As a tourist destination, islands have always been on the top of the bucket list of almost everyone. This is quite natural considering the fact that about 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water and the oceans hold about 96 percent of all Earth’s water. However, with more than 100,000 of big and small islands spread across the oceans, it may be difficult to know and choose one’s favourite island. Hundreds of islands have been shortlisted by voyagers, explorers, and tourists as among the best islands in the world. Still it might be a difficult task to arrive at a consensus on the most beautiful islands in the world. Here we address the dilemma, and present the absolutely fabulous most beautiful top 10 island in the world right now.
10. Santorini Islands, Greece
Santorini, or Thira, is the top destination among the Greek islands. Located in the Aegean Sea, it is a group of islands consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in the southernmost part of Cyclades. Santorini island is crescent-shaped . It was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the world. What remains today is a submerged volcano and a caldera or the large crater at the center, which is 8 km long and 4 km wide. The crater is under the sea and has a depth of 400m below sea level. The whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano.
Amazingly beautiful villages have been constructed on the edge of this caldera. There are large clusters of whitewashed buildings nesting at dizzying heights and spilling down the cliff sides. The churches have unique blue domes. They have traditional Cycladic architecture, paved streets and breathtaking view to the sea. Enjoy the restaurants with the amazing view to the volcano. The volcano can be visited by boat tour from the old port of Fira.
Fira is the island’s busy capital. The village called Firostefani is about 15-minute walk from Fira. Imerovigli is the highest point of the caldera edge, and is about 30-minute walk from Fira. The path between these villages is lined with hotels, restaurant terraces and endless photogenic views. On the north of Santorini is the beautiful village of Oia.
The east coast’s beaches are lined with black sand. The south coast beaches have multicoloured sand beaches including the famous Red Beach. The island’s interior has vineyards and traditional villages. Pyrgos has charming streets. Santorini islands are considered the most romantic getaways in the world.
9. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Whitsunday Islands are an archipelago of 74 tropical islands, off the coast of Queensland, Australia and form part of the Great Barrier Reef. Five of the islands have resorts but most are uninhabited, and several offer back-to-nature beach camping and bushwalking.
These islands are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. Majority of these islands are designated national parks. Major attractions include access to coral reefs for snorkelling and diving, pristine beaches, and clear aquamarine warm waters. They are well connected by two major airports on Hamilton Island and the mainland town of Proserpine. Each year more than half a million visitors visit the Whitsundays Islands.
Airlie Beach, on the mainland, is the coastal hub and major gateway to the islands. There are several popular and beautiful places to explore, which include Manta Ray Bay off Hook Island, Blue Pearl Bay at Hayman Island and Black Island. Regular ferries operate for Hamilton and other islands. Many ferry companies operate from Airlie to bring people on day trips around the sights.
It is a great convenient base for organizing island adventures and provides a wide range of accommodation, from youth hostels to luxury hotels. Shute Harbour is about 10 km from Airlie Beach and is a more peaceful place to board ferries to the islands at the marina where many private boats are available. Shute Harbour is also known for fishing which can be done from a pontoon near the marina or in deeper waters on a fishing boat.
Whitehaven Beach is considered as one of the beautiful beach on Earth. Its sand is 98 per cent silica, and extremely white. It is an uninhabited island accessible by seaplane, helicopter or boat. Day trips to Whitehaven depart from Hamilton Island, Hayman Island and Airlie Beach. A typical day trip includes a visit to Whitehaven beach, a trip to a part of reef for some snorkelling and pre-packed lunch. Most islands are protected national parks and do not have places to stay. There are camping sites on almost every island.
Romantic Heart Reef is a small patch of the Great Barrier Reef, coral has formed into the shape of a large heart which was first discovered in 1975 by a local pilot. This can be seen from the air. In case of seaplane, one can land nearby and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. You can indulge in bare-boating, which means hiring a boat without a crew and explore the sights and resorts of the Whitsundays.
Hamilton Island is the largest, busiest and most popular island in the Whitsundays. It is the only island with a commercial airport Great Barrier Reef Airport, which has direct flights from major Australia cities like Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne. Hamilton Island is also known for its luxury resort Qualia, recognised as one of the best hotels in the world. It is on the on the northern tip of the island and has an excellent range of water activities, including sailing. Other accommodations available are palm-shaded bungalows and yacht club villas. Activities are just as varied as trips to the Great Barrier Reef, stunning Whitehaven Beach, golf and tennis, hiking or exploring the island. Water activities here include sailing, snorkelling, kayaking and jet-skiing.
