If your island vacation bucket list had nothing on it but a trip to Hawaii, get ready to make it a lot longer. We've compiled an assortment of the perfect island getaways that will have you packing your bags ASAP for some time in these gorgeous off-the-mainland mainstays.
Think an island vacation only means sand and surf? Think again. With this gallery, you will discover that some islands are perfect for whale-watching in warm sweaters as opposed to sun-bathing on the beach and that some dream island getaways are way more within reach physically and financially than you might have thought.
Of course, we included sun drenched spots like Tahiti, Crete, and Capri, plus a few incredible archipelagos, but you will also find some off-the-beaten-path island must-sees off the coasts of Canada and Ecuador. So, start booking your flights now because you’ve got a long way to go through your island bucket list.
The Bahamas have something for every traveler. Not only will visitors find shimmering blue waters, white sands, and gorgeous sunsets, the islands also have a plus-size-friendly resort, a hotel for foodies, and seemingly hundreds of places to dance, celebrate, and eat. The Bahamas are also known for their rum and tours of rum distilleries. Travelers can find a ton of packages online for all-inclusive resorts for great deals in the Bahamas making it an awesome last-minute destination decision!
The picturesque Balearic Islands are located just off eastern Spain and make for the perfect island getaway. Consisting of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, these floating slices of heaven in the Mediterranean are known for their beaches, scenic coastlines, and nightclubs, and are also home to gothic cathedrals and even a Moorish royal palace. Plus Ibiza hosts some pretty exciting avant-garde cuisine.
Bali’s stunning temples, intimate beaches, and picturesque rice paddies are just a few reasons this Asian island is a desirable getaway destination. Since it’s located just below the equator, any time of year is a great time to visit. Plus ticket deals to Bali are pretty incredible at the end of year. We’re talking less than $500 round trip! Still not convinced? Check out these 5 foods that will make you want to jet off to Bali in an hour.
Italy’s island of Capri is mesmerizing in beauty and rich in history. Known for its stunning Grotto Azzurra — a cave filled with breathtakingly blue water — and for being one of the best islands for food in the world, Capri is a definite must-see. Tickets there aren’t cheap, but you’ll find it’s worth the expense as, apart from its own charms, the island is a mere boat ride away from some of the best pizza places in Italy.
The Caymans are made up of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Although they may give you the full benefit of a tropical vacation, these Caribbean gems are only an hour-abnd-a-half flight out of Miami and are a feast not only for the eyes but also for the mouth. When you’re not scuba diving or frolicking through crystal clear waves you can have many delicious Cayman culinary adventures.
One of the southernmost points in Europe, Crete stretches for 120 miles east to west in the Mediterranean, just north of Libya and Egypt. The oldest civilization in Europe lived on this gorgeous island full of beaches, mountains, and lush valleys, leaving both wine and olive oil presses that set the precedent for the perfection Crete has to offer today. Make sure you save time to tour the Ideon Cave; legend has it it’s the birthplace of Zeus!
The Republic of Cyprus is best known for its beaches, wine regions, and ruin,s making it the perfect island escape for tanning, tastings, and tours. Although tickets will cost you, its geographic location (between Europe, Asia, and Africa) makes it an excellent island for country-hopping and extended vacations on your breathtaking getaway!
Already one of our 10 best Southern Hemisphere destinations, Easter Island — just in case you've never heard of it — is the home of those famed moai, gigantic carved stone heads whose origins and purpose are still debated. Although it’s a territory of Chile’s, it's located in the South Pacific, almost as close to Tahiti as it is to South America, which means the climate is subtropical and only drops to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. Sound ideal? There is a catch. Flights to Easter Island are most usually only out of Santiago or Tahiti, both of which are fairly expensive destinations.
Fiji is pretty much bliss. This South Pacific nation is made up of more than 300 islands all with screen-saver-worthy sunsets and seascapes — and it's chock full of fabulous resorts and spas. Although your ticket might be a little pricey, hotel deals are actually pretty cheap on most of the islands. Coming to Fiji to eat? We’ve got you covered with our food lover’s guide!
Just because they're on U.S. soil doesn’t mean these little islets shouldn’t be one your bucket list. The Florida Keys are the southernmost point in the continental U.S., and the perfect place to snorkel, scuba dive, Jet Ski, and just let loose. And you won’t need a passport to do so. The Keys, which are unlike anywhere else on Earth, extend from Key Largo down through Islamorada, Marathon, and the Lower Keys, all the way to Key West. There is a different set of worthwhile attractions on each Key. You can fly directly into Key West, or drive from Miami or elsewhere in southern Florida — all the way down the 110-mile highway that connects the islands to the mainland and each other.
We know you studied the Galápagos Islands in school when you learned about evolution but now is your chance to finally go. Cross off this must-see bucket-list destination and channel your inner Charles Darwin with some prime wildlife viewing around the strikingly different islands that make up the archipelago. You might even see a famed Galapagos tortoise! Be sure to pack for adventures like Isabela Island’s active volcano, Sierra Negra, as well as snorkeling and diving (and remember that land-based tours are less expensive than those by boat).
Jamaica is well-known for its beaches, resort hotels, vibrant music scene, and much more. But the island doesn't reveal all its secrets at first glance. All over the island, there are delicious surprises — hidden restaurants, hotels known only to connoisseurs, adventures to be had, flavors to be tasted, like street food favorite beef patties and local legend Blue Mountain coffee. Luckily, there are many cheap flights to the island since it is such a major tourist destination. Planning on eating like a local during your adventure? Here’s our guide to eating roadside in Jamaica.
