ISLANDS Wish List: Top 100

As Islands inspires you to take the ultimate trips on your travel bucket list, we’ve compiled all of our Wish List stories of recent years into one ultimate list of our Top 100 suggestions, each with a link to more editors’ expert advice. And to have some fun, we’ve ranked them from No. 100 (have a Painkiller drink in the BVI) to No. 1 (?). Which trips are on your own wish list?

100 painkiller tropical drink travel bucket list.jpg

Drink a Painkiller at the Soggy Dollar Bar, BVI

More than Bora Bora overwater bungalows, more than Caribbean all-inclusives, more than Hawaii beach resorts, the top travel advice people search for on is our Painkiller drink recipe. Sure, you can make one at home, but to have the ultimate Caribbean tropical drink, go to the ultimate Caribbean beach bar that’s home to the Painkiller: the Soggy Dollar Bar on beautiful White Bay in the British Virgin Islands. See the Painkiller drink recipe, plus photos, map and more in our ISLANDS Ultimate Guide to the Painkiller. Zach Stovall
99 florida Keys
Discover why the Florida Keys are on our list of the Best Islands Close to Home. Thinkstock
98 spa islands wish list
Relax here at the Amanjiwo resort spa on Java in Indonesia or at one of the spas on our list of the Best Island Spas. Credit
97 socotra tree islands wish list
You may never make it to Socotra. Situated amid political turbulence and only modestly equipped for tourists, the Yemenese archipelago is inaccessible at best. And that’s a large part of its purity. The land of dragon’s-blood trees has a long history of remoteness; ancient Phoenicians believed Socotra was home to the mythical Phoenix, and Egyptian pharaohs commissioned risky expeditions to the island for myrrh. But it’s more than a land of legend. See our Top 10 Wild Islands gallery. Thinkstock
96 wales beaches great britain travel bucket list

Find a surprise in Wales

For our recommendations on this surprising corner of Great Britain, see our special Wish List digital publication on Wales. Jon Whittle
95 travel bucket list dominican republic baseball

Play ball like a kid in the Dominican Republic

Follow our trip to the heart of baseball in the beautiful Dominican Republic with this trip to the northern coast, as shown in this special Dominican Republic Wish List photo book. Jon Whittle
94 tahiti canoe race travel bucket list

See Tahiti’s Super Bowl

It’s actually an amazing outrigger race pitting the fastest canoes across the Pacific against the strong home-island teams from Tahiti. Credit
93 paddle board in hawaii
Accessible yet challenging, a stand-up paddle board carries you to spots you can’t access with a motor, like under a waterfall along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. And paddling is a great way to work up an appetite. See more must-do activities in Hawaii. Ron Dahlquist
92. Drink the world's most "interesting" coffee
We’re not going to tell you what’s in this coffee found on Bali. But if you must know, read our Bali coffee article. Nathan Myers
91 Stand on a glacier in Iceland

Stand on a glacier in Iceland

Book a snowmobile tour of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier with the intrepid guides of Arcanum. Getting to their base camp up a mountain is the hardest part. Once there, they’ll fit you with a jumpsuit and helmet and give a short snowmobile tutorial. Then it’s go time. Courtesy of Go Iceland
90 tables for two grand wailea hawaii romantic restaurant bucket list
This table — No. 70 at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, Hawaii — is just one of our favorites for a romantic island dinner. You feel like the guests of honor out on a private peninsula over a saltwater lagoon. See our list of the 6 Most Romantic Island Tables for Two. Lori Barbely
89 curacao bucket list
As colorful as the Caribbean is, Curacao is especially stunning for its cultural mix. Read a Curacao feature article. Credit
88 wallpaper-santorini-greece

Take a picture of Santorini, Greece

This stunning Greek island is made for travel photography. Every year, we receive incredible photos of Santorini in our Islands Photo Contest. Being there is truly like stepping into a photo. Download an Islands wallpaper of Santorini. Credit
87 japan sushi

Taste the ultimate sushi in Japan

Islands photo editor Lori Barbely still ranks her trip to Japan — where she actually did dine on the greatest sushi ever — as one of her favorite island trips ever. Lori Barbely
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Take your time at the Bishop Museum in Hawaii

