You’ve probably heard of the Maldives, Seychelles or the Caribbean islands, but do you know how many islands there are in the world? The real number is difficult to quantify because it depends on how you classify an island and whether you include all the islands in lakes or rivers. This is why it is very difficult to calculate this number. However, I can tell you that there are 2,000 islands in the world’s oceans.
Do you know how many islands there are in Indonesia? Amazingly, the Indonesian archipelago has 18,307 islands so why not explore some of the famous islands in the world.
Prettiest Places in the World
At Off the Tourist Treadmill we love to get off the tourist path, but we also want to have contact with the locals. Locals are very important when you are travelling. When you travel, the goal is to discover, relax and learn new knowledge. Sharing and exchanging information with locals is the best way to create unforgettable memories from your travel experiences. Here is a list of the best islands to visit before they suffer from over-tourism and development.
10 Most Famous Island in the World to Visit
1. Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
One of my favourite places is the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam, but you need to visit as soon as possible before this little paradise becomes a tourist attraction. For the time being, you can still rent a bungalow next to the beach and spend a great time relaxing. The locals are fantastic (as they are across all of Vietnam). During our visit, we found a small place in the back streets where we loved to take our breakfast.
The sand on Phu Quoc island is beautiful and the sea water is very hot, as is the sun. When visiting, it is definitely a good idea to use a lot of sun block. We always try to respect the environment and the sea when travelling and, as a result, use an eco-friendly sun block.
On the island, you can enjoy the beach and eat fruit from local sellers, or you can rent a scooter to explore the rest of the island. On our travels around the island by scooter, we met a father and his son working in a coconut field and spent an agreeable hour chatting with them. Amongst the things we learned from them was how to climb the trees to pick coconuts.
If you want to rent a scooter, you need to be aware that sometimes the road just stops, and you may find yourself in the middle of a construction site! Further on, the road starts again.
I highly recommend that you visit the rainforest. When you get close, you can’t help but hear the noise from the animals and birds. There are paths which run inside the rainforest, but they are mainly off road, dirt paths. This was a great experience for us and a tip we received from other backpackers.
To conclude, this island isn’t completely isolated, and you will find everything you need but it’s still a great place to spend 4 or 5 days. Another tip is that I recommend you use the plane to travel to this island. Internal flights are not very expensive and very quick. Check our Travel resources to find the best flight or hotel.
2. Holbox Island, Mexico
This is my second choice of the best islands to visit because it’s etched in my memory as being the place where I asked my fiancée to marry me. This Mexican island is not a deserted location – you will find an established small community on this island. However, the island is completely free of cars and has sandy roads for local buggies. You need to leave your cars at the small port of Chiquila and wheel your luggage onto the awaiting ferries.
This island is just beautiful. You will discover amazing beaches with pure white sand and transparent water. It is the ideal location if you want to spend romantic time with your other half. What more do you need than a place where you can watch the sunset sitting peacefully on white sand? If you want to be more active, this island also offers you the opportunity for this.
You can enjoy all the popular water sports, or you can go and watch the pink flamingos flying in for sunset at the end of the island. The best way to enjoy the entire island is to ride a bike and just go and explore. Along the way, you will find idyllic and tranquil places like hammocks on the shallow water.
After a full day making plenty of memories, you can eat at one of the restaurants in the centre, or if you want to save money, you can easily buy street food from the central square. Afterwards, don’t miss out on dancing on the beach with the locals! For more information about Holbox, you can read these posts: How to Get to Isla Holbox, What to do in Isla Holbox or Best Holbox Beaches
3. Whitsundays, Australia
If you plan to go to Australia, you must spend a few days on some of the wonderful 74 islands located in Queensland. They are simply paradise on earth and will please everybody. If you love photography, you will find amazing landscapes to shoot. However, you don’t need to be a good photographer to get impressive photographs. You are in the middle of a picture perfect post card! If you are a beach lover, this is the place for you! If you want to swim, you will find the best spots with more than 1,600 species of fish, like dolphins, rays, whales or octopuses because the archipelago is at the heart of the reef.
The best way to start your visit is Airlie Beach. Here you will find all you need to start your adventure here. It is the best place to find your first night’s accommodation. If you are a backpacker and you keep an eye on your budget or If you want to have more luxury, check below
When to Visit Whitsundays Island?
