As the temperature drops in the Northern Hemisphere, a certain flight impulse takes hold in travelers' hearts. So, to help facilitate your escape, we offer a dozen of the world's best island destinations—from tropical to temperate, and classic to unexpected.
Although the Hawaiian Islands were formed by a chain of undersea volcanoes, Kauai’s lush greenery lends the sense that it rose whole from the ocean floor like an ancient, moss-covered turtle. At Tunnels Beach on the island’s north shore, the verdant spire of Bali Hai—named for the role it played in the 1958 film version of the musical South Pacific—pitches sharply down to peach-colored sand and impossibly clear water. The sea itself provides the source of the beach’s name: When the surf is up, perfect barrel waves roll down the shore with surfers inside like pimentos in olives. When conditions are flat, snorkelers and the odd intrepid diver pursue the beach’s more celebrated pastime—namely, following parrot fish, sea turtles and reef sharks through two concentric circles of labyrinthine lava caves.