35 BEST Tropical Islands to Visit in the World 

There is really nothing in the world quite like a tropical island vacation. The warm air, the palm trees swaying, bright blue water, and coconuts falling from the trees can all combine to create the best of vacation memories.

While some may think visiting a tropical island is boring, to me there is nothing more tranquil than relaxing on one of the best tropical islands with a good book in tow and a cold coconut water in hand. We’ve spent months of our lives hopping around some of the best tropical islands in the world, and while none of are bad, we do have a few of my favorite tropical islands to visit!

Best Tropical Islands – Quick List

  • Best Tropical Island for Luxury: Maldives & Mauritius
  • Best Tropical Islands for Honeymooners: Bora Bora and Seychelles
  • Best Tropical Islands for Budgeters: San Blas, Bali, Little Corn Island
  • Best Tropical Islands for Hikers: Azores
  • Best Tropical Islands for Surfers: Bali, Kauai, and Siargao
  • Best Tropical Islands for Divers: Raja Ampat & Palau
  • Safest Tropical Islands to Visit: Whitsundays

Vacation Destinations: The Best Tropical Islands To Visit

1. Réunion island – French Territory in the Indian Ocean

Réunion island

If volcanic landscapes, rainforests, coral reefs and sandy beaches sound like the makings of your kind of tropical island vacation, Reunion Island might be the place for you!  

Réunion Island is a French overseas department located in the Indian Ocean just east of Madagascar and known for its stunning natural beauty, including volcanic peaks, lush forests, beautiful beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. The island is also home to the Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano that attracts many visitors who come to witness its eruptions. It’s a great off the beaten path destination if you love hiking in the jungle.

Here there are a mix of cultural influences, including French, Indian, African, and Chinese, which are all represented through its cuisine, music, and many island festivals.

Known for its remote location, vibrant culture and lack of large tourist crowds, Reunion is also a place where you’ll never be bored. Climb an active volcano, dine on delicious cuisine, check out Anse Waterfalls and visit the Kelonia Museum of Zoology and the Aquarium of Reunion. 

2. The Mamanuca Islands – Fiji

The Mamanuca Islands – Fiji

The Mamanuca Islands are a group of islands located in the Republic of Fiji, and lie west of the main island of Viti Levu. They are known for their stunning white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and coral reefs.

Tropical landscapes, white-sand beaches, clear waters and incredible marine life that can be explored while snorkeling, are just some of the things you can expect when you visit The Mamanuca Islands. 

If you’re a surfer, you’ll love the incredible surf conditions but anyone can enjoy jetskiing and scenic helicopter tours. 

3. Dominica – Caribbean

Dominica – Caribbean

Dominica, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, is a beautiful island nation located in the Caribbean Sea. It is known as the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean” due to its abundant natural beauty and pristine ecosystems.

It’s lush, it’s tropical and it’s incredibly beautiful. I’m talking about the island nation of Dominica which is made up of towering mountains, tropical rainforests, natural hot springs, cascading waterfalls and colorful towns and villages.  

Explore Morne Trois Pitons National Park and Cabrits National Park. Go for a refreshing dip in Titou Gorge and visit Dominica Botanic Gardens and Fort Shirley. 

4. San Blas Islands – Panama

San Blas Islands – Panama

The San Blas Islands, also known as the Guna Yala Islands, are an archipelago located off the northeastern coast of Panama in the Caribbean Sea. The islands are part of the Guna Yala comarca, an autonomous indigenous territory of the Guna people.

They are renowned for their natural beauty, pristine beaches, and clear turquoise waters and consists of around 365 islands and cays, with only about 49 of them being inhabited.

If you’re searching for pristine, natural landscapes, clear, calm waters perfect for sailing, spectacular beaches and the opportunity to hop from one stunning island to the next through a variety of exciting tours, look no further than the San Blas Islands in Panama. 

This is a popular destination for travelers looking for an cheap eco-friendly alternative to other popular island destinations.  

5. Tayrona National Park – Colombia

Tayrona National Park – Colombia

Tayrona National Park is a pristine natural area that’s also the perfect place to take a tropical vacation away from large crowds. Bonus, you’ll also be surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Foothills. Admire coves covered in palm trees, clear lagoons, lush rainforests and beautiful beaches. 

