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Worlds Best Island Destinations

The Best Beaches, Sand and Seas from Around the Globe

by Beth Garcia
Beautiful Maui Beach
Beautiful Maui Beach

Though the cold of winter has set in for some parts of the world, islands across the globe continue to celebrate their beaches and sand in a leisurely fashion. Islands have always been popular vacation destinations for travelers across the world.

However, these strips of land, surrounded by the bluest seas and the deepest oceans, are no longer only for quick vacation jaunts. Island travel is now a great choice not only for spring breakers and college students, but also families, honeymooners, vacationers and even potential residents. Here's a look at some of the best island getaways for 2008.

Ibiza, Spain
One of Spain's Balearic Islands, Ibiza is considered the hottest island nightspot in the Mediterranean. Known for its festive, and often times, wild summer parties, Ibiza attracts thousands every year to its hip nightclubs and sunny beaches. Though a popular summer tourist destination, Ibiza is also rich in cultural heritage and history with the majority of the island preserved as a U.N. Heritage Site. This un-commercialized portion of Ibiza gives visitors a picturesque look at historical Spanish villages and seaports. The well-preserved coasts of Ibiza makes it a great place for water sports including snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing.

Phuket, Thailand
Thailand's largest island in the Andaman Sea, Phuket offers travelers a taste of country's culture and natural beauty. Covered nearly 70 percent by forest, the island is home to one of Asia's most respected nature preserves, the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project Site located in the Kaho Pra Theaw Non-Hunting Area at Bang Pae Waterfall. The nonprofit organization offers travelers a look at Thailand's rainforest and wildlife. In addition to visiting the preserve, island visitors can soak up the sun on Phuket's white sandy beaches including Nai Yang Beach, located inside the Sirinat National Park where sea turtles are known to come ashore and lay eggs. Ride the island's domesticated elephants or visit some of its energetic nightspots for an island vacation that is truly worldly.

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
The 150-square-foot collection of island land in the Caribbean is a portion of the Lesser Antilles chain and includes Saint Vincent and the northern portion of the Grenadines. The Caribbean location is a popular annual destination for beach lovers everywhere. The stark variety of beaches and island activities available make it a must visit location on any island-hoppers list. With its deep bays perfect for boating and yachting to the luxuriously white sandy beaches and secluded black sand coasts, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is perfect for any water lover. Travelers who take time away from the sea can travel to the Kingston Market and pick up the freshest in fruits, vegetables and fish, or sightsee at the Botanical Gardens, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

Capri, Italy
Once considered the hottest jet set island destination in the world; the island of Capri remains the seaside destination for travelers searching for the best in luxury and ancient beauty. Located just off the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Gulf of Naples, Capri is popular for its high-end shopping and dinning options tucked secretly inside ancient village architecture. Visitors to Capri can soak up the Mediterranean sun along the island's rocky coast and pebbled beaches. A must-have for sun lovers is bathing at the exclusive La Fontelina, where they can get a clear view of the famous Faraglioni rock structure jutting out of the nearby sea. Also, travelers can enjoy swimming in the Grotta Azzura, or Blue Grotto, a sea cave once used by Roman emperors as a private bath.

The 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago off the east coast of Africa is the perfect destination for island hoppers. With more than 65 beaches on the principal island of Maché alone, Seychelles offers large strings of granite and coral islands for swimming, fishing, boating and more. After spending water time cruising the coasts in catamarans and sailboats, travelers can venture inland on the Seychelles islands and experience their popular art galleries, five-star restaurants and the Maché casino. Resting south of the equator, Seychelles offers the perfect island weather all year long.

Maui, Hawaii
As the second largest Hawaiian island, Maui attracts an average of 2.2 million travelers every year. The more than 700-square-mile island offers visitors access to 81 beaches of white, gold, black and mixed sands. Visitors across the globe come to Maui for its highly-groomed golf courses, attractive resorts and natural beauty. With more swimable miles of beach than any other Hawaiian island, Maui inspires visitors with its breathtaking whale watching activities and the Haleakala National Park, home of the world's largest dormant volcano.

Florida's Gulf Islands
Prepare for an old fashion family beach vacation when touring Florida's Gulf Islands — Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and the Greater Bradenton Area. Located just south of Tampa Bay, these island locations remained relatively undeveloped while most of Florida looms with skyscrapers and hopping nightlife. On the beaches of Anna Maria guests can view some of Florida's most famous residents — manatees, pelicans and sea turtles. A quick tour of the South Florida Museum will let travelers meet Snooty, the oldest captive manatee. Also, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium gives children a wonderful opportunity to view mystic sea creatures up close. While visiting the islands, travelers can enjoy its variety of restaurants, shops and beachside bars. Grab a refreshing drink on the beach and make the island trip an old fashion adventure.