Founded by Charles Reed Bishop in 1889, the collection evokes all of Polynesia. From stone tools to a king’s feather cloak, the artifacts illustrate a dynamic culture, which has long included the museum itself. See more must-do Hawaii activities. John Elk III
85 to 76 best animals to see for islands wish list
Island creatures are spectacular. We compiled 10 animal wishes here:
Dive with dugongs in the Philippines • Save the lemurs in Madagascar • Witness a crab orgy on Australia’s Christmas Island • Pet the Tasmanian devil (carefully!) in Tasmania • Pose with penguins in the Falklands • Stalk the “spirit bear” on Canada’s islands • Spot an ivory-billed woodpecker in Cuba • Dive with great white sharks off Dyer Island • See a tree kangaroo in Papua New Guinea • Meet Arctic wolves on Ellesmere Island See our photo gallery of these top animal adventures.
75 surf waikiki hawaii islands bucket list of travel
If you can stand on sand, you can stand on Waikiki’s long, easy-breaking waves. Duke Kahanamoku learned to surf here. Riding into one of the world’s most identifiable skylines is more than a day at the beach. Read a classic Islands article about surfing in Hawaii. Credit
The good thing is, some iconic island drinks are available everywhere. But they always taste better on their native island. Here are our drink wishes: Relax with rum on Barbados • Knock down potent kava in a Fiji ceremony • Order a Guinness in Ireland Learn how to drink these like a local islander.
You’ve never seen this beautifully quiet Hawaiian island of Molokai until you’ve seen it from the back of a mule. (Uh, you know what we mean.) Read our “Man vs. Mule” Travel Tale.
70 tahiti food feast travel bucket list

Cook a Tahitian feast

When Islands photographer Zach Stovall discovered this authentic Tahitian feast, he wanted to see how the locals prepared it. Little did he know it would be an all-night affair, but it was worth it. Zach Stovall
69 qualia australia luxury resort for travel bucket list

Get spoiled Down Under at the qualia resort

Islands photographer Jon Whittle had the time of his life at the Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island in Australia. And yes, it was his job to be there, shooting photos. Imagine how much fun you’d have if you were actually on vacation. Credit
68 maui wish list 600
Hawaii has so many scenic spots, it’s easy to lose count. Don’t miss this one. Find out more about this wish. Credit
67 Life in Bali
Over the year, we’ve heard the stories of several expats who love the life they’ve made for themselves on Bali. Sure, it’s not as easy as moving to the Caribbean or Hawaii, but if you can do it, you’ll open your life to all-new experiences. Read an expat’s story of life on Bali. Nathan Myers
66 to 55 island transportation grid

to 55. Ride like locals

Islands are fascinating for all of the ways that people get around, whether island to island or across the interior. These 12 “rides” made it to our Wish List: Papua New Guinea by canoe • Madeira by toboggan • Vancouver Island by bike • Malta by bus • Venice by gondola • Exumas by seaplane • Sumbawa by scooter • Antarctic by icebreaker • Jamaica by raft • Luzon by carriage • Quirimbas by dhow • Cuba by Plymouth See a photo gallery of our favorite ways to get around. Credit
54 baths bvi travel bucket list caribbean

Soak in the Baths, British Virgin Islands

As photographer Jen Judge wrote in Islands about her photo of the BVI’s Baths, “I honestly think this scene could have played out exactly as we see it here 30 years ago, 60 years ago or 200 years ago. … I’d be glad to park myself on that beach for a while, waiting for a boat to come into the frame, and shoot it all over again.” Credit
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to 51. Get a thrill and a view

An island vacation can be as active or as relaxing as you want. But to really get your heart rate going — and to have a memorable island experience — try these active wishes: Hike on Grenada in the Grand Etang National Park • Ski in New Zealand with a helicopter in the Southern Alps • Kayak in the San Juan Islands Credit
50 best island villas for bucket list
A villa vacation is ideal for an Islands traveler. You get to live like a local, trying out what it would be like if you decided to move to this island. Stay at Samudra on Ko Samui in Thailand or one of our other Top 10 picks for world’s best island villas. Credit
49 mount fuji japan travel bucket list

Take a photo of Mount Fuji, Japan

Seeing Japan’s Mount Fuji is on nearly every traveler’s bucket list, island or no island. See it every day when you download this Islands wallpaper. Credit
48 travel bucket list new zealand food