Good news! It’s a great time to visit Whitsundays Island all year round. However, the best time is between May and September. The least favourable time is between November and May when you will find deadly jellyfish, so swimming in beachwear will be off limits. However, you can still swim with a full wetsuit. We advise you to visit it in September to have ideal conditions and this is the time when you will see the whales.
How to get to Whitsunday Island?
To get to Whitsunday Island, you can take the plane and arrive in Hamilton or Airlie Beach (this is the best place to start). Alternatively, you can reach the island by car using the Bruce Highway. For a cheaper option, take a bus. Greyhound operates a line from different towns along the coast to Airlie.
4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora is probably one of the most mythic islands in French Polynesia. At 260 km from Tahiti, you will discover another paradise on earth. The island is surrounded by a lagoon and coral reef. This island is a pearl in French Polynesia with plenty to do. If you want to enjoy diving or snorkelling, Bora Bora is a very good destination. Thanks to the coral ring around the main island, you will see a lot of amazing sea creatures like dolphins, rays, turtles and other colourful fish.
The whole area around Tahiti is very expensive and Bora Bora is no different. If you are travelling near to Bora Bora, you should definitely take time to explore and enjoy this island. Some people say the island is too touristic, but you can easily avoid the tourist spots and find more secluded places in the sun and swim inside the lagoon. We recommend this hotel for its location which is close to everything.
5. Vanuatu and its 83 Islands, South Pacific
Vanuatu is the only island in the world where the French and the British governed together until 1980. As a result, you find a cultural mix and a typical Pacific atmosphere. Next to cafés and French restaurants, you will find Pubs and English shops. The people are open minded and very happy.
This island offers world class and almost deserted beaches, ancient culture and many beautiful diving spots. In addition, you can climb an active volcano and see the magma-filled crater in the morning, dive in a magnificent sea during the afternoon and share a drink with locals in the evening. Where else in the world you can do that? These are a few of the things waiting for you on this archipelago. Vanuatu will surprise you whether you are a beach lover or an adventurer.
6. Bali, Indonesia
There is a good reason why so many people go to Bali on vacation. Bali evokes thoughts of paradise but it is more than that. For me, Bali is like strong alcohol. It takes you by surprise at first but afterwards you fall under its spell and you want to stay and see more.
Bali has everything. You can go for a trek in the middle of the rice terrace, take part in all the popular water sports or discover the rich and diverse culture of Bali. At the end of the day, you can experience almost everything. No matter what you want or who you are, Bali is fun.
If you want to stay in a good location, have a look at this selection of hotels:
As we’ve said, you can do a lot in Bali. For more ideas, check the activities here.
7. Santorini, Greece
Some people believe that Santorini is found in the area of the long lost city of Atlantis. Santorini is a paradise for photographer, there are so many things waiting to be capture by your camera. Red, black and white sand beaches, on of the larges in the world caldera lake.
You can flight to Santorini but the best way to discover this island is to come by boat. This is unforgettable experience, you are going to see a cliff between 200 and 300 meters where the geology created different layer of material, it is like an open book where you can read the evolution of the island but the last layer isn’t from geology but from human, concrete for hotel and shop. You are going to see patch, stairs, small road and a cable car to rich the top. For more information about the island activities and to be able to buy your ticket in advance you can check below.
Best Caribbean Islands
8. Dominican Republic, Caribbean
If you are looking for a fantastic island on a budget, then the Dominican Republic is for you. This Caribbean island boasts great weather, lovely beaches, low cost hotels and plenty of things to do. Cheap direct flights from the USA, UK and Europe make this island easy to travel to. If you want more than beaches, you can also experience hiking, climbing and all water sports. We recommend going to Puerto Plata which is less touristic and less expensive than Punta Cana. Check out great accommodation below.
9. Jamaica, Caribbean
Another great island in the Caribbean, which won’t break the bank or damage your budget, is Jamaica. Of course, Jamaica is the land of reggae music and it’s brilliant to chill out after activities with music on the beach. On the island, you will find plenty of bars and restaurants with great ambiance. On top of that, it is very easy to find great accommodation in idyllic locations. Jamaican food is also really excellent; you must try BBQs on the beach which are a memorable and authentic experience.
10. Aruba, Caribbean
If you are looking for beaches and amazing weather, Aruba is for you. This small island is located off the coast of Venezuela and offers cheap all-inclusive resorts. Aruba also has superb beaches with a lot of sunshine but there is nothing much else to do. If you are looking for culture, scenery or hiking, then you need to pass on this island. The best period to visit Aruba is between December and August. The good news is that most visitors don’t need visas.