Are you bored of seeing the same old tropical islands as exotic destination recommendations time and time again? There are thousands of islands around the world so there are so many never get mentioned in travel articles. Let's rectify that and take a look at some of the best and accessible secret island destinations.
Close your eyes and picture your perfect desert island. Well, the San Blas Islands in Panama are pretty much the real life version of that! Floating off the northwest Caribbean coast of Panama, the San Blas are a collection of 365 stunning white sand breach islands, most of which are inhabited by native Kuna Indians. These islands might feel remote, but they are actually within easy travel distance of Panama City and locals are extremely friendly to travelers who want to experience some of the island culture.
The Westman Islands are a cluster of 14 landmasses off the southern coast of Iceland, and they boast more puffins than humans! There are only about 4000 permanent inhabitants of these islands, but travelers can stay in small cabins and local lodgings to experience some of the magical night-time atmosphere of the near deserted islands. They feel incredibly remote but can be reached via a simple 40 minute ferry ride from the mainland.
Located 17 miles off Maine's rocky coast in Penobscot Bay, half the island is protected as part of Acadia National Park. Thanks to its remote location, Isle au Haut is the perfect place to soak in the slow pace of Maine island life. Even in high season when much of the Maine seaboard is awash with tourists, Isle au Haut feels delightfully untouched. The small number of visitors (only about 7,000 annually) can camp overnight at Duck Harbor or come on a day trip on a scenic lighthouse cruise around the bay. Here you can catch lobster with local fishermen, sea kayak, and walk on 18 miles of hiking trails.
The Togean Islands are essentially an archipelago of a staggering 7000 islets just off the coast of Indonesia’s Sulawesi. It takes a little bit of time to get there, but your experience once you are on the Togeans will more than make up for it. From filling your days with hammock naps to cruising from islet to islet in a wooden canoe, you will never want to leave to go back to real life!
Visiting the Isletas de Granada on Lake Nicaragua is an absolute must for anybody who dreams of experiencing true stillness and peace. Just a fifteen-minute boat ride from the main Granada port, this group of small islands make up a local ecosystem and are so serene that you will never want to be anywhere else. The Isletas are also the best spot to catch a glimpse of Volcano Mombacho.
One of the best islands you’ve never heard of has got to be Olkhon Island. Located in Siberia just off the western shore of Lake Baikal, the island can be reached by ferry and is home to the mysterious Buykat people, followers of shamanism and deeply spiritual characters. You can get a taste of Siberian island life by staying in the main village, Khuzir, and a number of day tours are offered to let you experience as much of the island possible.
Uninhabited except for the main island of Tanera Mor, you won't find crowds sampling the joys of the Summer Isles' rugged coastlines and pristine beaches. Even Tanera Mor doesn't have roads and there's only accommodation for 35 people at any one time. The islands' attractions though other than the coastlines are abundant wildlife and scenery that attracts photographers, painters and poets.
Located just north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands are richly steeped in Aboriginal culture and stunning rainforests. Visitors can stay at one of the many fishing lodges and can also partake in exciting deep-sea fishing adventures. Plan ahead, though, as you can only visit the Tiwi Islands if you have prearranged a tour with an Aboriginal guide.
If forest bathing is your thing, then you needn’t look any further than the wonder that is Yakushima Island. The island is home to a UNESCO protected cedar forest and boats some of the most stunning waterfalls you are ever likely to see. Easily reached by ferry from Kagoshima, you can enjoy the site of red-bottomed monkeys and rare deer whilst hiking the Seibu trail.
Long ago I decided to give up on the idea of a travel bucket list because there's just too many places I would go if I could. I'm sorely tempted by these places. Please tell us of the lesser-known islands you've visited.
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