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When it comes to stunning islands, we are fortunate to live on a planet where we’re spoiled for choice. From the Greek Islands to some 7,000 that form the Philippines, paradise islands inhabit all corners of the globe.

And whether you’re satisfying a craving for adventure, or searching for a potent Caribbean rum, there are plenty of options that will make you feel worlds away from the urban craziness you’ve traveled to escape.

The following are 10 of the world’s most stunning tourist islands. Leave us a comment at the end and weigh in on your favorite island experiences around the globe.

10 of the World’s Most Stunning Tourist Islands

Musha Cay, the Bahamas

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a private Caribbean Island, David Copperfield is happy to share his with you!

Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay are hidden among the out islands of The Exumas, and with over 700 acres of lush natural beauty, the only other guests are selected by you.

This private island is one of the most secluded spots on earth, yet everything you want is provided. A favorite among affluent travelers and celebrities, this is certainly not a cheap experience. But it’s one you’ll remember for the rest of your life!

Who knows, maybe besides classical sand beaches of Bahamas, there will be something magical waiting there for you! Musha Cay can be booked by anyone through HomeAway for a cool $US 57,000 a night.

Click here for virtual tour.

Bali, Indonesia

A country with over 17,000 islands, 8,000 of which are inhabited, Indonesia is like 100 countries in one.

This a land of great adventure, where dramatic landscapes of beaches and volcanos is the norm, and with a rich diversity of people, customs, cultures, animals, plants, artworks and food.

One of the most popular islands in the archipelago, for most travelers, Bali is synonymous with Indonesia. And the very name evokes thoughts of a paradise. Though Bali is “more than a place; it’s a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind.”

Bali offers travelers a diverse mix of experiences; it has beaches, surfing, diving, and resorts great and small, though also a rich culture to explore for those looking for more than just a fun-in-the-sun retreat.

See the best of Indonesia on a sailing adventure with Nowboat.com; until recently, planning an Indonesia cruise required a fair bit of forward planning, as many local operators don’t have a website. But Nowboat is an all in one seafaring platform that lists over 900 trusted local operators and connects them with travelers at 0% commission.

Indonesia is one of the top countries featured on the platform, with over 160 yacht charters and adventures available – check out some of their adventures! Click here.

Palau

Palau is a relatively unknown island nation east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. It is a small nation, but its beauty is unimaginable.

A remote island paradise where its ‘waters are filled with unspoiled reefs, and its land with wild jungles and hidden waterfalls’, traveling to Palau means access to an extraordinary array of natural wonders.

This is an archipelago of 250 limestone islands virtually untouched by tourists. Picture mushroom shaped volcanic islands blanketed in emerald forest, surrounded by a shimmering turquoise lagoon.

Surrounded by reefs, it is unsurprising that diving is the number one activity here. ‘Divers swear by Palau’s exciting seascape; with fascinating wrecks and stunningly diverse marine life that includes 1387 species of fish, it’s been dubbed ‘the underwater Serengeti’.

Palau

Image credit: LuxTonnerre

Santorini, Greece

Inspiration for many poems, essays, and Australian writings, as your ferry approaches the port of Santorini and you watch the island getting closer and closer, it’s easy to believe that you’re sailing into the view of one of Alfred Sislay’s idyllic paintings.

On the southernmost border of the Aegean archipelago, Santorini is not only considered to be one of the most beautiful islands of Greece, but one of the most stunning in the world.

Once you set foot on the island, Santorini will take you on a trip into its past: it’s here you’ll come face to face with the ancient Minoan civilization and the magnificent frescoes it left behind, the grand and fearsome eruption of its volcano and the huge caldera that’s still marveled at by thousands of tourists each year, and of course, its beautiful re-birth as one of the most picturesque places of this Earth.

Photo credit: Pedro Szekely

Thailand

Traveling to Thailand is one of the most exotic trips you can take, and for island enthusiasts, you have the choice of some 1400 islands (“Koh” is the Thai word for island).

The idea of choosing which ones to visit can be pretty daunting, though there’s something for everyone’s taste.

To the southwest you have the entire province of Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. On the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand you have the likes of Koh Chang, Koh Sichang, Koh Samet, and Koh Larn.

Defined by their ‘white sand, rustic-chic beach shacks, and a hammock gently swaying between two palm trees as a turquoise sea laps at the shore’, the sun-drenched islands of Thailand are the very definition of a tropical holiday.

Phang Nga Bay

Andaman Islands, India

Known for being home to the best beaches in Asia, the Andaman Islands are one of the most faraway destinations in India.

Located in the middle of Andaman Sea, these islands have much in common with such famous places as Maldives or Bali, but at quite a lower price. Coral reefs supporting marine life such as sharks and rays make for popular diving and snorkeling sites.

With roughly 300 islands known for their palm-lined, white-sand beaches, mangroves and tropical rainforests, it’s here that you can can swim with elephants, get lost amid ancient jungles, and swim in the cleanest and the most transparent water in the world.

Andaman Island

Photo credit: Aravindan Ganesan

Fraser Island, Australia

The world’s largest sand island is technically not a part of the Great Barrier Reef, although that doesn’t stop it from providing a breathtaking environment and seascape.

Queensland is known for its year-round warmth and its picturesque beaches drenched in sunshine, and nowhere is the quintessential Australian image more fitting than on Fraser Island.

It’s only accessible by 4WD, but once you’re there you can explore to your heart’s content. You can camp in a secluded area, or stay in resort accommodation. This is a spectacular way to experience Australia.

