10 great tickets to a warm and sunny island paradise

Ditch that hat, scarf and parka. The first day of winter is fast approaching, so start planning now for a warm-weather island getaway. Steve Davey, author of Unforgettable Islands to Escape to Before You Die, shares his picks with Kelly DiNardo for USA TODAY.

Bali Indonesia

This Indonesian island features palm-tree-fringed beaches, bustling villages, exotic crafts and, well, much more. "You can be hiking through rice terraces in the morning and lying on a beautiful beach in the afternoon," Davey says. "It's a cultural haven of temples and temple festivals. Every day seems to be a festival day, and the food is glorious." bali-tourism-board.com

Huahine French Polynesia

The French Polynesian islands all feature beautiful landscapes of dramatic peaks and turquoise lagoons. And this idyllic getaway is no exception, though it's much less renowned than nearby Tahiti. "The lesser-known Huahine maintains a vibrant sense of community, where you can still hang out in local bars and restaurants, as well as relax on an idyllic beach paradise," Davey says. "The lagoon is full of all manner of tropical fish, and you can even snorkel with rays and reef sharks." go-to-tahiti.com/islands/huahine/huahine.asp

St. Lucia

This volcanic island in the Caribbean is more mountainous than most islands there. "It is a laid-back yet stylish island, dominated by the twin peaks of the Pitons," Davey says. "The steep slopes of the Pitons are covered in lush rain forest." In addition to snorkeling, diving and other water-based activities, there are various trails through the rain-forest-covered mountains. The island also features a now-dormant volcano, which visitors can drive into and see the steamy sulfur springs.stlucia.org

Yasawa Islands Fiji

"Usually you have to spend serious money to enjoy the best beachside properties, but in the Yasawa Islands you will find a range of midrange and even backpacker places right on the waterfront," Davey says of this chain of about 20 islands in the South Pacific. "The islands themselves are craggy and verdant green. Right at the end of the chain is the fabled Blue Lagoon from the film of the same name." bulafiji.com

Islands of Phang Nga Bay Thailand

Most of the islands in Phang Nga Bay, off the west coast of Thailand, are uninhabited but reachable by boat. "Some of the islands are tiny, and others are towering crags of scoured limestone, resembling those melted wax candlesticks popular in '70s bistros," Davey says. "Take a boat and explore these islands, and you can lounge on a beach on your own all day, kayak into a lagoon or meet local sea gypsies, who farm tiny birds' nests for the Chinese soup market." Also worth a stop: James Bond Island, featured in the film The Man With the Golden Gun. phuket.com/island/phangnga.htm

Aitutaki The Cook Islands

"The pearl of the Cook Islands has to be Aitutaki, which has the most perfect lagoon in the world," Davey says. The entire South Pacific island is set within a lagoon, enclosed by a barrier reef. Come for the snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing by the clear waters. "The iridescent turquoise waters are dotted with tiny, sand-fringed islets. This is a place that redefines paradise." cook-islands.com

Cousine Island The Seychelles

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