12 most scenic islands in the world
Islands are generally pretty gorgeous. They are islands after all. But the ten that made it to the top of our reader ratings for the most scenic islands in the world, are just crazy beautiful. See for yourself.
Secret swimming coves, turquoise waters, terraced gardens, and ruins of Emperor Tiberio’s pleasure palace lure the jet set to this small, rocky outcrop along the Amalfi Coast. Set off along footpaths in any direction and you’ll be rewarded with views of sea and sky—but ascend the island’s highest peak on the Seggiovia Monte Solaro chairlift and you might get a peak at Vesuvius dominating the Gulf of Naples in the distance. Meliá opened an adults-only hotel last year, suitably chic without breaking the bank.
Björn Andrén/Matton Collection/Corbis
A tiny, quiet charmer, the island is barely an hour and a half by ferry from Athens, but a world away from its traffic, crowds, and busloads of tourists. Donkeys, not cars, wend their way the main cobblestoned town full of appealing tavernas and cafes. Our choice of a place to stay: the Bratsera Hotel, a converted nineteenth-century sponge factory with a chic pool for when you’re not up for a long hike to secluded beaches.
Mount Desert Island, Maine
More than two million travelers visit this state’s largest island each year, but its Acadia National Park and four picture-postcard-perfect towns remain resolutely calm and quiet (quite unlike its previous, warring inhabitants—Native Indians, the French, British, and American Revolutionaries). The colorful West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor opened in 2012 with a rooftop pool and views of boats afloat on Frenchman’s Bay.
Aran Islands, Ireland
Three windswept isles—Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer—off the west coast of Ireland all have a rugged, bleak beauty to match the sinister 2,000-year-old ruins of Dún Aenghus, a Celtic fortress clinging to a cliff top as if declaring this to be the actual edge of the world. An unexpected find (open only April through September) is the ultra-modern Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites for innovative meals from the surrounding earth and sea and peaceful sleep in five sleek suites.
Mo'orea is a South Pacific island, part of French Polynesia's Society Islands archipelago. It's known for its jagged volcanic mountains and sandy beaches. In the north, Mount Rotui overlooks picturesque Ōpūnohu Bay and the settlements around Cook's Bay. Inland, hiking trails wind through rainforest on the slopes of Mount Tohivea. The Belvedere Lookout has panoramic views of the island’s peaks and Tahiti beyond.
Giant tortoises, coconut crabs, and black parrots claim this idyllic archipelago as home, due north of Madagascar. The dramatic rock formations along Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue Island compete with the more than 900-meter-high Morne Seychellois on Mahé and dense tropical forests of Praslin islands. Both Raffles and the Four Seasons resorts made our Hot List in recent years, and both are a collection of villas with butlers and private pools.
Our readers rave about this "veritable paradise," calling it a "combination of tropical ambience and American comforts." With an abundance of activities offered, from whale-watching to nature hikes to watersports, "you will never have a dull moment." To experience Maui's unending natural beauty, drive along the Road to Hana, a 68-mile scenic route featuring awe-inspiring waterfalls and ending at the breathtaking Seven Sacred Pools.
Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century B.C.E., forever shaping its rugged landscape and villages. The whitewashed, cubist houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the clear Aegean and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
Escaping to Kauai
Alamy/John De Mello
Kauai is an island in the mid-Pacific, part of the Hawaiian archipelago. It's nicknamed "the Garden Isle" thanks to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface. The dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of its Na Pali Coast have served as backdrop for major Hollywood films, while 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon and the Nounou Trails traversing the Sleeping Giant ridge are hiking destinations.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Few islands ever live up to such high expectations—it 's No. 1 on our Readers' Choice list of the Best Islands in the Pacificbut this one meets and even exceeds them and in large part due to its lagoon. There are more shades of dazzling blues here than a crayon box on steroids, crossed by darts of black in the form of (friendly) manta rays and sharks. The two most luxe accommodations are at the highly-rated St. Regis* or the Four Seasons.**
Los Roques, Venezuela
With spectacular coral reefs and an astonishing diversity of underwater life, it’s little wonder that the more than 300 islands, cays, and islets of this archipelago were declared a National Park in 1972. Simple posadas and restaurants will point you in the right direction for eye-popping snorkeling and scuba diving. Italian-owned guesthouse, Posada El Pelicano, is a first-rate base; though book early as they’ve only four rooms.
Lipari has been settled for well over 6,000 years and plundered by pirates and Greeks for the hard, black volcanic glass deposits found all around (used to make weapons and mirrors). The best views of the dramatic island and its six Aeolian neighbors are from Quattrocchi (“four eyes”) just west of the main town. The gorgeous Gattopardo Park Hotel, once an eighteenth-century villa, has rooms overlooking the ancient acropolis and medieval Castello.
Written by David Jeffrys. This article originally appeared on cntraveler.com.