Islands conjure dreams of paradise: an escape from the rat race and a perfect patch of sand where you can relax under rustling palms and gaze at a serene blue sea
But not all islands are created the same. The beauty of some is defined more by the sea that surrounds them, which can captivate connoisseurs with its crystalline clarity and thriving coral kingdoms.
Waterfalls in Krka National Park in Croatia
We've had the privilege to visit many beautiful tropical islands so we've rounded up our favorite to inspire wanderlust in you!
When I think of our times on tropical locations, nothing but perfection springs to mind. All the complications of life completely melt away in the tropical heat as I dream of beautiful white-sand beaches.
The Best 15 Tropical Islands In The World
1. The Maldives
The famous over the water bungalows of the Maldives offer those quintessential images of what a luxury resort stay is all about.
A fantastic beach on the island of Medhufushi in the Maldives
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is the quintessential romantic holiday destination. Imagine swinging in a hammock under palm trees as you take in the ocean breeze
Consisting of 26 natural atolls, the Maldives archipelago is the planet's lowest-lying nation, rising no more than three meters above the sea at its highest point, a measurement that shrinks every year.
Sunset in Maafushivaru, Maldives
Beneath the mesmerizing waters, coral reefs flourish, luring divers and snorkelers from around the world. Surfers also flock here to ride the uncrowded breaks.
Back on land, luxury resorts provide the perfect launching points for adventures focused upon the sea, the archipelago's greatest asset, but also, as the planet's climate changes, its single greatest threat.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Bali is REALLY the island of dreams.
Located in Indonesia, it offers the tourist an island experience with deep cultural roots. Temples line the coastline like the one above
Morning view on the lovely Tegelalang rice terraces north of Ubud, Tegelalang, Bali
With breathtaking mountains and pointed pagodas, it's no wonder why Bali is often referred to as heaven among visitors. On this Indonesian island, you can tour ancient religious sites like the waterfront Uluwatu Temple and Tirta Empul Temple, where you'll see worshippers praying in a large pool.
One of my very first pictures arriving in Bali and I knew it was going to be a beautiful trip full of views like this!
You should also take the time to explore Bali's intricate rice paddies and simply lounge on resplendent beaches like Sanur and Nusa Dua
3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Shaped like a giant sombrero, this lush volcanic island stars in countless South Pacific fantasies. The focal point and best asset of this tropical beauty is its ravishing lagoon in technicolor turquoise. Fish, turtles, sharks, and rays swim in the clear waters, and tiny islets or motus dot the lagoon.
Sailing French Polynesia
A quintessential Bora Bora vacation includes days spent lounging along secluded white sands, boat trips through clear aquamarine waters, and four-wheel-drive tours through the French Polynesian island's lush forests. Gazing at extinct Mount Otemanu from above during a helicopter tour or from below in the lagoon is a must. Adventurous travelers should also save time for feeding sharks and stingrays. Although this destination is already pricey, vacationers should splurge on an overwater bungalow for the full Bora Bora experience
Stingrays at Bora Bora
4. Santorini, Greece
Encircling a sea-filled caldera, spectacular Santorini scores top points for its dramatic beauty. Bleached white villas tumble down volcanic cliffs. Blue-domed churches rise against the sparkling sea, and bright sprays of bougainvillea add to the eye-popping palette of color.
Oia, Santorini, Greece
Perched atop the black lava cliffs, the settlements of Firá and Oia are the island's most picturesque - and pricey, destinations - and Oia ranks among the most photographed locations in the world
It is more of a Mediterranean climate but for the most part, it is mild year-round. It is also one of the most beautiful islands we've ever visited. Most people think of Santorini's blue domes, but there are plenty of beaches to hang out including the Black Beach, Red Beach, and Amoudi Bay
5. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Hamilton Island, Whitsundays QLD, Australia
Sprinkled along the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands are Australia's version of the classic tropical island fantasy. These 74 lush islands are the peaks of drowned hills rising above the strikingly blue Coral Sea.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Australia
Sailing is one of the popular things to do in the Whitsundays, and diving is excellent along the fish-rich coral reefs. This is an extremely fragile ecosystem protected by six national parks, and you can explore some of the islands on hiking trails.
6. Ko Lipe, Thailand
Located in southern Thailand, this semi-off-the-map island is one of my favorites. Here on Ko Lipe, the super-friendly locals bring in the daily catch for amazing seafood, as the island’s water is teeming with life. Accommodation is still basic, and most places turn off the electricity around midnight.
