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13 dreamy places like Maldives

From the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, one of these coastal haunts could host your next escape.

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Beach in the Maldives

A vacation to the Maldives is an unforgettable affair, but whether you want to try something new or with a different twist, these destinations are equally lust-worthy.

Beyond sun and sea, many of these places like the Maldives are rich in cultural heritage, luscious jungles and carefully preserved national parks. Sample fresh seafood and mingle with locals at beachfront bars.

Maldives travel overview

  • Flight time from the US (New York City to Malé): 18 to 23 hours, depending on the flight
  • Average flight price from the US (New York City to Malé): From $497 with one stop in Moscow
  • Accommodation (3-star): From $44 for a beach hotel in Maafushi of Kaafu Atoll
  • Domestic beer: About $3
  • Three-course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): About $30
  • Package vacations: From $1,342 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from NYC
fiji

1. Fiji

This South Pacific archipelago chain sits east of Australia and features over 300 islands blessed with sandy beaches and thriving coral reefs. The temperature stays around 80°F to 90°F all year-round, with uninhibited views of the star-studded sky at night.

Coconuts, anyone?

  • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Nadi): About 10 hours and 40 minutes
  • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Nadi): From $379 nonstop with Fiji Airways
  • Accommodation (3-star): From $162 for a beach resort in Lautoka
  • Domestic beer: About $5
  • Three-course meal for two: About $55
  • Package vacations: From $928 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from L.A. to Nadi
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gili islands

2. Gili Islands

Only a short boat ride from Bali but a world away, these totally serene islands offer picture-perfect white-sand beaches, swaying palms and a view of Lombok’s majestic Mount Rinjani volcano. With no airport on the islands, you’ll fly to nearby Lombok and take a boat from there.

Regardless of where you stay, exploring all three islands is plenty feasible. Watch the sunset from a beachfront bar and snorkel through vibrant coral reefs.

  • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Lombok): About 25 hours and 30 minutes
  • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Lombok): From $590 with two stops in Taiwan and Bali
  • Accommodation (3-star): From $87 for a resort on Trawangan island
  • Domestic beer: About $2.60
  • Three-course meal for two: About $26
  • Package vacations: From $1,955 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from LA to Lombok
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    whitsundays

    3. Whitsunday Islands

    In the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the 74 Whitsunday Islands have stunning beaches and secluded bays framed by aqua water and emerald forests. If you have to choose one, we recommend Whitehaven Beach — though Horseshoe Bay, Turtle Bay, Catseye Beach and Arlie Beach Lagoon are hard to beat. Don’t miss the Indigenous rock paintings and scenic coastal drives.

    • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Proserpine): About 25 hours
    • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Proserpine): From $654 with two stops in Fiji and Brisbane
    • Accommodation (3-star): From $260 for a retreat on Hamilton Island
    • Domestic beer: About $4.50
    • Three-course meal for two: About $55
    • Package vacations: From $3,831 for five nights in a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from L.A. to Proserpine
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      vanuatu

      4. Vanuatu

      This scattering of about 80 islands over a span of 400 blue ocean miles — smack-dab between Australia and Fiji in the Coral Sea — are yours to explore. There’s hiking, snorkeling and sailing — plus some sites for WWII history buffs to explore, including the SS President Coolidge, which sank off the coast in October 1942.

      Spot waterfalls at Mele Cascades and check out the mighty, active Mt Yasur volcano.

      • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Port Vila): About 23 hours
      • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles Port Vila): From $555 with one stop in Fiji
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $22 for a beachside lodge in Port Vila
      • Domestic beer: About $3.50
      • Three-course meal for two: About $44
      • Package vacations: From $1,504 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from L.A. to Port Vila
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      philippines

      5. Philippines

      Thousands of inviting islands and famed Boracay beach parties await you in the Philippines. But don’t forget to take some time to explore the chiseled beauty of rice terraces and historical landmarks in Manila. Go swimming with whale sharks for the ultimate underwater experience.

      • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Manila): 14 hours and 30 minutes
      • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Manila): From $484 nonstop with Philippine Airlines
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $43 per night for a beachfront hotel in Boracay
      • Domestic beer: Less than $2
      • Three-course meal for two: About $16
      • Package vacations: From $968 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from L.A. to Boracay Island
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      cook islands

      6. Cook Islands

      We love that you can fly direct from the US to this chain of islands nestled between New Zealand and Hawaii with New Zealand Air, starting in L.A.

      Relax and unwind on beautiful beaches without the pressure of high-energy nightlife. Its tagline? “No hotels taller than a coconut tree.”

      • Flight time from US (Los Angeles to Rarotonga): 9 hours and 30 minutes
      • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Rarotonga): From $446 nonstop from LAX with New Zealand Air
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $142 for a beach hotel on Rarotonga island
      • Domestic beer: About $6
      • Three-course meal for two: About $40
      • Package vacations: From $1,832 for a five-night stay at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from NYC
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      perhentian islands

      7. Perhentian Islands

      A haven for scuba divers, the Perhentian Islands are less than hour boat ride from the east coast of Malaysia. Whether you tour the underwater wonderland, relax on the blindingly white sand beach or trek the lush jungles, it’s a budget-friendly path to a tropical escape.

      Looking for a way to do a little good? If you have at least two weeks, check out the Perhentian Turtle Project, which works to protect and preserve the sea turtle population around the islands.

      • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Kuala Terengganu): About 24 hours
      • Average flight price from US (Los Angeles to Kuala Terengganu): From $560 with two stops in Taiwan and Kuala Lumpur
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $188 for a sprawling resort in Kuala Besut
      • Domestic beer: About $4
      • Three-course meal for two: About $19
      • Package vacations: From $1,535 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from LA to Kuala Terengganu
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      lakshadweep

      8. Lakshadweep, India

      Geographically speaking this Indian island chain is part of the Maldives. But while tourism is booming in the Maldives, it’s purposely been stymied on Lakshadweep to help preserve its unrivaled beauty.

      Out of 10 inhabited islands, only five are accessible to tourists. So if you make this trek, you’ll be part of a small group of outsiders that’ve ventured onto these emerald islands. Lakshadweep is for the adventurous traveler — you’ll have to get a permit in Kochi, India before arriving in Agatti on a toothpick-thin landing strip. But paradise awaits.

      • Flight time from the US (NYC to Agatti): About 29 hours
      • Average flight price from US (NYC Agatti): From $870 with two stops in Kuwait and Kochi
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $496 per night for an island resort on Bangaram Island
      • Domestic beer: N/A — send us a note if you go!
      • Three-course meal for two: N/A — send us a note if you go!
      • Package vacations: N/A — vacation packages are not readily available.
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      mauritius

      9. Mauritius

      Looking every bit like the epitome of paradise, Mauritius is a small island nation in the Indian Ocean that’s packed with picturesque lagoons, towering waterfalls, and colorful reefs. It’s only a hop-skip-and-a-jump east of Madagascar — via boat.

      Explore the national parks and set eyes on hundreds of unique, indigenous plant and animal species.

      • Flight time from the US (From New York City to Mauritius): About 20 hours and 15 minutes
      • Average flight price from US (New York City to Mauritius): From $940 with one stop in South Africa
      • Accommodation (3-star): From $34 for a room at a guest house in Mahebourg
      • Domestic beer: About $3
      • Three-course meal for two: About $45
      • Package vacations: From $1,393 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from NYC
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        bora bora

        10. Bora Bora

        When you think of paradise, you think of Bora Bora. This picture-perfect spot in the South Pacific has lush, jungle-covered mountains, an unbelievably blue lagoon and pristine beaches. Indulge in an overwater bungalow for the ultimate luxe escape.

        • Flight time from the US (Los Angeles to Motu Mute): 11 hours and 35 minutes
        • Average flight price from the US (Los Angeles to Motu Mute): From $1,549 with one stop in Tahiti
        • Accommodation (3-star): From $74 for a beachfront lodge on the main island
        • Domestic beer: About $8.20
        • Three-course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): About $50
        • Package vacations: From $2,074 for a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from L.A.
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          belize

          11. Belize

          Belize will have you spoiled for choice with Caribbean shorelines to the east and Central American jungle to the west. Packed with adventure and culture, you can scuba dive the Great Blue Hole one day and explore excavated tombs of Mayan kings the next.

          • Flight time from the US (Miami to Belize City): About two hours and 20 minutes
          • Average flight price from US (Miami to Belize City): From $111 nonstop with American Airlines
          • Accommodation (3-star): From $61 for a room at a guest house in Belize City
          • Domestic beer: About $2
          • Three-course meal for two: About $50
          • Package vacations: From $924 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from Miami to Belize City
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            curacao

            12. Curacao

            Curacao is one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, with hidden beaches tucked along its Western coast. Watch psychedelic sunsets at more than 35 captivating beaches while savoring the rich history dating back to the 16th century at its capital city, Willemstad.

            • Flight time from the US (Miami to Curacao): About three hours
            • Average flight price from US (Miami to Curacao): From $145 nonstop with American Airlines
            • Accommodation (3-star): From $73 for a hotel in Willemstad
            • Domestic beer: About $2.50
            • Three-course meal for two: About $50
            • Package vacations: From $477 for five nights at a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from Miami to Curacao
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              seychelles

              13. Seychelles

              Located on the east coast of Africa, directly east of Kenya, the Seychelles comprises 115 islands. You’ll find rare species of wildlife crawling along the beaches, such as the Aldabra tortoises, and gloriously picturesque rain forests at Morne Seychellois National Park.

              We recommend staying in Mahé and taking day trips to the other islands.

              • Flight time from the US (New York City to Mahé Island): 20 hours and 25 minutes
              • Average flight price from the US (New York City to Mahé Island): From $1,142 with one stop in Dubai
              • Accommodation (3-star): From $84 for a jungle lodge in Mahé
              • Domestic beer: About $5.20
              • Three-course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): About $78
              • Package vacations: From $1,410 for a 3-star hotel + round-trip flight from NYC
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                How we found the prices on this page

                All prices were quoted in January 2020, using dates in September 2020 as a guide.

                • We sourced the average flight costs from Skyscanner. Prices are based on one-way economy fares from the US for one adult and are subject to fluctuate over time.
                • Food and drink costs sourced from Numbeo
                • Hotel costs were sourced from Finder’s hotel database. Prices are based on a per-night rate at a 3-star beach resort — and we only chose hotels with a customer rating of 8 or more out of 10.
                • We sourced the vacation packages on Expedia, and chose accommodations with customer review ratings of 4.5 or more out of 5 stars for the flight + hotel bundle deal.

                Bottom line

                If you’ve got a sense of adventure and a swimsuit that’s been dying for some stage time, these places like the Maldives will completely satisfy your cravings for an island escape. If you’re ready to book your trip, use our flight tool to compare rates from point A to paradise.

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