Summer is just around the corner and if you’re hoping to escape to your very own island paradise for some sundrenched fun, now is the time to start planning your trip.
Not sure where to go? Here are ten of the best summer holiday islands around the world that will help you turn your usual daydreams of white sandy beaches, clear blue waters and tropical temperatures into a reality.
1. The Maldives
The Maldives, made up of 26 atolls composed of over 1,000 coral islands, is the ultimate luxury holiday island destination. It’s widely known for its stunning white beaches, but also boasts a fascinating underwater world that’s home to everything from colourful reef fish to sea turtles, dolphins, manta ray and whale sharks.
You can choose to enjoy some pampering and first-class cuisine at one of the island’s many five-star resorts, or tackle adventurous activities like shark diving, boating or water skiing.
2. Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali has something for everyone with its iconic rice paddies, volcanic mountains, tropical rain forests and, of course, stunning beaches. Bali also has a rich history and culture and is famous for its many intricate temples where you can observe architecture and traditions that date back thousands of years.
It also happens to be one of the most affordable holiday islands to visit, so if you want to experience some of the best beaches in the world without the high price tag that often accompanies luxurious island getaways, give Bali a go.
3. Santorini, Greece
Although islands like The Maldives and Bali are famous the world over, you don’t necessarily have to travel as far as South East Asia to enjoy world-class beaches and tropical weather.
Santorini, located 200 kilometres off the mainland of Greece, is known for its whitewashed cave architecture, volcanic mineral beaches, and magical sunsets. Best of all, with a bit of advance planning, it’s doable on just about any budget, whether you’re looking for boutique hotels and upscale restaurants or cosy B&Bs and tasty street food.
4. Capri, Italy
Want to enjoy pristine beaches and breathtaking nature without enduring a long haul flight? The Mediterranean island of Capri located just off the coast of Sorrento in Italy is one of the most beautiful European holiday islands. Capri truly has it all, from crystalline waters and towering cliffs to world-class shopping and mouth-watering cuisine.
When you’re not lounging on the beach, you can enjoy the many hiking trails and walking paths, indulge in some of the culinary delights the island is famous for, and stroll through Capri’s elegant shopping streets.
5. St Lucia
If you’ve been dreaming of escaping to a Caribbean island for some much-needed chill time, St Lucia should be at the top of your list. It’s a lush green paradise complete with mountains and tropical rainforest, but also boasts gorgeous beaches with golden sand and turquoise waters.
In addition to hiking and climbing, you can mountain bike through the rain forest, take in some history at the ruins of Fort Rodney, which was built by British settlers in the 18th century, and see firsthand how cocoa beans are grown and then turned into chocolate.
6. Hvar, Croatia
If you’ve already holidayed in Italy, Greece and Spain, and want to experience a different part of Europe, consider a trip to the captivating Croatian island of Hvar. It’s positioning in the Adriatic means it has a great microclimate and it’s known for being the sunniest island in Europe.
Hvar is also the only place in the world with four UNESCO heritage sites, and Croatian food and wine culture, although less well-known than that of Italy or Spain, is no less varied and rich. So whether you’re looking for culture, nightlife or great beaches and nature, Hvar won’t disappoint.
7. Gran Canaria, Spain
Gran Canaria is known for its year-round sunshine, so no matter what time of year you choose to visit, you can count on plenty of sun. The island has more than 80 glorious beaches and some of Europe’s best holiday resorts, but it’s also known for spectacular unspoiled nature such as the Maspalomas sand dunes and the San Bartolomé de Tirajana nature reserve.
So when you’re not relaxing on the beach, enjoying the nightlife or tackling water sports like surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving, you can head into the mountains for some hiking or mountain biking.
8. The Azores, Portugal
The Azores are technically part of Portugal, but these nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are unique in terms of culture, nature and climate. The islands are known for their dramatic landscapes complete with lush green forests and mountains as well as waterfalls, hot springs, colourful lakes and sandy beaches.
But despite their natural beauty and favourable climate, the islands’ remote location means they haven’t been overrun by tourists. So if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature and seclusion for a while, the Azores are an excellent option.
9. Corsica, France
Dreaming of gleaming yachts and classic Mediterranean beaches with turquoise waters and brilliantly white beaches? Corsica is a beach lover’s dream destination, although the Regional National Park of Corsica, which covers two thirds of the island, is also an excellent reason to visit.
Corsica technically belongs to France but is geographically closer to Italy, which means both Italian and French influences show in its cuisine and culture. So if you can’t decide between France and Italy for your summer holiday, Corsica could be the perfect middle ground.
10. Bora Bora
In addition to its memorable name, this tropical island in French Polynesia is famous for its beautiful beaches and extinct volcano which forms two peaks; Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. Bora Bora is also surrounded by a lagoon and barrier reef, so its waters are clear and calm, making it the perfect destination for water sports like paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkelling.
Accommodation options range from secluded bungalows on stilts to floating villas, and since the island has remained relatively unspoiled, even during peak tourist season Bora Bora’s beaches never feel overcrowded.