Deciding whether to watch the sunset from a hammock between coconut palms or from the infinity pool on a hilltop village sounds like a dream dilemma. But when you're overdue for a vacation, even that choice can feel overwhelming.
One surefire place to start: Santorini, Greece, whose blue-domed churches, blanched villages, and picture-perfect sunsets catapulted it to the No. 1 island in the latest T+L World's Best reader survey. The results are your shortcut to planning an easy, breezy beach getaway.
Turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and tropical settings fill travelers' daydreams and Pinterest boards. And many of this year's winners indulge those fantasies; notably, four Hawaiian Islands (Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai) made the top 10. But T+L readers took the meaning of island life a little further, beyond thatched-roof bungalows and coconut palms.
Car-free Mackinac Island in northern Michigan—where horse-drawn carriages and a 127-year-old hotel pull visitors back in time—came in at No. 18, while the natural splendor of the San Juan Islands off Washington State earned the No. 10 spot. After all, untouched wilderness and a pervasive adventurist spirit hold a certain fascination, too.
Whatever your fancy, there's something about being completely surrounded by water that puts you at ease and sets you loose from the daily grind.
No. 1 Santorini, GreeceWith its white villages atop lava rock cliffs and blue-domed churches overlooking a sunken caldera, this postcard-perfect Aegean island feels a thousand miles from modern civilization. Visit the black-sand beaches of Perissa and Kamari, or take a small caiki (a typical fishing boat) to the Red Beach from the prehistoric village of Akrotiri. The bungalow-style rooms of the Astra Suites hotel are a scenic 1.2-mile meander from the town of Fira and feature infinity pools and views of Santorini’s famous sunsets.
No. 2 Maui, HI
On Maui, you can begin the day by watching a sunrise atop a 10,023-foot volcano, then bike (with a guide) 26 miles down to the former hippie habitat and current surf capital of Paia, often called Maui’s coolest little town. It’s where you’ll find Mama’s Fish House & Inn, where lunch is whatever’s fresh and beachfront cottages make romantic pieds-à-terre. Fuel up here before you set out on the winding, white-knuckle drive to Hana.
There are no signs of the drought ending in Italy in the foreseeable future.
Tropical Storm Nesat remains on track to barrel into Taiwan and southeastern China this weekend, while flooding rain associated with the future typhoon threatens to trigger more flooding in the Philippines.
As a strengthening storm system converges on the Atlantic coast, pockets of severe weather will develop in the eastern part of the United States into Friday evening.
A rare storm for late July will deliver drenching rain and miserable conditions to a large part of the mid-Atlantic and southern coast of New England to end the week and start the weekend.
Firefighters were gaining control of the massive wildfires raging across southeastern France on Thursday, but warned that the fire danger remains high.
Even though Hurricane Hilary remains well away from the southwestern United States, the storm could still bring hazards to swimmers and surfers in the final days of July.
Summer warmth vanished from the United Kingdom since the middle of the month and is not expected to return anytime soon.