The 50 best islands in the world for 2019 revealed, from Scotland’s Inner Hebrides to a scenic gem in Washington State and a James Bond location in the Philippines

  • Over 5,000 people took part in a poll to compile a ranking of the 50 best islands from around the world 
  • Best island has been named as Flatey, a tiny island off the coast of Iceland with a population of just five
  • Coming in at number two is Palawan in the Philippines and at number three is Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu

Your bucket list is about to lengthen by a considerable amount.

That’s because a ranking of the best 50 islands for 2019 has been revealed and it’s sure to move the needle on the wanderlust-o-meter.

It has been compiled by Big 7 Travel, which drew up the list from a poll that quizzed 5,345 of its readers about their favourite spots. Data from review sites and the opinions of its editorial team were also used.

Topping the ranking is Flatey, a tiny island off the coast of Iceland with a population of just five that’s described as looking like a ‘movie set’.

Palawan in the Philippines comes second, while Espiritu Santo in the Pacific nation of  Vanuatu is third, Sommarøy, off the coast of Norway, is fourth and Korcula island in Croatia is fifth.

Scroll down to see a run-down, ranked in reverse order, of the 50 most breathtaking islands on earth…

50. Côn So’n, Vietnam 

In 50th place is Côn So’n, the largest island on the 16-island Côn Đảo archipelago in Vietnam. It is a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City and it is praised for having ‘golden sand and blue sapphire sea’ 

49. Mallorca, Spain

The Mediterranean holiday hotspot of Mallorca claims the 48th spot on the list. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It has everything you could ever wish for including pristine beaches, gorgeous hotels and resorts as well as plenty of great nightlife in the main city of Palma’

48. Chiloe, Chile

Chiloe, an island belonging to Chile, is the second biggest island in South America and number 48 in the ranking. It is known for its rich scenery and colourful houses built on stilts. The island is also home to several wooden churches that have been declared Unesco World Heritage Sites

47. Paros, Greece

The Greek island of Paros is just a quick ferry ride from the popular isle of Mykonos. It comes 47th on the list thanks to its ‘glittering sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and wild nightclubs and bars’

46. St. Lucia

Claiming 46th place on the list is the Caribbean island of St Lucia. Big 7 Travel says: ‘St Lucia is one of the most picturesque island destinations. It’s the perfect place to come to lose all sense of time’

45. Öland, Sweden 

Öland is a Swedish island that is connected to the mainland by a 3.7-mile-long road bridge. The Swedish royal family visit the island every year on a summer holiday. According to Big 7 Travel, Swedes head to Öland ‘to seek out its white sandy beaches’

44. Tobago 

At 44th on the list is the Caribbean island of Tobago, which is said to be the place which inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe. It is a ‘rich tapestry of steep mountains, dense tropical forests and lush beaches’

43. Formentera, Spain 

The sister island to Ibiza, Formentera, claims 43rd place in the ranking. It has over 12 miles of beaches, with the most well-known being Cala Saona

42. Culebra, Puerto Rico 

Located almost 20 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra takes 42nd spot in the ranking. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s surrounded by more than 20 cays and vibrant underwater landscapes, making it a haven for those interested in getting closer to ocean life while snorkelling or diving’

41. Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia 

Koh Rong Sanloem is a small tropical island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Siam with ‘sandy beaches fringed by palm and casuarina trees’. Big 7 Travel adds: ‘A highlight here is the amazing bio-luminescent plankton that makes the warm waters glow and sparkle at night’

40. Cozumel, Mexico 

Coming in at number 40 on the list is the Mexican island of Cozumel. It has ‘spectacular, dreamy landscapes’ and is a popular place for divers and explorers. The whole island has a population of around 100,000

39. Jicaro, Nicaragua 

A private island in Nicaragua, Jicaro Island Lodge offers an amazing array of activities for guests, including outdoor yoga, kayaking, sandboarding down volcanoes and zip-lining through jungles. The lodge has nine ‘casitas’ – lodges that are ‘raised above the ground like treehouses’

38. La Digue, Seychelles 

The 38th best island on the list is La Digue, which is located in the ‘shallow, warm waters of the Indian Ocean’ in the Seychelles. Big 7 Travel says that to access the beach, which boasts unusual boulders and shimmering sand, you must walk through the charming old L’Union Estate coconut plantation

37. Laucala Island, Fiji 

Laucala, pictured, is a luxury private island resort in Fiji with ‘lush vegetation and wild-growing coconuts’. Big 7 Travel says: ‘The resort has coral reefs, postcard-perfect beaches and dense rainforest’

36. Mont Saint-Michel, France 

In 36th place on the list is the magical French island of Mont Saint-Michel. The island is located in a bay where Normandy and Brittany merge and is connected to mainland France by a causeway. Its most famous feature is the Benedictine Abbey, which is still home to nuns and monks

35. St. Barts 

A small French island in the Caribbean, St Barts comes in at number 35 on the list. Its full name is Saint Barthélemy and Big 7 Travel says: ‘With its beautiful beaches, world-class resorts and stunning scenery, it’s the perfect getaway from the stress of big cities and 9-5 life’

34. Salt Spring Island, Canada 

Salt Spring Island is one of the biggest Gulf Islands located between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island in Canada. It comes in at number 34 on the list and is best known for its amazing coastal scenery and hikes. There are up to nine ferry crossings to the island each day 

33. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory located in the Caribbean Sea and its biggest island is Grand Cayman, pictured. Its most famous shoreline is the tropical Seven Mile Beach. Big 7 Travel says: ‘With sparkling waters and coral sands it’s so perfect it almost doesn’t look real’

32. Pulau Tengah, Malaysia 

At number 32 on the list is Pulau Tengah, a privately-owned island off the coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea. The island boasts an upscale resort called Batu Batu, which is set among ‘coconut groves, rocky outcrops and fine sand beaches ‘

31. Gozo, Malta 

Gozo, in 31st place on the list, is one of the 21 islands that make up the Maltese archipelago. It is popular with tourists thanks to its ‘unique charm, gorgeous farmhouses and majestic sunsets’

30. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador 

The wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands are ranked 30th on the list and are home to unusual creatures such as the land iguana and giant tortoise. The islands are famous for helping to inspire Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of natural selection

29. Sir Bani Yas – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 

Taking 29th place in the list is Sir Bani Yas, an island near Abu Dhabi that is the largest island in the United Arab Emirates. It was once deserted but is now home to luxury resorts and a huge animal reserve. Free-roaming animals there include Arabian Oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs

28. Rangitoto Island, New Zealand 

The youngest and largest of Auckland’s volcanic cones, Rangitoto Island takes 28th spot on the list. Its name means ‘bloody sky’ in Maori and is easily accessed by ferry from Auckland. Big 7 Travel says: ‘See the black lava caves on your way up to the summit and bring a torch to explore them with the kids – the views from the top are spectacular’. Pictured is a view of Rangitoto Island from Devonport on New Zealand’s North Island 

27. Curaçao 

According to Big 7 Travel, the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao is one of the most colourful in the Caribbean. Its most famous neighbourhood is Shcarloo, where visitors will find colourful buildings and street art

26. The Maldives 

In 26th spot on the list is the Maldives, an Indian Ocean nation made up of over 1,000 coral islands. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotel resorts, with white sandy beaches, underwater villas and restaurants and bright blue waters’

25. Cebu, Philippines 

A tropical paradise in The Philippines, Cebu has ‘sugar-white beaches, clear emerald waters, hot springs and several jungle waterfalls’. Big 7 Travel suggests: ‘Be sure to try some Tuba, the coconut nectar wine which is best drunk fresh when it is still sweet’

24. Aitutaki, The Cook Islands 

Best-known for its bright turquoise lagoon, at number 24 on the list is Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, which are located in the South Pacific. Big 7 Travel says: ‘The crystal-clear water is home to an array of tropical fish and its pristine white-sand beaches are private and secluded’

23. Colonsay, Scotland 

The Isle of Colonsay is in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides with Big 7 Travel describing it as ‘the ideal destination for anyone seeking to get away from it all’. It adds: ‘There are unspoilt sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and an amazing variety of flora and fauna’