The Azore Islands

In recent years, rumors have begun to spread about the existence of a group of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean, about two thirds of the way between Europe and the US. Islands.

With emerald beaches, dazzling blue lakes, verdant pastures, volcanic caverns, bubbling mud pots, sprawling sunrises and waterfalls cascading deep into ravines (which you can rappel into, by the way), the Azores Islands are an autonomous region of Portugal.

Basically, if someone grabbed Iceland, moved it 3,000km to the south, and smashed it into nine pieces, you would have the Azores. They share the same volcanic origins and overwhelming landscapes, only this archipelago has subtropical lush vegetation instead of ice.

And while only a two-hour flight from Lisbon, this far flung archipelago has been but a blip on the radar of possible destinations, making it Europe’s best kept secret.

Photo credit: Paulo Valdivieso

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Phu Quoc Island is located off in the Gulf of Thailand, though belongs to Vietnam. It’s a fantastic tropical getaway that’s filled with some of the whitest beaches in the world, and boasts luxury resorts and palm tree-lined coastlines surrounded by crystal-clear sea.

There are already a few resorts here, but still many parts of the island are untouched by mass tourism. The best time to visit here is now if you want to get a glimpse of one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam before the island gets overrun by holidaymakers.

However, rest assured that around half of the island is protected as a national park. If you are looking for your next adventurous destination, Phu Quoc should be a serious contender.

Island Beach RF

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is the northernmost island in Hawaii, and it’s a great choice for those who want to experience rugged natural landscapes and travel off the beaten path.

It is the most undeveloped of the Hawaiian islands, so it sees far fewer crowds, and you’ll get access to untamed nature like lush forests and white, sandy beaches.

Highlights here include the trails of Kokee State Park and Waimea Canyon (cited as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”). Wailua Falls is a popular waterfall, and Poipu Beach was voted one of America’s best beaches.

Find Cheap Island Flights

To find the cheapest flights for your favorite island destination, download the free Skyscanner app. Click for:

Apple Store free download (iOS)  Google Store free download (Android)

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    32 Comments

  1. I didn’t realise (and i live in the middle of them) that besides Great Britain & Ireland there are 82 other British Isles!

    • I had no idea Britain had that many either!! Australia has so many I had never heard of too – crazy in’t it!

  2. 😌Nature is always soo Mesmerising 👍👍

    • Looks beautiful – a bit of colonial influence maybe?

  3. I really like Crete! Santorini is stunning but way too touristy.

    • Good point – Santorini definitely attracts the masses! I have to get back to discover more of the hidden gems among the Greek Islands 🙂

  4. Frazer Island in Australia for me was one of the best to spend time with your family and friends.

    • A great spot for a family holiday for sure! Glad you had a great time Gina 🙂

  5. Nice! But $57k/night in Musha Cay, Bahamas? Go 2 Paradise Island 4 less. 😉

    • Thanks for the tip Elizabeth!

  6. Many more stunning islands in Indonesia than Bali.

    • Very true, though Bali has a lot going for it too, and very accessible from most international airports 🙂

  7. Beautiful photos! Now I need a holiday.

    • Thanks Jenny! You can’t go wrong with an island getaway 😀

  8. Capri in Italy was one of my favorite island day trips. If you climb up to the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ Villa Jovis the vista is just incredible.

    • Thanks for the tip Lizzy, I have been to Capri, though it was 10 or so years ago now so I don’t remember a lot – I’ll have to get back at some point!

  9. We are taking our honeymoon in Hawaii next year and starting to look at resorts. It’s been my dream 🙂

    • Congratulations Melanie 🙂 Hawaii is an incredible place for a honeymoon – we had our wedding on Maui and it was magical.

      Happy travels! I wish you well in your resort hunt 🙂

  10. Surprised that Bora Bora didn’t make it onto this list. Where every imaginable shade of blue manifests and exotic overwater bungalows round out the sublime scene.

    • An obvious oversight on my part! You’re right, I imagine Bora Bora is definitely one of the most incredible in the world, I personally haven’t made it yet, but it’s on our list!

  11. We visited the Seychelles last year and it was BEAUTIFUL. Beautiful views from the villa. We drove most days to port laurnay through the national park for about 45mins as the snorkelling here was out of this world and we just loved it.

    We’d planned on doing more trips than we actually did as we found we enjoyed the beaches so much we didn’t have time for other stuff! Everything felt safe and laid back whilst we were there and we absolutely loved it and would recommend the Seychelles and will defo be going back.

    • So glad to hear you had a great time in the Seychelles Jae. I haven’t been yet myself, but I’ll have to add it to my list after your glowing recommendation!

  12. The Galapagos Islands are something I really want to do. Do you have any tips?

    • We had a fabulous time in the Galapagos Islands Keith, you won’t be disappointed! Most people do a cruise, and these are great because they allow you to island hop and see many different places, though we actually stayed on land and got an apartment for 5 days on San Cristóbal Island.

      It was really nice to be able to explore independently, see the sights on our own time, and immerse ourselves in the town life as a local. If you have the time, definitely consider doing your own land based itinerary 🙂

  13. Nice balance. It would have been easy to pick 35 islands in SE Asia but I like that you spread the love.

    • Thanks Juana, we try to spread the love as much as possible 🙂

  14. Mauritius is probably one of the most underrated islands. You should definitely visit. It never seems to make anyone’s best lists but it has some fantastic nature, culture, and incredible food.

    • Thanks for the tip Carrie! I haven’t managed to make it yet, so will have to add it to my list 🙂

  15. So many islands. So little time.

    • Haha yes – means you’ll never run out of ideas for trips though!

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