Eat New Zealand raw

Or cooked, as you prefer. Credit
47 romantic island restaurant tahiti bora bora
Islands are often synonymous with romance. See if you can guess which island we’ve pictured here. Hint: It’s No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Most Romantic Islands. Credit
46 molokini crater hawaii

Dive off Molokini crater in Hawaii

The rim of an ancient volcano, this sliver of island off Maui draws divers with its calm waters and abundant marine life. But just flying over it puts a smile on your face.
45 wish list new zealand spread
Yes, New Zealand pops up several times on this Islands Wish List 100. The possibilities here are endless. Read more about New Zealand. Credit
44 travel bucket list oahu food hawaii

Eat up Oahu

Eating is a very important part of every trip, of course. But the last time Islands photographer Lori Barbely traveled to Oahu, she decided to focus purely on the food there — and created an amazing culinary tour. Follow in her footsteps as you flip through her special Wish List photo book. Lori Barbely
43 travel bucket list fiji luxury resort

Walk into paradise in Fiji

You know how some island resorts stay with you long after your trip? Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji is one such place for Islands editor Eddy Patricelli.) Eddy Patricelli
42 hula-stage-500 hawaii
These are guarded moments at the Merrie Monarch Festival, Hawaii’s most iconic celebration of hula. Read interview with photographer Jen Judge, Behind the Scenes: Hawaii’s Real Hula » Jen Judge
41 travel bucket list snorkel with tonga whales

Snorkel with whales in Tonga

Not much compares to the rush of swimming alongside a giant in the remote island of Tonga. Credit

Get to Ko Samui, Thailand

The islands of Thailand are so remarkable, they’re worth the trip. Start dreaming when you download this Ko Samui wallpaper.
39 island cruise

Book one of the world’s best island cruises

Big ships, small ships and every ship in between. Islands editors have found great island-hopping cruises for 2013 as an easy way for you to check off some of the world’s top islands. See our list of the Top Cruises Itineraries for 2015. SeaDream
38 maldives underwater resort islands wish list

Stay underwater in the Maldives

Contact the Conrad Maldives Resort & Spa on Rangali Island two weeks in advance to reserve one of only 14 tables at the resort’s Ithaa Undersea Restaurant. If you want to spend the night, it’ll cost you — about $1,000 an hour. Must give a two weeks’ notice to reserve the overnight suite. Imagine returning home and starting the dinner conversation with “During the night I spent underwater …”**
Conrad Maldives Resort & Spa**
37 pink sands beach bahamas
Pink Sands beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas is a must-do, but there are so many others that we could do a Wish List on beaches alone. Instead we made a big map of all the best island beaches. Zach Stovall
36 vanuatu best natural islands

Visit the No. 1 most natural island destination

To celebrate the natural beauty of islands, our favorite place is Vanuatu. UNESCO World Heritage sites honor Chief Roi Mata on Éfaté, Lelepa and Artok islands; the Vatthe Conservation Area offers an oasis of biodiversity on Espiritu Santo; and low-impact resorts such as the Epi Island Guesthouse provide responsible lodging. See our Top 10 Pure Islands list. Credit
35 travel bucket list st lucia caribbean vacation

Take naps, drink wine and eat a ton on St. Lucia

St. Lucia is a unique island in the Caribbean. From our many trips there over the years, we can recommend the most amazing romantic resorts to stay at and the most relaxing itineraries. But we can also suggest the most active vacation you’ll find in the Caribbean. Those Pitons don’t climb themselves, you know. Credit
34 castaway island wish list

Take the ultimate family vacation

We people think of family vacations and islands, they often picture the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas or an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Those are great options, but you can also have family vacations at some of the most iconic islands in the world. Our pick for No. 1: Castaway Island in Fiji. Your kids will feel like the island is all theirs. See our Top 10 Best Island Resorts for Family Vacations. Credit
33 aitutaki one foot island cook islands 600

Step foot on One Foot Island in Aitutaki, Cook Islands

So of course you want to step into this picture. But how? iStockphoto
32 tahiti beyond overwater bungalows travel bucket list

