Every year, the magazine Travel & Leisure conducts a reader survey to discover the best travel destinations around the world. There are different designations for the awards, including hotels, islands, and more. This year, the top overall island in the world, as selected by Travel & Leisure readers, was Santorini, in Greece. The island moved up three places from fourth place in 2013. It had an overall score of 89.98 out of 100. On the top overall island list, it was followed by three Hawaiian islands: Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, with Bali rounding out the top five.
How the Rankings Work
The rankings come from the readers of the magazine, not from travel experts or people in the industry, making them truly based on the traveler’s experience. The Travel & Leisure survey was available for readers to fill out for four months, from December 2013 to March 2014. Any responses that were from an identified travel-industry professional were eliminated to keep the results strictly from the readers. Each area had characteristics in which respondents ranked the areas. For islands, there were five characteristics. There were also optional characteristics, although those were not included in the final score. The ratings were averaged and totaled to create an overall score, which then allowed the locations to be compared and a list to be formed . The categories for islands included natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people, and value, along with an optional category for romance.
Not just Travel & Leisure Readers
It is not just Travel & Leisure Readers that rank Santorini as the best island in the world. The U.S. News and World Report ranks Santorini as number one, a ranking based on experts and readers voting. The top five for this list include Bora Bora, St. Kitts & Nevis, Maldives and St. Martin in St. Maartin. Many other lists likewise rank Santorini as the top, or one of the top, islands to visit in the world.
Santorini, one of the Greek islands, is located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for its white buildings and stunning sunsets. It has long drawn visitors to its white, red and black sand beaches. The island is just as famous for its nightlife as it is for its beautiful vistas. As with many areas of Greece, remnants remain of the ancient empire. Visitors enjoy seeing the archeological findings in the preserved Ancient Akrotiri, or climbing the ancient stairs to the city of Manolas in Thirassia. The myth of the lost island of Atlantis is associated with Santorini. A volcanic eruption in 1650 B.C.E. caused a single island, Strongyli, to succumb to the sea and form the archipelago of today, which is made up of two inhabited islands and several islets. Many people believe that Atlantis was on Strongyli. The volcano remains active, and it last erupted in the 1950s and ruined many of the towns on the island.
Things to Do on the Island
Like many Mediterranean islands, Santorini’s top attractions typically revolve around beach or ocean activities. The best beach to visit is Kamari Beach, located about 4 miles southeast of Fira. It features powdery black sand, which can get hot. Because this beach is so popular, it can get crowded. A quieter beach is the Red Beach, located in Akrotiri. Visitors should also look at the many beautiful views of the caldera, especially from Amoudi Bay. To get to this spot, there is a 300-step hike that can be taxing. This little port town also features beautiful sunsets, along with quaint taverns offering fresh fish of the day. For those looking to learn more about ancient Greece, Ancient Thira and Ancient Akrotiri offer beautiful ruins from various eras to explore.