This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.
Palm-fringed islands scalloped with ivory sand are the stuff of dreams, and this year’s list of the best islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas offers plenty of inspiration. Sunny stalwarts such as Jamaica, Aruba, Barbados, and the Cayman Islands are well represented. But we’re pleased to see less-traveled destinations — namely Nevis, Bonaire, and Culebra, Puerto Rico — also getting the nod.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Unsurprisingly, archipelagos in the Bahamas, the United States, and the British Virgin Islands, known for their idyllic cays, dominate the rankings. Several readers raved about the “crystal-clear waters” and “sugar-like sand” of the Bahamas’ Exumas (No. 8), home to “some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.”
New to the rankings is No. 16 Nevis, a volcanic gem that’s the smaller half of the twin-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Readers described it as “a lovely surprise” with “beaches, food, and people that make me want to return.” Another Caribbean twin, No. 23 St. Maarten/St. Martin, received praise for its “very good food and restaurants,” “wonderful beaches,” and “incredible array of activities.” One reader called it “the best island in the Caribbean.”
But the official No. 1, according to the survey, belongs to Anguilla, a neighbor with “beautiful beaches and people.” Succinctly described by one reader as “perfection,” it snags the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Scroll down for the details and the full list of the best islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.
A half-hour ferry ride north of St. Maarten, this 35-square-mile island boasts a whopping 33 beaches, many of which you can have all to yourself. Beyond what one reader called “best in the world” sands, palatial villas and primo resorts — including Belmond Cap Juluca and Frangipani Beach Resort, which made this year’s Best Caribbean Hotels list — draw discerning sunseekers. “Every single meal we had in Anguilla was so delicious,” gushed one respondent about the dining scene, comprising more than 100 restaurants serving everything from potent rum punch to the indigenous lobster-like crayfish. It’s hard to praise the four-time-winning island more than the reader who said, “If you want that postcard-perfect beach vacation, with palm trees, crystal-clear seas, and friendly locals, this is the island for you.”