Daydream Island is the smallest of the Whitsunday group and one of the closest to the mainland. It is a family favourite. It has the Daydream Island Resort and Spa. This popular resort has facilities which include mini-golf, an open-air cinema, sparkling lagoon-style pools, Kids’ Club, and an outdoor aquarium where guests can hand-feed stingrays and sharks. Water sports abound along the three beaches which include reef fishing, and coral-viewing.
Hayman Island is the most northerly of the inhabited islands. It has an exclusive five-star resort One&Only; on its own private island. It was one of the first islands on the reef to be developed for tourism. It is incredibly beautiful with rainforests, rocky coves, mangroves, palm-fringed beaches, and a botanical garden. It has swim-up suites and aquatic activities like fishing, kayaking, swimming, sailing, windsurfing, diving and snorkelling.
South Molle Island is in the middle of the Whitsundays, and has a budget resort. The island is part of the Molle Islands National Park. It is a favourite for backpackers, day-trippers, and campers. It has rainforests, reefs, rocky headlands, and palm-fringed long beaches. It has walking tracks through the tropical foliage and Spion Kop Track is a favourite. Other activities include golf, tennis, sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling and bird-watching especially the brilliantly hued rainbow lorikeets.
Long Island is just a kilometer away from the mainland. It is pristine national park with fringing reefs nearby and walking tracks through the bushland and secluded coves. It has three resorts with the usual water sports and pretty beaches with palm-shaded hammocks.
Hook Island offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving. A large part of the island is national park with walking trails to rainforests and coral-strewn beaches.
8. Seychelles Islands, Indian Ocean
Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. These beautiful islands with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are situated about thousand miles off East Africa. It is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves. It is home to several rare species such as giant Aldabra tortoises. The powdery white beaches of Beau Vallon on Mahe, and Anse Lazio on Praslin are the most attractive. The stunning pink sands and boulders of Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue is considered one of the most fascinating beach on earth.
Mahe is the biggest and most populated island in the Seychelles. Seychelles capital Victoria is on Mahé, which is a hub for visiting other islands. About 90% of the nation’s 89,000 citizens live here. The north east of the island is sparsely populated and offers great escapes. There are more than 60 beautiful beaches. The mountains with thick vegetation rise above the Indian Ocean that has stunning views on the mountain walks and waterfalls. You can indulge in rock climbing, sea kayaking and scuba diving.
The Morne Seychellois National Park divides Mahe into east and west. The majority of population is in the east between the airport and Victoria. The National Park has mountain range with more than 900 metres high peaks covered in thick tropical rainorest. It has some of the most spectacular beaches like Anse Soleil, Intendance and Takamaka. To the north lies the Constance Ephelia and Port Launay Marine Reserve, a protected area which offers the best snorkelling and diving on the island.
Praslin is the second biggest island in the Seychelle with apopulation of just 6,500. It has stunning white sand beaches and lush tropical forests covering the hills. The beaches like Anse Lazio and Anse Geogette are among the top beaches and most beautiful destinations worldwide. From here one can visit other islands. The beaches around the island have white sand and shallow, turquoise seas.
7. Maui Island, Hawaii, Pacific Ocean
The island of Maui, also called the Valley Isle, is the second largest among the Hawaiian Islands. It is 727 square miles in area. The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, in the North Pacific Ocean. The islands extend over 1,500 miles. Of the eight islands, six are open to visitors which include Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii which is referred to as the Big Island. The state of Hawaii is officially nicknamed as the Aloha state. Kahului Airport is the main airport of Maui, and two smaller airports at West Maui and Hana are only for small propeller planes.
Maui is sandwiched between the Big Island and the much tinier Molokai. Maui is divided into five distinct regions, East, West, South, North and Central. Central Maui is where the majority of Maui’s population lives and it is the center of business. West Maui has the best beaches on the island including the Kaanapali Beach. It also has the most of hotels and resorts. South Maui has the famous Wailea Beach, which has the best and premium resort hotels. Upcountry Maui is the location of Haleakala, which is the highest mountain peak at 10,000 foot. It is also the world’s largest dormant volcano. It is located in the center of Maui and comes under the Haleakala National Park. The Road to Hana is in East Maui. The Hana Highway is a 52 mile road that has 600 curves and 50 one-way bridges. There are lush green forests and many scenic stops along the way.
