Top most beautiful islands in the world to visit
Dream destinations all over the world: we are talking about the 25 most beautiful islands in the world, tropical paradises with postcard beaches and irresistible destinations where you can take excursions and immerse yourself in history.
Costa Cruises takes you around the world: come with us to discover fantastic islands, where you can lose yourself in unspoilt nature or enjoy a cool cocktail under a straw umbrella. You will be spoiled for choice: we take care of the rest.
US virgin islands
To visit Tortola is to discover the largest and most populated island of the British Virgin Islands. These islands are part of the Virgin Islands archipelago. Local tradition says that Christopher Columbus named the island Tortola, which means “land of the turtle dove”.
The island has tree climbing trails along the slopes of Mon Sage to see natural treasures. This is the ideal circuit to discover the ornithological richness of the island and the spectacular landscapes of tropical forests against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Tortola is known for its sandy beaches, its translucent waters suitable for snorkeling, its ruins and its local specialties, the streets for shopping and the restaurants with local specialties.
Jost Van Dyke
With its surface area of barely 4km², the island of Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the archipelago of the British Virgin Islands.
Like many neighboring islands, it is of volcanic and mountainous origin. The most frequent destination is Great Harbor (or Belle Vue). The strip of beach around the port is lined with small bars and restaurants. An excursion to the island of Jost Van Dyke guarantees you a day filled with sun and relaxation in a 100% Caribbean setting. The main beach of the island, White Bay, is a charming anchorage with an exotic atmosphere not to be missed The island never ceases to surprise and dazzle with its landscapes and the multitude of unique experiences it offers: come and discover it all!
Road Town on Tortola is the capital of the British Virgin Islands. The name is derived from the nautical term “the roads”, a place less sheltered than a port but which ships can easily access. A true pearl of the Caribbean, Road Town and its 10,000 inhabitants invite you to an elegant and peaceful retreat. Stroll through the city and marvel at the Dutch, English and colonial influences of Road Town. You will also be intrigued by remnants of the distant past, when the sugar cane plantations were the glory days of the region. It will undoubtedly be one of the best memories of your Caribbean cruise!
The Baths in Virgin Gorda is a magical place not to be missed: a unique landscape in the Caribbean! An exotic and marvelous place, “The Baths” is a very unique granite formation that is rare in the world. A pocket of magma forms, but instead of escaping in the form of lava to the outside, it remains trapped in other geological layers and cools in depth, forming areas of granite as it crystallizes. To visit this place, it is better to go early in the morning, although it is not the best time to take pictures because of the light.
A British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands offer some of the best diving sites in the world. Crystal clear waters in gorgeous shades of blue splash the shores of this tropical island trio, which includes Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Coral reefs are visible on all three islands, shipwrecks are scattered near their shores, and sheer underwater walls are a treasure trove of marine life, to name just a few of the tourist attractions in the Cayman Islands.
One of the country’s top attractions is Stingray City, a shallow sandbar where visitors can interact with a host of graceful stingrays. Grand Cayman is the largest and most Americanized of the three islands. Its stunning Seven Mile Beach is the crown jewel, with a range of watersports and resorts. The island offers many other attractions. Visitors can browse the duty-free shops of the colorful capital of George Town, stroll through the Botanical Gardens, take nature hikes, commune with creatures at the Turtle Farm, and escape to the tranquil island of East End.
The Canary Islands are an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean located off the coasts of Western Sahara and Morocco. They are part of Macaronesia, and consist of seven main islands of volcanic origin: Lanzarote, whose relief shows a still very active volcanism; Fuerteventura, rather flat and arid, the closest to the mainland; Gran Canaria, and its mountainous terrain; Tenerife, the largest island -and the most populated-, which includes the Teide volcano, the highest point in Spain with its 3,715 m; La Gomera, and its green valleys; La Palma, the wettest island of the archipelago, with the false air of a tropical island; and el Hierro, which was the gateway to America for several centuries…
Each of these islands has its own personality, its own soul: the ideal is of course to visit the Canary Islands, doing them all or at least finding out exactly about the one(s) you want to discover.
The Galápagos, with their dreamy name, are a small archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean more than 1000 kilometers west of the continent. They are made up of around twenty islands and around forty islets, all of volcanic origin. The Galápagos were only discovered in 1535 and it was above all Darwin who made them famous with his famous “Theory on the evolution of species”. In order to preserve this unique ecosystem, the Ecuadorian government decided to create a national park in 1959 as well as the Charles Darwin Foundation on the island of Santa Cruz. And as proof of this exceptional richness, it is thefirst site to be classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1978.
