With summer upon us, at least in the northern hemisphere, the time is now to head out for an exciting summer getaway. As part of our world travel guide series breakdown, we list down some of the best island nations, with the best sun, sea and sand destinations!

Barbados 

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Barbados Island

Famed for its stunning powder-like sand and alluring waters, Barbados is an island which has it all. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, the 123RF World Travel Guide would never resort to the word ‘laid back’ to describe the home of Rihanna. Its vibrant nightlife is best seen in Holetown and St Lawrence Gap. Here, everything from dizzying disco and raucous reggae bars promise an eventful night out. If you are looking for a dose of adventure, head out to Crane Beach in the island’s east coast. The impressive waves make this a popular spot among surfers. 

Alternatively, travel to the west coast for calmer waters and swanky family friendly resorts. Meanwhile, for a dose of tranquility and amazing snorkeling sights, head down south. The cheaper accommodation options also ensures Barbados offers a treat for every wallet. Finally, no trip here is complete without a visit to St Nicholas Abbey. One of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean, this mansion enables you to take a step back into the island’s past while sipping on some of the finest rum.

Indonesia 

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

The 123RF World Travel Guide highlights Indonesia as one of the top destinations. This sprawling country offers a treat for every traveler. Volcanic mountains meet lush rainforests, bustling streets meet idyllic beaches and amusing orangutans meet fearsome Komodo dragons. Here, begin your journey in the spectacular Borobudur. This massive temple resembles the Buddhist version of the universe. Borobudur’s mandala-inspired design is believed to enable pilgrims to connect with nirvana. The building’s stupa is at the heart of this prophecy. Likewise, Borobudur is at the center of Indonesia’s history and culture. 

Additionally, no trip to Indonesia would be complete without visiting its beautiful beaches. And the 123RF World Travel Guide picks Gili Islands over Bali for its more laid-back appeal. Situated just off the coast of Lombok, three gorgeous islands make up one of the world’s best dive sites.

Gili Trawangan is the most urban of its siblings, with plenty of high end resorts. Meanwhile, Gili Meno is the ultimate escapade. Gili Air though does well to combine the best of the partying and peace. Additionally, visit the Komodo National Park for a truly unique experience. This UNESCO World Heritage Centre enables you to walk alongside dragons in some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking natural settings. 

Jamaica 

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Jamaica river

For the 123RF World Travel Guide, Jamaica is intoxicating. Here, tease your ears as you groove to the reggae beats. Lend your eyes to spectacular cascading waterfalls. Taste every bite of tropical fruit and wash them down with good old rum. Finally, open your arms and welcome the gentle sea breeze on your delicate, tanned skin. In Jamaica, begin your journey by exploring the lush Blue Lagoon. Surrounded by serene forests, the turquoise waters are like a vision of beauty. A dip here enables travelers to get the best of both worlds – the warmth of the sea and cooling effects of the underground streams.

For those keen for a dose for the high life, hike up the Blue Mountain Peak. For the best experience, make it just in time for sunrise. Jamaica also does not hold back on its Caribbean flair. A trip to Kingston allows travelers to experience the city’s history and culture in the downtown district. Meanwhile, head uptown for Kingston’s swanky food, dining and clubbing scene. Finally, don’t leave without a trip to a local beach, and Doctor’s Cave is the best of the bunch.

Maldives 

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For anyone in search of paradise, Maldives is just that. Stunning powder white beaches are a simple hop and skip away from luxury resorts. Spa massages are readily available with a mere phone call. And romantic, seaside dinners await every honeymooning couple. For the 123RF World Travel Guide, Ari Atoll is arguably the pick of the bunch. This inviting lagoon homes world class diving and snorkeling sites. However, the ultimate experience lies in the whale shark swimming experience. 

The country’s charm continues in Maafushi. The island has evolved into a traveler’s favorite, with resorts and hotels slowly taking over. The island is also known to be more relaxed with laws on pork, alcohol and bikinis. Meanwhile, for those seeking a truly memorable experience, travel to the Vaadhoo Islands. Here, check out the glorious ‘Sea of Stars’ phenomenon, a glow in the dark beach caused by the plankton and the water. However, no trip to Maldives is complete without Male. This tiny capital offers insight into the ‘real’ Maldives. The chaos of the streets and markets are always the best place to begin with.     

