Some of the most beautiful islands in the world are picturesque tropical dreamscapes with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Others offer mysterious walks through caves, cliffs, and ancient ruins. Let’s dive into these diverse island escapes and look at the 12 most beautiful islands in the world.
1. Saint Lucia (Caribbean)
Saint Lucia is an island in the eastern Caribbean formed by volcanoes. The Petit Piton and the Gros Piton volcanoes frame the island. The landscape here is extraordinarily diverse. There are jungle forests at the base of the volcanoes and enchanting woodlands higher up in the mountains. Additionally, there are many waterfalls, beaches, and geothermic springs. In fact, Sulphur Springs (the Soufriere Volcano) is the only drive-in volcano in the world! Visitors can literally drive right up to the springs here, and just downstream they can enjoy a relaxing mud bath.
Brightly painted houses cover the more populated areas of the island with a unique and beautiful synthesis of cultures. African, English, French, East Indian, and Caribbean heritages come together to create a unique culture of food, music, dancing, art, and celebrations.
2. Isle of Skye (Scotland)
|Isle of Skye|
The Isle of Skye is the perfect destination for adventurers and escapists. Located off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skey is one of Scotland’s most famous islands. The breathtaking landscape of crystal-clear waters and dramatic rugged mountains is like something from a storybook. Many visitors enjoy walking and hiking through the iconic Scottish landscape on the island–just make sure you bring a sturdy pair of boots! On your journey through the Isle of Sky you may see animals like puffins, golden eagles, and white-tailed eagles, as well as otters and dolphins. For visitors more interested in history and culture, the Isle of Skye also has many prehistoric sites, castles, Scottish whisky, and even a dinosaur museum.
There are many of the famous “Fairy Pools” on the Isle of Skye. The Fairy Pools look like they belong in an enchanted fairytale. These unique pools of crystal-clear water are filled by small waterfalls. Large rocky boulders and lush green vegetation encase the Fairy Pools. The water in the Fairy Pools is a brilliant aqua blue and makes a great spot for photography or swimming–if you’re willing to brave the icy cold water! Many types of wildlife frequent this area as well, like sheep, rabbits, and red deer.
3. Bali (Indonesia)
Bali is an Indonesian island in the Indian Ocean. The temperatures in Bali are pleasant all year long, allowing visitors to enjoy the clear turquoise water and beautiful white beaches. Lush tropical jungles, volcanic landscapes, and iconic rice fields cover the island. There is so much to see in Bali that it is nearly impossible to truly explore this island completely.
The unique culture of Bali only adds to the island’s beauty. There are over 10,000 temples on this island, which is why it is called the “Island of the Gods”. Three of the Hindu temples are in the middle of the Ubud Monkey Forest, a natural sanctuary for the Balinese long-tailed macaque.
4. La Digue (Seychelles)
La Digue is a paradisical island east of Madagascar. It is a small island, only 3.8 square miles and with only two villages. There are few cars on this island. People either walk, bike, or use carts pulled by oxen. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are on La Digue. For example, La Digue’s Source D’Argent Beach is the most photographed beach in the world! The water here is shallow and crystal clear, with naturally carved colossal granite boulders amid light sandy beaches, coves, and caves. There are coral reefs around the island where visitors snorkel, and many surfers come to La Digue to enjoy the waves.
The dream-like island of La Digue is home to a plethora of tropical wildlife, like the world’s second-largest giant tortoise, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. There are many birds like terns, sunbirds, fodys, and the endangered Paradise Flycatcher. Many marine animals live in the waters surrounding the island, like moray eels, eagle rays, butterfly fish, blacktip reef sharks, and whale sharks.
5. Kauai (Hawaii)
Kauai is the largest island in Hawaii, and one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Crystal blue waters frame Kauai’s beautiful white beaches. The mountains contain jagged cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, tropical rainforests, and an abundance of rich wildlife. All together the landscape of Kauai is like something out of a dream. In fact, Kauai was used as the setting for the films Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. The 3,000 feet deep Waimea Canyon, or the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is on the western side of the island. There are many endemic bird species that live in the forests of Kauai, like the Hawaiian hawk, Hawaiʻi ʻĀkepa (endangered), O‘ahu ‘amakihi, ‘Apapane, and the ‘I‘iwi or scarlet honeycreeper (endangered).