Tourists come from all over the world to Galapagos to observe its animals, most of which are endemic to the archipelago. For example, there are 58 species of birds, 28 of which are found only in the Galapagos. Some of the best-known and most prized animals include giant tortoises, iguanas (terrestrial and marine), sea lions, albatrosses, frigatebirds (with the evil that puff out its red neck to attract females ) or even the blue and red footed boobies parading in front of visitors.
Oahu is the third of the Hawaiian Islands, after Maui and Big Island, but we can say that it is without equal. It is now a fixed destination on all tourist routes and hosts more than half of the total population. Attractions and services abound, especially in the capital Honolulu . Besides being a city full of ideas, it is also the birthplace of former US President Barack Obama.
And we haven’t yet talked about the landscapes which can mix magnificent beaches with pineapple plantations, without forgetting volcanoes or wild areas . It is also the busiest island with the most connections: you can get there by international flight, and even to get around inside the buses work well.
And then there is the story to rediscover. Oahu is the site of the former naval base at Pearl Harbor , which became famous for the Japanese Air Force attack on December 7, 1941. Every day, long lines of people visit the USS Arizona Memorial , which houses the remains of the ship in which more than 1100 sailors were killed. A place of memory and historical remembrance.
It is officially called Hawaii, like the archipelago, but to avoid confusion, it was decided to give it the nickname Big Island . It is the largest of the islands because it is, geologically speaking, the youngest. Its tourist vocation is less accentuated and allows you to enjoy a holiday full of tranquility and in contact with nature.
Less touristy than the islands of Oahu and Maui, it is perfect for those seeking tranquility and nature. The island, which extends for more than 10,000 kilometers , is so large that its territories vary not only in terms of type of landscape , but also in terms of climate . It goes from tundra to humid climate , you will cross the lava of volcanoes, you will find yourself in front of snow-capped peaks. You can walk through green valleys or go to the black beaches of Punaluu Beach.
The Big Island also has some of the most impressive waterfalls: Hiilawe Falls. Get ready to witness water jumps over 400 meters. We are on the Lalakea River . Only Waihilau Falls can go higher, at 790 meters . The islands know how to give the best of themselves, including with fire. Hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers will have many opportunities to see wonderful volcanic sites. To start, there is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park , about forty kilometers from the city of Hilo.
The area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and allows you to discover different trails , with the possibility of camping. The park encompasses two still active volcanoes . One of them, the largest on the planet, called Mauna Loa, is a 4,169 meter colossus. The second is the Kilauea Caldera . The area is widely visited on trails and tracks that stretch for over 240 kilometres . You can walk among very rare plant species and exotic animals.
Maui is the second largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Even here there is no shortage of things to do, starting with trekking on two volcanoes. To get an overview, there is no shortage of waterfalls, varied landscapes and postcard beaches. The name Maui comes from the demigod of Hawaiian mythology. According to the legends, it was James Cook who discovered it, but he could not enter it because he could not find a place to dock.
The one who managed to land on the island was the French Admiral La Pérouse in 1786. And in his honor there is now a bay with a golden sandy beach near Wailea. The seabed of the coast is suitable for diving and snorkeling . And also the climate lacks nothing. Among the natural wonders of the area are the Honokohau Falls, waterfalls that drop 335 meters. The setting is lush vegetation .
Have fun here recognizing the places chosen by Spielberg for his “Jurassic Park” . You will also be able to discover the daily life of the centers: Lahaina is the best known and the largest in this region ; from 1820 to 1845, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the residence of kings. The climate is sunny and dry; indeed, the name Lahaina means “relentless sun”. In the narrow streets of this pretty town you can breathe the atmosphere of 1800. Front Street is the heart : let yourself be intrigued by this pedestrian street with colorful buildings. You can enter stores, restaurants and art galleries. The street isand at other times offers unique ocean views.
Nicknamed “the garden island” for the size of its forests, Kauai is jagged and has two peaks that exceed 1500 meters: the Kawaikini, which reaches 1598 meters, and the Waialealeale , a volcano a little lower. On the island, all you have to do is keep your eyes open to admire the cliffs that mingle with stretches of sand before gently entering the clear waters. You will have the opportunity to experience the relaxed style of the locals. The first European to set foot in Kauai was British Admiral James Cook in 1778.
