It’s hard to deny the idyllic majesty of an island getaway. After all, who can’t appreciate a pocket of warm land surrounded by fresh blue sea, literally separated from all the cares and concerns of mainland living? There are thousands of spectacular island experiences out there, and there’s nothing quite like finding that perfect spot to sink your feet in the sand. If you’re still searching for your ultimate paradise, consider these 8 amazing island sites that will change your life.
The treasures of Bali are no secret to world travelers, but they continue to draw new eyes and old friends year after year. One reason is the sheer variety of experiences that the island has to offer, from world-class diving and surfing in the south to intimate getaways on the beaches of Bukit peninsula. But the most praise and admiration goes to the Balinese people themselves, who are genuinely warm, welcoming, and offer a love and comfort that will follow you wherever you go on the island.
Hawaii, or, “The Big Island”, has something that the other islands in this renowned Pacific chain can’t offer – an entire world on one fantastic rock. You can drive the whole circumference in just a few hours, but the trip will take you through a vast desert of black volcanic rock, scrub and cacti reminiscent of the Southern States, over and across a field of arid volcanoes, and into lush, damp rainforest peppered with waterfalls. Head own to Kona after your tour for a bit of beach time, and take in some delicious fare at a restaurant on the shore.
Like most islands on this list, it’s a bit out of the way, but worth every mile. It’s a top-notch beach destination, sure, but Vanuatu also has one of the best shipwrecks to explore with snorkel or tank, an active volcano, one of the world’s largest banyan trees (spanning hundreds of yards), and a still primitive and intensely happy culture that all combine to convince you that you’ve been whisked away to a storybook golden age.
Like stepping into a dream, the islets of Bora Bora in French Polynesia offer some of the most sensational lagoon settings you’ll ever see. Though beaches are scarce on this island, you will be treated to accommodation right on the water: settle into a thatched hut set out over the turquoise surface, and rest up to prepare for long days of snorkeling, parasailing, diving, or even a hike up to the Mt Ohue summit. Bora Bora is certainly a luxury holiday if you want it to be, but you may be pleasantly surprised at the array of moderately priced accommodation, too.
If you’re after underwater adventure, this is the spot. The Maldives are renowned for some of the best diving in the world, with a jaw-dropping array of creatures big and small, not to mention waters so warm that a wetsuit is rarely necessary. But life above the surface is amazing, too – world-class cuisine meets inventive accommodation, and each resort has its own private island. The silky white sand beaches are second to none, and they roll so softly into the clear blue water that you’d swear you were living in a painting.
This British outpost lies just outside the tropical region, but wait for the warmer weather and you’ll enjoy an island experience unlike any other. The American, British, and Caribbean influences melt together to form a regal, energetic and hospitable culture. The island is small – only about 22 miles from top to bottom – but it’s vital and engaging, with a selection of traditional British taverns, lively nighttime haunts, and eye-opening historical tours in the cities of Hamilton and St George. The pink sand beaches in the south top off the island’s decidedly unique character.
Rough and rural, Tasmania has long been known among adventuresome travelers, but has recently widened its appeal to all sorts of island goers. It’s still the place to hike the craggy wilderness or tackle the shoreline by kayak, but there’s also a thriving art scene and a glorious gastronomical bent that summon scores of mainlanders. With a vast array of wildlife to spy in Narawntapu National Park, powdery beaches of Freycinet Peninsula, and rows of foodie-approved restaurants, Tasmania should definitely factor into your next trip Down Under.
Tucked into the Aegean Sea, a couple of hundred kilometers south of Greece’s mainland, you’ll find an island full of myth and magic. Santorini is the supposed birthplace of Apollo, and after witnessing the glowing, multi-colored cliffs at sunset, you’ll believe that this white washed paradise is indeed capable of any creative wonder. Visit the traditional hilltop village of Oia for a taste of ancient Greek island culture, but don’t forget about the sensational restaurants, wineries, and artisans who celebrate modern leanings without sacrificing history.
Island travel has never been more popular, but that means there are more companies looking to organize good tours for good deals. Decide what you want to see or do on your island adventure – whether that’s snorkeling a world-class reef, exploring a tropical jungle, or indulging in decadent living – and look into guided tours or package deals that can stretch your dollar further, and help you enjoy everything your destination has to offer.