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Trip Ideas

The Best Island Hotels in the World (IOHO)

Islands come in a million different shapes and sizes, from a tiny windswept getaways to white-sand escapes perfect for water sports to lush countryside idylls where roaring fires replace lapping waves. We’ve rounded up nine of the world’s best island hotels to help you plan your next trip—no matter what you have in mind.

Jen has been a staff editor at Architectural Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Afar, and Elle Decor. When she's not snowmobiling in the French Alps or tasting scotch straight from the barrel in Scotland, she's at home in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

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The Cloister, Sea Island, Georgia

Set among nearly 1,000 acres of beach on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, The Cloister is an ideal retreat for active types who appreciate a little luxury at the end of the day. The property has every outdoor activity imaginable (think horseback riding, hiking, golf, fishing and more), with a gorgeous 1928 Mediterranean-style palazzo as its centerpiece. Here, you’ll find five-star rooms outfitted with Turkish rugs, richly patterned curtains, rain showers, and exposed wood beams, as well as seven restaurants that turn out everything from wood-fired pizzas to fresh-shucked oysters on the half shell. Be sure to make a reservation at the Georgian Room, considered to be one of the best restaurant in the state.

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Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, Newfoundland

A remote island off Canada’s Newfoundland coast may be the last place you’d expect to find an arts-and-crafts destination, but that’s the case at the Fogo Island Inn, a modernist wood-and-glass complex that rises from the rugged landscape like something out of a Bond movie. The hotel sits at the center of a long-established community of artisans, which inspired the 29 guest rooms, where locally made quilts, rugs, furniture, and artwork are set against an inspiring Atlantic Ocean backdrop. You’ll also spot regional works on view in the gallery, library, and restaurant, that is, if you’re not embarking on a foraging trip or snowshoeing with the locals, or taking a movie break at the 37-seat theater.

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Katikies, Santorini, Greece

There’s no better place to witness Oia’s legendary sunsets than from one of three infinity pools at Katikies, a series of whitewashed cubes overlooking the Aegean. Of course, the hotel’s open-air Mikrasia restaurant is a fitting second choice. Take in the view over local specialties like grilled calamari with fava beans and slow-cooked lamb and a glass of Santorini’s own assyrtiko wine, then follow the meandering bridges and pathways back to your room. Resembling upscale versions of the classic cliff-side dwellings fishermen used to inhabit, the 27 suites incorporate the island’s iconic color palette with white furnishings and linens, blonde wood floors, and windows that spotlight the sparkling lapis sea and sky.

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Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Nevis

With an 18th-century plantation house, a pristine stretch of white-sand shoreline, and nearly 30 acres of coconut groves and flower-filled gardens, Nevis’s Nisbet Plantation Beach Club doesn’t lack for atmosphere. The ruins of an old sugar mill set the tone at the resort’s entrance, and green vervet monkeys frolic from palm to palm between the 36 guest rooms, each housed in sunny yellow bungalows outfitted with cane and wicker furnishings, wood shutters, and a cheerful pastel palette that evokes the hotel’s Caribbean setting. After a day spent snorkeling turquoise waters or horseback riding, reserve a table at the hotel's Great House restaurant and sample the fresh-caught island staples.

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Nihi Sumba Island, Indonesia

Surfers, wellness buffs, and honeymooners will find plenty to love at Nihi Sumba Island, a luxury resort that’s located 250 miles east of Bali but offers the same eco-focused spirit. Each of the 33 thatched-roof bungalows overlooks the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, which beckons guests with a host of active pursuits, including snorkeling, spearfishing, and paddle boarding. There’s also a cocoa plantation and organic factory nearby, where little ones can help make confectionary turtles or brew their own hot chocolate. JS Tip: Sign up for the hotel's "spa safari" experience; you'll venture 90 minutes into the countryside to shop for local wares in a traditional Sumbanese village and indulge in spa treatments overlooking verdant rice paddies.

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Kamalame Cay, Andros, Bahamas

A stay on Kamalame Cay feels like a vacation on your own private getaway: The intimate 96-acre island accommodates only 70 guests at a time, which means you could go a whole day without seeing another soul. Fringed by colorful bougainvillea, the 27 rooms and suites are scattered across a series of cottages and Balinese-style beach houses with wraparound balconies, but you won't want to stay indoors for too long. The hotel offers all types of activities, from snorkeling a local coral reef teeming with angelfish, nurse sharks, and stingrays to sailing around the surrounding islands on a sunset cruise to indulging in a juniper-and-cypress oil massage at the resort’s overwater spa (just keep your eyes peeled for sea life, which you can spot through the glass floor).

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Ballyfin, County Laois, Ireland

Tucked into the emerald hills of Ireland’s County Laois—90 minutes north of Dublin—Ballyfin is the dream country-house hotel. You’ll feel it as you enter the restored 18th-century manor’s saloon, where a warm fire greets you and inlaid wood floors match the antique rug; in the library, shelves are stocked with rare leather-bound books, and a cantilevered staircase is lined with Edwardian portraits. The 20 guest suites are equally fetching, with marble baths, four-poster beds, richly upholstered walls, and ornate moldings, as are the grounds, with more than 600 acres of manicured lawns and gardens. There’s also a six-acre vegetable garden, where ingredients are sourced for all the meals that are included in your stay.

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Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand

New Zealand’s North Island is an otherworldly setting renowned for its natural beauty and abundance of rugged pursuits. After all, Lord of the Rings was filmed against its primeval lakes and picturesque mountains. But there’s nothing rustic about the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, set on 6,000 acres abutting the Pacific. Housed in a complex of three buildings that look like Southern plantation-style houses, the hotel’s 22 graciously appointed suites make an ultra-luxe landing pad thanks to sumptuous linens, deep soaking tubs, fireplaces, and private patios. But you’ll find real respite in the spa, where you can unwind after a round of championship golf with a manuka honey scrub in the shade of age-old totara trees.

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Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Occupying a cliff-side perch in Soufrière, Jade Mountain is often touted as St. Lucia’s most romantic hotel. The resort rises high above cerulean waves and offers unparalleled views of the island’s signature Piton peaks from its adults-only, open-air rooms, which are also outfitted with alfresco baths and private plunge pools. Don't miss the on-site restaurant, where James Beard Award–winner Allen Susser uses ingredients cultivated in the private organic farm for island specialties. Guests also have access to the volcanic beaches, reef-dominated marine preserve, and spa of sister resort Anse Chastanet, located just down the hill.

What to wear at an island hotel

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