Dreaming of tropical islands? When I look at these photos, I can feel the ocean breeze and hear the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. So let us take you around the world to the most beautiful islands on earth. We’ve had the privilege to visit many a beautiful tropical island paradise so we’ve rounded up our favorite to inspire wanderlust in you!
Best Tropical Islands to Visit
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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.
So let’s take you away, far far away to some of the most stunning tropical islands on earth.
1. Maldives is a Tropical Paradise
The famous over the water bungalows of the Maldives offer those quintessential images of what a luxury escape is all about. When staying in the Maldives, you can’t help but feel that you have found paradise.
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is the is the most stunning island we’ve ever stayed at. The velvety white stand beach was perfect for walking barefoot on, and the glistening gin blue waters were so warm and inviting. Imagine swinging in a hammock under palm trees as you take in the ocean breeze.
There is excellent diving and coral reefs to explore in the Maldives. It’s famous for its abundance of sea turtles and we can attest, we saw many during our snorkeling trip. There is culture too! So get yourself to the islands of the Maldives.
We stayed at: the Cinnamon Donveli and loved our time at this exclusive resort of all over the water bungalows. We also stayed at the Cinnamon Hakkua Hura – It was more of a family resort, but still excellent with surfing, over the water bungalow, and a beautiful sand beach.
- Read more: 10 Best Things to do in the Maldives
2. St. Lucia
We only recently visited St. Lucia, but it immediately zoomed right up to the top of our top choice for the most beautiful tropical island in the world. With it’s grand and petit pitons jutting out from the Caribbean Sea, this lush island in the West Indies will take you breath away.
In fact, the woman in front of me on my flight gasped when she looked out the window spotting the pitons of St. Lucia for the first time. Saint Lucia is a small island, but it packs a huge punch with a diverse landscape.
St. Lucia is located in the Eastern Caribbean with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. With luxury villa retreats sitting on hTropiigh rocky slopes on one side of the island and sandy beach resorts on the other, it has something for everyone. Not only does St. Lucia have gorgeous white sand beaches, but St. Lucia is a volcanic island that creates those black sand beaches that are oh so rare on islands around the world.
- Where to stay in St. Lucia: Calabash Cove on the North side and Stonefield Villas on the South.
- Read more at: Where to Stay in St. Lucia – North vs South
- Fun and Interesting Facts about St. Lucia
3. Exuma Cays
The Exumas of the Bahamas were probably the very first islands that took our breath away. When looking out the windows of our twin otter plane, we were stunned by the beauty of these 365 atolls in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
To me, this photograph captures that dreamy tropical island scene that we all want to escape to. The turquoise waters and white sand beaches make the Exurmas the perfect escape. I don’t think we had ever seen such pristine and smooth white sand on completely secluded beaches until our trip to the Exumas.
We stayed at the lovely family-run Embrace Resort on Staniel Cay it is a small island in the Exumas. Run by locals, it is a fantastic experience in the heart of the Exuma’s 360 islands. Explore more hotels in the Exumas at Booking.com
When thinking of the island Fiji, you can’t help but picture absolute paradise. It is one of those places that doesn’t disappoint. It has yet to reach the levels of development in the Caribbean and you can still find a quiet, secluded beach in this mother of all tropical islands.
There are 330 islands in Fiji situated in the middle of the South Pacific. And the beaches are downright perfect. Long stretches of white sand reach into the deep blue waters of the South Pacific. A boat trip from the main island of Vitu Levu, a stay at a private luxury resort or a stop on a cruise will give you the chance to witness these incredible beaches.
- Recommended Hotels – The Fiji Outrigger was very popular for families but we really enjoyed the Luxurious Pearl Fiji. It was easy to book day trips to everywhere on the main island here.
- See more photos at our time on a Dream Trip to Fiji
5. Southern Thailand’s Islands
Koh Lipe is one of our favorite islands, but Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, and Koh Tao are all beautiful. And don’t forget the incredible state of Krabi filled with Kharst formations and white sand beaches. That is why we can’t just include one tropical island from Thailand on this list. They are all beautiful!
Located right on the Malaysian border, the trip out to Koh Lipe is worth it. Longtail boats line every beach in Southern Thailand making for the picture-perfect setting for anyone traveling to the tropics. And let’s not forget the many undeveloped islands of Thailand. If you book a kayaking tour with John Gray, you can camp on a secluded beach.
- Search for hotels in Krabi Province Thailand on TripAdvisor
- Read more about our favourite destination at Amazing Things to do in Thailand
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.With a mix of endless white-sand beaches, Bali also has volcanic black sand beaches Lovina Beach being the most famous.
