Looking for the best tropical island for your next vacation? These are the most beautiful tropical islands to visit and insider tips on where to stay on each island. We’ve gathered our top 20 picks with some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches.
If you’re a budget-minded traveler looking to save money on your next tropical island vacation, we always check rates on AirBnb whenever possible. However, keep in mind that sometimes a hotel is the best choice for a particular destination. We give our suggestions of places to stay in many of the destinations below.
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Best Tropical Islands To Visit
Bali in Indonesia will always hold a special place in my heart no matter how well known it becomes. Some of my favorite beaches are now changed forever as a result of the movie Eat Pray Love, but that won’t stop me from visiting again. It’s a destination where you will find welcoming locals, breathtaking beaches and, of course, epic surf.
We have been to Maui, Hawaii three times and we’re going on our fourth visit in November. That’s how much we love it here. What is not to love? The hang loose island vibe is contagious and leaves you feeling recharged even after just a short visit. If you have time, make sure you venture all the way to the Seven Sacred Pools on the Road to Hana and don’t miss a stop at Red Sand Beach!
Our favorite hotel on Maui has some of the best snorkeling on the island and we ALWAYS see turtles here! We’ve found the best prices for the Sheraton Maui on Booking.com.
3. Bora Bora
Bora Bora is nicknamed “the romantic island” (it also made our list of the most romantic islands in the world) and as soon as you step off the plane, you will see why this place is a true paradise. To me, the best tropical vacations include perfect white sand beaches, overwater bungalows and emerald-colored ocean water — and Bora Bora has it all.
If you want to experience the ultimate luxury, then you can’t beat staying at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa.
Fiji is a must visit for many surfers, including us. Of course, Fiji is known for more than its perfectly peeling waves and warm water. I recently spent two weeks traveling around this archipelago. The Yasawa islands where they filmed “The Blue Lagoon” is home to unlimited snorkel spots and it’s where I have some of my favorite memories in this beautiful country.
A trip to Fiji doesn’t have to break the bank. The Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa offers rooms for as low as $200/night and gets excellent reviews!
Aruba is a small island — just 19.6 miles long — and boasts ideal temperatures year round, thanks to the constant trade winds (which helps with the humidity and limits the annoyance of mosquitoes). When travel to other islands in the Caribbean is dicey, Aruba is the optimal choice because it is located in the Netherland Antilles, outside of the hurricane belt.
One of my favorite things to do in Aruba is taking a horseback riding tour to the Natural Pool on the north side of the island.
I stayed for four glorious days at the Aruba Marriott in Palm Beach. Book your stay now!
Read more: 10 Best Things to Do in Aruba
6. The Bahamas
Ever since I was a child, I have longed to visit the islands of the Bahamas. Nassau is one of the more well-known islands, but certainly not the only island to visit. With 30 inhabited islands, there are plenty of spots to choose from.
I spent a week on Staniel Cay in the Exumas and would travel back there in a heartbeat — and there are not too many places I would choose to visit twice!
I stayed at EMBRACE Resort in the Exumas (use our promo code TRAVEL21 when booking at EMBRACE Resort to get 5% off!) which I absolutely loved! From this location, you can easily swim with the infamous pigs on Pig Beach too!
7. Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos consists of two groups of tropical islands in the West Indies. These islands are still under the radar for most travelers, but being situated just 90 minutes away from Miami, it’s only a hop, skip and a jump for United States East Coasters.
One of my favorite things to do in Turks and Caicos is taking a glow worm tour. If you can plan your trip during a full moon, it’s an experience not to be missed!
Villa Del Mar offers condos with a gorgeous pool for a reasonable price.
8. The Maldives
The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean and is the smallest Asian country in both population and size. What this country lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty with some of the most gorgeous dive sites and beaches in the world. The government follows a “one island, one resort” policy and limits the height of the resorts to be equal or lesser than the tallest tree.
This hotel and spa is a great price for the Maldives and it gets glowing reviews.
9. The Seychelles
The Seychelles are a group of 115 tropical islands which lie in the enchanting Indian Ocean, just east of mainland Africa and northeast of the island of Madagascar. The climate here is always warm, with temperatures rarely dropping below 75 degrees or rising above 90 degrees – making it a perfect year-round destination.
Doubletree by Hilton Seychelles is in a stunning location and offers very reasonable nightly rates.
10. Fernando de Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is a tropical island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. Noronha formed as a result of volcanic activity and initially the island was used as a prison for convicted Brazilians. The number of people allowed on the island at any one time is strictly limited to 420 people, so plan your trip early!
11. Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are a nation in the South Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles from New Zealand and is one of the best tropical places to visit. It’s a fairly easy journey from the West Coast of the United States — compared to traveling to the Caribbean.
The 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands are spread out over approximately 770,000 square miles of ocean but only have a combined landmass of 92! This paradise offers lush mountains, stunning coral reefs, and crystal lagoons. The main island Rarotonga has been called ‘Heaven on Earth’.
