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There are many amazing, beautiful islands around the world outside of the few tropical places most Americans are familiar with. Some have quaint coastal fishing villages, while others boast pristine, white-sand beaches. Looking at photos from these islands around the world feels like you’re escaping into a serene, magical world.
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Part of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, Aitutaki has some of the clearest, bluest water on the planet. Its 15 islets are home to just around 1,800 people, providing seclusion in addition to its natural beauty.
Known for its diving and snorkeling opportunities, Bonaire is a Caribbean municipality of the Netherlands. Despite being just a little more than 100 square miles in size, the island is home to more than 200 species of birds, as well as three of the world’s six endangered or critically endangered species of sea turtles.
Navarino Island is part of the Chilean region of Patagonia and home to the southernmost hiking trail in the world. The island’s mountain range, Dientes de Navarino (“Teeth of Navarino” in Spanish), is home to mudflats, forests and lakes.
Located in the Whitsunday Islands of Australia, Hamilton Island is located off the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world and a place at risk of disappearing. Yachts, golf courses and pristine white beaches characterize the island, which has a complimentary shuttle service for all visitors.
Vanuatu is made up of 83 islands in the south Pacific Ocean with awe-inspiring scenery that includes forests, beaches, swimming holes and even active volcanoes.
The Greek island of Sifnos in the Mediterranean is quite picturesque, with 227 beautiful churches and many lovely villages dotting its landscape.
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An island destination that requires no passport for Americans, Saipan is the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking cliffs and mysterious caves characterize the island, which has nearly 4,000 years of history.
The oldest known settlements date back to 3500 B.C. on Palau, which is made up of more than 300 islands inhabited by about 22,000 people. Surrounded by turquoise waters and coral reefs, Palau also has uninhabited, volcanic limestone islands and countless underwater diving sites.
Once a popular destination until 1989’s Hurricane Hugo and volcanic activity in the 1990s destroyed the island’s economy and infrastructure, Montserrat has since rebuilt itself, although its natural beauty has never changed. Located in the Caribbean, this British island is just 11 miles long and 7 miles wide.
Dominica is one of the least-visited countries in the world despite the fact that it has long been a lovely oasis in the Caribbean. Rainforests, national parks, reefs and hot springs characterize the island, which is also home to one of the largest active boiling lakes in the world.
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Situated off the southern coast of Vietnam, the Côn Đảo Islands are some of the most stunning remote islands in the world. Pristine beaches and lush jungle offer plenty of lovely sights, and turtle-hatching season takes place from mid-August to early December.
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Made up of the islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo, along with the islets of Formica and Maraone, Italy’s Egadi Archipelago is the largest protected marine area in Europe. On land, quaint villages and historic churches make up the landscape, while snorkeling opportunities in caves and grottoes sit underwater.
Koh Yao Yai is one of the most underrated tourist spots in the world, home to just 4,000 people. In addition to picturesque beaches, the Thai island has rice paddy fields, rubber plantations and mangrove forests.
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French Polynesia is home to some of the best beaches in the world, particularly on the Tuamotu archipelago. Off its serene shores lined with coconut palm trees, the Tuamotus are surrounded by richly diverse coral reefs and strikingly clear waters.
The westernmost and southernmost islands of Japan, the Yaeyama Islands have a stunning beauty to them, with majestic mountain ranges, coral beaches, quaint villages and green jungles.
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Located in the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Central Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe are a pair of volcanic islands surrounded by eight smaller islets. The beautiful country is home to more than 700 native species of plants and 143 species of birds.
Known for having one of the scariest airport runways in the world, the island of Saba is a part of the Dutch Caribbean. Just 5 square miles in size, Saba has four main villages with small, quaint streets, well-kept gardens and picturesque buildings.
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There are seven beaches on Guana Island, with the white coral sand White Bay Beach being considered one of the best. Part of the British Virgin Islands, the private and remote island is just 850 acres.
Situated about 90 miles north of Venezuela, Curaçao has more than 35 beaches and is the kind of place where it’s always summer. Not only does the temperature on the island hover near 84 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, but the island also lies outside of the hurricane belt.
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Right in the middle of the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea lies Paros, home to traditional Greek villages and sunny beaches. Scenic hiking trails first created by traveling farmers wind through the island, and medieval Venetian castles stand atop some of its hills.
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With gorgeous landscapes and beaches featured in movies, the island of Ischia off the southwestern coast of Italy is known for its thermo-mineral springs flowing near its beaches. Pine trees and other lush greenery colors the island, as do multiple vineyards.
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The French Caribbean island of Martinique has lovely warm weather and sights such as white sand beaches, hiking trails and more than 25 museums.
Located on the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece, Kefalonia is a colorful island with bright greenish-blue waters, green mountains and brightly painted homes. The island’s Xi Beach has colorful sand with a bright orange hue.
Thanks to its limestone rock formations and impressive Maltese architecture, Gozo has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The island’s villages and hamlets are quite tranquil, with friendly locals whose specialty craftsmanship includes weaving and lacemaking.
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Just 9 nautical miles and a short ferry ride from Split, the second-largest city in Croatia, Šolta is an island characterized located on the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece, Kefalonia is a colorful island with bright greenish-blue waters, green mountains and brightly painted homes. The island’s Xi Beach has colorful sand with a bright orange hue.
One of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, Formentera has beaches with fine, white sand and crystal blue waters while farther inland lie caves, lakes and enchanting forests.
The beautiful island of Koh Rong may not be very well known by name, but it did serve as the filming location for a few seasons of both the French and American versions of the reality TV show “Survivor.” Cambodia’s second-largest island, Koh Rong has a hilly, jungle terrain and more than 20 beaches.
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Just a little over 120 miles off the coast of the celebrity hotspot French Riviera, Corsica has its own lovely coastline spanning more than 600 miles. Two-thirds of the island is part of a natural park, with mountains characterizing its geography.
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The dragon’s blood trees of Socotra are one of the world’s strangest natural wonders, but they’re just a small part of the biodiversity of the Yemeni island. More than 900 plant species are found on Socotra, 30% of which are endemic.
The largest German island, Rügen is just under 360 square miles in size, lying off the Pomeranian coast in the Baltic Sea. In addition to beaches, it has chalk cliffs with stunning views, lovely fishing villages, impressive mansions and huge national parks.
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Just half of the 12 Marquesas Islands are inhabited, but all have marvelous scenery and wildlife such as boars, goats and wild horses. Covering a total of 385 square miles, the Marquesas Islands have lovely bays and black-sand beaches, off of which diverse marine life such as dolphins, manta rays and swordfish can be seen swimming.
The Croatian island of Hvar played a big role in the development of health tourism starting in 1868 with the establishment of the Hvar Hygienic Society. Historic sites include its 17th-century public theater, the oldest in Europe, and a Franciscan monastery.
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The Magdalen Islands, or Iles de la Madeleine as they’re known in French, are a group of islands that lie in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec, Canada. Six postcard-worthy lighthouses can be found among the islands’ coastal towns, along with wooden churches and art galleries.
About 1,800 islands make up the province of Palawan in the Philippines, and its people come from all backgrounds, representing 81 different cultural groups. Home to gorgeous beaches, including the famous El Nido, and beautiful waterfalls, Palawan is also known for its caves full of archeological discoveries.
Raja Ampat literally means “The Four Kings,” referring to the fact that the Indonesian archipelago consists of four main islands, which are surrounded by more than 1,500 smaller islands. With about 75% of the world’s coral species, the islands are home to one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
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