6. Santorini (Greece)
Santorini is an enchanting Greek island in the southern Aegean Sea. Its iconic cliffside buildings are whitewashed with vivid blue window frames. Many of the churches have blue domed roofs. Steep rocky cliffsides are interspersed with distinctive beaches of wild beauty, like the Kamari and Perissa Beaches. Perissa Beach is unique with its red, white, and black sand, the result of ancient volcanic eruptions. In 1600 BC, an ancient volcano devastated Santorini. This volcanic eruption—the largest in recorded history—buried the ancient Greek city of Akrotiri. Like the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, much of Akrotiri was preserved by volcanic ash and can be seen by visitors on Santorini.
7. Bora Bora (French Polynesia)
|Region||French Polynesia/South Pacific|
Bora Bora is a French Polynesian island, just northwest of Tahiti. This is one of the most sought-after locations in the world. The island itself feels remote and natural, with beautiful white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. Bungalows built on the sea immerse visitors in the island’s natural beauty. A barrier of coral reefs prevents the seawater from mixing with the water of the archipelago. This coral reef barrier forms a magical crystalline lagoon where visitors can see fish, rays, and feed sharks.
8. Palawan (Philippines)
The island of Palawan in the Philippines is one of the most visited islands in the world. Palawan is a natural paradise with coral reefs, blue waters, white-sand beaches, rugged cliffs, tropical jungles, and diverse ecosystems. The Palawan Biosphere Reserve is home to 105 threatened species, 67 of which are endemic to the Philippines. The coral reefs and waters host marine animals like whale sharks, dugongs, and marine turtles.
One of the most stunning natural wonders on Palawan is the Puerto Princesa Underground River. It is Asia’s largest subterranean river, and one of the Seven Wonders of Nature. The Puerto Princesa Underground River flows for five miles through a limestone cave system and empties into the South China Sea. There are many monitor monkeys at the entrance of the cave, ready to pilfer belongings from unsuspecting visitors.
9. Whitsundays Islands (Australia)
The Whitsundays Islands are just off the central coast of Queensland, Australia. The waters surrounding these 74 continental islands are crystal clear, framing secluded white sandy beaches and hidden bays. These sparkling turquoise waters are home to the Great Barrier Reef, filled with marine life of all shapes and sizes. There are many things to do here, like swimming with turtles, whale watching, and snorkeling.
10. Vancouver Island (Canada)
Vancouver Island is in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, just southwest of British Columbia, Canada. The island is a wealth of extreme landscapes, with massive snowcapped mountains, coniferous and broadleaf forests, exceptional parks, waterfalls, lakes, hot springs, and beaches. Vancouver Island is home to a variety of wildlife, like black bears, Roosevelt elk, Vancouver Island marmots, Columbian black-tailed deer, the Vancouver Island wolf, and North America’s most concentrated population of cougars. The water surrounding the island hosts many populations of whales, with two groups of resident orcas.
11. Maldives (Indian Ocean)
|Population||557,426 (all of Maldives)|
The Maldives Islands in the north-central Indian Ocean are some of the most popular vacation spots in the world. Of the 1000 or more islands here, 87 are solely dedicated to tourism. The luminous blue waters of the Indian Ocean surround the stunning white sand beaches of the Maldives. Some of the beaches of the Maldives Islands even glow in the dark! Ostracod crustaceans, or seed shrimp, can emit a bright blue light, sprinkling the beach like glowing fairy dust.
12. Galápagos Islands (Pacific Ocean)
The Galápagos Islands are a chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. The beautiful landscape is home to an exclusively rich and diverse collection of wildlife. Many of the animals on the Galápagos Islands are endangered species. Some of these species are endemic to the Galápagos, which means they can only be found on these islands. The largest giant tortoise in the world, the Galapagos Tortoise, lives only on the Galápagos Islands. The Marine Iguana, the only marine lizard species in the world, only lives on the Galápagos Islands. Even the sand on the Galápagos Islands is unique! While there are many pristine white sandy beaches here, there are also beaches with green, red, and black sand!