Maui has some of the world’s best whale watching. You can wake up early to catch the sunrise at Haleakala. Then stroll through the historic Lahaina town, which is known for whale watching. The Makena Beach State Park or the Big Beach is one of Maui’s largest beaches. It is in South Maui and is is nearly 2/3 mile long and over 100 ft. wide. The gorgeously beautiful sand and pristine waters attract snorkelers, swimmers, and sunbathers. Driving down Haneoo Road, beyond Koki Beach, there is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Hawaii – the world famous Hamoa Beach. It is about 1,000 ft. long and 100 ft. wide with sea cliffs surrounding it. Lush vegetation cradles the beach. Offshore there is decent snorkelling and scuba diving.
Kaanapali Beach in West Maui is a three-mile stretch of sand with a sidewalk which runs the entire length of the beach by the hotels, to Black Rock. Black Rock slices across the beach and is a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba divers and other water sports such as parasailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing.
Kamaole Beach in South Mauiis located in the town of Kihei and is divided into three distinct beach areas with fine white sand and great swimming conditions. In East Maui there is the Honokalani Black Sand Beach, located in Pailoa Bay. On this swimming is dangerous and should be avoided here, as the beach is open to the ocean with no outside reef to break the force of the waves and current. There are caves in the beach with narrow entrance which widens inside and takes you to an open view of the ocean at the other end.
6. Bora Bora Islands, French Polynesia, Pacific Ocean
Bora Bora is an island in the Leeward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, in the Pacific Ocean. The Society Islands is an archipelago that comprises of such islands as Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Maupiti. The island group to the east has been named the Windward Islands comprising of Tahiti and Moorea. The other islands including Bora Bora come under the Leeward group. Bora Bora is an “Overseas Country” financially assisted by France. The original name of the island in the Tahitian language was Pora Pora, meaning “First Born”. The island was first discovered in 1722. It is located about 160 miles northwest of Tahiti, and about 230 kilometres northwest of Papeete. It is around 2600 miles south of Hawaii.
Bora Bora is one of the scenic wonders and often called the most beautiful island in the world. Bora Bora is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. It is ringed by a necklace of coral motus or small islands. This formation has created the tranquil lagoon that surrounds Bora Bora. There are multiple islands of the Bora Bora island group. The main island is about 11 sq. Km and small enough to travel around in about three hours, but the lagoon is much bigger. In the center of the island are the two peaks of an extinct volcano, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. The lagoon waters that change constantly from emerald green to the deepest blue.
Bora Bora doesn’t have an international airport, but Air Tahiti offers regular flights from Papeete, on the island of Tahiti. There’s one airport in Bora Bora, also known as Motu Mute Airport. Bora Bora has a harbor which handles cruise ships. There is no public transport on Bora Bora. Visitors can hire car, bicycle or small two-seater buggies in Vaitape, the island’s largest city and administrative center. A 32km long road runs around the length of the coast. The official language is French but local Polynesian is also spoken. Besides tourism, which is Bora Bora’s primary activity; other activities include deep-sea commercial fishing and the production of copra, vanilla and mother-of-pearl. The island has about 12 five-star hotels and resorts.
Bora Bora offers the best in tourism, such as diving, snorkelling, mountains trips in 4×4 Jeeps, feeding sharks and sting rays. One amazing fact is that is that there are no poisonous insects or snakes. One can sleep anywhere without risking a snake bite. Several movies and television shows have been shot on it beautiful location, such as ‘South Pacific’, ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, ‘Couples Retreat’, or ‘Bachelorette’. Bora Bora, the Pearl of the Pacific, is a romantic place of celebration and relaxation; and a dream destination which is rated as one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
5. Palawan Islands, Philippines
Palawan is an archipelago that has a staggering 1,780 islands and islets. The Palawan province comprises of the long and narrow Palawan Island and all other smaller islands surrounding it. Palawan Island is the largest island and about 650 km long sliver of land on blue sea. It has been rated several times by National Geographic as one of the best islands in the world, not only for its beauty but also for its amazing bio-diversity. Palawan is a rare amazing tropical island with jungle, mountains, and white beaches. It has almost 2,000 kilometres of coastline which is lined with rocky coves and sugar-white sandy beaches. It also has a vast stretch of virgin forests that covers its chain of mountain ranges. The jungles have 100 species of birds. The highest mountain peak is that of Mount Mantalingahan, which rises up to 6,843feet. Rare and amazing wildlife on the islands include purple crabs, Philippine mouse-deer, Philippine pangolin, Palawan bearcat, Palawan hornbill and beautiful butterflies.