Learn about the Tayrona civilization at the Pueblito Ruins and go hiking, snorkeling, or scuba diving to see even more of the natural wonders. 

6. Bora Bora – French Polynesia

bora bora - - best tropical islands

It may be small, but Bora Bora packs a punch in terms of tropical beauty, vibrant culture, incredible beaches and an abundance of things to see and do. The island is famously known for its amazing snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities and luxury accommodations positioned on stilts over clear water. 

The lagoon is a centerpiece of the island and is where you can take a trip on a glass-bottom boat.  If you’d rather be snorkeling or diving, this is where you’ll see a reef that is home to many marine species including stingrays and barracudas. 

Go hiking with a local guide, take a Jeep safari to the center of the island and check out the Aboriginal ceremonial platforms known as Marae.

7. Mauritius – Africa

Mauritius – Africa

Mauritius is a beautiful island nation located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. Known for its stunning beaches, turquoise waters, and diverse landscapes, Mauritius attracts tourists from around the world.

Mauritius is a country that is quickly becoming one of the world’s top island paradises. With sandy beaches, sparkling lagoons, incredible reefs, stunning waterfalls and lush rainforests, it’s not hard to see why! 

Even the island’s interior, where you’ll find Black Gorges National Park and hiking trails, is a fascinating place to explore. The country’s history and culture are on full display in Port Louis which is home to top attractions such as Eureka Plantation House, 

8. Azores – Portugal

Azores – Portugal

 Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores may not be quite the tropical place you’re expecting but these islands certainly are beautiful! With striking landscapes, colorful fishing villages, lush vegetation, vineyards and incredible coastal vistas, you’ll think you stepped onto the set of a fantasy movie.  

But the islands really are just that beautiful and there’s a lot to do too! Check out the Gorreana Tea Plantation, go whale watching, visit Parque Terra Nostra and enjoy a relaxing soak in the Ponta da Ferraria Thermal Baths. 

9. Trunk Bay – St. John, USVI

Trunk Bay - St. John, USVI

When it comes to world-class beaches, it doesn’t get much better than the one situated along Trunk Bay in the Virgin Islands National Park. This is one of the best beaches in the region which is also known for its underwater activities, namely snorkeling and diving. 

Above the waves, swim and sunbathe on the lifeguarded white-sand beach and enjoy access to a snack bar and beach chair rentals. Beneath the waves, explore the Underwater Snorkeling Trail and see a variety of marine species.  

10. Anse Lazio – Seychelles

Anse Lazio – Seychelles

The Seychelles islands are situated in the warm Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. They are positioned to the north of both Madagascar and Mauritius and roughly parallel with certain regions of Kenya. The are some of the most tropical islands in the entire world, and the effort it takes to reach them is well worth it. Praslin is one of the most stunning!

Snorkeling is best enjoyed in clear, warm water and Anse Lazio on Praslin Island has just that! Well, not just that but also spectacular scenery that includes the lush greenery and large boulders that frame this sandy beach and ideal conditions for swimming.  It is said by many that this just might be the most beautiful beach on earth!

11. Raja Ampat – Indonesia

Raja Ampat – Indonesia

Situated in the West Papua region of Indonesia, Raja Ampat is a group of tropical islands made up of jungle terrain, sandy beaches and coral reefs. Lounge seaside and cool off with a refreshing dip in the warm, clear waters or go snorkeling or scuba diving to witness an underwater world teeming with sea life. It’s often said that Raja Ampat has some of the best scuba diving in the world! All for a very affordable price!

Check out the ancient paintings and incredible caves of Misool Island and keep an eye out for tropical bird species.  

12. Cook Islands – Oceania

Cook Islands - Oceania

The Cook Islands are made up of 15 scenic islands in the South Pacific. While Rarotonga, with its mountain peaks and vibrant capital Avarua, and Aitutaki, with its huge lagoon and coral reefs, are the most popular islands in the country, the entire region is a hotspot for snorkeling and scuba diving. 

There are also many sandy beaches to spend hot, sunny days and the Muri Night Market is the perfect place to sample some local delicacies when done at the beach.

13. Uvita – Costa Rica

Uvita - Costa Rica

One of the best places to visit when traveling Costa Rica is Uvita, a small town in the south. The two main sites on the island of Uvita are Playa Uvita and Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, which is a national park situated offshore. However, this isn’t to say that there aren’t many other top attractions.

