Looking for a great escape this year? Check out these recommendations from the world’s top travel experts on where to go in 2020 for a holiday of sea, sand, and fun in the sun.

1. St. Barts

Recommended by: Conde Nast Traveler

st barts travel 2020

What they say: “St. Barts couldn’t be allowed to fade away after Hurricane Irma in 2017—there was too much at stake, too many collective memories stacked up like oyster shells on this perfect trifecta of sand, superyacht chic, and insouciance. The comeback has already unshuttered fresh incarnations of Hotel Christopher, Manapany, and Le Sereno. Family-size Le Guanahani comes next, in October 2020, with ramped-up menus and a pool, while the effortlessly discreet Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, which reopened last December, follows up this month with new rooms, a five-bedroom exclusive-use villa, and a restaurant from Jean Imbert, whose other addresses include Miami’s Swan.”

2. Lord Howe Island, Australia

Recommended by: Lonely Planet

howe island australia

What they say: “Parked in the middle of nowhere 600km off the Australian coast, this visually stunning island makes an instant impact on the senses with its jaw-dropping World Heritage–listed beauty. Two soaring green mountains overlook a perfect lagoon and the world’s southernmost coral reef; perfect crescents of beach and splendid hiking trails through the lush forest add to brilliant outdoors possibilities. This one-time volcano’s isolation makes it a refuge for many endemic species, as well as plentiful birdlife. The island is a shining example of sustainably managed tourism; only 400 visitors are allowed at any time, and you are encouraged to participate in a series of ecological projects. Lord Howe’s remoteness and manageable size make it an idyllic escape.”

3. British Virgin Islands

Recommended by: New York Times Travel

british virgin islands

What they say: “An island chain devastated by hurricanes rebounds with an environmental bent. Many properties have a new environmental focus. Necker Island, the private island owned by Richard Branson, will finish rebuilding by April, and introduce uniforms made from recycled plastic found in the ocean; in 2019, the resort installed wind turbines that have enabled it to run on up to 90 percent renewable energy. Cooper Island Beach Club on Cooper Island, a 15-minute water taxi ride from Tortola, plans to offer packages combining island stays with emissions-free sailing trips aboard a new electric-powered yacht from Voyage Charters.”

4. Canary Islands, Spain

Recommended by: National Geographic

canary islands spain

What they say: “Once considered the westernmost point of land in the known world, El Hierro is a world apart from the rest of Spain’s main Canary Islands, which are more often famed for sun-and-sand resorts. Smallest (104 square miles) and youngest in the Canary archipelago, El Hierro is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a Global Geopark—and now the setting of an eponymous Spanish record-breaking hit television series. Dramatic thrills extend to the astounding diversity of ecosystems, from lush meadows to rugged coastal cliffs and lunar-like terrain. Off El Hierro’s southern coast, the crystal-clear waters of the Marine Reserve of La Restinga-Mar de las Calmas, or Calm Sea, is considered one of Europe’s top diving destinations.”

Discover more islands here: 10 Most Beautiful Islands in the World

5. Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Recommended by: Travel + Leisure

big island hawaii

What they say: “Despite the eruption of Kīlauea volcano in 2018 and the subsequent tourism downturn, visitors to Hawaii’s largest island were never really in danger — the volcanic activity was limited to its east side, far from the resorts on the Big Island’s western coast. But now that the lava has stopped flowing, there’s new energy in the air. The island’s biggest resort opening in years is set to debut in January 2020 — a reimagining of Mauna Lani by Auberge Resorts, the first Hawaiian venture by the Bay Area-based luxury hotel brand. After a yearlong, $200 million renovation, the property will unveil a redesigned spa that’ll incorporate Hawaiian botanicals grown on-property into its treatments, as well as Canoe House, a beachfront restaurant with a menu full of local items like grilled Kona lobster.”

6. The Maldives

Recommended by: National Geographic

maldives islands

What they say: “The first nation to champion the need to address climate change in the United Nations General Assembly, in 1987, the Maldives is an environmental protection trailblazer. For the idyllic, 1,200-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, forward-thinking sustainability initiatives—such as the effort to be carbon neutral by 2020—are a matter of survival. The 540-square-mile UNESCO Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve helps protect the Maldives’ fragile coral reefs, which support a high diversity of coral, fish, and bird species, as well as sea turtles, whale sharks, and other marine life.”

7. The Bahamas

Recommended by: New York Times Travel

the bahamas

What they say: “The hundreds of islands that make up the Bahamas are so pristine that the astronaut Scott Kelly deemed them Earth’s most easily recognizable place from space – and one of its most beautiful. About 6.6 million people visited the Bahamas in 2018, but in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the Category 5 monster that slammed into the archipelago in September, that number took a nosedive. Four months later, only Great Abaco remains too damaged to visit; many islands, including the 120-mile-long Exumas chain – home of the famous swimming pigs – were not hit by the storm. On New Providence Island, Baha Mar, a 2,300-room luxury resort on Cable Beach, has a new children’s center opening in January that will make the destination, which has the largest casino in the region, more family-friendly.”

8. La Paz, Mexico

Recommended by: New York Times Travel

la paz mexico

What they say: “Just up the coast from Cabo San Lucas is La Paz, the 250,000-person capital of Baja California Sur state and one of the region’s oldest and most dynamic cities. But unlike many of Mexico’s better-known beach towns, the La Paz area has resisted large-scale resort-style development and remained comparatively unknown to outsiders. Later this year, Grupo Habita, Mexico’s stylish boutique hotel operator, is opening its first southern Baja property, the 32-room La Casa de las Perlas, or House of Pearls, in La Paz. The hotel, which incorporates a building from the 1910s, will have a pool, spa, restaurant and “sunset bar” overlooking the malecón and sea.”

9. Lombok, Seminyak, and Elang, Indonesia

Recommended by: Conde Nast Traveler

Lombok Indonesia

What they say: “Indonesia may be moving its capital out of Jakarta, but its islands will be going strong in 2020. On Lombok, the teak-crafted Legian Sire has a clear-cut family appeal, while at Bali’s Seminyak, knot-haired beach kids can stay the night at the latest Desa Potato Head hotel, spending half of it in a soundproofed club helmed by Ibiza veteran DJ Harvey. A four-hour flight, a seaplane, and a world away, a different vibe will be had in the six upcycled huts on Elang, the second private island of the Bawah Reserve, in the tropical Riau Archipelago between Malaysia and Borneo. Its soundtrack will be birdsong and gentle sea laps. No soundproofing required.”

10. Durban, South Africa

Recommended by: Travel + Leisure

durban south africa

What they say: “Despite a thriving food scene and tropical beaches, Durban has always lurked in the shadows of Cape Town and Johannesburg. But with the unveiling of Durban’s new seaside promenade, part of a $2.5 billion development designed to rejuvenate the waterfront area, the city is becoming South Africa’s next cultural and coastal getaway to watch. Dubbed the ‘Golden Mile’, the shiny 3.7 mile strip, which is an ongoing development over the next 15 years, will flaunt glistening buildings with apartments, shops, a hotel, and public hangout spaces, plus a hotly anticipated new cruise terminal, which began construction in late 2019 and is set to open in 2021.”

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