Tropical islands offer the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway that will let you recharge in a beautiful setting with palm trees and colorful sunsets. Travel to Hawaii, the Caribbean, South Pacific, the Florida Keys, Bahamas and other amazing tropical destinations. Here are some of the best tropical places to visit on vacation. Photo: artifirsov/Fotolia
It’s easy for visitors to equate paradise with the thousand islands that make up the Maldives. Incredibly, each of the 90 resorts in the Maldives is situated on its own island. From the remarkable undersea restaurant of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island to the Four Seasons Maldives annual surfing championship on KudaHuraa, there is plenty to see and do.Visitors will find terrific diving and snorkeling around scads of coral house reefs inhabited with colorful marine life. Powdery white sand beaches and translucent turquoise waters beckon beachgoers.Honeymooners, eco-travelers, and those who can’t get enough of the earth’s natural beauty will find their Shangri-La here in the Indian Ocean.
» Best Islands to Visit: Bahamas
The Bahamas is a coral archipelago with 700 islands and more than 2000 cays scattered over 100,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, about 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The population of the Islands range from deserted to packed, and the most visited are Grand Bahama and Paradise Island. Home to the Andros Barrier Reef, the Bahamas are a scuba divers paradise and some of the best tropical islands to visit in the Caribbean.
Diving Thunderball Grotto, immortalized in the James Bond movie Thunderball, and the black coral gardens of Bimini are not to be missed. The crystal clear waters of the Bahamas are the clearest in the world and offer fantastic visibility of up to 200 feet or more. Discovered by Columbus, exploited by the Spanish and plundered by pirates, the Bahamas now happily welcome visitors today. It is a great family vacation spot, with something for everyone: From fascinating historic tours and lavish resorts for ultimate pampering, to fishing, boating, kayaking, diving or doing nothing at all on one of the spectacular white beaches. Best tropical vacations: Best Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas.
Photo: Brian Garvey/Fotolia
» Tropical Islands: Bora Bora
Known as honeymooners’ paradise, Bora Bora is a small South Pacific island getaway northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. From above, it looks like a green jewel dropped into an azure expanse of the ocean, surrounded by tiny islets bordered with bright white sand and a turquoise lagoon ringed by a coral reef.
It is no less beautiful once you land, with posh resorts in which tiny thatched-roof bungalows are perched over the water, each with a private pool. Bora Bora is also a divers’ paradise, with healthy unspoiled reefs rich with sea creatures of all kinds. The dormant volcano rises to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point being 727-feet high and offering spectacular views and great hikes. More tropical vacation destinations and best island vacations: Bora Bora Honeymoon
» Tropical Islands: Hawaii
Maui, Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai are just a 6-hour flight from the West Coast of the United States. Many Californians keep a second home on one of the islands, getting away for Christmas, Thanksgiving and other major holidays. If you are looking for tropical getaways in the U.S., Hawaii is an amazing destination, featured in countless movies and offering a diverse range of experiences.
There are many luxury resorts in Hawaii, as well as more affordable condo rentals and B&Bs. The most expensive part of the trip is airfare, so it’s a good idea to look for low season prices. If you decide to go during spring break, Labor Day or Memorial Day, don’t wait until the last minute or you may not get a seat. Fly to Oahu where you can spend a night on the famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, or directly to Maui or the Big Island.
Photo: Andrea Izzotti/Fotolia
»Best Island Vacations: Turks and Caicos Islands
The smaller Turks and large Caicos Islands combine to form the two archipelagos which make up this breathtaking location. These islands are British Overseas Territories, known world over for their fantastic reefs, magnificent beaches and gentle welcoming people. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean and about 620 miles from Miami, the islands are an incredibly popular vacationing spot which offer excellent snorkeling, diving, fishing and water sports.
Most accommodations are located on the island of Providenciales, located in the Northwest Caicos Islands, which offers 12 miles of hotels along the sparkling white Grace Bay Beach. This island is known as a party island and features luxury resorts, fancy shops and fine restaurants. Other noteworthy islands include North, South and Middle Caicos, Salt Clay and Grand Turk, home to the capital city of Cockburn Town. No matter where you choose to spend your relaxing vacation, rest assured it will be spectacularly beautiful and a perfect piece of paradise. Keep reading for more island destinations. Readm ore
Photo: Roger Vorheis/Fotolia
»Tropical Islands: Seychelles
Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 115 islands off the coast of East Africa, located in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar and about 990 miles east of Kenya. Most of these islands are uninhabited, and many are protected as nature reserves. Full of color and beauty, the white sands and turquoise sea create a tranquil setting for a relaxing vacation.