Puerto Princesa is the capital and it has an international airport. It has the mysterious grandeur of the underground cave network and the river that flows through the vast rock corridors and startling formations that plunge into dark pools. The river emerges directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The site contains a mountain-to-sea ecosystem and has some of the most fascinating specimen of bio-diversity. The underground river is awe inspiring, and it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Honda Bay is a short hop north of Puerto Princesa. It offers excellent diving, snorkelling and swimming in crystal-clear waters. At the northern end is El Nido, which is a gateway to the spectacular Bacuit archipelago which has islands with powdery white beaches, coral reefs and diving and swimming with whale sharks.
On the northeast of Palawan, the Calamianes Group of Islands consists of Busuanga, Coron, Culion, and Linapacan islands amongst the more than hundred islands. Coron Town, on the nearby island of Busuanga to the east offers lake-hopping boat trip, brackish lagoons and exotic creatures. Coron is known for snorkelling and scuba diving. It has several Japanese World War II shipwrecks off the Coron Bay. For scuba divers, this area is Mecca. There are shallow reefs for snorkelling, and spectacular underwater caves. There are seven mountain lakes including the sublime Kayangan Lake which has th most clear water among all islands, the famed twin lagoons, and underwater Barracuda Cave. There are tropical sea creatures like giant clams, sea stars, clown fish, sea snakes, sea turtles and dolphins.
The Calauit Island Safari is a whole island dedicated to the preservation of wildlife from Africa. It has roaming herds of giraffe, zebra, gazelles, deer and more animals, initially shipped over from Kenya to create a safari island. There is a lot to explore and discover in the Palawan islands, apart from the beauty of nature it offers.
4. St. Lucia, Caribbean Islands
St. Lucia is a small island state in the Caribbean Sea. It is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain and north of Barbados. It is 24 miles south of Martinique and 21 miles northeast of St. Vincent. It is the second largest of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. Saint Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth countries. English is the official language. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that resembles Sri Lanka island. The capital and major port is Castries.
On its eastern shore is the Atlantic Ocean while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea. There is an international airport at Vieux Fort, at the southern tip of the island. There is a smaller airport at Vigie for regional flights. International shipping and cruises operate from the ports at Castries and Vieux Fort. Saint Lucia has gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, miles of unspoiled rainforest, natural waterfalls, breath-taking views as well as friendly locals. St. Lucia offers exciting and exotic outdoor activities like snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing, deep-sea fishing, jet-skiing and scuba diving. The island has steep coastlines and lovely reefs. St. Lucia is of volcanic origin. It has been inhabited long before colonial times, and there are cultural treasures of its rich past and its many different traditions. The island is dotted with aged fortresses, small villages, and open-air markets. Earlier sugarcane was the chief crop, but since 1964, bananas are now the principal crop. Other crops are coconuts, cacao, citrus fruit, spices, cassava, and yams. There is a local fishing industry.
The island is bisected from north to south by a central ridge of wooded mountains, the highest point being Mount Gimie with a peak at 3,145 feet. North and south of the island present two distinct cultural hubs. Rodney Bay in the north offers a pristine, modern marina full of seafront bars, upmarket restaurants and offers modern comforts amidst a beautiful bay. Soufriere in the south is infused with retro Caribbean vibes, candy-coloured villages, barbeque stalls by the roadside and fish fry-ups on the beach. It is a gorgeous region of old plantations, hidden beaches and the geologic wonder of the Piton Mountains.
