National Geographic Traveler
All travel, All the time

November/December 2007
Authentic Shopping Guide

Photo: Indian shoes

Find authentic handcrafted items from around the world.
» Click Here

Ultimate Travel Library

Photo: travel books

Take a globe-spanning literary ramble with the world's best travel books.
» Click Here

Photo of the Week

Photo: Boats on the Douro River, Portugal

Brighten your workday! Download a new Traveler photo every week . . . free.
» Get Wallpaper

North Pole Photo Gallery

Photo: North Pole expedition

Learn how to enjoy the Eternal City's rich history, culture, and art without spending a single euro.
» Click Here

WorldWise Trivia Quiz

Photo: Marula fruit as a headdress

Test your geography IQ with our interactive quiz.
» Play Now

A*List: Best of Travel Newsletter

Photo: Vlissingen, Netherlands

Sign up for our newsletter packed with tried-and-true travel tips, exclusive deals, book discounts, and more!
» Click Here

51 Ways to Cut Vacation Costs

Photo: Los Angeles International Airport

Don't get caught in a tourist money trap. Learn how to avoid hidden charges, and get expert money-saving tips.
» Click Here


Island Destinations Rated: About the Survey

Introduction       Africa     Caribbean Region     East & Southeast Asia    

Indian Ocean Region     Mediterranean     North & West Europe    

North America      Pacific/Australia/NZ     South America    

This survey rates the qualities that make a destination unique—"integrity of place." It's not about consumer service, so a poor but unspoiled island like Palawan can rate higher than a Hilton Head, called "the best golf-course-and-gated-community island anywhere."

We selected mainly small and medium-size islands and groups, allowing a few larger exceptions with relatively unified character, such as Iceland and Tasmania. Since evaluating an entire destination involves such unquantifiables as aesthetics and cultural integrity, we decided the best measure is informed
human judgment: a panel of 522 well-traveled experts in a variety of fields—ecology, sustainable tourism, geography, travel writing and photography, site management, historic preservation, indigenous cultures, archaeology.

We asked panelists to evaluate just the islands with which they were familiar, using six criteria weighted according to importance:
    • Environmental and ecological quality
    • Social and cultural integrity
    • Condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites
    • Aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management
    • Outlook for the future

Experts first posted points of view on each destination—anonymously, to ensure objectivity. After reading each others' remarks—a variation of a research tool called the Delphi technique—panelists filed their final stewardship scores. For a list of panelists, click here

The resulting Stewardship Index rating is an average of informed judgments about each place as a whole—all its many faces. Like the scores posted by Olympic judges, our experts' ratings reflect both measurable factors and the intangibles of style, aesthetics, and culture. And like an athlete, each island has a chance to improve.

More Traveler's Places Rated

E-mail a Friend

Traveler Subscription Offer

Our Picks

Center for Sustainable Destinations

Learn how to preserve the authenticity of the places you love.

» Click Here

National Geographic Traveler Places of a Lifetime
Our guides lead you to the best in ten world-class cities with photo galleries, walking tours, and what to know before you go.

» Click Here

The National Geographic Traveler Reader Panel

Are you a real traveler? Someone who cares about authenticity? Who has a point of view about where we should travel—and how? Then tell us what you think and be eligible to win a trip to almost anywhere in the United States.

» Click Here