You look like you could use a holiday. And whether you’re seeking out high-flying adventure, or resort amenities at every turn, there’s something for every type of traveler on our list of the five best islands to visit this year.
Tetiaroa, French Polynesia
Located just 30 miles north of Tahiti, for centuries Tetiaroa was the exclusive retreat of the Tahitian royal family. Later, Marlon Brando fell in love with the remote island destination while filming Mutiny on the Bounty, and purchased it in 1967 to create his own, private South Seas hideaway. Now, the once inaccessible atoll has been opened up to the rest of us with the construction of The Brando, an ultra-private, eco-friendly resort that stays true the rustic glamour of the actor’s longtime hideaway.
After years of brutal civil war, Sri Lanka is gaining notoriety among in-the-know travelers as one of the world’s next great destinations. A crop of new hotels have opened up recently, offering travelers well-appointed accommodations and superior hospitality, but it’s the miles of pristine beach surrounded by crystal clear Indian Ocean, towering ancient Buddhist ruins, and acres of lowland tea plantations that are the real draw here.
If umbrella cocktails, soft sand, and general hedonism are more your speed, you’re due for a jaunt in the Caribbean. Book a room at one of the four new hotels opening at Baha Mar, a $3.5 billion resort on prime beachfront property in the Bahamian Riviera (opening March 27th). Water babies and sybarites will love the property’s 14 pools, waterpark, and 30,000 square foot ESPA spa; night owls and Thunderball types will be found slinking around roulette tables at the Baha Mar Casino—by the way, it’s the largest in the Caribbean—and the 32 on-site restaurants, bars, and clubs.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
If you prefer to imagine a world run by animals, we recommend island-hopping along the equator to check out the region’s incredible marine and plant life. Book a local tour on the ground, or arrange a stay at Pikaia Lodge, the archipelago’s first carbon-neutral five-star resort, who will guide your inter-island exploration with the help of their 100-foot private yacht. It’s the most luxurious way to see the descendants of the marine iguanas, giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, and finches that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Rolling cliffs dotted with cubic, white-washed villas, exotic volcanic black sand beaches, and fresh-daily seafood at rustic tavernas are just a few of the things that keep travelers coming back to this little gem in the Cycladic island chain. We recommend a stay in Oia, a traditional village on the north side of the island, for Santorini’s best hotels, boutiques, and sunsets overlooking the Aegean. Make time to tour of some of the superb local wineries, known for mineral-heavy whites with light hints of citrus, between days spent lolling on the beach, or strolling along shaded cobblestone streets.