No, not New Jersey. We’re talking about an island located off of coastal France. Located in the Channel Islands, Jersey may not be a tropical getaway, but with incredible clifftop views, green fields, rolling dunes, and gorgeous waterfronts, this tiny gem off the coast of Normandy makes a good case for choosing it as for your vacation. Pro tip: May through September is Jersey’s peak season, as the weather is warmest and driest.
Luckily, Mackinac Island is pretty easy to get to, especially if you live in the Midwest. Considered the jewel of the Great Lakes, this Michigan island has some of the best fudge in America, along with horse-drawn carriage rides, adorable bed & breakfasts, aand ritzier resorts and hotels. Motor vehicles are banned on Mackinac, making it an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of U.S. city life. The island is reachable by ferry and adult roundtrip tickets are just $26, making this an ideal vacation for anyone on a budget.
Maldives is an island destination largely favored by the British (it was long a British protectorate). Every year, over a million people visit the nation, known for its natural beauty —a crystal-clear blue ocean, clean air, and sandy white beaches. It’s among the best places in the world to go recreational diving, and has been reported to be the most wished-for honeymoon destination. It’s also home to one of the world’s most beautiful- but insane-hotels. However, due to global warming, the island is at extreme risk of submersion and may be uninhabitable by 2100. That means you should check this island off your bucket list sooner rather than later.
Although you really should visit every island in Hawaii, make Maui your priority. Hawaii’s second largest island is a haven for food-lovers, wave-worshippers, and thrill-seekers. Whether you’re doing a crazy physical activity or enjoying the wide variety of island cuisine, from upscale beachside dining to casual and locally food-inspired menus, you won’t need your passport for this island vacation. Taking your bucket list seriously? Check out our 21 most affordable Hawaiian resorts and hotels before you book your stay.
The Indian Ocean Island nation of Mauritius is perfect if you like white sand beaches and crystal-clear seas, along with bustling port cities and, at its center, a cooler central region housing forests, lakes, and botanical gardens. Mark Twain once said, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius.” Travelers can experience Chinese, Indian, French, and Creole influences in Mauritius’ architecture, culture, and spicy cuisine. Although the most commonly spoken tongue is Mauritian Creole, English is the main language of the government and is what is taught in schools.
Take a quick jaunt to the Eastern Seaboard for an island vacation unlike any other. Just off of Cape Cod rests quaint Nantucket with its lighthouses, whaling museum, many beaches, and cobblestone shopping streets. Not only is it the perfect place to summer like a Kennedy, it’s also an excellent spot to find some of the best pancakes in America, as well as some pretty terrific seafood.
One of the most popular places to visit in Thailand is Phuket. This Thai island is all about taste and color with pink tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws), glowing lanterns, jewel toned fragrant flowers, neon signs, vibrant fruits (bananas, green mangoes, orange papayas, and candied water chestnuts on ice), and heaps of noodles. No wonder it attracts millions of people each year. Here is what a week of glorious eating looks like in Thailand.
If you live in LA and you haven’t yet been to Catalina, this will be the easiest location to cross off on your island bucket list. Located only 47 miles from the heart of Los Angeles, the island is visible from most places along the coast. It’s a nice little respite from the desert that is Los Angeles, with spas, hotels, and dining for people who aren’t into the camping and boating Santa Catalina also provides. Since it’s just off the California coast, the weather gets colder but not too cold, making it the perfect spot for a cozy winter destination.
The picturesque scene of white houses and blue roofs against the Aegean Sea makes Santorini a dreamlike destination. Take a boat to the volcanic hot spring off shore or a short taxi ride to Red Beach, and watch the sun set from Fira during your idyllic stay in one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. Tickets are a little pricey for this dream vacation, but think of all the delicious souvlaki and spanakopita you can eat!
If you’re not going to Sicily for its famous fish markets, volcano views, and historic landmarks (like the Teatro Greco and the Royal Tombs), then you are going to eat (and we don’t blame you). Yes, Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island and it is full of Greek temples, Byzantine mosaics, and Baroque palazzos, but it is also full of delicious wine, incredible pizza, and fabulous eggplant parmesan. While you may have intended to come on this vacation to sight-see, what you will have left having done is eat (and you’ll be glad you did). Getting serious about Sicily? We know 5 towns on the island worth visiting on your next European adventure.
There probably isn’t much we have to say to convince you to go to Tahiti. The French Polynesian island is the promised land of many a vacation. It’s home to multi-toned sand beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, and one of the most gorgeous swim-up bars in the world. It may cost you a little extra cash to fly to Tahiti, but just picture yourself staying in one of those fabulous straw-roofed rooms on stilts out over the ocean! Still can’t swallow the hefty price tag? Check out these 15 Instagrammable destinations you can visit on a budget and plan on Tahiti for next year.
If you’re looking for one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, you’ve found it. Your vacation on Vancouver Island will be unlike any other. Pack a lot of layers, because on this island you will encounter rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers, and lakes. You can check Vancouver Island off your bucket list once you’ve gone whale-watching, or fishing, or tried any of the other numerous outdoors-y activities the island has to offer. Don’t be too intimidated by its rural landscape however; Vancouver Island is also a haven for artists — and yes, the people will be a lot nicer than they are in America. After all, it is Canada.