The sea in all its styles, from big-wave drama to lapping lagoon, sets the scene at the world’s most spectacular island resorts. Whether guests arrive by boat or by plane, an island escape affords a remove that a mainland property can’t mimic. Untethered and unbound, isles from the tropics to the Arctic compel adventurers and sunseekers drawn by the dream of downtime. Here are 21 of our favorite island resorts, from Caribbean idylls that have bounded back after the 2017 hurricane season to eco-retreats in Africa.
This article originally appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. This version was updated on March 26, 2019.