Mauritius 

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Mauritius red church

Mauritius is heaven on land. For the 123RF World Travel Guide, Mauritius is the ultimate paradise and a celebration of colors. Bright, blue waters, powder white sands, green palm fringed lands and the fascinating Seven Colored Earths, all pay a significant homage to the diversity and charm of this country. For the best experience, head straight for the west coast.

The most popular attraction here is the gorgeous Flic en Flac beach, with underwater treasures situated just off this tourist hot spot. Meanwhile, for adventure enthusiasts, travel to the volcanic lake of Grand Bassin and hike the waterfalls of the Black River Gorges National Park. As for ecotourism travelers, the Ile aux Aigrettes remains the best option to uncover Mauritius’ immense conservation efforts for its rich plant and wildlife species.

However, no trip to Mauritius is complete without a pit stop at Port Louis. Here, head directly for the bustling Mercado Central farmer’s market and get a taste of the daily life, along with the country’s rapidly growing culinary scene.   

Samoa

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Samoa ocean trench

Our World Travel Guide highlights Samoa as one of the most underrated travel destinations. It has everything you want from a stunning Caribbean island, minus the hustle and bustle of its more famous counterparts. The island of Upolu is at the heart of this nation. The 24-hour Maketi Fou dishes out local food and produce, so be sure to include this as a pit stop. However, in Upolu, it’s all about the jaw-dropping natural beauty.

First up, the To Sua Ocean Trench. This incredibly photogenic location homes a massive sinkhole that opens up to an aquamarine pool. It takes quite a bit of effort to enjoy this, but the descend via a sturdy wooden ladder makes it worth your time and courage.

Next, don’t leave without checking out the Piula Cave Pool. Perfect for a family getaway and thrill-seekers, as the latter can uncover the cave by swimming through a narrow passageway and into the next site. Finally, end your day on a high at the Afu Aau and Togitogiga Waterfalls, where serenity is served in abundance. 

Seychelles 

123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Seychelles beach

This is paradise. Scattered across the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is literally heaven on earth for our World Travel Guide. First and foremost, Mahe serves as the main entry point to this gorgeous archipelago. This island accommodates the town of Victoria, where bright, creole-inspired buildings and market are in abundance.

However, the best of the lot here is the Beau Vallon. This stretch of land has the island’s best beaches and snorkeling spots, alongside luxury resorts for those who can’t seem to get enough of this jewel. Additionally, for more glorious white sand beaches, explore Denis. This private island is where you can dive in turquoise waters, snorkel among sea turtles and explore the world’s rarest species of birds. Are your bags packed yet?

Sri Lanka

 123RF World Travel Guide: Best Island Nations 123RF Blog - Sri Lanka train ride

The recent terror attacks has undoubtedly led to an increase in security concerns. However, there has been no reports of ongoing threats. For a country handpicked by Lonely Planet as their Best in Travel 2019, Sri Lanka is ready to step out of India’s shadow and stake its claim to be one of the region’s top travel destinations. 

Beaches here are an absolute must and Tangalle has some of the best. Its turquoise waters, swaying coconut trees, coastal wind and golden sun are the perfect antidote to wintertime blues. However, for a more authentic experience, head out to Ella. Surrounded by a series of hills, dense vegetation and tea plantations, this town is the ultimate ecotourism spot. To soak it all in, get a taste of the mouth-watering, full bull-bodied, local cuisine. After all, if it’s good enough for Mark Weins, who are we to disagree?

Finally, for those looking to spot Sri Lanka’s epic wildlife, check out the Yara National Park which features elephants and the world’s largest density of leopards. Alternatively, hop on an excursion off Mirissa to catch dolphins and humpback whales live in action.

Want more travel inspiration? Watch this space as we continue to slide and dice our extensive world travel guide series!