22. Kauai, Hawaii 

Often called the ‘Garden Island’, Kauai is the oldest of Hawaii’s islands. It is 22nd on the list and Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s covered in lush greenery, with tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls. Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air, giving you incredible views’

21. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India 

Taking 21st spot on the list is Havelock Island, part of Ritchie’s Archipelago, in India’s Andaman Islands. Its most famous feature is the crescent-shaped Radhanagar Beach. Big 7 Travel says: ‘Havelock Island is a traveller’s paradise, with palm trees, white sandy beaches and a great mix of budget and luxury hotels’

20. Santorini, Greece 

Edging into the top 20 is the Greek island of Santorini. It is best known for its traditional white buildings with blue dome roofs. Big 7 Travel adds: ‘Tourists love to take donkeys up and down the steep staircases, edging along the cliffs and snaking through the villages’

19. Corsica, France 

The mountainous Mediterranean island of Corsica claims 19th spot in the ranking. Big 7 Travel was especially impressed with its beaches. It said: ‘The beach at Palombaggia is one of Corsica’s finest, with fine white sand. It faces gorgeous blue seas, and is lined with beautiful pine trees.’ Pictured is Palombaggia beach

18. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada 

Cape Breton Island is located on the north-eastern tip of Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. It is most famous for the Cabot Trail, a steep road trip that boasts dramatic coastal views and highland scenery

17. Ibiza, Spain

The popular holiday island of Ibiza is 17th on the list and not just because it is known as a party island. Big 7 Travel says: ‘Ibiza is one of the most beautiful Spanish islands, with a pretty Old Town and scenic beaches.’ The Old Town is actually a Unesco Heritage Site’

16. Bali, Indonesia 

The Indonesian island of Bali takes 16th place on the list as it is popular with surfers and backpackers as well as luxury travellers. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s the paradise island that has something for everybody. There are terraced rice fields, pristine beaches, world-class surf spots and historic temples’

15. Fraser Island, Australia 

At 15 is Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world located off Australia’s east coast. The island is 76 miles long and 14 miles wide and has been a world heritage site since 1992. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It is a must-visit for anybody backpacking around this part of the world, with endless activities, wildlife and stunning natural scenery’

14. Capri, Italy 

The Italian island of Capri, just off the coast of Naples, takes 14th place in the ranking. The island has been a resort since Roman times. Big 7 Travel says: ‘The cliffs along with the bustling port, friendly locals and some stunning food make this a paradise escape’

13. Koh Tao, Thailand 

Koh Tao, a Thai island in the Gulf of Thailand, is number 13 in the list. Koh Tao has many stunning sheltered bays, but according to Big Travel 7, Tanot, pictured, is the most beautiful as it’s ‘uncrowded with warm, blue water and soft sand’

12. Azores, Portugal 

The Azores is an archipelago of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that belong to Portugal. The Azores is an emerging tourist destination thanks to its scenery and wildlife. According to Big 7 Travel, visitors should ‘explore geysers, hot thermal waters and volcanic lakes, hopping from island to island’

11. Rawa Island, Malaysia 

The coral island of Rawa is located in the warm waters of the South China Sea and is close to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The island is described as being perfect for divers as it ‘boasts 100 per cent coral cover and its “house reef” is naturally shallow’

10. Bora Bora, French Polynesia 

A small island in the South Pacific, Bora Bora in French Polynesia makes it into the ranking’s top 10. It has a turquoise lagoon protected by a coral reef and has a dormant volcano in the centre of the island. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s home to some of the clearest water in the world thanks to its shallow reefs, which are ideal for snorkelling and other water sports’

9. Lummi Island, Washington State  

Taking ninth spot on the list is Lummi Island, more than 100 miles north of Seattle off the coast of Washington State. Big 7 Travel says: ‘Lummi Island yet feels light years away from the bustle of Seattle. It’s a sleepy, scenic island with a thriving artist community, local and organic dining, and stunning vistas of the Salish Sea’

8. Barbados 

The Caribbean island of Barbados breezes in at number eight. Big 7 Travel says it has a ‘vibrant cultural scene and some of the best beaches and surfing in the Caribbean’