See Tahiti beyond the bungalows

Don’t worry — we’ll get to the iconic overwater bungalows of Tahiti on this Wish List. But here’s just a reminder that the Islands of Tahiti are among the most beautiful islands in the world, bungalows or no bungalows. See our “Beauty of Tahiti” photo gallery. Credit
31 kauai na pali coast wallpaper 600
You’ve seen the photos. Kauai is actually one of the most spectacular islands of Hawaii and beyond. We’ll have an upcoming Wish List photo book by ISLANDS photo editor Lori Barbely to showcase Kauai. In the meantime, download this Kauai wallpaper of the Na Pali Coast. Credit
30 night dive with manta rays big island hawaii

Night dive with mantas off the Big Island, Hawaii

Sail at sunset on the Hula Kai. Snorkelers as young as 5 are welcome. No mantas? Fair Wind will take you again for free.**
Fair Wind**
Ty Sawyer
29 travel bucket list caribbean cruise

Sail the secret Caribbean

ISLANDS photographer Jon Whittle loved his cruise with Star Clippers to the Leeward Islands. He loved the benefits of cruising in order to see a lot of islands, but on a small sailing ship like this, he had the freedom to do his own thing onboard and in shore excursiions. Jon Whittle
28 jade mountain st lucia resort bucket list
If you’ve subscribed to ISLANDS magazine for at least a couple years, you’ve no doubt seen Jade Mountain on our Wish List, our romantic list, our best resorts list — this resort is that spectacular. See a quick photo tour from one of our trips to Jade Mountain. Credit
27 maldives overwater bungalows

Stay in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives

Bora Bora gets most of the attention for its overwater bungalows. But the Maldives — that gorgeous island nation in the Indian Ocean — is loaded with overwater bungalows of every size and shape, from “value” villas up to luxury masterpieces. See our photo gallery of the best Maldives overwater bungalows. Credit
26 raja ampat diving indonesia snorkeling
“The most biodiverse marine life in the world” is how our dive and snorkeling expert described the experience here in Indonesia. If you’re serious about scuba diving and snorkeling, see our Top 10 Best Island Reefs — with Raja Ampat at No. 1 in the ranking. Credit
25 travel bucket list caribbean turks and caicos
Yes, in all the world, this is the best place to forget all of your worries, according to our intrepid ISLANDS writer who was looking for the most stress-free island. The good news: You may have already been here and didn’t know it. It’s a Caribbean island just a short trip from Florida. See ISLANDS photographer Zach Stovall’s Wish LIst photo book. Credit
24 seychelles islands wish list

Relax on sand in the Seychelles

Rent a bike, the preferred mode of transport on La Digue Island, and pedal to Grand Anse Beach on the isle’s southeastern side. Walk your bike down the steep descent. You’ll be one of the beach’s few visitors, as its remoteness thwarts most. Courtesy of Seychelles.Travel
23 rooms with view viceroy bali

Stay at the No. 1 room with a view

When we first saw this photo of the view from the Viceroy Bali, we knew we had seen the ultimate scenic resort. See why the Viceroy Bali is No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Best Rooms with a View. Credit
22 travel bucket list live on tahiti

Make Tahiti your home

Think this is a wish that’s out of reach? Can’t imagine living in this paradise, where many people are lucky to spend a few nights if they ever travel here at all? This is a dream within reach. See an American expat’s story of moving here and raising a family in our special Wish List photo book. Jon Whittle
21 travel bucket list american samoa

Find the secret America

No, this isn’t Hawaii or the U.S. Virgin Islands or the U.S. islands you usually picture. See the American paradise that ISLANDS photographer Jon Whittle discovered in his special Wish list photo book. John Whittle
20 travel bucket list thailand luxury jungle resort

Escape to the coolest jungle

By now, you’ve seen quite a few stunning resorts on this Wish List 100. But there’s something special about this island resort in Thailand — as captured by ISLANDS photographer Zach Stovall — that has our own staff dreaming of staying here someday. Zach Stovall
19 caribbean island hop by boat islands wish list

Hop the Caribbean by boat

Go where the wind takes you — literally. In bareboat sailing, the weather is your only guide as you navigate purely via your line of sight. Catch this catamaran year-round on St. Thomas at CYOA Yacht Charters in Frenchtown, on the western side of Charlotte Amalie. This veteran company offers both bareboat and crewed charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the Spanish Virgin Islands. Choose your adventure — you’re the captain.
CYOA Yacht Charters
Amory Ross
18 travel bucket list papua new guinea
Just the name “Papua New Guinea” conjures images like this one. Yes, some of the tribal dances are for show as expedition cruises and other intrepid travelers make their way here. But the authentic cultural history is woven into this fascinating nation when you look deeper. Read a classic ISLANDS magazine feature article on Papua New Guinea. iStockphoto
17 travel bucket hawaii big island lava

