In the two years since the destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, our readers have consistently supported the islands hit the hardest — including the sailors’ Edens of St. John, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke, along with St. Bart’s and Vieques, which continue to reopen their most popular resorts. But as this year’s choices also reflect, there’s always room for new discoveries.
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.
Related: The World’s Best Awards 2019
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the East Coast’s answer to Hawaii: a volcanic island with spectacular diving, jungle hiking with the requisite waterfalls, and, of course, white-sand beaches and crystalline waters. JetBlue has direct flights from New York, making it all the easier to explore the 133-square-mile island that one reader calls “a great getaway.”
Related: The Top 25 Resort Hotels in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas
Returning to this list after a year’s reprieve is the Bahamas’ Harbour Island. This tiny outpost — only 3½ miles long and half a mile wide — is praised for its stretches of pink-sand beaches, diveable reefs, and charming Dunmore Town, where Georgian buildings are painted in cheerful pastels. Visitors in the know stay at the Ocean View Club, a family-owned boutique hotel that has 12 sea-facing units just steps from the Pink Sand Beach and one of the best restaurants on the island. One reader wrote, “Lovely island, with the most beautiful beach in the world.”
The island taking the top spot does so for the third year in a row, and also appears on the World’s Best Islands list.
15. Exumas, Bahamas
14. Culebra, Puerto Rico
12. Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
11. Turks and Caicos
10. St. Bart’s
8. Harbour Island, Bahamas
7. Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 84.84
6. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 85.47
5. St. Lucia
4. Abaco Islands, Bahamas
3. Vieques, Puerto Rico
2. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The most complicated decision you’ll need to make when visiting this exquisite island — which wins the top spot for the third year in a row, plus a place on our World’s Best Islands list — is which of the 33 beaches you’ll use as a home base. Each seems more beautiful than the last, with lodgings to match: Zemi Beach House Resort & Spa, the Four Seasons Resort Anguilla, and Frangipani Beach Resort remain on the World’s Best Hotels list, and the venerable Malliouhana and Belmond Cap Juluca have reopened to great fanfare this year. With spectacular restaurants (don’t miss Blanchards and Straw Hat), welcoming islanders, and a relaxed vibe, Anguilla provides the perfect island setting for travelers looking for an escape.
See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2019.