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10 Best Island Paradises (PHOTOS)

First Posted: 10/07/10 09:06 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:55 PM ET

It looks like paradise in the brochure, but when you get there you find crowded beaches with barely enough room for your towel, pushy hawkers, and cloudy water.

But never fear, there are still places in the world where the postcard photo is real and the water doesn't have to be digitally altered to look crystal clear. This list, adapted from Lonely Planet's list of 10 incredible tropical paradises, takes you just far enough off the beaten path to find the places that truly live up to the name "tropical paradise".

Text and captions courtesy of Lonely Planet. © 2010 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved.

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Atiu, Cook Islands
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This particular Cook Island has got all the tropical gear: deserted beaches, bluest water, whiter-than-white sands. But it’s also got that little bit extra, with a clutch of famous, multi-chambered limestone caves tucked away in thick jungle on the coral coastal plains surrounding the island. Some of the caves were used for burials, which means there are human bones about, but relax: Atiu’s vicious warrior history is long gone. Nowadays, Atiu is also a mecca for eco-tourists, with more flora and fauna than you can shake a pair of binoculars at.

Refer to when planning your adventure; worldwide flights can now be booked via Rarotonga.

Flickr: tensailbuta
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So stunning!

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