The country was granted independence in 1976 and quickly became a popular playground for jetsetters, movie stars and honeymooners. The biggest and most developed islands are Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. Mahe is the largest and arguably the most beautiful, with a dramatic mix of rugged mountains densely covered with tropical old growth rainforests and 65 brilliant white sandy beaches. The island is full of small hidden coves and bays to provide solitude, and has a range of excellent hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars, cafés and casinos. The capital city of Victoria, one of the smallest capitals in the world, is the Seychelles business and cultural hub and can be easily explored by foot in less than a day.
More island vacation spots: Best Romantic Island Getaways in Florida
Photo: Oleksandr Dibrova/Fotolia
»Island Destinations: Easter Island
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles west of South America and 1,100 miles away from any neighboring island, there is a small Polynesian volcanic island called Easter Island, also known by its indigenous name of Rapa Nui, belonging to Chile. It is a World Heritage Site, famous for its archeological park containing 900 enormous statues known as Moai.
These statues, which average 13 feet in height and weigh about 14 tons, were created between the 10th and 16th century by the early inhabitants of the island. These monolithic stone heads are baffling to researchers who cannot figure out why the Rapa Nui people went through such enormous efforts to create them or how they carved them with primitive tools. Another lingering question is what happened to the Rapa Nui people? Rapa Nui’s early inhabitants came from other Polynesian island to this one to build a unique culture away from any influences. One theory is that they may have built these statues to honor their ancestors but had to leave once they had completely depleted the island resources. Once a thriving culture, Rapa Nui is today almost barren, with no trees and most of its soil being washed away in erosion. All that is left are these enormous monuments as a reminder of human achievement and resilience.
Photo: robert cicchetti/Fotolia
»Best Islands to Visit: Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a 15-island archipelago nation in the South Pacific, halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, southwest of Tahiti. The islands are scattered across 2.2 million square kilometers of the ocean and 240 square kilometers of land. The Islands’ ancient volcanic peaks, covered with dense vegetation, slope to brilliant white sands and quaint palm-fringed blue lagoons.
Some of the most relaxing vacations mean finding a secluded spot where you can unplug from the stress of modern life.
The Cook Islands is a secluded paradise with welcoming people, great dancers, drummers and singers, with strong Polynesian traditions and culture that make visiting the islands so memorable. The largest island and the home of the capital Avarua, is Rarotonga. Avarua is famous for its fascinating churches made of white coral, and don’t miss the islands Saturday market. Northeast of Rarotonga, visitors to Atiu may want to learn about the local “moonshine” known as tumunu at a local bush beer school. Neighboring Mitiaro stands in water 14,750 feet deep and has white coral streets lined with bright orange Pumarumaru trees.
Although it is surrounded by coral reefs and is home to many underground caves and lakes, Ma’uke is known as “the garden island.” Finally, the second largest and oldest island is Mangaia, a beautiful location known for its fossilized coral, otherwise known as “makatea.”
»Tropical Destinations: Bali
EvThis beautiful island is by far the most popular holiday destination in Indonesia. It combines fine sandy beaches, powerful surf, exotic temples, luxurious palaces, miles of verdant rice fields and stunningly beautiful nature. If you get tired of lying on pristine beaches or diving colorful reefs, go inland and visit huge volcanoes and untouched jungles, or pay respect at the Cliffside Uluwatu Temple. Bali resorts are world famous for their opulence and luxury.
For those interested in practicing peace and serenity, Bali is also known for its meditation and yoga retreats. For those looking for more action, beachside villages such as Kuta offer a lively night scene, great restaurants and packed dance floors. Find out more: Beautiful Couples' Vacations in Bali and Things to Do in Bali
More relaxing beach vacations: Sanibel Island.
»Tropical Places to Visit: Cebu Island
Beloved by divers from all over the world, Cebu is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for adventurous tourists. Long and narrow, Cebu Island is located in the Visayas archipelago, more or less in the center of the Philippines Islands. It has a narrow, sandy coastline, limestone plateaus and fertile coastal plains. Rugged mountain ranges soar 3,300 feet at the highest point and a number of hills cut across the island from north to south.
