Island getaways mean so much more than sand, sea, and postcard-perfect palm trees. From tropical worlds of wildlife to intriguing colourful cultures, an array of adventures await. We have compiled a top ten list of some of our favourite islands across the globe that offer more than you might think.
Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands lure travellers to their sun-soaked spots each summer. Diverse in their offerings, Hvar offers a fashionable escape, with celebrity-spotting opportunities and elegant Venetian-style architecture while Korčula is Marco Polo’s birthplace and charms with its fortified old town and numerous beaches. Stroll along the many Croatian harbours, watching the brilliantly white yachts sail along the Adriatic coast.
On Africa’s east coast, there is an island that is waiting to tickle your taste buds. Unguja, the largest island in Zanzibar’s archipelago is also known as Spice Island and is an adventure of delicious proportions. Visit the spice plantations, and learn about the different herbs and spices that set meals alive. Wander through the bazaars of Stone Town and discover the fresh seafood market, where you can sample succulent fish delicacies, paired with spices that will delight the appetites of any foodie.
Take it easy on Caye Caulker. This small island, off the coast off Belize will inspire you to relax and soak up the laid back atmosphere. Signs reminding you to “go slow” are all around and this easy-going attitude is reflected in the Rastafarian culture. Make the most of the vast snorkelling opportunities where you can see sharks, sting rays and sea turtles to name a few. Caye Caulker is the destination of dreams for those who want to kick off their shoes after an epic day of swimming, as they swing in a hammock with the sounds of Bob Marley echoing in the distance.
Officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is made up off 99 gorgeous islands in the northwest off Malaysia. The biggest of these is Langkawi Island, a tropical paradise with spectacular scenery. Drive around the island and enjoy breath-taking views of paddy fields framed by oriental villages where local children play. Take a cable car up Mount Mat Cincang and marvel at views over the island before basking on the palm-fringed beaches
Ometepe Island offers landscapes straight from a Bond movie. This island in Nicaragua is shaped by two jaw-dropping volcanoes. Volcán Concepción, still active, looms to the northwest half, and is notable with a perfectly symmetrical cone. The other half of the island is dominated by Maderas Volcano, now extinct but which has a crater lake and covered in dense rainforest. Nature lovers can immerse themselves on this wildlife rich island. Enjoy hiking to the top of both volcanoes, and horse ride through the many trails spotting wildlife on the way.
The third largest island in the island nation of Japan, Kyushu offers a popular retreat in the form of Yufuin, a town famous for its hot springs. Commonly known as “onsen”, you can embrace the virtue of “naked communication” and make most of the same sex baths but make sure you follow the set of rules before entering! This includes taking a sit down shower and getting thoroughly clean! Once you have indulged in the warm waters, you can hike the spectacular breadth of Mount Yufu.
Step off the beach and straight into the sea for prime snorkelling opportunities on the largest of the Bay Islands in Honduras. Discover the different parts of the island, from the lively West End to the white sand beaches on West bay. Rich in history, you can also find the Garifuna community here. Learn about their fascinating culture and African roots, from their dancing, music and language. Apart from the excellent diving and snorkelling available, you may also like to visit the butterfly garden where there are over 30 species of butterflies and a host of tropical plants.
8 Phu Quoc
Vietnam’s largest island is situated off the coast of Cambodia. Wander through the night market in Duong Duong and try traditional Vietnamese cuisine cooked in the famous high quality fish sauce of the region. You can even visit the production factory of this in-demand condiment! Bask on the numerous beaches and view Suoi Da Ban, a scenic white-water creek where water gushes over granite boulders.
A teardrop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a treasure-trove of cultural heritage and inspiring beauty. Discover sacred Buddhist temples hidden in caves in Dambulla, watch traditional dancing in Kandy and enjoy game drives through Yala National Park. Whether you are a sun-seeker, culture-buff or wildlife-lover Sri Lanka has something for everyone.
World famous, and home to a mind-boggling amount of wildlife, a Galápagos adventure is a photographer’s dream. Situated west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean this island archipelago has a vast amount of fauna and flora which has given it national park status. Due to the conservation regulations in place, the animals are less fearful of humans, making the Galápagos Islands a great location for viewing these fascinating creatures. Watch sea lions play and snorkel with a huge amount of marine life as you cruise through the islands that inspired Charles Darwin to write “The Origin of Species”.
About the Author: Rosanna is on the Marketing team at Tucan Travel. She has travelled independently and on group tours through South East Asia, and Europe. You can find her on Twitter here