Christened the Garden Island, Kauai’s splendor extends from its vermillion Waimea Canyon, plunging down 3,600 feet, to its rugged Napali Cliffs, stretching up 4,000 feet. Often dotted with dozing monk seals, Kauai’s Poipu Beach has appeared on Dr. Beach’s esteemed list of America’s Best Beaches. Rivers, rainforests and waterfalls garnish the interior; don’t miss a photo op of Wailua Falls, famously featured in the opening credits of Fantasy Island, which aired from 1977 to 1984.

Word History: It may seem hard to believe, but Latin aqua, "water," is related to island, which originally meant "watery land." Aqua comes almost unchanged from Indo-European *akwā-, "water." *Akwā- became *ahwō- in Germanic by Grimm's Law and other sound changes. To this was built the adjective *ahwjō-, "watery." This then became *awwjō- or *auwi-, which in pre-English became *ēaj-, and finally ēg or īeg in Old English. Island, spelled iland, first appears in Old English in King Alfred's translation of Boethius about ad 888; the spellings igland and ealond appear in contemporary documents. The s in island is due to a mistaken etymology, confusing the etymologically correct English iland with French isle. Isle comes ultimately from Latin īnsula "island," a component of paenīnsula, "almost-island," whence our peninsula.

The Seychelles’ towering beach boulders are a mainstay on computer desktops, but they’re more than merely aesthetic — they also fascinate geologists, who have identified the Seychelles as the only mid-ocean islands formed of granite. Other superlatives: The archipelago is the oldest on the planet, and it has the cleanest air. Naturally, celebrities flock here; if you want to vacation a la British royalty, stay on North Island, where Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their 2011 honeymoon.
Who hasn’t been spellbound by images of Capri’s electric Blue Grotto? This glowing sea cave impresses even veteran globetrotters — and it’s only the beginning of the island’s marvels. Ash-white limestone cliffs, hidden slivers of beach, a towering natural arch: It’s no wonder Capri has been a tourist hub since ancient Roman times. Tip: Climb up to the ruins of Emperor Tiberius’ Villa Jovis, circa A.D. 27, for a heart-stopping vista.
Search cheap hotels with KAYAK. Use the hotel finder to search for the cheapest hotel deal for all major destinations around the world. KAYAK searches hundreds of hotel booking sites to help you find hotels and book hotels that suit you best. Since KAYAK searches many hotel sites at once, you can find discount hotels quickly. Discover hotel discounts now and make your hotel reservation today.
People rarely venture out to the Channel Islands from the California mainland, although it seems just a stone’s throw away. The most accessible, and famous, is Santa Catalina, which I reached in two hours by ferry from the port of Los Angeles. There I found a placid village called Avalon, a calm bay, and a famous prewar dance hall—round like a fortress—where the big bands once played.
Glass-bottom boats with thatched canopies ply shimmering lagoons. Tanned locals in pareus (sarongs) play ukuleles. Ridged velvet-green mountains punctuate the skyline. Palm trees reach higher than any roof. This is reality in the Cook Islands, a 15-isle archipelago marooned in the South Pacific. Go on a mountain safari on the main island of Rarotonga, or head to Aitutaki to stay in an overwater bungalow and motu-hop to deserted sugar beaches that beg to be Instagrammed.
A limestone spike rising dramatically from the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island (Koh Tapu — Nail Island in Thai) earned its moniker from appearing in two 007 movies: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Excursions depart from the popular resort areas of Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi on photogenic longtail boats. On the tour, explore secret lagoons, craggy sea caves and a floating village.
Flight Detroit - Orlando (DTW - MCO) $61+ Flight Denver - Orlando (DEN - MCO) $68+ Flight Houston - Orlando (HOU - MCO) $77+ Flight Houston - Orlando (IAH - MCO) $77+ Flight Washington - Orlando (BWI - MCO) $78+ Flight Philadelphia - Orlando (PHL - MCO) $83+ Flight Chicago - Orlando (ORD - MCO) $85+ Flight Providence - Orlando (PVD - MCO) $97+ Flight Washington - Orlando (DCA - MCO) $97+
A group of 27 coral islands that form two atolls in the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands were virtually unheard of until beach activists Brad Farmer and Andrew Short named Cocos Keeling’s Cossies Beach as the best in Australia for 2017. Called the continent’s last unspoiled paradise, the remote destination is as special for what’s not there (high-rise resorts, chain restaurants, crowds, traffic) as what is — pristine white sand and a turquoise lagoon that’s home to 30,000 sea turtles.
El Cortez Hotel and Casino $38+ the D Las Vegas $41+ Oasis at Gold Spike $46+ Plaza Hotel & Casino $48+ Palace Station Hotel And Casino $50+ Circus Circus Hotel & Casino $55+ Hooters Casino Hotel $59+ Downtown Grand Las Vegas $59+ Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, BW Premier Collection $60+ Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino $62+ Tuscany Suites & Casino $66+ Alexis Park All Suite Resort $67+ Excalibur Hotel and Casino $71+ Lucky Dragon Las Vegas $74+ Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino $74+ Luxor Hotel and Casino $79+ The LINQ Hotel & Casino $79+ Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino $79+ Flamingo Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $80+ Tropicana Las Vegas a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Resort $83+ The Orleans Hotel & Casino $83+ SLS Las Vegas $84+ TI - Treasure Island Hotel and Casino $87+ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino $91+ Bally's Las Vegas - Hotel & Casino $95+ South Point Hotel, Casino, And Spa $95+ New York-New York Hotel & Casino $105+ Palms Casino Resort $113+ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino $120+
Take everything you want Greece to be — olive groves and tavernas, fishermen and bakers leading quiet village lives, stone villas and cypress trees and brilliant bougainvillea — and put it on a tiny, Ionian island only reachable by boat: That’s Paxos. On the western coast, sheer cliffs, rock arches and 40 sea caves put on a stunning show. Daytrip to the neighboring island of Antipaxos for powder sand and water so aqua, it rivals the Caribbean Sea.
The Island of Hawaii (i.e., the Big Island) contains 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones — the only spot on the planet with so many condensed into one small region. Lush tropical terrain rules the green, wet, windward side of the island (see Akaka Falls and Waianuenue/Rainbow Falls), while more arid beauty is on display at Hapuna Beach Park. You can even enter an ice climate at the mystical summit of Mauna Kea volcano, as well as Lake Waiau, one of the highest lakes in the United States.
The delicate Great Barrier Reef is the earth’s most extensive coral-reef system, supporting more than 1,600 species of fish, along with whales, rays, octopuses, dolphins and more. Nestled in the heart of this world wonder are the 74 Whitsunday Islands, all but four of which are protected national parklands. Bask in luxury at a high-end resort like Hamilton Island, and book a seaplane or helicopter flight to admire sights like Heart Reef and the swirling silica sands of Whitehaven Beach’s Hill Inlet.
This unique history of formation and isolation has given rise to breathtaking and extraordinary wonders. Perfect white sand beaches, abundant reefs, towering waterfalls, lush valleys, snow-capped mountains and fiery hot volcanic cauldrons captivate the hearts of those who visit as well as those who call this beautiful place home. A special culture has evolved from the unique natural environment of these islands. Native Hawaiians are the host culture here, and the values of Aloha have laid the foundation for the Hawaii we have today. Since the 1700s, peoples of various cultures have been arriving on these shores, bringing their foods, their music and their ways of life.
×