What makes Cebu so attractive is its beaches, spectacular coral atolls, smaller surrounding islands and rich fishing. The best beaches are expanses of white powder-fine sand and the best diving is off the northern tip of the island at Bantayan and Malapascua islands. If you ever get tired of having fun in the sun and frolicking in the emerald clear waters, explore the metropolitan, densely populated Cebu City, with lively bars, diverse restaurants, the fascinating Museo Sugbo, spectacular Basilica Minore del Santo Niño or mesmerizing Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary.
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»Best Islands to Visit: Aruba
Trade winds that are constantly sweeping Aruba cool the fragrant tropical air, whip up great surfing waves and bend local Divi-divi trees all the way over beaches providing shade to beachgoers. A tiny Dutch island in the Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba has perfect, sunny weather year around, sparkling white beaches, clear waters and gentle surf.
Strong European influence makes architecture in the capital Oranjestad interesting, such as Dutch gables among more typical vividly colored Caribbean houses.
Most of the island hotels are in Oranjestad, as well as many great restaurants, which, with such a mix of cultures and influences, offer diverse fare. About 20 percent of the island is protected within the Arikok National Park that features local cacti and other desert species struggling to grow between rugged rock formations. It is the largest national park in the Caribbean.
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» Tropical Destinations: Fiji
Although not the easiest tropical destination to get to, Fiji is absolutely amazing. Islands of various sizes are covered with pristine white-sand beaches, reefs teeming with marine life and colorful sunsets overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Secluded private island hideaways were built to offer vacationers what they can’t find anywhere else: a castaway-like experience that makes you feel completely connected to the ocean. Some of the islands offer ultra-luxury villas with private pools while others are more unassuming and built to blend with nature. At night, stroll along the sandy beach, feet touching the sand, and gaze up at the incredible night sky. Yasawa Island Resort, located in the remote Yasawa Group, is an incredible place for scuba diving, secluded beach picnics and beaches dotted with palm trees. Visit our Fiji travel page for more amazing ideas. Find out more: Best Fiji Honeymoon Ideas
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Photo: Martin Valigursky/Fotolia
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An unincorporated United States territory, Puerto Rico is a small island in the northeast Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic. If you are looking for unique tropical places to visit, the island is covered with green mountains, thundering waterfalls and the magnificent tropical vegetation of El Yunque National Forest.
Surrounded by fine sand beaches and rich, vibrant coral reefs, Puerto Rico, which translates to “rich port,” is a popular tourist destination for those who love snorkeling, surfing, diving and sailing.
The Island’s capital San Juan is rich in history and architecture, and is full of great restaurants, casinos and quaint beach bars. The diversity of available activities makes Puerto Rico a great family vacation destination. If you are looking for affordable tropical vacations, Puerto Rico is one of the best tropical islands to visit from the East Coast.
Best tropical vacations: Best Things to Do in San Juan, Puerto Rico
More tropical places: Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida.
VacationIdea Tip: Look for off season specials and less expensive island getaway destinations such as Jamaica or Curacao where you can get a room with sea views for under $100. Top luxury tropical vacations include private island resorts in Fiji, five star getaways in Bora Bora, beach hotels in Hawaii, Thailand, Maldives and Australia. These islands are located within 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator.
Photo: eddie toro/Fotolia
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»Tropical Places to Visit: Phuket
Among the stunning islands of Southern Thailand, Phuket is the largest, and arguably the most popular. Situated on the Andaman Sea, Phuket’s beaches are revered and numerous, including the crystal clear waters of Surin Beach, and the magical sunsets of LaemPhromthep Viewpoint nearLaem Singh Beach. On Phuket, Chinese influences are everywhere from restaurants to shrines. There is even an annual Chinese Vegetarian Festival. Visitors will be in awe of famous James Bond Island in PhangNga Bay, the vibrant Bangla Road nightlife, and the glittering pagodas of WatChalong temple. To understand the influence of China on the island, travelers will want to visit Phuket Thaihua Museum.
Photo: Mik Man/Fotolia
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The self-proclaimed culinary capital of the Caribbean, Barbados doesn’t disappoint. For the ultimate foodie experience, travelers should time their visit to include the annual Barbados Food and Rum Festival. To understand the importance of rum to Barbadian culture, visitors will want to go to Mount Gay distillery. Founded in 1703, it has the distinction of being the world’s oldest rum producer, and visitors can learn all about its story. This magical island is also called “Land of Flying Fish,” due not only to the abundance of flying fish, but also to islanders’ mastery at deboning and cooking it. In fact, the national dish is Flying Fish and CouCou, a must-taste experience.