Tana Lot is one of its most sacred temples and you can’t help but feel peaceful when visiting it or any of the great monuments on the island of Bali. Bali is not only about the beaches, this island has a rich Hindu culture, beautiful rice terraces in Ubud, temples, monkeys and awesome adventures like climbing the active volcano of Gunung Batur.
7. Grand Cayman Island
The blue waters of Grand Cayman Island are a tropical paradise making Grand Cayman one of the best tropical islands to visit in the world. Grand Cayman has crystal clear waters making it a scuba diving mecca.
There are a lot of things to do on the island like hiking to the Crystal Caves, frolicking with stingrays at Stingray City and this island has some of the best dining and cuisine in the Caribbean. The place to stay is on 7-mile beach where resorts line the soft white sand and any watersport that you can dream of take places off its shores.
- We stayed at the Grand Cayman Ritz Carlton and it was amazing. If you want a luxury tropical vacation book a stay here. Check for more hotels on Grand Cayman at Booking.com
- Check out our list of 15 Things to do on Grand Cayman
Jamaica is one of our favorite islands located in the West Indies is the ultimate tropical vacation destination for the package tours. But head out from behind the gates of your resort and you will discover a country filled with rich culture, fun activities and friendly and inviting people. And yes, the beaches are absolutely beautiful. Jamaica is such a huge Caribbean Island, that we’ve been four times and still have a lot more to see!
We have stayed at several different accommodations around Jamaica and have never been disappointed. Browse TripAdvisor for reviews and bookings that suit your needs.
- Read More: 14 Fun and Unique Things to do in Jamaica
9. Galapagos Islands
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.
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. Not only does the Galapagos have the whitest of sand beaches, you’ll also find yellow, red and black sand beaches. So, it may not be your typical island vacation, but The Galapagos totally deserves to be in our list of best tropical vacation destinations.
Before going to Bermuda, all I knew was the old tales I hear about the Bermuda Triangle as a kid. But those days are long gone and Bermuda is a top island destination full of Colonial heritage buildings and fantastic beaches.
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 clear waters in a turquoise hue.
- Where to stay Fairmont Southhampton – A Great Location and a fantastic historic hotel.
- Read More: Bermuda and a Superyacht Regatta
The tropical paradise of Zanzibar is located off the coast of Tanzania. Known as the spice island, Zanzibar is located on the Indian Ocean and has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world.
The old Stone Town is filled with history from the spice trade. Zanzibar was known as the spice island. And cool fact, Freddie Mercery of the rock band queen was born here!
Zanzibar’s turquoise waters are like nothing I’ve ever seen and when the tide goes out, there isn’t a more beautiful coastline on earth. Make your way to Nungwi and spend time chillaxin’ on the beach. Read: Best Beaches in Zanzibar.
We loved chilling in Zanzibar after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
12. Florida Keys
Hanging out in Key West feels more like the Caribbean than being in the United States. It’s a great road trip to drive to the Florida Keys and getting to Key West feels like you’ve made it to the end of the world.
Chill out at one of the many bars on the strip, take in a festival or visit the Southernmost Point in the continental US. But make sure you take a boat trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. It is located 70 miles from the coast of Key West housing a pristine fort, great beaches, and excellent snorkeling. It’s also the most remote national park in the US outside of Alaska.
It is when you get out of the tourist strip that you see the beauty of the Florida Keys. We really took in the sights when parasailing and seeing the bridges connecting each island.
- Where to Stay: Crowne Plaza La Concha Key West – Located right in the heart of town.
- Read about our time in Key West and Check out the best things to do in Central Florida
- 18 Best Beaches in Florida for Fun in the Sun
- The Best Places to Visit in Florida
13. Fraser Island
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 of Fraser Island, but it is also a great tropical vacation. 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.
Fraser Island feels completely off the beaten path as walk dingoes walk the beaches and single track trails go through the interior jungle to secluded lakes. See all about it here on our Fraser Island Tour
Maui is one of the most beautiful islands in the world and has that fantastic laid back vibe of the tropics. While the Big Island has the nightlife and skyscrapers, Maui has stayed low keyed and relaxed.
We have gone back to Maui a couple of times and on each trip we find something amazing to do. Be it learning to surf, stand up paddleboard, driving the Hana Highway or learning to make Poke.
With world class surf breaks, white and black sand beaches, volcanic hikes, and jungle waterfalls, when it comes to visiting the island of Maui, you will never want to leave!
Where to stay in Maui: We stayed at all of these hotels and each one had a very different and unique experience. We can confidently recommend each one.
- Fairmont Kea Lani – Located in Wailea this luxury resort was outstanding. Check out our tour of it on YouTube.
- Napili Kai – Fantastic traditional Hawiian Luxury Resort. It feels like the Maui of the movies.