The variety of landscapes and natural views of the island is unique and varied, mixing tropical forest , deserts, swamps, steep mountains alongside cultivated hills. However, visitors are captivated by the coastline, where there are beautiful sandy beaches lined with palm trees, sheltered from the strongest winds. An example is Anini beach. It is a protected bay where the sea is calm and ideal for swimming and snorkeling, given the presence of coral reefs. In this magical beach, the sand is pink , the water is clear and along the beach you will find luxurious villas with large gardens.
In Kauai, nature puts on a show with the Na Pali Coast , a majestic cliff overlooking the ocean. A jewel that extends for 35 kilometers inside the park of the same name . Other treasures include Kilauea Lighthouse , another special park . The area extends and ends with a lighthouse. From above, you can even see the passage of whales from November to April. You can cross the Nene, Hawaii’s wild geese.
Slowness and simplicity are the basic ingredients of a visit to Molokai. About sixty kilometers long , “the friendly island” is an explosion of luxuriant forests, immersed in an ocean of crystal. The highest point, at just over 1500 meters, is the Kamakou : it is surrounded by irregular cliffs overlooking the clear sea. You will be very quiet, there are only 8 thousand inhabitants, many of whom are natives.
One of the most interesting areas is the Kalaupapa Peninsula , whose mountains sometimes dip in light fog and are constantly hit by high, raging waves . Beautiful and isolated, it hosts a former leper colony where a Belgian priest, Father Damien , worked with the sick. He devoted his life to caring for the needy and worked to build churches and houses. The story of the generous missionary, who in turn died of leprosy, was told in two biographical films: “The Cursed Island”, 1959, and the film “Molokai: The Story of Father Damien”, 1999. Today the entire area has become a National Historic Park. It can only be visited in groups and with a licensed guide.
Do not miss Kamakou , the highest mountain in Molokai, touched by clouds and protagonist of a local legend. According to tradition, local women brought the placenta of their babies there: an auspicious sign to guarantee them a peaceful life. The city of Kaunakakai is the largest and friendliest center on the island. Walk along the pier, visit two churches, like St. Joseph Catholic Church and Kaluaaha Church . If you have a green thumb, go to a nursery, where you can discover all the stages of making the famous Hawaiian garlands. The most touristy area is the village of Molokai Ranch:the area covers 21,000 hectares and includes a farm and numerous outdoor sports facilities, including mountain biking, kayaking and snorkeling .
The beaches are calm , but never let your guard down against the currents. The best known is Papohaku Beach (Three Mile Beach) which is to the west, in Papohaku Beach Park. It is made up of white sand and extends over more than 5 kilometers . From mid-December to the end of March, you can watch the whales on a guided boat or catamaran tour. A magical and engaging experience, in addition to observing the giants of the sea, you will be involved with the crew in teamwork.
Lanai has a breathtaking coastline with fabulous beaches and cliffs , and a wonderful inland forest. A miniature paradise to live according to your needs and possibilities: it is a place with two faces: that of comfort and relaxation and that of adventure , off the beaten track, to explore wonderful regions. There’s another reason to visit Lanai, to taste the live pineapples. The island is indeed nicknamed “The Island of Pineapple” , for the huge plantations of this fruit, grown only for internal use. Only in recent years has Lanai seen tourists , but there will be smiles, friendliness and hospitality.
And the weather also helps: mild and with little rain . Even the small town has dream beaches, the best known being Hulopoe Beach , which lies to the south in Hulopoe Bay. This large public beach is best for those who want to relax and stretch out for hours on the golden sands, but also for those who like to snorkel , thanks to the amount of sea creatures. With crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling and a picnic area with tables and barbecue ovens.
There is also a natural pool to discover on the east side of the bay. A jewel carved in volcanic rock. Here, you will have the impression of being inside a small aquarium, among hermit crabs, limpets and small fluorescent fish. The beach is inside a protected area and tourists are advised to be respectful and not bring any rocks, shells or sand. An unmissable gem in the area are the Lanai Rock Gardens : to reach them you have to travel more than 11 kilometers.
Here, the landscape of picturesque rocks and geological formations attracts not only insiders but also nature lovers. The rocks bear traces of ancient eruptions , and their shapes seem sculpted. The colors range from red to orange , purple to earth-colored, and change depending on the light that hits them . The center of the region is Dole Park, a green space where people meet and have a picnic under the shade of pine trees. Around this area are the town’s clubs, shops, restaurants and meeting points. Lose yourself in the workshops that produce crafts or take a break from the restaurants to discover the local cuisine. There’s also a touch of culture in the Lanai Art Center . Works by local artists are kept here: a mix of styles and techniques ranging from watercolors to colorful sculptures.