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The number one draw to Curacao is watersports, particularly diving and snorkeling. Warm waters showcase coral gardens and sunken ships that are an underwater delight. Must-see locations are the Mushroom Forest and the sunken Superior Producer freighter, along with the Blue Room cave. Snorkelers will find their heaven off Playa Lagun.Beachgoers will enjoy other popular beaches at Playa Porto Marie, CasAbao, and tranquil Blauwbaai. Willemstad is divided by St. Anna Bay. It can be crossed on Queen Emma, a floating pedestrian bridge, to see thepostcard-worthy Colonial Dutch buildings of the Punda side.KuráHulanda Museum is a solemn remembrance of the 18th-century African slave trade.
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Anguilla is the eye candy of the northern Caribbean, and the stuff of dream vacation destinations. The tiny, flat island is ringed in powdery white sand beaches with sea-grape trees and coconut palms rustling in balmy trade winds and casting lazy shadows across the sand. Colorful shabby-chic beach bars and roadside grills abound, but this island is a swank, luxury destination as well.It’s easy to explore the island by either bike or car, and nearby cays are a short sail away. The Heritage Collection presents Anguilla’s boat-building history. Prickly Pear cay is perfect for a day of snorkeling and barbecue. Shoal Bay, ranked #1 in the world, offers a premier beach.
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»Tropical Places to Visit: Grenada
Grenada is not your typical Caribbean Island. Dubbed Spice Island, visitors will find numerous nutmeg plantations in the island’s interior. A tour of Belmont Estate, Belvedere Plantation, the nutmeg processing and spice factory at Gouyave, and St. George’s Market Square should be on every visitor’s bucket list. Of course there are the requisite stunning beaches, 45 in all, with Grand Anse being the premier beach. Other Grenada highlights include River Antoine Rum Distillery, the spectacular harbor town of St. George’s, and day sails to the two smaller islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique. Eco-travelers will appreciate La Sagesse Nature Center and Grand Etang National Forest Preserve.
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Martinique, also known as the Isle of Flowers, is best known for its incredible natural beauty. Fort-de-France on the island’s west coast is the center of its cultural heritage. Must-see stops in the capital include ornate Schoelcher Library, historic St. Louis Cathedral, and lovely La Savane Park. Visitors would be remiss in not seeing Balata Gardens right outside the city with its begonias, bromeliads, and bamboo. Mont Peléeon the northern side of the island is an active volcano. Adventure seekers go hiking, canyoning, and rappelling at its base. A sobering monument that is a must-see is the AnseCafard facing Diamond Beach and commemorating a sunken slave ship.
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»US British Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are divided into the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are comprised of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, and the British Virgin Islands, made up of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, along with numerous smaller islands and cays. All are part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. On the U.S. side, St. Croix is the charming, historic, culturally diverse island, St. John is the favored eco-friendly destination, and St. Thomas is the chic and sophisticated island. On the British side, the islands are less developed, but more exclusive, catering to wealthy luxury travelers and sailing enthusiasts.
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»Tropical Places to Visit: Trinidad & Tobago
As far as Caribbean tourist destinations go, Trinidad & Tobago are still considered off-the-beaten path, perhaps because they don’t rely on tourism as their primary economic resource. Visitors can expect a vibrant Creole culture, coral beaches, and tropical jungles. Trinidad is the more developed of the two islands with luxury resorts and charming colonial cities. Port-of-Spain’s annual Carnival celebration is dubbed the biggest street party on Earth. Eco-travelers will appreciate Tobago’s even more laid-back ambiance. It’s the quieter island with an emphasis on protecting the natural environment.The Tobago Ridge Forest Reserve – a haven for hummingbirds, and Nylon Pool are top Tobago excursions.
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Boracayis an idyllic tropical island in the Western Visayas islands of the Philippines. Visitors will be mesmerized by White Beach with sand so soft it’s been compared to baby talc. The four-kilometer-long beach has been called the ‘finest beach in the world.’ Shoeless vacationers lounge on the beaches, get massages, and hang out at beach establishments. After sunset, the vibe turns lively where dancing and partying take center stage. On an island where the outdoors rules, visitors find opportunities to sail, kayak, trek, golf, dive, mountain bike, boat, windsurf, boardsail, and explore. Mambo Number 5 excursions include a little of everything.