My personal favorite is the small island of Aitutaki. It’s a dream for honeymooners, especially with a stay at Pacific Resort! For a stay on the island of Rarotonga, I highly recommend Muri Beachcomber.
Read more: Cook Islands Travel Guide & Where To Stay
12. Palawan Island
Palawan Island is the largest island in the Philippines, with only half of it as developed land. It was ranked in 2017 as ‘The Most Beautiful Island in the World’. The draw to this island includes white sand beaches, clear blue waters, a surplus of lagoons and coral reefs and even shipwreck sites.
Beach and lagoon hopping is a very popular relaxing, yet adventurous activity to take in the abundant marine life and land vegetation. There is even an underground river noted to be the world’s second-longest subterranean river and one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of the World’ that you can explore!
I stayed at El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island and absolutely loved it! It’s all-inclusive and they offer overwater bungalows.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to El Nido, Philippines
13. Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is a Thai island just off of the Malaysian border known for coral reefs and dive sites. The breathtaking beaches such as Sunrise beach, Sunset beach, Karma beach, and many others offer endless amounts of relaxation, snorkeling and exploring.
The island offers many viewpoints that are hike-able as well as walking street full of bars, stores and nightlife and even a tiny hidden temple to explore. There is so much to get out of this one tiny island so slow down and take your time exploring!
Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean Island located near Aruba that offers visitors over 35 serene beaches and bays and over 70 dive spots. The never ending and all-encompassing excursions will provide a welcome adventure no matter what type of traveler you are!
This island isn’t just sand and sea, Willemstad is Curacao’s capital city known for its pastel-colored architecture. While exploring the bright colorful streets and seeing the city’s history, you can stumble across some unparalleled food and unique sites.
This apartment with a pool and private beach right in Willemstad is a top pick on this island!
15. The Whitsunday Islands
Between Australia and the Great Barrier Reef lie The Whitsunday Islands. Due to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, it has been noted as a mecca for all water faring activities. On land, dense rainforests, luxury resorts and pristine beaches offer endless exploration and luxury.
Hamilton island is one of our top picks for the Whitsundays and this adults-only beachfront resort is one of the best on the island — with an infinity pool and private beach area.
16. San Blas Islands
The 365 San Blas Islands are a top destination in Panama. Though there are many individual and unique islands only 50 of them are actually inhabited. These islands are a very unique destination as there is no internet access, credit card payments and it is unavoidable to immerse yourself in the local customs and ways.
Though there is no traditional flight to the San Blas Islands, you can take your choice on how you would like to get there. You could take a seaplane, sailboat charter, or a 4×4 jeep from Panama City. Each of these options gives you a special way to view the islands and the journey. Be prepared to eat your fill of seafood.
If rustic accommodations with some of the prettiest beaches in the world are your thing, then the San Blas Islands are the perfect getaway.
For accommodation, San Blas Wild comes highly recommended.
17. Galapagos Islands
Off the coast of Ecuador, the volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos Islands offers a diverse experience of plant and animal life that is unlike anywhere else in the world. The ongoing volcanic activity has been the main catalyst to how the islands themselves formed. Because the islands are so isolated from each other, a unique evolution of plant animal life has transpired.
There is an extreme emphasis on the preservations of the nature and wildlife of the Galapagos Islands and as such, there are many National Park rules to become familiar with. The Galapagos also has a list of requirements in order to enter such as round-trip airline tickets, travel and health insurance, and a few more stipulations so be sure to familiarize yourself with these before your travels.
18. Big Island Hawaii
The Big Island of Hawaii is not to be missed. The vast diversity this one island has to offer is remarkable. To put the diversity into perspective, there are 12 separate climate zones on this one island!
If volcanoes are of interest to you, you can visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park which is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world: the Kilauea volcano. There is also a surplus of markets and beaches to roam and relax on.
19. The Azores
The Azores are home to 9 beautiful islands off the coast of Portugal. Known for hiking, whale watching, golf, diving, biking and so many other activities. Coined for having ‘The Best Natural Experiences’, the islands strive to have hotels and restaurants work in harmony with the environment and have a large focus on sustainability.
These islands are perfectly suited for nature lovers and explorers alike. Keep in mind that there are many more options to travel to the Azores from Europe than the United States. Look into flying into Europe first and then hopping over to these magnificent islands.
Also remember that the Azores are green and lush which means it does rain often and it is not always sunny! Check the weather and plan accordingly.
20. The Perhentian Islands
The two Perhentian Islands, Besar (“Big”) and Kecil (“Small”) are off-the-beaten path type destinations located within Malaysia. Besar tends to be the more expensive island that caters towards couples and newlyweds where Kecil is a backpacker’s dream.
Both islands offer immense snorkeling and scuba options as well as canoeing and kayaking. Exploring the many trails of the jungles is an amazing experience. The location of these islands is great for island hopping!
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