7. Pemba Island, Tanzania  

Located off the east coast of Africa, Pemba Island is part of Tanzania’s Zanzibar archipelago and number seven on the list. It is Zanzibar’s most ‘green and fertile isle, with exceptional diving sites and native wildlife’

6. The Aran Islands, Ireland 

The Aran Islands are three rocky isles that stand in the mouth of Galway Bay in western Ireland. Big 7 Travel says: ‘These three remote islands off Ireland’s west coast are like stepping back in time, with a rural charm and stunning scenery that will take your breath away’

5. Korcula, Croatia 

Measuring in at 20 miles long and five miles wide, Korcula is an island off Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. According to Big 7 Travel, Korcula Town is often referred to as Little Dubrovnik due to its ‘medieval squares, churches, palaces and houses, while the beaches and dense forest offer incredible scenery’

4. Sommarøy, Norway 

The Norwegian island of Sommarøy is number four on the list and its name translates to English as ‘Summer Island’. From November to January, the sun doesn’t rise at all on the island, and from May 18 to July 26, it never goes down

3. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu 

The largest of Vanuatu’s 83 islands, Espiritu Santo is third in the ranking. It remains largely unspoilt with ‘powdery white sand’ as well as ‘clear blue waters’. Its most famous beach is Champagne Beach, which earned its name as at low tide, a fizz appears on the shore, which is caused by gas escaping from volcanic rocks. The island is also known for its gin-clear ‘blue holes’, which occur when underground streams bubble up through limestone

2. Palawan, Philippines 

Just missing out on the top spot in the ranking is Palawan, the largest island in Palawan Province, in the western Philippines. The idyllic island also comprises 1,800 surrounding small islets and has featured in films including The Bourne Legacy, The Beach and James Bond’s The World Is Not Enough. Also located on the island is the Secret Lagoon, a hidden bay, that  beachgoers access by swimming through a hole in limestone rocks. Big 7 Travel says: ‘It feels untouched, with white sandy beaches and tropical jungle. As soon as you step foot on it you’ll instantly agree it’s one of the best islands in the world’

1. Flatey, Iceland

Taking the top spot in the list is Flatey – a small island in Iceland which translates into English as flat island. It is just 1.2 miles long and less than a mile wide and is believed to have been forged under the weight of a glacier during the Ice Age. A ferry links Flatey to mainland Iceland. Big 7 Travel says: ‘There are beautifully kept old houses dotted along the island, but just two families stay here throughout the winter. In a charming way, it feels very much like a movie set’


1. Flatey, Iceland

2. Palawan, Philippines

3. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

4. Sommarøy, Norway

5. Korcula, Croatia

6. The Aran Islands, Ireland

7. Pemba Island, Zanzibar

8. Barbados

9. Lummi Island, Washington State

10. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

11. Rawa Island, Malaysia

12. Azores, Portugal

13. Koh Tao, Thailand

14. Capri, Italy 

15. Fraser Island, Australia

16. Bali, Indonesia 

17. Ibiza, Spain

18. Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

19. Corsica, France 

20. Santorini, Greece 

21. Havelock Island, Andaman Islands, India 

22. Kauai, Hawaii

23. Colonsay, Scotland 

24. Aitutaki, The Cook Islands 

25. Cebu, Philippines 

26. The Maldives

27. Curaçao

28. Rangitoto Island, New Zealand

29. Sir Bani Yas – Abu Dhabi, UAE

30. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

31. Gozo, Malta

32. Pulau Tengah, Malaysia

33. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

34. Salt Spring Island, British Colombia, Canada

35. St. Barts, Caribbean

36. Mont-Saint-Michel, France

37. Laucala Island, Fiji 

38. La Digue, Seychelles

39. Jicaro, Nicaragua 

40. Cozumel, Mexico

41. Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

42. Culebra, Puerto Rico

43. Formentera, Spain

44. Tobago

45. Öland, Sweden

46. St. Lucia, Caribbean

47. Paros, Greece

48. Chiloe, Chile

49. Mallorca, Spain

50. Côn So’n, Vietnam 

Source: Big 7 Travel 

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