Fly into Split, where a two-hour ferry ride from the city’s port will drop you in Vis’ spellbinding seaside downtown, which dates back 2,400 years. Spin the globe, pick a spot and odds are good you'll alight on the color blue: 71% of the Earth's surface is covered with water. -- Jonathan Melmoth. A "beach occupied" sign dangles from a nearby palm tree, inviting visitors to reserve the picture-perfect cove for themselves. The most spectacular wilderness on Hawaii's "Garden Island" flanks the Nā Pali Coast, which intrepid hikers can reach via a challenging trail known as one of America's toughest walks. To get there, swim or kayak through a tunnel, which goes from the Pacific Ocean into the interior of the island. On the way to this UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve, you can often see blue-footed boobies, whale sharks, turtles, rays, dolphins and whales. An adventure concierge makes sure each guest has the experiences he or she wants, whether it’s seeing blowholes and caves along the protected coastline or surfing some of Central America’s best waves at nearby Morro Negrito. Thirty-five luxury suites. I suspect most Americans who have heard of Madeira heard about it on The Bachelorette in 2013. -- Erik Trinidad, Way more than just a pretty face Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel, food and responsible tourism. Its tropical rainforest terrain features an absurd number of waterfalls, and just as many opportunities to lose yourself (in a good way) in its unspoiled beauty. The resort runs ecologically, too, so this is one of the best islands in the world to visit if you want to protect the planet. They sit just south of the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, which means large storms are unlikely. Their Galapagos cruise is aboard the 24-cabined La Pinta, which features a 1.7-to-1 guest-to-crew ratio, extremely knowledgeable staff, and several ways to admire Galapagos' stunning island and sea views: through floor-to-ceiling windows in your cabin and the lounge, from the outdoor Sky Bar or from the on-deck hot tub. “It’s a volcanic island, so anywhere you go, you can make it a track.”, Jumps -- over obstacles, dirt roads, regular streets -- can be more than 15 feet long, but there’s plenty for beginners to tackle, too. Thriving in the Islas Secas’ vibrant ecosystem are 750 species of fish and 128 different plant species, making it ideal for the wildlife lover. Just a two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur is Sabah's capital, Kota Kinabalu, as well as Sarawak's capital, Kuching. Come dinnertime, head to La Justicia de Don Pino to try shrimp in the shell, hauled in by the local fisher's cooperative, or just stroll Hidalgo Street downtown and follow your nose. Many people dream of an island vacation where they can stay in an over-the-water bungalow, but they worry about the travel distance to Tahiti, where the first hotel with rooms on stilts above the reef was created in 1967. You'll feel like you're in the land of the giants as you explore The Baths, on the north shore of Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands (also known as the BVIs). You’ll spy, for example, an oddly rounded gift shop that looks out of place along Chania’s gorgeous old Venetian waterfront, until you learn it used to be a Turkish mosque. Follow that with a puddle jump to Ambergris Caye and a seven-minute boat ride to the paradise of Cayo Espanto, which means "Spirit Island." Or, are unlimited spa treatments more your thing? Giant aldabra tortoises saunter through the understory here, while two species of sea turtles crawl ashore to lay their eggs. Guests can snorkel and scuba dive in the South China Sea, or even get their scuba diving license here. The islands boast 350 days of sun per year, making them a clear contender for the best islands in the world for vacation. An under-the-radar South Pacific paradiseRaiatea means “faraway heaven,” and it delivers on that promise. Stay in Casa Espanto's 1,100-square-foot over-water bungalow surrounded by the turquoise sea, or, if you’d prefer a sandy beach at your feet, choose one of the six villas directly on the island. Puerto Rico is open for travelers, and it welcomes tourist dollars to help further rebuild the island and ensure protection from future storms. She writes freelance for publications like USA Today, Fodor’s and Canadian Traveller. Round-the-clock sunshine washes the lush slopes in summer, and. A huge contemporary arts destination in a tiny, rural settingNaoshima is one of several tiny islands that decorate Japan's glassy Seto Inland Sea. Consider Puerto Rico as a great Caribbean island option too. In addition to waterfalls, crater lakes and rainforests, Grenada boasts one of the world’s most-famous beaches – Grand Anse Beach – plus 45 others. Coral reefs are a spectacular habitat for pygmy seahorses and the surreal-looking. There's a perfect beach for every week of the year. Stay at The Bristol Panama for luxury downtown or The Santa Maria near the airport. Choose between The Regent Grand's Bianca Sands luxury oceanfront suites with the nearby entertainment center or the Ocean Club Resorts, which has suites with kitchens and three restaurants. The eco-friendly property is completely powered by natural energy. Animal lovers (and Instagrammers) will appreciate the animal heads woven into the boat bows, including roosters and cats. At low tide, there's just 6 feet of headroom above the surface of the water. MORE: Want to avoid tourists? Human-sized visitors can explore the 7-acre area by climbing ladders, wading through small bath-like pools, crawling through grottoes and tunnels, and