Tropical holidays are escapism in its purest form, promising swaying palm trees, clear waters and plenty of sunshine. If you’re seeking the paradisiacal holiday, the following places were the most highly rated tropical destinations in the world by global travellers.*

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Wigmore’s Papua Waterfall, Rarotonga

Deep in the South Pacific, the 15 remote Cook Islands possess blinding white sands and fiery coloured fringing coral reefs that create aquamarine lagoons around the shore. Volcanic, forest-cloaked Raratonga is the largest of the islands, rising to over 2,000 ft in the centre. It’s a place where you can eat delectably fresh mangoes, scuba dive and snorkel in the lagoons, hike across the island for far-reaching panoramas, visit a night market or attend an ‘Island Night’, a regular local event that showcases Polynesian culture. The highly rated Muri Shores offers large, thatched beach cottages just steps from the sea. BOOKING.COM

Palm Cove, Australia

The beachfront of Palm Cove on a winter’s day

The tropical, coastal town of Palm Cove has an irresistibly slow pace of life. It’s located just north of the city of Cairns and not far from the Great Barrier Reef, which tends to be the draw for most visitors. But it isn’t a major tourist destination in itself, so makes an ideal place for a quiet, rejuvenating escape. Laze on the palm tree-lined beach or head inland to visit the Atherton Tablelands and hike through the ancient Daintree Rainforest. Stay at Sanctuary Palm Cove, just two minutes’ walk from the beach. BOOKING.COM

Honolulu, USA

Pacific Beach, Waikiki, Hawaii

When it comes to tropical destinations, it’s hard to beat Hawaii. With hiking up monumental volcano peaks, through rainforest and jurassic scenery, snorkelling and surfing in sparkling waters beside miles of blonde beaches, and zip wiring through the jungle past waterfalls worthy of music videos, it’s every bit as good as you might imagine. Stay at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach and relax by the infinity lounge pool in a private cabana.

Isla Holbox, Mexico

A paradisiacal set up on Holbox Island, Mexico

Murals of tropical flowers and portraits cover the buildings on Isla Holbox, reflecting its colourful character. The island falls within Mexico’s Yum Balam Nature Reserve, so you won’t find any high-rise developments or large resorts here. Browse the tiendas (shops) and mercados (markets) for empanadas, grilled fish tacos and other local treats. You can also kiteboard, swim with whale sharks and watch flamingos and pelicans saunter across the island’s shallow lagoon. The beautiful Villas Caracol offers guests the use of kayaks to explore Isla Holbox’s waterways and the sea. BOOKING.COM

Ko Lipe, Thailand

Rainbow-coloured fish and coral in the Andaman Sea, Thailand

The small island of Ko Lipe is a little harder to get to than Thailand’s typical tourist hotspots, meaning it remains relatively undiscovered. Go snorkelling just offshore in the Andaman Sea and you’ll have schools of rainbow-coloured parrot fish darting around you and the kaleidoscopic coral. And stay at Serendipity Beach Resort Koh Lipe, where the bedrooms open onto wooden, ocean-facing balconies with plunge pools that seem to overflow into the jungle.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The beach at Bavaro, Dominican Republic

The town of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has a glamorous and exclusive side but you’ll also still see yellow school buses imported from the US carrying local workers around the island, modest houses and raw natural beauty. After you’ve explored this tropical, Caribbean paradise, watch the sunset over a piña colada in a hammock hanging from the palm trees after which the island is named. With a private beach area and canary yellow houses planted almost on the sand, Hotel Tortuga Bay is a dreamy high-end accommodation. BOOKING.COM

**The data scientists at Booking.com dug into internal data to find the most highly rated ‘tropical’ destinations around the world.

This article was originally posted at Booking.com