The twin coastal peaks, GrosPiton and Petit Pitons soar 2,500 feet up from the sea. The two immense pyramids of rock rise sharply from the sea and enclose a small bay. They have magnificent rain forests where wild colourful orchids, giant ferns, and birds of paradise flourish. The brilliantly-plumed tropical birds include endangered species like the indigenous St. Lucia parrot, which is the national bird; the Saint Lucia black finch, and the Saint Lucia oriole . There are verdant fields and orchards of banana, coconut, mango, and papaya trees. Near Petit Piton, in the crater of an ancient volcano, are the boiling sulphur springs. The town of Soufrière has been named after this volcano. Soufriere volcano is the world’s only drive-in volcanic crater.
The rainforest in St. Lucia’s mountainous interior are one of the Caribbean’s finest locales for hiking and bird watching. The island also offers excellent facilities for golf, tennis, sailing, and a host of other leisure pursuits. Soaring volcanic peaks, lush rainforests and multi-coloured waterfalls are a few of the top attractions. St. Lucia is a storybook Treasure Island that has all the elements like jungles, volcanoes and secluded sandy coves and beaches.
3. Fiji Islands, South Pacific Ocean
For those who may not be aware, Fiji is not just an island or two; it is an archipelago that has 333 beautiful sunny, picture-postcard islands with alluring beaches. 106 of these islands of varying size are inhabited. These are in the South Pacific, close to Australia and New Zealand. There are islands with five-star resorts and spas; and a few are private islands. These islands offer a wide range of recreational activities and experiences ranging from sky diving to dirt biking, river rafting to scuba diving, and trekking to cultural extravaganzas.The Lomaiviti Group of islands are at the heart of Fiji’s colonial past and are home to the country’s first capital, Levuka which is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. The inner islands are well-developed tourist destinations with attractions including diving, fishing, snorkelling and whale watching. These islands offer an enchanting island experience. There are several luxury resorts on Kovo Island.
Viti Levu is the largest island and one of the largest in South Pacific with an area of 10,000 sq. km. It has the main international airport in Nadi. Suva is Fiji’s capital and the largest city. It is 190km south from Nadi. It is a highly multicultural regional centre and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Oceania. It has shopping malls and farmers markets, restaurants, entertainment, parks, gardens, museums, outdoor activities and a vibrant nightlife. Nadi is the island town that has an international airport and offers great multi-cultural fare from food to shopping. The shops and restaurants play Hindi or Fujian music. It has hotels and resorts and is close to Mamanucas and Denarau Island. The Coral Coast is an 80 km stretch of beaches and bays along the Queen’s Highway between Nadi and Suva. The region is so named for the large fringing reef that starts from the shoreline. It is famed tourist destination, offering the full resort experience as well as visiting the villages, beach life and diving to make experience the true island life.
Vanua Levu is Fiji’s second largest island. It attracts plenty of adventurous tourists. The Savusavu town has a protected bay for yachting. Wasali Nature Reserve is a rainforest with hiking trails. One can explore the island or dive among the corals.
Denarau Island is located less than 10 kilometres from Nadi. It is on the main Island of Viti Levu.It has large resorts, stunning beaches and an 18-hole golf course. Denarau Island is the largest integrated resort in the South Pacific. It has big hotels and resorts such as the Hilton, Westin, Sheraton, Sofitel, Radisson etc. Although an island, it’s joined to the mainland by a small causeway.
Mamanuca Islands are a chain of 20 exotic islands which can be reached by boat or plane from Nadi International Airport. These islands have beautiful resorts and white silvery white sand beaches. Several film and television serials, like ‘Cast Away’ and ‘Survivor’ were shot in these locations. These islands offer parasailing, windsurfing, dolphin-watching, surfing and dives such as the Big W and Gotham City. It is a perfect destination for the entire family.
Yasawa Islands are on the northwest of Viti Levu. It has resorts and plenty of accommodation and lots of outdoor activities like hiking, snorkelling and diving. These pristine green grass-covered islands have brilliant porcelain beaches and cool blue water.
Taveuni is known as the Garden Island. It is well-known for eco-tourism with nature reserves having native plants and wildlife. It has a marine park too and is a paradise for bird watching with more than 100 species of exotic birds.
Lau Islands are a few small islands in Fiji’s far east. Only three islands have accommodation and there are no restaurants. These islands are utterly unspoiled and offer traditional Fijian hospitality.
