Discover Your Perfect Paradise Island Escape

A slice of heaven on earth, our pick of the best islands

Paradise means something slightly different to everyone. For most of us however, the idea of a paradise island conjures images of rugged natural beauty, warm clear waters, glistening white sand, amazing biodiversity and a distinct lack of crowds. This ultimate guide to the world's best paradise islands to visit, boast all these elements.. and more.

  1. Lord Howe Island
  2. Mnemba Island
  3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
  4. Palawan Island, Philippines
  5. Lofoten Islands, Norway
  6. Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles

From Asia to Australia, from the Pacific Sea to the Caribbean, your next tropical paradise is just a skip, hop or a jump away (well, a plane, train or a boat). So get your daydreaming hat on and check out the six most incredible paradise islands in the world. These really are the prime places to bask on a beach, to dip your toes in the sea and of course, leave those umbrellas at home.

1. Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island, located some 600km off the coast of New South Wales is just one of many paradise islands near Australia. What pushes Lord Howe into top spot however, is firstly a lack of crowds in comparison to the Whitsundays or Fraser Island, and secondly it's unparalleled beauty. The island combines rugged natural landscapes, with an almost otherworldly beach paradise. Whilst there's no end of activities from hiking to paddleboarding, scuba diving to fishing, many visitors just opt to lose themselves by the calm waters of the secluded beaches. Two-thirds of the island is covered by a protected nature reserve, virtually untouched by humans and home to many endemic plant and animal species, such as the emerald green Lord Howe Stag Beetle.

Top choice for: nature lovers and watersports enthusiasts.

2. Mnemba Island

While most visitors to Tanzania head to the more well-known island of Zanzibar, those seeking true paradise, tranquillity and seclusion opt for neighbouring Mnemba. This privately-owned island is less than 1.5km in diameter and is one of the most exclusive paradise islands in Africa. Only 24 guests can stay on Mnemba at a time, enjoying a unique luxury holiday that includes activities as diverse as beach yoga and scuba diving. The scent of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla drift over the sea from Zanzibar and straight into the rustic beach-side cabins of Mnemba. Shy of landing adrift at an uninhabited tropical island, this is as close to natural paradise as you'll ever get.

Best island for: those seeking serious seclusion.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Long touted as the most beautiful island in the South Pacific, where there are rich pickings, Bora Bora boasts more than just a great name. Bora Bora is located 277km northwest of Tahiti but is far flung enough to avoid the crowds flocking to Hawaii or Fiji. Surrounded by a coral reef and centred by two vast volcanic peaks, the topography of the island may have been created in volcanic drama, but what remains is nothing short of a tranquil nirvana. A vast turquoise lagoon on Bora Bora's western coast is home to two further islands, Toopua and Toopua Iti. A popular place to scuba dive, many visitors discover a paradise below the waters as well as one on land.

Who should go: honeymooners and scuba divers.

4. Palawan Island, Philippines

There's no shortage of paradise islands in Asia, especially in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. One of the most incredible however, is Palawan, home of the UNESCO protected subterranean river, the Puerto Princesa. To the north of the island the town of El Nido offers a range of shops and amenities, but those seeking true paradise should venture away from the main hubs and discover the undeveloped beaches of the east coast. Alternatively explore the Bacuit Bay Archipelago, a network of blue lagoons and sheer limestone cliffs, or travel south to explore the unbelievable sights of Puerto Princesa.

Best island for: majestic natural sights and intrepid exploring.

5. Lofoten Islands, Norway

We typically associate paradise with tropical climates, but there's actually no shortage of paradise islands in Europe. While a huge number of charming sun-soaked islands can be found in the Aegean, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, it's worth remembering that paradise doesn't always mean sand and palm trees. The Lofoten Islands in Norway's Arctic Circle are truly outstanding. The wild landscapes are considered amongst the most incredible in the whole continent, whilst the guaranteed seclusion is just an added bonus. In summer months the sun hardly bothers to set and during winter there's no finer place to see the Northern Lights. In Lofoten you'll discover dramatic fjords and mountains, fascinating viking heritage and the most northerly surfing spot in the world.

Things to do: experience the midnight sun and have a go at Arctic surfing.

6. Saint Lucia, Lesser Antilles

Not only is Saint Lucia the only country in the world named after a woman, it's also home to one of the greatest natural wonders of the Caribbean, the twin peak Piton Mountains. Beach lovers are spoilt for choice and can even choose between pure white or volcanic black sand. Part of the lesser Antilles, Saint Lucia lies nearer to South America than North America, giving it a truly tropical climate and landscape. A volcanic island, it's actually home to the world's only "drive-in volcano", Sulphur Springs. More than three quarters of the island is covered with thick, wild jungle.

When to go: during December to May in the dry season.

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