TripAdvisor has announced the winners of its inaugural 2013 Travellers’ Choice Islands Awards, based entirely on feedback from millions of TripAdvisor travellers.
Here are the islands that made the top ten for being the best in the world:
The Central American island of Ambergris Caye, in Belize, has been crowned the number one island in the world. The largest island in Belize, Ambergris Caye boasts spectacular caves, winding waterfalls, tropical rainforest and hundreds of limestone caves. The island also claims the second largest coral reef system in the world.
TripAdvisor says: “Ambergris Caye hovers in a holiday sweet spot: just enough amenities to make it exciting, but not so overdeveloped that you’re tripping over flip-flopped tourists.
“A mangrove swamp is the eye of this white beach island, the largest in Belize, and golf carts are the main form of transportation along the sandy roads.
“Reef divers drool over the Belize Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole, a 400-feet deep circle of limestone that teems with angelfish, elkhorn coral, cleaner shrimp and stalactites.”
The stunning Caribbean island of St John takes the runner up spot, and with crystal clear seas and white sand beaches it’s easy to see why this place is a hit with travellers.
TripAdvisor says: “Ecotourism is alive and kicking on St. John. There's more than enough to do on land, from watching for wildlife in the national park to hiking miles of trails or strolling sandy white beaches.
“Hit the water for amazing snorkeling, swimming, even underwater photography—of course. This is the Caribbean, after all.”
There is absolutely no doubt that Bora Bora would make the list of top five most beautiful places in the world, and possibly the closest thing to paradise that you'll ever cast your eyes on. A distinctive lagoon and a barrier reef surround the island, and the sheer beauty of this place is enough to entice visitors.
Trip Advisor says: “The relatively small island of Bora Bora is an activity giant, offering visitors the chance to experience a 4x4 safari, sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings, or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat.
“And Bora Bora is a superlative romantic spot. Fall captive to this lush gem of a Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach; visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench; or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu.”
Its location might not be as tropical as other faraway islands, but San Juan Island’s scenic landscape and great beaches are definitely worthy of a spot on this list. TripAdvisor says: “An island holiday on San Juan Island in…Washington? Don’t mistake it for a tropical destination.
“San Juan Island is a scenic scape that proudly features beaches, orca pods and one of the country’s largest lavender farms. Lime Kiln Point State Park is the perfect place for whale watching, while Pelindaba Lavender Farm will set you up with a lifetime supply of the fragrant purple plant.
“The bustling Friday Harbour is a jackpot of restaurants and shops, plus unique attractions like the 19-acre sculpture garden at Westcott Bay Reserve.”
If you want to escape world realities and every day life but not travel too far from home, then Santorini is the perfect island for you to visit. Glamorous and breathtaking, Santorini offers stunning views from sky-high towns, alluring galleries, diverse and delicious cuisine and a varied nightlife from lively to laid back.
TripAdvisor says: “Glamourous Santorini is deliciously different. Geographical newness is in part to thank. The island’s popular black volcanic Perissa and Kamari beaches are big draws, as is its arguably most famous Red Beach near Akrotiri (which is the place to go for archaeology buffs).
“Santorini curves round a giant lagoon in the Cyclades islands, offering stunning views from sky-high towns, eclectic cuisine, lovely galleries, thriving nightlife and excellent wines.”
In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is Isla Mujeres with its rough and rugged coastline, beautiful beaches and vibrant Latin culture.
TripAdvisor says: “Isla Mujeres offers a wide variety of tempting options for beach lovers, and is a relative bargain.
“Snorkel with tropical fish amid coral reefs, skim the blue waters by kayak or boat, or windsurf along the shores of soft, sandy beaches.
“On land, you can sunbathe, dine on seafood, and dance to Latin rhythms, tour on a moped or belly up to the bar for fresh, delicious drinks.”
The Maldives of the South Pacific Ocean, Moorea, like its neighbour Bora Bora, is a magnificent island with beautiful coral reef, marine life and blue-green seas.
TripAdvisor says: “The world's largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3,000 separate reefs. The island of Moorea serves as the perfect base camp for snorkelers and scuba divers seeking to come face-to-face with the diversity of life that darts among the coral.
“Non-swimmers can enjoy the same parade of astounding creatures from the dry perch of a glass-bottomed boat. Formed when half of a monolithic volcano crumbled to the blue-green sea, Moorea is an achingly exquisite heart-shaped island that is simply paradise found.”
Palm trees, golden sand beaches, and a chance to get close to sea turtles, this island gem can be found floating on in the glittering azure seas of the Surat Thani Province.
TripAdvisor says: “Drifting serenely in the Gulf of Thailand, the palm-fringed island of Koh Tao takes its name from the abundant sea turtles that reside on its shores.
“White sand beaches sheltered by steep hills – some only accessible with four-wheel drive vehicles – and 300 days of sun per year invite long afternoons of lounging.”
A small yet spectacular island 2000 miles off the Chilean coast, Easter Island is one of the most isolated places on the earth. The famous stone heads, known as Moai, reach around 30 ft in height and are scattered around the coast of the island.
TripAdvisor says: “Located in the South Pacific more than 2,000 miles off the Chilean coast, Easter Island’s not the easiest place to reach. (If you’re interested, the easiest access is by air from Santiago or Tahiti.)
“But isolation has helped preserve the 1,500-year-old mysterious congregation of volcanic rock sculptures (maoi) that’s the island’s biggest claim to fame. After exploring the unique landscape, relax on an uncrowded beach and ponder one of the most mysterious places on Earth.”
Yes, Madagascar really does exist and you can find this island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa where volcanic lakes, desert, rainforests and beaches all make for the perfect island getaway to Nosy Be.
TripAdvisor says: “ ‘Nosy Be?’ Is that a typo for ‘Noisy Bee?’ Nope. It means ‘big island’ and it is just that; a large island off the northwest coast of Madagascar.
“Here you’ll find volcanic lakes, lazy lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and intricate coral reefs that are practically begging to be explored.
“Flora and fauna lovers will be in seventh heaven at the beautiful Lokobe Nature Special Reserve. Audiophiles should visit in May, to experience the four-day Donia Music Festival.”
Which island would you most like to visit? Are there any others you would put on this list? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK