With year-round tropical weather, stunning vistas and incredible culture, this is our pick of the most awesome island escapes that are just waiting to be explored.
The beautiful island of Madagascar lies off the East Coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Travellers that take the trouble to journey to Madagascar (and boy, it is quite a journey) are rewarded with one of the most biodiverse locations on earth. In fact, over 90% of the wildlife on the island is totally unique to Madagascar! The island has its own language called Malagasy, although within larger more corporate companies French is more widely spoken. For superb sightseeing visit the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, where brown lemurs and an abundance of birdlife can be spotted. Adventure travellers can try kitesurfing and windsurfing along the Emerald Sea. Try your hand at catching some delicious fresh saltfish which you can then cook, and eat, on the beach.
The magical Indonesian island of Bali is also known as the ‘Island of the Gods’ and is rich in traditional culture. Bali is well established on the tourist trail with travellers drawn to the Hindu heritage and spiritual atmosphere. Check out the central Bali region particularly Ubud, Bedugul, and Tabanan. There are a lot of festivals to enjoy such as Nyepi or the Hindu New Year during March and April. Another festival is the Galungan which is a 10 day festival after the first 210 days of the year. Kuta is a great spot for surfing and a hub for good shopping and commerce. Enjoy a scuba dive to the USS Liberty Shipwreck at Tulamben and follow the trail that forms the Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud. The ornate former royal palace of Tirtagangga is also a must-see.
Con Dao, Vietnam
The island chain on Con Dao is comprised of 16 islands with pristine sandy beaches, lush forests and easily accessible coral reefs. This unique habitat is also great for the various turtle species that visit. Take a turtle tour between June and September on Bay Canh Island. Try hiking the Con Dao National Park rainforest, where you can either hire a local guide or self-guide. Diving, swimming and canoeing are also popular throughout the sixteen islands.
Catch them whilst you can as the Maldives are slowly being lost due to climate change. With over a thousand islands, there are tropical beaches, crystal-clear seas and captivating coral reefs for all travellers and budgets. The archipelago of 1,192 coral islands offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as scuba diving, swimming and snorkelling along the coral reefs. There are also more adventurous pursuits on offer, such as surfing, kayaking and sailing, with smoother waters from March to October. The Maldives is also of course a honeymoon hotspot, with an impressive array of luxury resorts and hotels.
It’s hard to believe that the volcanic archipelago of the Azores is actually within Europe! Granted, the nine islands are about 1,500km west of Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. Flights are plentiful so the Azores are straightforward enough to reach. Once you arrival you’ll see that much of the action and activities are centered on outdoors adventures. Surrounded by an emerald sea, steep hills and mysterious volcanoes, the Azores is perfect for hiking, climbing and sailing. In fact, navigating the island chain via sailboats and yachts are the norm. Take to the seas for a spot of whale and dolphin watching. Enjoy the local fresh fish in the restaurants of the capital, Ponta Delgada.
The nineteen volcanic islands that make up Hawaii are well worth the journey. The USA’s fiftieth state has long attracted travellers keen surfers and volcanologists alike, drawn to the superb surf, array of public beaches and might Mauna Kea volcano. There is a lot to see and a lot to do in Hawaii, whether you’re into watersports, hiking or military history. Try climbing the highest point on Hawaii at the Mauna Kea extinct volcano at 13,796 feet (4,205 m). Live like the royal family used to at world-famous Waikiki Beach and eat, shop and sightsee in the lively capital city of Honolulu.
The most remote and secluded island in the world, Easter Island is actually a territory of Chile and is home to interesting and mysterious Polynesian culture. Tourism is the island’s main forte and one of the top attractions of Easter Island has to be the ancient and mysterious Moai volcanic-rock figures that have puzzled people for centuries. The almighty statues are scattered on the hills of Rano Raraku and Ahu Tongariki. Trek the Rapa Nui National Park which contains ancient cultural remnants of the previous inhabitants. There are two main sandy beaches, Anakena and Ovahe at Hanga Roa, which are great for body surfing.