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The Best Islands in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards

Condé Nast Traveler Logo By CNT Editors of Condé Nast Traveler | Slide 1 of 37: "The very word 'Zanzibar' is steeped in exoticism and mystery," says Traveler contributor Kelly Phillips Badal. "This magical place—or rather places —is the name given to a group of 50 tropical islands off the coast of Tanzania. It's a word associated with white sand beaches, spices, and fresh seafood, with a tangled past of traders, slaves, and treasure. Pro tip, per Badal: Start on one of the two main islands: Unguja (colloquially known as Zanzibar Island), and home to Stone Town, a UNESCO site and former Swahili coastal trading town; or Pemba, its wilder northern sister, 31 miles away. "A small plane from Dar Es Salaam, bumpy transfer to the southwestern edge of the island, and a 20-minute speedboat ride brought us to the dock of Fundu Lagoon. It’s an exclusive 18-bungalow escape reachable only by boat and one of just a handful of lodgings on [Pemba]." Getting there: The aforementioned small plane and bumpy transfer from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar Island or Pemba.

Quiet. Small. Subdued. This is what travelers seem to be craving this year. How do we know? Well, once the surveys start pouring in—this year there were more than 429,000 of them—we become Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report,' analyzing behaviors and locations, fitting together pieces of a puzzle until a full snapshot of where and how you travel emerges. This year it was all about comfort. You stayed closer to home than ever before, pushing more cities like Chicago, Charleston, and now Nashville to the top of our lists. You favored the Caribbean—even Hawaii felt far—and islands like Hilton Head, Amelia, and Kiawah. The properties that impressed you most were smaller and less flashy than in years past (the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore was your favorite hotel in the U.S.), and our small-cruise-ship list is longer than it's ever been, suggesting that the right kind of less *is* more. It's also been a year of self-care: Five spa resorts ranked higher than ever. The world has changed in ways no one could have predicted, and so it stands to reason that how we get away from it all would, too.

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