The unspoiled Kadavu islands are renowned for diving and are home to the world-famous Great Astrolabe Reef. The islands have rainforests, bird watching and sea-kayaking tours.
2. Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Mark Twain once said this, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven was copied from it.” Republic of Mauritius is amongst the most beautiful and most visited countries in the African continent. Besides abundant natural beauty, another striking feature is the welcoming nature of the Mauritian people. Situated in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of Africa, Mauritius is nearly 800 km east of the island of Madagascar. It has an area of 1,864 sq km and is 39 x 28 miles. It has the most beautiful crystal clear lagoons, coral reefs and powdery white beaches. The islands of St. Brandon, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands are also a part of the Republic of Mauritius.
Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius and is situated on the western side of the country. It has a diverse population. Mauritius also offers many adventure activities like scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing. There are also plenty of opportunities for trekking and challenging biking as a big part of the island is mountainous. Other attractions are Centre Equestre De Riambel, Heritage Golf Club, Divers’Ocean, Les 7 Cascades etc. Mauritius has an international airport at Plaisance, and there are other airports located throughout the country. Air Mauritius is the national carrier. It has port facilities at Port Louis.
The culture of Mauritius has influences of Indian, Chinese and European cultures. Several festivals of different religions are celebrated in Mauritius, such as Christmas, Cavadee, Chinese New Year, Pre Laval, Diwali, Mahashivratri and many more which have become an integral part of Mauritian culture. About two-thirds of the population is of Indian origin, descendants of indentured labourers brought to work in the sugar industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. About one-fourth of the population is Creole, mixed French and African descent, and there are small numbers of people of Chinese and Franco-Mauritian descent. English is the official language, but popular language spoken by 80 percent population is Creole. Bhojpuri is spoken by one-tenth of the population, and French is spoken by a small percentage. Other languages spoken include Hindi, Chinese, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. About half of the population is Hindu, one-third is Christian and Roman Catholics and the majority of the remainder are Muslims.
The island of Mauritius is volcanic in origin and is surrounded by coral reefs. The northern part is a plain that rises to a central plateau which is bordered by small mountains. The highest point at 828 metres is Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire in the southwest. There are two major rivers, the Grand River South East and the Black River, which are the primary sources of hydroelectric power. Lake Vacoas is the chief source of water. Pieter Both is the second highest mountain in Mauritius. More than half of the country’s area is fertile and has sugarcane plantation, the major export crop. Vegetables and tea are also grown. There are some 600 indigenous species of trees still left. The fauna includes the samber deer, tenrec – a spiny insectivore, mongoose, and also number of birds species. Dodo, the famous flightless bird became extinct by 1681.
The East coast has a succession of beaches in the island’s most beautiful coastlines set alongside emerald coloured lagoons. It is also a water sports paradise. The main attraction is Belle Mare beach which extends several kilometres. There is also a tortoise farm, and an 18-hole golf course. The public beach of Roches Noires extends to Poste Lafayette, which is an excellent place for fishing, kite-surfing and windsurfing. Bras d’Eau is a small bay inside the lagoon of Poste Lafayette. Belle Mare has a beautiful white sandy beach and parasailing over the turquoise lagoon. In the area of Roches Noires, there are plenty of caves, and birds like the Mauritian fruit bats and swallows live in these cool, dark caves. Also there are many lava tubes connected to the sea, which have been transformed into cool freshwater springs where you can swim and snorkel among fishes. Bras d’Eau National Park offers mountain-bike trail through the shady exotic forest.
The central plateau is situated between 400 and 600 meters above sea level. Starting from the South of Port Louis, this vast urban area has a population of about 400,000 people, which is over one-third of the island’s population. Four towns of Rose Hill, Quatre Bornes, Vacoas and Curepip, make up the heart of the island. Curepipe has the coolest temperatures and is home to Trou aux Cerfs, the crater of a dormant volcano, and the Curepipe Botanical Garden with its rare plant species. Near Vacoas reservoir is Grand Bassin, also known as Ganga Talao, which is a natural lake formed inside the crater of an extinct volcano and is the renowned pilgrimage place for Mauritian Hindus. The Folk Museum of Indian Immigration, Mahatma Gandhi Institute has a museum which shows in detail the daily life of Indian immigrant workers during the nineteenth century.