Aerial View Over Water Ko Lipe Beach Thailand
Close to this island is a little island that provides excellent snorkeling opportunities. You may even spot a few reef sharks. Bathtub-warm water and fine sand beaches kept me here for over three weeks. It will do the same for you. Visit between November and March for the best weather and the fewest people. May through October sees a harsh monsoon season that shuts the island down. The best way to get there is by boat from Pak Bara
7. Big Island Hawaii
Hawaii’s biggest island has everything you could ever want to do and more. But what separates it from the other islands is Volcano National Park. Explore volcanoes, climb through old lava tubes, and watch as new lava oozes into the ocean. Then there are all the waterfalls on the island, too.
Waipi'o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii
The wet season is from October to March, though the weather is cooler during these months. However, despite being located near each other, weather conditions on each island can vary greatly, so you never know what to expect!
Big Island, Hawaii, USA
Gibb's Hill Lighthouse, Saint Anne's Road, Cross Bay, Bermuda
It has a shorter season than the Caribbean Islands, but there is plenty to do, so hop on a motorbike and check out the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, pink beaches, dive sites, and lovely towns. The beaches of Bermuda are beautiful. Don't miss the Pink Sand Beach at Horseshoe bay leading out to crystal clear turquoise waters
Horseshoe Bay sandy beach, Bermuda
Sadly, it’s also very expensive! Home to banks, tax-avoiding businesses, and the rich and powerful have jacked up prices here so the resorts tend to cater to an upscale crowd. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit!
9. The Canary Islands, Spain
La Palma above the cloud, Canary Islands, Spanien
The Canary Islands are some of the most popular suns, sand, and sea holiday destinations going. Many people know them as the place to go for year-round sunshine. Not so many are aware that each island is quite different, with its own sparkling personality
Located just off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa, the Canary Islands are actually a Spanish archipelago and therefore owned by Spain. There are 7 main islands in the Canaries, with each offering something different for the intrepid traveler looking to kick back and enjoy island life.
10. Fraser Island - Australia
Fraser Island in Australia isn't on another list of tropical islands that I've seen, but it should be. The beaches are gorgeous!
It's a grand adventure to four-wheel it down the 75-mile beach, but it is also a great tropical vacation.
Shipwreck at Fraser Island, QLD, Australia
Resorts have swimming pools, you can swim inland on freshwater beaches with pure white sand, there are champagne pools to relax in and there are plenty of spots to unwind.
Located off the east coast of Africa, these islands are pure paradise. Explore crystal clear waters, sandy secluded beaches, and gorgeous waterfalls. Seychelles is a must-visit for island lovers
Sunset Beach, Seychelles
12. Kangaroo Island Australia
Kangaroo Island houses what was voted Australia's most beautiful beach. Vivonne Beach was voted best beach in Australia because it is pristine, it has crystal clear water and you won't find any crowds!
Kangaroos jumping on the beach
So our travel guide of beaches around the world would not be complete without including it!
Kangaroo Island is not only beautiful, but there are also so many things to see and do.
Especially for wildlife lovers. Kangaroos, Koalas, Seals and don't forget about a place so remarkable, it is actually called, the Remarkables!
-> Read more: The Best 7 Natural Wonders in Australia You Must Visit In 2020
13. The Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
With charming port towns, verdant countryside, and sparkling coastline, the Dalmatian Coast – on the western edge of Croatia – has become a highly sought-after holiday destination.
Dalmatian Islands in Croatia
Running between the northern town of Zadar to the Bay of Kotor, it encompasses enchanting cities such as Split, Sibenik, and Dubrovnik, and its biggest highlights include its show-stopping islands scattered across the Adriatic Sea. From chic beach clubs to undiscovered villages, the ‘Dalmatian Riviera’ offers a fantastic blend of old and new, and our Dalmatian Coast travel guide will give you the low-down.
14. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
There are few destinations that top bucket lists like the Galápagos Islands. The opportunities to see incredible wildlife here are practically unrivaled. Located 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, this is not only one of the most popular destinations in the country but one of the most sought-after destinations in the world
Even though most people go to the Galapagos Islands to see wildlife and take boat tours, they are indeed a tropical destination. Located on the Equator, you can expect hot weather year-round.
Galapagos Islands, Équateur
Some of the best beaches we've ever been to are on the Galapagos and you can stay on islands there and have a proper beach vacation.
So, it may not be your typical island vacation, but The Galapagos totally deserves to be in our list of best tropical vacation destinations.
15. Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Slammed by the tsunami in 2004, Ko Phi Phi has now recovered. Its natural beauty still recalls the tropical island dream evoked in the famous Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach, which was filmed here at Maya Beach on the smaller neighboring island of Ko Phi Phi Leh.
Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Thailand
In Ko Phi Phi, a small archipelago in the Krabi Province of Thailand, lush limestone peaks rise from the tropical sea, and warm waters lap on palm-lined sugary beaches.
Ko Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island and offers day trips to the surrounding islands. Other popular activities include swimming, snorkeling, and superb diving. Don't miss Monkey Beach, famous for its cheeky namesake residents