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25 Best Tropical Islands
- Maldives, Photo: Courtesy of stakhov - Fotolia.com
- Best Islands to Visit: Bahamas , Photo: Courtesy of Brian Garvey - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Islands: Bora Bora, Photo: Courtesy of mxdg - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Islands: Hawaii, Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Izzotti - Fotolia.com
- Best Island Vacations: Turks and Caicos Islands , Photo: Courtesy of Roger Vorheis - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Islands: Seychelles, Photo: Courtesy of Oleksandr Dibrova - Fotolia.com
- Island Destinations: Easter Island, Photo: Courtesy of robert cicchetti - Fotolia.com
- Best Islands to Visit: Cook Islands, Photo: Courtesy of sorincolac - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Destinations: Bali, Photo: Courtesy of artifirsov - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Places to Visit: Cebu Island, Photo: Courtesy of marialauradr - Fotolia.com
- Best Islands to Visit: Aruba, Photo: Courtesy of Nataraj - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Destinations: Fiji, Photo: Courtesy of Martin Valigursky - Fotolia.com
- Puerto Rico, Photo: Courtesy of eddie toro - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Places to Visit: Phuket, Photo: Courtesy of Mik Man - Fotolia.com
- Barbados, Photo: Courtesy of willcop - Fotolia.com
- Curacao, Photo: Courtesy of mikolajn - Fotolia.com
- Anguilla, Photo: Courtesy of forcdan - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Places to Visit: Grenada, Photo: Courtesy of napa74 - Fotolia.com
- Martinique, Photo: Courtesy of manta94 - Fotolia.com
- US British Virgin Islands, Photo: Courtesy of rabbit75_fot - Fotolia.com
- Tropical Places to Visit: Trinidad & Tobago, Photo: Courtesy of claudio968 - Fotolia.com
- Boracay, Photo: Courtesy of saiko3p - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of artifirsov - Fotolia.com
More Tropical Vacation Ideas: Australia
If you are looking for a romantic getaway where you can relax and get away from the stress of daily life without leaving luxury behind, head to Palazzo Versace. Located on Australia's Gold Coast, Palazzo Versace will provide you with great food, fine service, and luxury accommodations. Stay in one of the hotel deluxe suites or condominiums and enjoy your morning coffee from Versace China. Begin your day together by the pool and then try some shopping at the Marina Mirage. Try lunch at the Vie Restaurant and Bar with views overlooking the marina.
If you still need to relax, try a full body treatment at the Palazzo Versace Spa, Salus Per Aquum. You can also book a dual treatment at the couples suite, a great idea if you are on your honeymoon in Australia. Dual massage beds and soft candlelight create an intimate setting for you to enjoy your choice of body treatment in the company of your partner.
Looking for something more active? Try some 4-wheel-drive trekking or outback adventures. There is also golf nearby. For the ultimate thrill, a seaplane can pick you up from the resort and fly you off to the Great Barrier Reef.
Hayman is another fabulous island getaway in Australia, offering scuba diving, luxury accommodations and a great spa.
Best tropical vacation spots: Key West, Nassau, San Juan and more.
Thailand is a popular destination for honeymooners and couples who love beaches. Here you will find some of the world's best spas, delicious food and five star service. Naka has stunning private villas with unique modern architecture and calm tropical surroundings.
AKARYN Samui is set on a sandy bay with luxury service that includes delivery of snacks, slices for the eyes, fresh towels and more.
Best Tropical Destinations: The Maldives
Some of the most spectacular scenery can be found in the Maldives which have been the location for filming world famous movies. This is the place for overwater bungalows where you can jump in and swim with the fish as much as your heart desires. Check into Angsana Velavaru which is fronted by powdery white sand. You will be able to enjoy stunning sunsets, relaxing massages and dinners over the water.
With so many great destinations available in the Caribbean, you may have a hard time deciding exactly where to go. Islands like Anguilla, St Barts, the BVI and the US Virgin Islands offer a diverse choice of accommodations, activities and restaurants. You can get your scuba diving certification, go hiking to scenic waterfalls and book massages. There is great choice of small intimate hotels with an emphasis on personal service, and larger resorts offering water slides, pools and kids’ clubs. Among the top all-inclusive options in the Caribbean are Bolongo Bay which offers live entertainment, Couples Swept Away for honeymooners and Jumby Bay where you can an amazing variety of sea life.