Tropical holidays are escapism in its purest form. Those swaying palm trees, the clarity of the water, the never-ending sunshine – what could possibly be more relaxing?
If you’re seeking the paradisiacal holiday of your dreams, the following places were the most highly-rated tropical destinations in the world by global travellers.*
Wigmore's Papua Waterfall, Rarotonga
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are fiery-coloured coral reefs creating swirling aquamarine lagoons. Raratonga is the biggest of this remote archipelago deep in the South Pacific; its volcanic, forest-cloaked core rising to over 2,000 ft in the middle of the island. Eat fresh mangoes off the trees, scuba dive and snorkel in the lagoons, curl your toes into the powdery sand, or hike across the island for far-reaching panoramas.
The highly-rated Muri Shores offers luxurious and spacious thatched beach huts just steps from the sea.
The beachfront of Palm Cove on a winter's day
Palm Cove, Australia
Palm Cove has the most irresistibly-relaxed way of life. A tropical beach town not far from the Great Barrier Reef but not a major tourist destination in itself, Palm Cove is the ideal place for rejuvenating escapes. Laze on the palm tree-lined beach or hike inland through the towering rainforest.
Stay at Sanctuary Palm Cove, just two-minutes’ walk from the beach.
Pacific Beach, Waikiki, Hawaii
Hawaii is every bit as good as you might imagine. Soaring surf, sparkling water, white sand, waterfalls worthy of music videos, snorkeling, hiking up volcanic peaks, zip wiring through the jungle - one holiday in Hawaii and you’ll never want to leave.
The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is a glorious retreat, known for its infinity lounge pool and private cabanas.
A paradisiacal set up on Holbox Island, Mexico
Holbox Island, Mexico
Kaleidoscopic murals of tropical flowers and portraits cover the buildings here, reflecting Holbox Island’s colourful character. It falls within Mexico’s Yum Balam Nature Reserve, so you won’t find any high-rise developments or large resorts here. Browse the tiendas (shops) and mercados (markets) for empanadas, grilled fish tacos, and other local treats. You can also kiteboard, swim with whale sharks, and watch flamingos and pelicans in the shallow lagoon.
The white-washed, tropical villa of Tierra del Mar Hotel is adults only and, therefore, great for a serene couples escape.
Rainbow-coloured fish and coral in the Andaman Sea, Thailand
Ko Lipe, Thailand
The bad news is that the small Thai island of Ko Lipe is a little harder to get to than the typical tourist hotspots. The great news is that, as a result, it’s still undiscovered by the bulk of tourists that have descended upon Ko Phi Phi and Pha Ngan. Go snorkelling just offshore in the Andaman Sea and you’ll have schools of rainbow-coloured parrot fish darting around you and the fluorescent coral.
At Serendipity Beach Resort Koh Lipe, plush bedrooms open onto dark wooden balconies overlooking the ocean and plunge pools that overflow into the jungle.
The beach at Bavaro, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
While Punta Cana also has a glamorous and exclusive side, you’ll still see yellow school buses imported from the US carry local workers around the island, modest Dominican houses, and raw natural, jungle beauty. After you’ve explored this tropical, Caribbean paradise, watch the sunset over a pina colada in a hammock hanging from the palm trees after which the island is named.
With a private beach area and canary yellow houses planted almost on the sand, Hotel Tortuga Bay is a paradisiacal, high-end accommodation.
**The destinations featured came out on top for the ‘tropical’ endorsement by Booking.com customers.