It is true that the island is partly overrun with tourists, hence explaining while neighboring Lombok may offer a more authentic experience.
- My selection of luxury hotels: read my post on the top 10 best luxury resorts in Bali.
7. VANCOUVER ISLAND (CANADA)
The exposed top of a submerged mountain range, the Canadian west coast island stretches for 460 km/285 mi from charmingly sophisticated Victoria in the southwest to Cape Scott’s windswept beaches and rugged headlands at its northern tip. And it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. You can paddle through serene coastal waters, backpack in majestic wilderness parks, or marvel at the furred, feathered and finned wildlife on land and out to sea. You can gaze at distant snow-capped mountains while striding barefoot along softly curving beaches, bomb down mountain bike trails, surf the big waves and all that while inhaling crisp, clean ocean breezes and the mossy fragrance of old-growth rainforests.
6. SICILY (ITALY)
Known as the hiding place of the Corleone family, Sicily is a delightfully verdant island, the largest in the Mediterranean Sea, and covered in olives and lemon groves, vineyards and citrus fruit. The famous coastline of the island varies from sandy beaches and gulfs opening onto peaceful crystal clear bays, to steep cliffs, and crags. Sicily is also a world-class cultural destination, with impressive witnesses from ancient times encountered at every turn! From the beautiful shore line, to the top of the still active volcano Mt. Etna, from the well-preserved Greek ruins, to the world-class shopping in Taormina and, of course, the picturesque villages and incredible cuisine, Sicily remains one of Europe’s gems.
- My selection of luxury hotels: Villa Carlotta, Belmond Villa Sant Andrea, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, San Domenico Palace, Verdura Golf & Spa Resort.
5. BORA BORA (FRENCH POLYNESIA)
Under a one hour flight from the South Pacific island of Tahiti or Moorea, the island of Bora Bora, with a lagoon resembling an artist’s palette of blues and greens, is love at first sight. Romantics from around the world have laid claim to this island where the castle-like Mount Otemanu pierces the sky. Lush tropical slopes and valleys blossom with hibiscus, while palm-covered motu circle the illuminated lagoon like a delicate necklace. Perfect white-sand beaches give way to emerald waters where colored fish animate the coral gardens as they greet the giant manta rays. Luxurious over-water bungalows nestled over the world’s most beautiful lagoon with a tropical backdrop makes Bora Bora a top destination for the discerning traveler.
4. SANTORINI (GREECE)
Arguably Greece’s most beautiful island, Santorini is a mix of towering black cliffs, inky waters and whitewashed villages. Santorini inspires every visitor because of its spectacular landscapes with blue domes and white washed houses and churches perched on volcanic cliffs, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful shimmering Aegean waters. Unfortunately, thanks to its natural beauty, Santorini endures another plague – plenty of visitors during summer – when roads are blocked, restaurants are full and prices soar. While spring is a lovely time to visit, particularly for the wild flowers, the sea has yet to warm up enough for all but the bravest. This is why October is best – there are no crowds, the water is warm and there’s wine to be tasted.
- My selection of luxury hotels: Mystique by the Luxury Collection, Perivolas, Canaves Oia, Andronis Suites, Iconic Santorini, Grace Santorini.
Undeniably the most luxurious destination on the globe, the Maldives has become a synonym for paradise whether it is for honeymooners, sun worshipers, scuba divers or celebrities. Located on the equator towards the south of India and stretching over 800 km/500 miles, the islands are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edge at some points plunge to depths of over 3 km/1,8 miles. The Maldives are blessed with exquisite ribbons of powdery-soft white sand, crystal clear blue lagoons, incredible underwater wildlife, and unrivalled luxury resorts that take up their own private island.
- My selection of luxury hotels: read my post on the top 10 best luxury resorts in the Maldives.
2. KAUAI (HAWAII, USA)
Towards the end of the Hawaiian archipelago lives a small, rainy island called Kauai. Known as the Garden Island, Kauai is home to wildly verdant landscapes, breathtaking beaches and utter serenity. It is on the northwest shore of Kauai that you will discover the famous Napali Coast – a 16 km/10 mi stretch of 1000-meter/3,000-foot high verdant mountain cliffs that seem to rise endlessly from the depths of the ocean floor. Other spectacular places on the island include the awesome Waimea Canyon, frequently referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, and the mystical Mount Wai ‘ale ‘ale – an extinct 5,000-year old volcano renowned for its mist-covered peaks and some of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Mother Nature was extremely generous with this 115 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean east of Kenia and north of Madagascar. In fact, she has spoiled them rotten. Undeniably, the beauty of the beaches is beyond words: the world’s most beautiful beaches lapped by turquoise waters and backed by palm tree covered hills and big rocky boulders. Giant tortoises, coconut crabs, and black parrots claim this idyllic islands archipelago as home. The dramatic rock formations along Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue Island compete with the more than 900-meter-high Morne Seychellois on Mahé and dense tropical forests of Praslin islands.
- My selection of luxury hotels: read my post on the top 10 best resorts in the Seychelles.