- Paia Inn – In the heart the surfing community where things are laid back on the road to Hana and
- Mekena Beach Hotel – A big chain like hotel that works for people that want something familiar and comfortable.
- Read: Unique Hotels in Maui
We had the opportunity to take a helicopter flight over the island of Oahu to really take in the beauty of its beaches. Seeing the break on the North Shore was scary from the sky! I can’t imagine surfing those waves.
This island has so much history and beauty. Pearl Harbour can be visited to pay respects to the fallen heroes of World War II, incredible surf can be seen on the North Shore and it has a huge infrastructure for shopping and dining. This is an amazing island to visit!
It’s an excellent choice when planning a trip to Hawaii. You really can’t go wrong when you visit any of the Hawaiian Islands. From the Big Island of Hawai’i to Lanai or Molokai, get yourself to Hawaii!
- Watch our video of our helicopter flight over Oahu
16. Kangaroo Island
Who knew Australia has so many islands? Another off the beaten path island in Australia is Fraser Island. Not too many tourists make it to South Australia compared to the more popular New South Whales and Queensland, but this is a special island.
Kangaroo Island houses what was voted Australia’s most beautiful beach. Vivonne Beach was voted the best beach in Australia because it is pristine, clear waters and you won’t find any crowds! So our travel guide of the best islands 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!
- Where to Stay on Kangaroo Island – We stayed at Seascape Lodge, for more Kangaroo Island Accommodations explore TripAdvisor
- Read all about our time on Kangaroo Island Check it out here!
17. Cay Caulker
Cay Caulker of Belize is a little slice of paradise. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island and it’s a fantastic place to chill out and relax. The coral reef and crystal clear waters off the coast is an amazing place for scuba diving and snorkelling and you must take a trip out to Shark Ray Alley to swim with the nurse sharks.
We found a great place to stay called Deb and Dave’s Last Resort. It is run by a fantastic couple with fantastic names!
Located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is a dream destination for many people. The three main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue can be easily explored by the Inter-Island Ferry Services.
Explore crystal clear waters, sandy secluded beaches, and gorgeous waterfalls. Seychelles is a must-visit for island lovers.
- Read More: 10 Unmissable Things to do in Seychelles
The Whitsundays are a group of 75 islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia that are famous for the white sandbars creating gorgeous formations under crystal clear water. Beautiful white sand beaches, swirl effortlessly with the turquoise water. Oh, did we mention it is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef? The best way to explore the coral reefs fully is to book a liveaboard cruise to spend time in the islands.
The largest and most famous of all the islands, Whitehaven Beach is a good choice to stay. Located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef with crystal clear waters, it is difficult to compete for a better coral reef than that surrounding the Whitsundays. If you want to do diving and snorkeling, this is a great place to stay. For a luxury tropical vacation in Australia, this is the place to be.
- Read more: 23 Iconic Places to Visit in Australia
20. Dominican Republic
Dave and I honeymooned in the Dominican Republic so it has a very special place in our hearts. The Dominican is a part of the second largest island in the Caribbean and it is one of the most popular destinations in the area.
But this one from Puerto Plata captures that postcard view of what a tropical island vacation should look like. Beautiful skies, over the water bungalows and a cruise ship off in the distance. What could be better than that?
It is the dream destination for honeymooners and the original over the water bungalow destination. Immerse in French Polynesia and pure luxury in Tahiti. It is one of the most sought after honeymoon destinations on earth and with good reason. Tahiti has really figured out how to turn tropical island vacations into luxury island vacations. Book a stay on a private island resort and spend a week doing nothing but relaxing with the one you love.
- Tahiti is expensive, so you may want to also check out Moorea in French Polynesia too!
I was debating whether or not to put Santorini in this post or not. Is it considered tropical? Well, when we visited it was hot hot hot and definitely felt tropical. 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.
- Read More: The Very Best Things to do in Santorini
Dave and I haven’t visited every island in the Caribbean, but we have seen quite a few and they are all so beautiful. Curacao stands out not only because of its beautiful beaches, but it’s colorful colonial buildings of Willemstad.
Curacao is part of the ABC islands of the Lesser Antilles that are territory islands of the Netherlands – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. Curacao feels like a little slice of Europe in the middle of the Caribbean.
Being just outside the hurricane area, Curacao is a good option to visit year-round.
Known to have the least amount of rainfall in the Caribbean Islands, Aruba is a great year-round destination. The trade winds keep it temperate with a balmy average temperature of 82 degrees.
It’s another tropical island located outside the hurricane belt making for a great choice in the stormy months of June to November.
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And there you have it, our choices for the best tropical islands to visit in the world. Do you have a favorite tropical vacation destination? What did we miss?