The West and South-West coasts has some superb hotels and lagoons calm enough for swimming, snorkelling, diving, water-skiing, kayaking, pedal boats and sailing activities. Tamarin Bay and the world famous “One Eye” at Le Morne have the best waves for surfing, windsurfing and kite-surfing. Le Morne Mountain towers over the clear lagoon below. Le Morne has beautiful hotels and golf courses. The mountain of Le Morne is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a commemorative landmark of the harsh slavery period in Mauritius.
There are several Nature Parks like Casela and Gros Cailloux in the region, which is best for families to for walks among the stunning surroundings, and there are some African lions, giraffe and other animals to see.Albion is known for its beaches and its lighthouse. Flic en Flac has white beaches fringed with Casuarina trees, and is a popular for swimming and snorkelling. Tamarin Bay is a well-known popular surfing spot. The west coast is the place to swim, play and watch dolphins. The south has the wildest and most beautiful landscapes of Mauritius. Mahebourg is a prominent fishing village on the shore of the bay of Grand Port. It also has the National Naval and Historical Museum. Pointe Canon in Mahebourg is a popular concert venue and also holds annual regatta. Ile aux Aigrettes Nature reserve is a small 27-hectare island, located 800m off the south-east coast. Blue Bay beach, surrounded by a semicircle of casuarinas has fine white sand, clear water and lively corals, and is perfect for snorkelling. Blue Bay Marine Park can be explored on a glass bottom boat to see marine life including the parrot-fish, the trumpetfish and barracudas.
1. Maldives, Indian Ocean
Maldives is an archipelago made up of 26 coral atolls in a chain reaching down to cross the equator in the Indian Ocean. Within these atolls are 1,192 islands and of these around 200 are inhabited and 100 are resorts. They lie south-southwest of India, south of India’s Lakshadweep Islands, in the Indian Ocean. Maldives is spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres and has a population of about 395,000. It is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed country, and the smallest Asian country by both land area and population. Maldives is a tropical paradise of pristine beaches. While there are 26 atolls, most of the resorts are in North Male, South Male, Ari, Felidhu, Baa and Lhaviyani Atolls. The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean.
Maldives derives its name from Sanskrit word mālādvīpa which means garland of islands. Malé is the capital and the largest and most populated city. It is on the southern edge of Kaafu Atoll. Male derives its bane from ‘Mahal’ for being the abode of the ‘Royal Dynasties’. It is also called the King’s Island. The local culture is a mix of South Indian, Sinhalese and Arab influences that is reflected in the traditional music, cuisine and art of the island. The locals speak Dhivehi, but English is widely spoken.
The tourist resort islands of Maldives consist of an exclusive hotel on its own island, with its population entirely based on tourists and work force, with no local people or houses. These islands are about less than one kilometre in length and about 200 metres in breadth; and are on a maximum height of about 2 metres above the sea. In addition to its beach around the island, each island has its own “house reef” which serves as a large natural swimming pool, coral garden and natural aquarium for scuba divers and snorkelers. They also protect swimmers from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents. Maldives has the world’s first underwater restaurant, under-water nightclub and underwater spa.
With an average ground level of only 1.5m above sea level, the Maldives is the lowest country on earth and has a very fragile ecosystem. The Maldives are at high risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. The UN’s environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100.
The Maldives is the perfect destinations for sea diving enthusiast. Surrounded by the ocean on all sides, the enchanting atolls of Maldives are the perfect place to explore marine life in the Indian Ocean. The beauty of coral reefs and the azure waters make Maldives one of the best diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Submarine tour is another attraction for families travelling with kids. It offers magnificent views of the reef and rare species of fish, turtles and shark rays in their natural habitat. The state-of-the-art Whale Submarine is the largest tourist submarine. Some of the best islands and their attractions are described below.
Banana Reef, located in North Malé Atoll, is the oldest internationally known dive sites in Maldives. It gets its name from its banana shape. Divers can explore its beautiful caves, cliffs and coral growths having several species of exotic fish and other marine life like the squirrelfish, soldier-fish and Maldivian grub-fish. Major attractions at Banana Reef include underwater activities like scuba-diving, snorkelling, jet skiing etc.