Watch for the humpback whales that are known to frolic offshore and visit Catarata Uvita Waterfall. You’ll love the lush landscapes, colorful sunsets and the fact that there are fewer crowds here than other destinations around the country. 

14. Palau – Micronesia

Palau - Micronesia

Situated in Micronesia, Palau has over 300 tropical islands but only a few are inhabited.  The tropical islands are known for their warm climate, pretty scenery, lush vegetation and sandy beaches. 

On the main island of Babeldaob, where the capital city of Ngerulmud is, and on Koror Island you’ll find most of the region’s shops, restaurants and attractions. Learn about local history at the Belau National Museum and the Etpison Museum, check out Ngardmau Waterfalls and visit Dolphins Pacific Aquarium and Palau Aquarium. 

15. Cabo San Lucas – Mexico

Cabo San Lucas – Mexico

Cabo San Lucas is a popular resort destination on the Baja California Peninsula. What makes it so sought out is the beautiful, sandy beaches and exciting nightlife. Whale watching is popular at certain times of year but the incredible sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving can be enjoyed all year round. 

Visit El Arco and an amazing natural archway, check out the unique rock formations at Land’s End, or book a tee time at one of the championship golf courses.

16. Praia Mole – Brazil

 Praia Mole – Brazil

Located on the island of Florianopolis, Praia Mole is a popular beautiful, sandy beach known for its ideal surfing conditions, tropical surroundings and lively crowds.

The beach is characterized by its natural beauty, featuring a long stretch of fine white sand, clear turquoise waters, and surrounding lush green hills covered in native vegetation. It offers a picturesque setting against the backdrop of the Atlantic Forest.

If you’re looking for a more party-like atmosphere where you can enjoy the company of other beachgoers from around the world, this is the place to be!

17. Palawan – Philippines

 Palawan – Philippines

Palawan is considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world and with many secluded sandy beaches where you can swim in clear waters and dive amazing shipwrecks and reefs, it’s easy to see why it would be considered so. But that’s not all!  

There’s the scenery which consists of high cliffs and natural attractions such as Kayangan Lake, El Nido Marine Reserve Park and Malampaya Sound Land and Seascape Protected Area. 

The island is also home to many fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites so you can learn all about its vibrant culture and history. 

18. Saint Lucia – Caribbean

St. Lucia

The Eastern Caribbean is where you’ll find one of the region’s most beautiful islands. In fact, St. Lucia is one of the most stunning tropical islands on earth. While the feature that gets the most attention is The Pitons, the two volcanic spires you’ve likely seen in almost every picture of the island, there’s so much more to see and do.

Sandy beaches, quaint fishing villages, luxury resort areas and stunning mountain scenery are just some of the amazing sights. Go snorkeling or diving at spectacular reef sites, hike in the rainforest and see majestic waterfalls, soak in mineral baths and visit Pigeon Island National Park. 

19. St. Barts – Caribbean

St. Barts – Caribbean

St. Barts is likened to a tropical France in the Caribbean region. The Creole culture mixes African, French and Indian culture that is best experienced in the local arts and cuisine. Of course, the beaches are amazing with their white sand and sparkling waters.  

In fact, this small island is home to fourteen beaches along 20 miles of scenic coastline. The capital Gustavia features a range of gourmet restaurants, boutique shops and historical sites such as Fort Karl. 

The best thing about St. Barts is there are no huge resorts, only small hotels with a few dozen rooms at most so you’re assured of a more peaceful holiday.  

20. Bazarutu – Mozambique

Bazarutu – Mozambique

Traveling to Mozambique may be off the beaten path, but for the adventure you are heavily rewarded with beautiful and empty beaches. Perhaps you’ve never heard of Bazaratu, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of consideration when planning your next island getaway! After all, it’s located inside a National Park so that alone should tell you something.  

Here you’ll find incredible beauty featuring white-sand beaches with crystal-clear water, incredible marine life and coral reefs that can be admired while snorkeling or diving and an abundance of exciting activities including horseback riding, birdwatching and hiking. Do a little snorkeling or diving adventure and you may even see dugongs! These are some of the only places in the world where you can see the beautiful creatures!

21. Little Corn Island – Nicaragua

Little Corn Island – Nicaragua

Little Corn Island is a small and idyllic Caribbean island located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) off the eastern coast of Nicaragua and known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes. The island is free from cars and has no paved roads, maintaining a laid-back and tranquil atmosphere!

