George Graham

Best Island in the World?


I just read that some place in the Philippines has won the title of Best Island in the World. But you and I know what the best island in the world really is, don’t we?

Yeah man, it’s got to be Jamaica!

According to a news story I came across this morning,  Travel & Leisure Magazine gave the award to Palawan, which is in a chain of 1,780 islands in the Philippines. It’s the second triumphant year in a row for Palawan and the third victory since 2013.

So what does Palawan have that other islands don’t?

According to the news item:

The long, narrow Palawan island … is lined with sugar-white sand beaches and hidden coves… (and) is filled with species unique to the region, with over 200 bird species and 600 butterfly species.

Now, I haven’t counted the bird species in Jamaica. Or the various kinds of butterflies. But I recall seeing a lot of different birds and butterflies in my childhood – and they were all gorgeous.

And I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of Jamaica’s “sugar-white” beaches! We have miles upon miles of those – from Negril to Ocho Rios via Montego Bay. There are other beautiful beaches with non-white sand, too (for those of us who don’t judge a beach by its color.)

The news story points out that Palawan “contains the world’s largest navigable underground river, flowing five miles under a limestone cave out to sea, which visitors can tour by canoe.”

So they think Jamaica doesn’t have underground rivers? They’d better think again.  We have all kinds of rivers in Jamaica – more than 100. And several – Hector’s River and Cave River for example – run underground.

Exploring Jamaica’s underground rivers, you’ll discover a fantastic world  that has to be seen to be believed.  I bet Palawan doesn’t have anything like the Roaring River caves, for example!

And surely everyone has heard about the great rafting in Jamaica. When I was a toddler, my family lived in a house overlooking the Rio Grande in Portland, and I still see that view in my dreams.  Rafting on the Rio Grande should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Palawan also has coral reefs, tropical fish and “crystal-clear” waters. And mountains.

Come on! You want coral reefs? Tropical fish? Crystal-clear waters? You’ll find them abundantly in Jamaica. And, as for mountains and mountain views… don’t get me started!

The magazine’s award is based on a reader survey, and all I can say is the magazine’s readers must never have been to Jamaica. Not to the Jamaica I know, anyway.

(Photos show Jamaican scenes – from the top, the Caves Hotel & Spa in Negril, scuba diving in Montego Bay, rafting on the Rio Grande.)

Read the news story

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for