White sand beaches, hammocks from palm trees and infinity pool hotels…
No doubt you’ve dreamed of somewhere like this and perhaps you’ve poured over pictures of turquoise seas online. But where actually are the most photogenic islands? And which ones are still the untouched utopias we see in images? Make sure the paradise holiday of your dreams is exactly as you imagined with this list of jaw-dropping islands.
Palawan – Philippines
This is the largest island in the Palawan province of the Philippines and is bursting with jungle mountains, biodiversity and glimmering white sand beaches. The island is surrounded by an archipelago of towering rocky inlets, making it perfect for exploring by boat. Over the years Palawan has won ‘Most Beautiful Island in the World’ many times for different publications, and it’s not hard to see why.
Great Abaco – the Bahamas
The Bahamas is world-renowned as one of the most luxurious paradise island groups in the world. Even the name conjures up visions of luxury villas, clear seas and bleached-perfect sand beaches. For those wanting to visit but with no idea where to go, The Abacos are the perfect safe bet. One of the most popular islands in the region, you’ll recognise Great Abaco for its famous swimming island pigs! Dive into the deep blue with these adorable swimming pigs and soak up some serious sun.
Koh Rong Sanloem - Cambodia
For those dreaming of a paradise island but without the budget for the Bahamas, Koh Rong Sanloem is an emerging name. An up-and-coming rival to Thailand’s iconic (but overcrowded) islands, Koh Rong Sanloem is a true untouched paradise, with only a small handful of tasteful villas and hostels for you to discover, and miles and miles of white-sand coastline.
Praslin – the Seychelles
No paradise island quite fits the definition like Praslin in The Seychelles, with its overhanging palm trees, giant rocky coves and hidden beaches. With plenty of luxurious villas to choose from, it’s the perfect base to go exploring by boat or by foot, or simply relaxing on a deckchair. It is also home to several unique rare species of bird, such as the black parrot - making it a dream destination for birdwatchers.
Bora Bora – French Polynesia
Bora Bora is famous for its luxury resorts, including isolated villas that stand on stilts within the sea. If the idea of waking up and diving straight from your bed into turquoise ocean sounds like heaven, this is the place for you! Bora Bora’s lagoon is perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, and visitors can glimpse manta rays, barracuda and even (friendly) sharks. Because of its simple beauty, Bora Bora is also very popular for honeymooners, the isolated nature of the villas giving you lots of privacy.
Viti Levu – Fiji
This is the largest island in the Fiji archipelago, and the most built up. With beautiful, lush, green hills, Viti Levu is perfect for those wanting more than beaches to explore. Get up in the hills and find out more about Fijian culture, before heading to your luxurious, thatched roof hotel. Bursting with great restaurants, activities and forested parks, Fiji is the perfect package, and great for families.
Hamilton Island - Whitsundays
This beautiful archipelago off the coast of Australia is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, luxury villas and stunning beaches. From Hamilton, visitors can get a boat out to Whitehaven Beach, with its mesmerising swirling water formations and white-as-white-can-be sand. For those who love wildlife, Hamilton Island is bursting with wildlife, and divers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to marine animal-spotting.
Casa en el Agua – Colombia
Another budget slice of luxury, this hostel might be the coolest in the world. An island in itself, this mini hostel-island is only accessible by boat and sits directly on top of glistening turquoise sea. With its own bar, collection of kayaks and communal chill space, your day will be spent chilling on the ocean with other like-minded backpackers. Plus, the hostel allows guests to sleep in hammocks on the terrace for a discount rate, meaning you maximise your time in paradise for a fraction of the usual cost.
Bazarutu – Mozambique
This island, situated within the Bazarutu archipelago in Mozambique is a designated national park, thanks to its magnificent biodiversity. Sea turtles, devil rays, dugong, butterfly fish and humpback wales can all be seen off these peaceful shores, making it ideal for lovers of snorkelling and diving. Bazarutu is much less touristy than other paradise islands, but there are still plenty of luxury villas and hotels to choose from. Many visitors combine a beach holiday here with a Mozambique safari, bringing together all the best elements of relaxation and adventure.
Rarotonga - Cook Islands
This beautiful pacific island is one of the biggest in the Cook Island archipelago, and highly popular with tourists. Popular for hiking, visitors can follow the well-trodden cross-island walk, which connects the Avatiu valley with the south of the island. Fans of the show ‘Survivor’ will also remember Rarotonga from its controversial Cook Islands series, though with its luxury hotels and 5-star restaurants, there’s little to fear by being set loose alone on this island.
Thulusdhoo - Maldives
Another honeymoon staple, what more can be said about the Maldives, one of the worlds most famous island groups? With so many stunning islands to choose from, we’ve picked Thulusdhoo, for its incredible surfing and relatively cheaper prices. With scuba diving schools, paddle boarding lagoons, dolphin excursions, jet skiing, local villages and plenty of mouth-watering restaurants, you’ll never run out of things to do during your stay on Thulusdhoo.
Our final spot is one of the lesser visited Canary Islands, boasting fewer crowds and plenty more natural beauty. A popular destination for hikers, this island offers fewer paradise beaches and more volcanic mountain scenery, attracting photographers who gather to capture mountain valleys blanketed in clouds. With salt flats, calderas, high-altitude forests and towering cliffs, La Palma is a photogenic hidden gem.