snorkeling with tropical fish. Read our editor’s favorite tips and tricks for getting great deals, packages and specials; when to travel to avoid crowds, lesser-known destination and how to choose the best island vacation for you. Nearby Deer Cave is the world's biggest cave passage (it can hold five structures the size of London's St. Paul's Cathedral). See another part of Belize after your island adventure. It's hard to go wrong on any of the islands in the Caribbean, but you have choices farther afield too. The Sarawak Chamber within the caves is the world's largest underground cave (like, "capable of holding 40 Boeing 747s" humongous). Just be sure to follow that up with more nothing. Visitors have a chance of spotting eagle rays, manta rays, green olive ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and even the gentle giant whale shark, not to mention too many colorful tropical fish to count. Grand Anse’s two miles of powdery sand beckon beach lovers to dip their toes in the clear blue water or to settle down for a nap in the shade of one of its palm trees. Crash the weekly fish fry at the lawn-bowling club and you might hear tales of family rivalries and alliances formed and broken over the years. If that sounds like a lot (it is), head instead to Glen Sligachan valley for an afternoon’s exploring before heading into Seumas’ Bar, where you can warm up with some 400 Scottish malts. For lovers of Scotch whisky, however, the famed Isle of. Want to go big game fishing? It’s tiny, with fewer than 4,000 residents but the community is warm and welcoming, and there’s not a tourist trap in sight. Other uninhabited Mexican islands with lots of wildlife include Isla Espiritu Santo and the Los Islotes islets, near the laid-back town of La Paz on the Baja peninsula. Curious to learn how to cook Maldivian food with your personal chef? And if biking isn’t your thing, perhaps you’d like to go scuba diving, or whale-watching, or cross the glass-bottomed skywalk, or -- the coup de grace -- get pushed around the island on a wicker sled perched on skis. The real draw of the 6.2-mile-long island is the stunning array of plant and animal species -- some once considered extinct -- that await after a half-day hike up the island's tallest peak, Mount Gower. Be sure to leave time for a trip to Little French Key, a private island with an animal rescue center just off Roatán's south shore. The summits rise from the forest like jagged stone teeth, a rugged contrast to the paradise scenes at the water's edge. JUMBY BAY ISLAND, ANTIGUA. -- Becki Iverson, MORE: How to spend 10 unforgettable days in Cape Verde. With little in the way of flat terrain, downhill mountain biking is the thing to do here. Out of more than 7,000 tropical islands in the Philippines archipelago, these bizarre little creatures are found only on a small handful of islands in the southeastern quadrant, Bohol among them. Visitors can't stay overnight at Bartolome Island in the Galapagos. If you can peel yourself off the sand for some exploring, do so by bike or moped, or on foot along paths that line the Caribbean side. Not only does it have bragging rights of being the highest navigable body of water in the world and South America’s largest lake, it’s also the center and origin of the universe, according to the ancient Incans. -- Meagan Drillinger. Oystercatchers peck between rocks and golden eagles catch thermals overhead. Here, you’ll discover world-class scuba diving and the heavily Instagrammed Hinagdanan Cave, an underground swimming hole where you can backstroke under stalactites. The islands are particularly well-suited for women traveling solo, the sort of place where time just stops, encouraging you to toss your cell phone aside, if you can resist the urge to photograph everything in sight. Take Jameos del Agua, for example, a system of intriguing caves with a surprise ending. Go horseback riding on the beach? Spot crocs, orangutans, elephants, and proboscis monkeys, which live exclusively on Borneo. Embarking from Puno, Peru, you can visit this peculiar archipelago, which the Uros built from the region's totora reeds. ©2020 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. But that's just a bonus. From stunning Milos in Greece to penguin hangout Bartolomé in the Galapagos, these are the world's 10 most beautiful islands. The big-gun glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox, to their friends) make for excellent sight-seeing but be warned: You won't be alone on their stunning trails. If you build an archipelago, they will comeLake Titicaca, which lies on the border between Peru and Bolivia, has a lot going on. A whitewashed chapel on a cliffside ledge. Tour the mangroves? About 20 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama, in the Gulf of Chiriqui, you’ll find a wildlife haven in the 14-island archipelago called Islas Secas. Komodo Island will close to visitors in 2020 to protect its most famous residents. And they’re out there, ready and waiting to turn those vacation dreams into reality. We put the question to a gaggle of world travelers and asked, "what are the islands you would most recommend as a dream vacation?" It’s everywhere, from the oceanfront eateries to perhaps the greatest annual Carnival celebration on the planet. Ernest Hemingway was a fan. If the tides are right, you might just get to jump off the deck and swim back to shore. This tiny but mighty island — one of our 20 best places for a big trip — lies between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean, but you won’t find crowded beaches or overpriced fruity cocktails here.
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