Feel the heat on the Big Island of Hawaii

On no other island is volcanic activity so accessible, so entwined with the island’s identity, so thrilling. As writer Bill Harby notes in ISLANDS magazine, “The pre-dawn sky near Kapoho is aglow, but my eyes are fized on a fiery glow much closer. … It’s the most amazing experience in my 30 years of exploring Hawaii.” See more in the ISLANDS Wish List December 2012 issue, available on the iPad and iPhone. Credit
16 cruise melanesia for travel bucket list
When we worked with Orion Expedition Cruises on an ISLANDS itinerary, we called it “The Trip of a Lifetime.” The journey still resonates, as this small-ship cruise itinerary hopscotched through Melanesia, visiting some islands you may have heard of, many no one has ever heard of and few have seen. It’s that rush of adventure and exploration that inspires the best island trips. Read the article about this cruise. Credit
15 travel bucket list live on usvi us virgin islands

Move to the USVI

No, this isn’t as exotic as some of the wishes this high on our Wish List 100. But ISLANDS readers absolutely love dreaming about what it would be like to live on an island. And some of them actually take that leap. The USVI is a great balance of a move that’s very doable for people from the mainland U.S., and this Caribbean destination has comforts of home and an island vibe that makes you feel like you’ve found a permanent vacation. See ISLANDS photographer Zach Stovall’s Wish List photo book of life in the USVI. Credit
14 travel bucket list australia great barrier reef sleep.jpg

Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef

You absolutely have to see the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. And ISLANDS photographer Jon Whittle highly recommends sleeping on the reef while you’re there. John Whittle
13 travel bucket list live on hawaii
The Big Island and Kauai routinely top our annual Best Islands to Live On ranking. Jon Whittle
12 travel bucket list galapagos turtles istockphoto
Discover for yourself the islands that Darwin made famous. Out in the Pacific, these truly are islands and creatures like nowhere else. See our tips for the perfect 8-day Galapagos itinerary. iStockphoto
11 travel bucket list retire early roatan island

Retire early on Roatan

What is the best island to retire on? ISLANDS readers have let us know that when they retire, they’re making a beeline for Roatan, the beautiful island of Honduras in the Caribbean. Jon Whittle
10 to 4 fowl cay resort exumas bahamas private island bucket list

to 4. Escape to a private island

There is (almost) nothing better than a stay on a private island. That’s the inherent nature of islands themselves, that they’re a place to get away from absolutely everything to find your own piece of paradise. Of the many beautiful private island resorts in the world, these are some of our favorites: Fowl Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas • Pamalican Island in the Philippines • Matangi in Fiji • Cayo Espanto in Belize • Akitua in the Cook Islands • Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands • Lizard Island in Australia See our ultimate map of the 100 best private islands in the world. Credit
3 travel bucket list healthy life forever greece

Live the island life forever

Isn’t this the greatest wish of all? It’s close. We sent ISLANDS photographer Jon Whittle to the Greek island of Ikaria to uncover why the islanders there are so long-lived. Jon came back with the secret. Credit
2 hammock islands wish list

Fall asleep in a faraway hammock

While away the hours on Thailand’s Ko Samui at Thongtakian Beach, or “Silver Beach” as the locals call it. It’s a respite from the sea of peddlers at more popular Chaweng. Stay at Thongtakian Beach Resort, where tranquility and privacy are the order of the day.**
Thongtakian Beach Resort**
Welsing/IStock Photos
1 travel bucket list tahiti bora bora overwater bungalow
For the 30+ year history of ISLANDS, we’ve featured more photos of overwater bungalows in Bora Bora than anywhere else — even more than rainbows in Hawaii. From ISLANDS magazine covers to our online photo galleries, Bora Bora overwater bungalows are incredibly popular and so very timeless. ISLANDS photographer Zach Stovall recently traveled to Bora Bora to capture even more photos. See his story and photos — including yet another bungalow cover — in the new ISLANDS Wish List December 2012 issue, available now on the iPad and iPhone. And see our gallery of the best overwater bungalows in Bora Bora. Keep wishing! Zach Stovall

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