If there was ever a place that is made for people seeking an escape from the rat race of their urban surroundings, it would be Little Corn Island. This remote tropical paradise has the best of both worlds.  

You can spend your days relaxing on the beach, snorkeling or diving in clear waters, fishing, hiking, kayaking, or horseback riding. Take in a spectacular sunset before enjoying a night out on the town which has many dance clubs and bars.  

22. Koh Samui – Thailand

Koh Samui – Thailand

Koh Samui is a large island situated in the Gulf of Thailand known for stunning beaches, mountain scenery, rainforests, lavish resorts, world-class shopping and lively nightlife. 

The most famous landmark on the island is the 12-meter-high golden Buddha at the Wat Phra Yai Temple. Check out the Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks, explore Fisherman’s Village and visit the Na Muang Waterfalls and Secret Buddha Garden.   

23. Dominican Republic – Hispaniola

 Dominican Republic – Hispaniola

Endless sandy beaches, world-renowned golf courses, incredible resorts and a diverse landscape featuring rainforests and mountains. This is the Dominican Republic, a top destination also known for its affordable prices and lively atmosphere. 

Explore Santo Domingo and its cultural and historical delights, beat the heat at Ocean World Adventure Park, enjoy the views from the Puerto Plata Cable Car and immerse in nature at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve. 

24. Phu Quoc Island – Vietnam

Phu Quoc Island – Vietnam

Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc Island is a resort destination known for its sandy beaches that stretch along a scenic coast lined with swaying palm trees.

One half of the island is a national park featuring mountains and jungle and the main town of Duong Dong is where you’ll find the lively markets. 

Go hiking in the park and visit top attractions such as Nha tu Phu Quoc History Museum and Dinh Cau Temple. 

25. Les Salines – Martinique

Les Salines – Martinique

Les Salines is a stunning beach located in the southern part of Martinique, a French Caribbean island. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island. It’s also known for being quite family friendly as Les Salines has a beach with calm and shallow waters, making it suitable for swimming and playing in the sea.

One of the best things about Les Salines Beach in Martinique is how remote it feels. There’s nothing like a beautiful, sandy tropical beach without huge tourist crowds. The beach is located far enough away from civilization to feel like it doesn’t exist but close enough to access a handful of restaurants and cafes when hunger strikes. 

The natural beauty, featuring coconut trees and turquoise waters, is picture-perfect.  

26. Whitsundays Islands – Australia

Whitsundays Islands - best tropical islands

Situated off the coast of Australia, The Whitsunday Islands are a tropical paradise filled with many things to see and do both out of the water and in. The region’s most notable feature is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, where you can do some world-class snorkeling and diving and see one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth. 

Enjoy access to secluded white, sandy beaches, swim with turtles and sail the clear waters. Heart Reef and Cedar Creek Falls are must-sees and you can also take a tour to learn about local indigenous people and visit a cave filled with ancient rock art. 

27. Similan Islands – Thailand

Similan Islands – Thailand

Thailand has no shortage of tropical island destinations but the Similan Islands check off many items on the list of must-haves for the perfect tropical holiday! Soft, white sand, clear water that is home to a variety of marine species, spectacular coastal scenery and pristine natural surroundings.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

While swimming and other water sports are top draws, many people come here for world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. 

28. Diani Beach – Kenya 

Diani Beach – Kenya  (best tropical islands)

Diani Beach is likely another place you’ve never heard of as people tend to overlook much of the African continent when searching for a tropical location to take a tropical vacation. However, it is one of the most romantic places to visit in all of Africa and an awesome destination! The spectacular beach that lines the Indian Ocean is one of Africa’s top beaches for both scenery and things to do. 

When it comes to water sports, this place has you covered! Kayaking, windsurfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, kitesurfing, jetskiing…you can do it all here and you don’t have to be experienced! The beach is safe for swimming and after a day spent soaking up the sand and sun, retreat to one of the beautiful resorts nearby. 

29. Turks and Caicos – Caribbean

Turks and Caicos – Caribbean

If you envision tropical landscapes, beautiful sand beaches and a fascinating ecosystem when you think of coral islands, you’re picturing a place just like the Turks and Caicos. 