Manta Point is where the divers can have the experiences of snorkelling or scuba diving with giant Manta rays. This species weigh up to 5,000 pounds and have a wingspan of 25 feet; and are found in large numbers here.
Alimantha Island is another beautiful diving spots in Maldives. It is located on the eastern edge in Vaavu Atoll, and is one of the protected diving sites. Diving excursions, night dives and day and night snorkelling trips are offered to tourists. Other activities include wind surfing, canoeing and sailing. The emerald crystal clear shallow waters are great for swimming and playing with kids.
Biyadhoo Island is in South Malé Atoll. Spread over ten acres of land, the island has abundant vegetation of bananas, coconuts and mangoes along with cucumbers, cabbage and tomatoes. It is popular for its sparkling waters and adventurous water sports and also called the Scuba-diving Island.
Nalaguraidhoo Island, also known as the Sun Island, is in South Ari Atoll. It has some stunning beaches, with clear azure water, shimmering white sand and pristine surroundings. It is one of the most frequented beaches and most popular with honeymooners.
Mirihi Islands is one of the most popular tourist beaches. It is named after a local flower. The resort island has bungalows on water. It is perfect for honeymooners and those seeking tranquillity and peace. The entire island is covered with palm trees and lined with snow-white sands.
At the Muddhhoo island in Baa Atoll the phenomenon of bioluminescence can be observed. Small organisms known as Ostracod crustaceans light up the beach and the water. The the glowing crustaceans on the ocean surface against the midnight blue of the sky and the white sands of the beach make for a delightful mesmerizing sight on the island. Baa Atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
HP Reef, also known as the Rainbow Reef, because of its array of colours, is a diving site in North Malé Atoll that has strong currents, great for those looking to explore the underwater world. It has soft corals of different colours and gorgonians or sea whips. With dives of up to 40 metres deep, the reef is great for spotting various reef fish, manta rays, dog tooth tunas and other marine life.
Fish Head is situated in North Ari Atoll and is considered one of the world’s best dive spots. It offers divers the opportunity to see a large school of grey reef sharks, along with other marine life like fusiliers, large Napoleons and hungry barracuda. This dive site also has black corals, caves and undersea rock formations.
Fua Mulaku is located in the south. Although it is the smallest of the atolls with just one island, it has the largest island in Maldives. This island is very fertile and produces fruits and vegetables like mangoes, oranges and pineapples.
Utheemu Island in the HaaAlif Atoll has UtheemuGanduvaru which is popular as the birthplace of Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu who fought a fifteen years war to evict the Portuguese from Maldives. It is a well-maintained wooden palace.
Veligandu Island is located in North Ari Atoll. It is a small island filled with astonishing greenery. The lagoons provide great opportunities for diving and snorkelling.
Kudahuvadhoo island in South Nilandhoo Atoll, has one of the mysterious mounds known as hawittas, which is thought to be the ruins of Buddhist temples. This island also has an old mosque, with fine masonry work.
Gan island is in Addu Atoll just south of the equator. It offers diving experiences among the giant manta rays, shark species and green turtles. The largest shipwreck in Maldives, “British Loyalty” is also off the coast of Gan. The westernmost islands are connected by roads over the reef, called Link Road which has a length of 14 km. One can also take cycling tours on the island on rented bikes and interact with the friendly locals.
The Maldives is not just crystal clear water, blue lagoons and silvery beaches, but it also nurtures an amazing diversity of sea life, with corals and over 2000 species of fish ranging from reef fish and reef sharks to moray eels, rays and whale sharks. The islands’ many sheltered lagoons also provide the perfect destination to enjoy a family holiday or a romantic getaway. It would take more than a few articles to describe the beauty of nature on display at the Maldives islands.
It is difficult to choose the best island amongst hundreds of beautiful paradise-like islands spread across the world. The best ones are the most farthest and located at more inaccessible parts of the oceans. Perhaps that is one reason they have preserved their pristine beauty. At the same time, the accessibility of the islands is also important from the point of view of visitors. Some of the exquisite islands were not included in this list, for this reason. On the other hand there are some islands which are so so very popular, that they have lost their exclusivity. You may have your own list of favourite islands and if any of these do not appear in the list, you may revert back with your comments.
Compiled and Written by: Raj Kumar Hansdah