The 5 Best Islands In The World

Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked the best islands in the world outside the U.S., from nearby Caribbean beaches to far-flung islands in Southeast Asia. Read on for the top 5 islands across the globe.
10/29/2015 06:16pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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French Polynesia, Tahiti, Bora Bora, scenic palm trees in front of resort bungalows.

by the Editors of Condé Nast Traveler and Jenna Scherer


Condé Nast Traveler readers ranked the best islands in the world outside the U.S., from nearby Caribbean beaches to far-flung islands in Southeast Asia. Read on for the top 5 islands across the globe.


5. Bermuda

Overall Rating: 84.245

Though this small island sits in the North Atlantic, its climate is decidedly subtropical. A British Overseas Territory, Bermuda is a melting pot of British, American, and Caribbean cultures, and offers tons of things to do: snorkeling near pink-sand beaches, golfing, shopping, museum hopping, and more.

Pro tip: Bermuda is riddled with watery underground caverns, its most famous being the Crystal and Fantasy Caves. Tours take you on a walkway over eerily clear water, with pale stalactites hanging overhead. One of the site's first visitors? Mark Twain.

Getting there: There are direct flights to Bermuda from eight cities on the East Coast, including New York, Atlanta, and Miami (2 to 3 hours).


4. Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Overall Rating: 84.447

A mix of Nantucket and Sonoma, with New Zealand charm, the island is a wine-lover's nirvana. Just over 30 minutes from Auckland by boat, the island hosts a manageable number of vineyards and great restaurants, perfect for a day escape from the mainland. With beaches on the north side of the island and WWII tunnels to explore, there is no lack of excitement on Waiheke.

Pro tip: Rent a car, or better yet a driver, and try out our road maps for a great day trip through the Waiheke vineyards.

Getting there: Take the hourly ferry trip from Auckland to the western side of the island.


3. Moorea, French Polynesia

Overall Rating: 84.656

Due northwest of Tahiti and surrounded by a bright blue lagoon, this volcanically formed island is comprised of verdant mountains jutting up behind white-sand beaches. In the interior, you can explore the ruins ofmarae--crumbling temples built by ancient Polynesians.

Pro tip: Snorkel to your heart's content at the Lagoonarium de Moorea, a protected part of the lagoon where you can explore a coral reef teeming with sharks, rays, and thousands of fish.

Getting there: From Papa'ete in Tahiti, boats ferry passengers on the 12-mile journey to Moorea.


2. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Overall Rating: 84.756

This island was voted the most photogenic place on Earth in 2014, and it's no wonder. Shielded by a protective barrier reef, Bora Bora's famous lagoon is all the colors of the rainbow, crisscrossed by (friendly) manta rays and sharks.

Pro tip: Bora Bora's luxe accommodations are mostly in thatched-roof bungalows extending over the lagoon. The swankiest of all is the St. Regis, complete with a spa that has its very own island.

Getting there: Hop on a local flight to the island from Tahiti, which takes about 45 minutes.


1. Palawan, Philippines

Overall Rating: 85.937

This small island--one of the Philippines' 7,107--shot to the top of our list again this year with a recent claim to fame: It's now home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River.

Pro tip: Palawan's natural wonder is one of the longest underground rivers in the world, traveling five miles through a subterranean cave system. Guided boat tours take visitors down a portion of the waterway, where karsts, natural rock formations created by dissolving limestone, loom in every direction.

Getting there: From Manila, it's an hour-and-15-minute flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan's main airport. Alternately, ferries travel between Manila and the island several days a week (about 24 hours each way).

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