Make your base on the main island of Providenciales and spend hot afternoons swimming and sunbathing on Grace Bay Beach and evenings checking out luxury shops and top restaurants. 

Go snorkeling or scuba diving near a barrier reef and visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum. 

30. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar is easily one of the best places to visit in Africa! This enchanting island is nestled in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean and can be easily reached via a two-hour ferry ride, covering a mere 15 miles, from Dar Es Salaam, a vibrant city in Tanzania.

Although Zanzibar isn’t an independent country, it holds a special place as a semi-autonomous region within Tanzania. Politically, it is a part of Tanzania, adding to its unique charm (fun Africa fact)!

What makes Zanzibar even more fascinating is that it isn’t just one island—it’s the crown jewel of the breathtaking Zanzibar Archipelago, comprising multiple islands. Among them, the prominent ones are Unguja Island, lovingly known as Zanzibar itself, along with Pemba Island, Latham Island, and Mafia Island. Together, they create a paradise waiting to be explored.

31. Siargao, Philippines

 best tropical islands

Siargao is a beautiful island located in the province of Surigao del Norte in the Philippines. It is known as the surfing capital of the entire country and is renowned for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere.

Siargao has gained international recognition as one of the top surfing destinations in the world, attracting surfers from all over seeking its famous waves. Don’t worry though, even if you’re not a surfer there are plenty of things to do in Siargao including exploring bright blue lagoons, white sand beaches, and watching the sunset at Cloud 9.

32. Bali, Indonesia

Nusa Penida -  best tropical islands

An island like Bali needs no introduction. The “Island of the Gods” as it is referred to is well known by just about everyone nowadays, and for good reason!

Bali is known for its warm and consistent climate throughout the year, characterized by high temperatures, high humidity, and distinct wet and dry seasons. The island’s tropical environment contributes to its lush vegetation, including rice terraces, dense jungles, and a variety of tropical flora and fauna.

The whole island is stunning, complete with friendly Balinese, delicious food, and affordable things to do. If you tire of Bali (which you likely won’t) hop on over to the stunning Nusa Islands, these consist of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan and have the most dramatic landscapes!

33. Langkawi, Malaysia

Things to do in Langkawi - best tropical islands

Langkawi, referred to as the “Jewel of Kedah,” comprises a collection of 99 stunning islands situated in the Andaman Sea.

These islands showcase the epitome of tropical rainforests, pristine white-sand beaches, and extraordinary geological formations. The sight of vast bays adorned with verdant islands transports you into the enchanting realm of a movie set on a hidden paradise.

However, Langkawi is far from being truly lost; it is, in fact, a highly popular destination among Asian tourists from neighboring countries. This archipelago offers an abundance of activities and attractions that cater to every type of traveler.

34. Kauai, Hawaii

Plan Hawaii Trip - Rental Car Kauai

Kauai is the most northwestern Hawaiian (major) island. What is Kauai known for? It’s nicknamed “the Garden Island” because of its lush greenery and abundance of colorful tropical plants from the regular rainfall.

It’s also the oldest of all the Hawaiian Islands, meaning that erosion has created amazing natural phenomena like Na Pali Coast over time. This is one of the most tropical islands in all the United States and is great for those that love hiking, poke bowls, and surfing. When planning a trip to Hawaii, it’s best to not miss this lovely island!

35. Maldives

the maldives

If you want luxury, over-water villas, bright blue clear water, and beautiful atolls in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a trip to the Maldives should be in your future.

Comprised of 26 coral atolls and more than 1,000 coral islands, the Maldives is renowned for its stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life.

It’s a top destination for beach lovers, and for good reason! Those that love to dive and snorkel should put their dive gear on their Maldives packing list and consider adding the Maldives to their bucket list. There is an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish, turtles, and manta rays here! We always say that our favorite dive in the entire world was in the Maldives!

Tropical Islands FAQ

Where are most tropical islands?

There are many tropical islands around French Polynesia, the Maldives, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

What are the closest tropical islands to the US?

Some of the Easiest Caribbean Islands To Travel To from the Mainland US are Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Aruba!

What are the most beautiful tropical islands?

Of course the most beautiful is subjective, but we think Réunion Island, the Seychelles, and the San Blas Islands are among some of the most stunning tropical islands in the world!

What countries have a lot of tropical islands?

Thailand, Indonesia, and The Maldives all are countries with many tropical islands.

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.