Niihau is among Hawaii’s smallest and most isolated inhabited islands. If you want to imagine an extreme place, this is the right destination. There are no hotels, no roads, no restaurants. The only settlement is in Puuwai, an independent and self-sufficient village where the community lives, as if time has stood still. The only activities are fishing, breeding and some agriculture . Yet we are talking about a paradise, full of beauty and charm. A jewel of only 180 square kilometers and is surrounded by cliffs and beaches formed by an infinity of small shells. Some of the people of Niihau spend days picking and selecting the best shells, with which they create exquisite necklaces.
For more than 150 years, the island has belonged to the Scottish Sinclair family, who managed to honor a promise to keep Niihau isolated from the rest of the world . The island has only dirt roads that allow you to move around the territory. Only a few, therefore, manage to obtain permission to arrive, precisely with the idea of preserving the precious ecosystem. Even Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger was denied permission to land by helicopter.
The Bahamas, a heavenly holiday destination… 700 islands make it up, including Gran Bahama and Paradise Island for the best known… Names so exotic that they make you dream. The unavoidable ? The Abdros Barrier Reef , the Thunderball Cave (where scenes from James Bond were filmed) and the Black Coral Gardens off Bimini … To be discovered while diving of course! You will be dazzled by the underwater spectacle offered by these natural settings.
Animal and nature lover? Discover the Pig Beach, translated the pig beach! Walk by the sea and swim with wild pigs, enough to make your trip once again unique!
The Island of Barbados is an independent state. It belongs to the British Commonwealth . There is no shortage of dream beaches, but also flowery and fragrant botanical gardens, so pleasant to visit. The very colonial-style architecture harmonizes perfectly with this exotic decor.
There, it is compulsory to have tea in the afternoon. It’s hard to imagine the English charm in an exotic setting. And of course, you can’t pass without attending or taking part in a cricket match… So British!
Guadeloupe is made up of 2 butterfly-shaped islands, separated by the Rivière-Salée. This French island offers large paradisiacal beaches… Ideal for spending long days of relaxation under the sun and in transparent water. The unavoidable ? Visit the Carbet Falls, the Grande Soufrière Volcano! In addition, you will discover vast expanses of sugar cane fields and other breathtaking landscapes!
April to September are the warmest and most pleasant months to fully enjoy the sun. The months of October and November, on the other hand, are less recommended, due to the risk of hurricanes.
Curaçao is the favorite destination for divers! This island, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is renowned for its coral reefs and coves . A delight for divers who can thus admire the marine life. There you can visit the capital Willemstad . A very pleasant and colorful city. The unavoidable ? Blue Bay Beach ! The most famous for diving and snorkeling. In addition, do not forget to explore the salt lakes where you can observe a multitude of pink flamingos.
Anyone planning a trip to the Cyclades cannot fail to be seduced by the striking beauty of Santorini , a romantic destination par excellence. This very popular island remains as beautiful as ever throughout the year. It is always pleasant to stroll through the charming streets of this somewhat magical place.
The sight of white houses clustered around blue-domed churches takes your breath away. In Santorini, there are always things to do or see. Caldera forms the heart of the island, where the sea is deep blue and the islets are encrusted with pumice. The first thing to do when arriving on site is to find a bar for an aperitif at sunset. The sunsets here are spectacular. Also worth seeing are the archaeological sites of the island, including that of the Akrotiri region, which is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also not to be missed are the natural thermal baths that are located in the center of the Caldera region. Here, the small islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni offer tourists their many hot volcanic springs and therapeutic hot salt water springs. But be careful, because the water could stain your swimsuit. Red Beach is a place not to be missed in Santorini. It is the most famous beach on the island, with a stretch of red and black sand. Being able to live and breathe the presence of a volcano makes this place simply unique.
The villages of Fira and Oia are also must-sees. The former is perfect for shopping and nightlife while the latter is more traditional and quaint. If you love luxury destinations, Imerovigli is one of a kind, with infinity pools and breathtaking resorts ready to welcome you.
The best time to visit this fascinating island, and to avoid the crowds, is in late spring or early fall . The weather is mild, but the water is still warm enough for swimming. All the beauty of Santorini comes at a price. Indeed, it is one of the most expensive holiday destinations in the Greek islands .
