Maui drops to No. 3 in best-island survey

591080_1Twenty-one was just not to be.

Conde Nast Traveler named Palawan in the Philippines as its top island in the world in its 27th Readers’ Choice Awards, supplanting Maui, which has been No. 1 in the survey for the previous 20 years.

“I’ve heard from several people that the southern islands of the Philippines, such as Palawan, are remarkably beautiful,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa on Monday after the magazine released its results. “And the fact is, there are hundreds of vacation destinations out here now that weren’t there 20 years ago. Maui’s visitor industry has had great success, but we work hard for it, and we need to keep upgrading and evolving if we want to remain No. 1, not just in the minds of Conde Nast readers but among travelers from all over the world.

“I sincerely believe we can return to the No. 1 spot, but it will take a lot of hard work from our community. Working together I know we can do it.”

In fact, Maui came up third behind Kiawah Island in South Carolina in the survey that involved 148 islands in the world. Kauai finished fourth; the Big Island 10th and Oahu 16th in the survey.

TripAdvisor calls Palawan “a slice of heaven, a sliver of an island that teems with exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.” There is a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary and Japanese shipwrecks for divers.

More than 76,600 Conde Nast readers cast votes for 7,721 hotels, 642 cities and 453 cruise ships in an average survey time of 16.5 minutes, the magazine said in a news release.

The Wailea Beach Villas was named Hawaii’s top resort and the only Hawaii resort in the top 100 worldwide, 51, and in the U.S., 25.

“This is an incredible honor to be named among Hawaii’s and the world’s finest luxury hotels and resorts; we are especially proud of our associates who have worked diligently to achieve this prestigious recognition,” said Ben Beaudoin, general manager of Destination Resorts Hawaii, the official management company of Wailea Beach Villas resort program and its homeowners’ association. “We are dedicated to po’okela, the Hawaiian word for excellence, and we will continue elevating our service standards, working with homeowners on upgrades and enhancing the value we provide to guests.”

The Readers’ Choice Awards were announced in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler to be out on newsstands Tuesday. The full list is published online at

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