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World Best Islands for Beaches, #2 Palawan.

As the world has begun to reopen and readjust, the results reflect the kinds of destinations you longed to visit when you couldn’t travel and the ones you returned to first once you could. More than 800,000 of you filled out our survey, and while we’re always curious about where you’ve been and where you’re going, we’re especially excited to learn about the truly memorable places that sparked your imagination and stayed with you when travel may have seemed out of reach. Here are the 10 islands you love most for the perfect beach getaway.


10. British Virgin Islands

You can thank conservationist Laurance Rockefeller for putting the British Virgin Islands on the beach holiday map back in 1964 when he opened the Little Dix Bay resort on a serene crescent of Virgin Gorda sand. Soon, it was attracting well-heeled sunseekers like Queen Elizabeth II herself, and the recently renovated property (now a Rosewood) regularly ranks among your favorite resorts in the world. Elsewhere in the archipelago, you can snorkel off of White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke, sail away to remote and uninhabited Sandy Spit, or follow the crowds to The Baths National Park, where enormous boulders—some as big as 40 feet in diameter—set the boundaries for calm natural pools.


9. Mykonos, Greece

There are certainly more secluded and relaxing spots in the Greek Isles, but if you’re coming to the party capital of the Cyclades, chances are you’re looking for more stimuli than simply sun, sand, and surf. Psarou Beach is the place to see and be seen, as the international elite moors their yachts offshore to lounge on Loro Piana mattress–topped mahogany sun beds, under striped Tucci umbrellas. Come nightfall, the flashily named Super Paradise Beach transforms into a thrumming nightclub in the sand, where the motto is “music’s loud, Champagne’s cold.” We never said Mykonos was subtle.


8. Bermuda

You’ve heard of white and black-sand beaches, but this British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic is home to pink sand, which gets its surprisingly rosy hue from the presence of teeny-tiny, red-shelled organisms known as foraminifera. While there are a few wide stretches of sand scattered across the island, such as Horseshoe Bay and Clearwater Beach, the true joy of beach-going in Bermuda is discovering tucked-away spots like Jobson’s Cove, which is encircled by jagged limestone outcroppings and teeming with tropical fish. If it’s history you’re after, the St. Regis Bermuda Resort sits on St. Catherine’s Beach, in the shadow of a hilltop fortress. It was on this very bay, in 1609, that the first colonists landed by chance after their ship, Sea Venture, wrecked on the reef, inspiring William Shakespeare to write The Tempest in the process.


7. Seychelles

Lined with dense thickets of palm trees, including six species only found here, the beaches of this Indian Ocean archipelago are impossibly scenic. On some islands in the chain, you’ll be sharing the space with the Aldabra giant tortoise, a species as impressively gargantuan as its cousins in the Galápagos. On others, you might find yourself rubbing shoulders with the glitterati: The Clooneys, the Beckhams, and Prince William and Kate Middleton all honeymooned on the uber-exclusive North Island. If you don’t have private island money, consider the stunning Anse Source d’Argent, which requires a small access fee to enter through a former coconut and vanilla plantation. It’s reportedly among the most photographed beaches in the world, and when you see the elephant-like granite boulders strewn about the sand, you’ll understand why.


6. Anguilla

With 33 beaches to choose from on a 35-square-mile island, you’re never far from a relaxing spot to dip your toes in the Caribbean. On this most northerly of the Leeward Islands, the trade winds serve dual purposes: as a natural air-conditioner and as a delivery device for the wafting aromas of grilled lobster and crayfish, lovingly prepared at the island’s many roadside barbecue stands. Thanks to its powdery white sand, buzzing Shoal Bay East is the island’s most popular beach, and its string of rum-punch-slinging bars even attract day trippers from neighboring St. Martin.


5. Boracay, Philippines

At less than four square miles, this compact Philippine island grew up fast, transforming from under-the-radar to overtouristed in the span of a few rocky decades, and it was temporarily shut down in 2018 to allow for much-needed redevelopment and rehabilitation. The island’s most famous beach is the three-mile White Beach, where the sugary sands provide the perfect blank canvas for viewing magical sunsets and blue-sailed paraws (outrigger boats) that skim along the horizon. On Boracay’s eastern shores, steady winds make for some of the best kiteboarding and windsurfing conditions in the region.


4. Maldives

Don’t come to the Maldives expecting expansive stretches of sand: The Indian Ocean nation is made up of some 1,200 pocket-sized coral islands, with the largest being only about three square miles. The beaches are appropriately intimate, but it’s their exclusivity that keeps you coming back, with three Maldivian spots showing up on our best resorts in the world list this year. Because you’ll rarely have to jostle for a lounge chair while on land, one of the best ways to choose the Maldivian beach that’s right for you is to consider the crowds you’ll encounter under the sea: The Baa Atoll is considered the largest manta-ray gathering place in the world, while whale sharks tend to congregate in the South Ari Atoll. And if you like your marine life considerably smaller, the microscopic Lingulodinium polyedrum species of plankton puts on a dazzling bioluminescent display, known as the “sea of stars,” off Vaadhoo Island in the Raa Atoll.


3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

It’s not hard to see why honeymooners flock to this gem of French Polynesia, an extinct volcano ringed by turquoise lagoons, overwater bungalows, and a string of flat, sandy islets known as motus. Many of the beaches here are private, the personal fiefdoms of international luxury resort brands; Conrad Bora Bora Nui, for instance, owns Motu Tapu, which was once the private beach of 19th-century Tahitian queen Pomare IV. As luck would have it, one of the island’s few public beaches also happens to rank among its finest: The waters off of Matira Beach are as warm and calm as an infinity pool, and you can walk all the way out to the surrounding reef to easily snorkel among confetti-colored fish and stingrays.


2. Palawan, Philippines

Protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, your third-favorite island in Asia doesn’t skimp on the geological drama, from its karst limestone cliffs to its subterranean river. Offshore, its trapped-in-time beaches give way to an underwater landscape of seagrass meadows and coral reefs, which are home to sea turtles, dolphins, manatee-like dugongs, and endangered giant clams. You’ll find some of the most gorgeous and unspoiled beaches along the island’s northern tip in El Nido, which takes its name from the Spanish words for “the nest”—a reference to the swiftlets who build their (edible) nests on the cliff faces. And it’s also the perfect gateway for island-hopping among the lush and mostly uninhabited islets of the Bacuit Bay archipelago.


1. Aruba

For first-time visitors to this Dutch Caribbean island, it would be easy to never step foot off the two-mile strip of Palm Beach, with its high-rise hotels and access to watersports, from parasailing to kite-surfing to flyboarding—aka zooming above the surface of the water on a water-propelled jetpack. But look elsewhere on this nearly 70-square-mile island and you’ll find beaches that show off its surprising diversity of landscapes. Eagle Beach, for instance, is home to gnarled fofoti trees that twist and bend like bonsais due to the tradewinds, while rugged Blackstone Beach is covered in smooth black pebbles in the shadow of natural land bridges. For something completely different, it’s hard to beat the Instagram-friendliness of the Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort’s private beach (you can get a day pass!), where you can hand-feed the resident flock of flamingos, who strut amon the lounge chairs and palapas like they own the place.

For Activities is Palawan, contact Lagum Adventure ,


For transportation at any point in Palawan, email,


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