The island of windmills and fun: Mykonos is one of the most popular destinations in Greece and it’s no coincidence. Immaculate villages bathed in sunshine, heavenly beaches and taverns where you can dance until dawn… All this makes Mykonos one of the most popular tourist islands in the Cyclades. Its rather barren landscape is embellished by the deepest blue sea on the entire island.
Any visit to Mykonos begins in Chora , the island’s main town. Lose yourself in its maze of narrow streets with dazzling white houses, the blue balustrades everywhere draped in flowers. Near the port is revealed the ancient church of Paraportiani , with its complex including five other ancient buildings and the Manto Mavrogenous beach, paying homage to the Greek heroine. Choose from different cocktails while waiting for the sunset.
Platys Gialos is one of the main resorts of Mykonos , with restaurants serving fish specialties, street vendors selling pita bread, gyros not to mention the enchanted beaches waiting for you for an unprecedented epicurean experience between two bathing sessions.
Corfu is the meeting point between classical culture, Venetian rule and British rule. This island is a crossroads of different cultures and combines, at the same time, history and modernity. This makes it one of the most interesting destinations for tourists wishing to fully experience the beauty of the Greek islands.
We start from the historic center of Corfu , a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. Here, the legacy of Venetian culture is evident. Do not miss the Cambiello district where the maze of narrow streets rub shoulders with tall historic buildings. The main square, Spianada , is opposite the Old Fortress, the old fortified citadel of the island, near the New Fortress.
The Old Fortress also houses San Giorgio , a church built by the English, fascinating with its Doric architectural style. The Royal Palace, which is the largest and most impressive building in Corfu, is nearby. Don’t miss the bell tower of San Spiridione with its red cupola, the paleopolis of the Kanoni peninsula – offering an interesting perspective of the island during the ancient era – or even the monastery of Vlachérna dating from the 18th century, remarkable for having been built on such a small island. Nearby there is also the island of Mouse, or Pontikonissi , which houses an interesting Byzantine chapel.
Crete, the largest island in Greece, is a magical place that seduces with its superb beaches and picturesque towns unfolding in the heart of extraordinary landscapes. Crete is the island of the myth of Theseus and Ariadne, but also that of Daedalus and Icarus. In this place suspended halfway between reality and myth, we find some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean , numerous archaeological sites as well as beautiful walks to be carried out in a breathtaking setting.
The discovery of Crete must include a visit to the palace of Knossos , famous for having served as the setting for the myth of the labyrinth of the Minotaur. Knossos was the capital of the ancient Cretan civilization. This place, built in 1900 BC. AD, suffered repeated damage over the centuries. It has since been rebuilt numerous times, most recently by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans. The Palace of Festo , located on a plateau in the plain of MessaraIl and made up of the remains of three different buildings, is also unmissable. So is the Phaistos Disc , engraved with symbols that resemble Egyptian hieroglyphics, but whose meaning still remains a mystery to this day. theHeraklion Archaeological Museum , housed in an elegant Bauhaus-style building, is also worth a visit.
Rhodes, although known for its sea and beaches, is primarily a mountainous island, with inland freshwater resources that have made it one of the lushest environments in the Aegean. In addition to its crystal clear sea, it has an interesting historical and artistic heritage, rich in myths and legends. Although not one of the cheapest destinations, Rhodes suits all budgets. It offers different types of accommodation, ranging from luxury hotels to low-cost Airbnb. It is a fairly popular tourist destination, especially with families.
The island of Kefalonia is the best destination for anyone looking for peace and a calm and unspoilt environment. The main characteristics of this island are the extremely varied natural environments, both on the coast and inland. There are many types of beaches : from long stretches of white sand to rocky or pebble beaches. It is a relatively inexpensive island to visit, where competition between hoteliers keeps prices reasonable. Until a few years ago it was still a bit off the main roads. Today, given the wonders that this island conceals, it has become a must for Costa cruises.
Kos is an island with a lively atmosphere, offering wild and breathtaking beaches as well as several Greek and Roman archaeological ruins. A stay in Kos can be inexpensive, especially if planned in advance. The attractive prices and its frenzied nightlife make this island very touristy and particularly popular with young people. Lying about 4 km off the Turkish coast of Bodrum, Kos is part of the Dodecanese archipelago. This island has an essentially Mediterranean climate, with lots of sunshine from spring (in May, however, the sea is still a bit cold). The ideal time to visit it is towards the end of spring and all summer (from June to mid-September).