Imagine escaping to one of these paradise islands. Unspoiled and isolated havens that sooth the soul and ignite the imagination. Escape for just a moment and dream.
Featured Image: Rizalis Photographer (Malaysia)
Everybody is searching for their own island of paradise.
But if you’ve heard of a particular paradise island before, there’s a good chance that everyone else has. So you won’t have paradise to yourself. It could be overrun by sunburnt tourists and travel cliches you’re going to complain about. Once Instagram has discovered an island it can quickly lose its charm.
Don’t worry though, you can still indulge your escapist tendencies. Unspoiled and isolated havens remain, islands that sooth the soul and ignite the imagination. Here are ten of the best:
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Everyone raves about the Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius and the Maldives. They feature perfect white sand, tropical waters, swaying palm trees, and so many honeymooning couples you almost feel sick. In the same stretch of soothing water you’ll find the Bazaruto Archipelago, an assortment of sandbanks and tiny islands that litter the coast of Mozambique.
Take a boat trip and spend the afternoon on idyllic islets that only appear at low tide, and then wallow in the serenity of solitude. You’ll get looked after as well. One of the islands is owned by the Mozambique president and some feature Africa’s finest luxury accommodation.
Lofoten Islands, Norway
An unusual paradise island choice I know, but beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Standing proudly inside the Arctic Circle you’ll find the dramatic mountain islands of Lofoten, which shimmer beneath the sun for 24 hours a day during summer. Peaks rise 3000feet above the ocean, quaint villages nestle beside sheltered bays, and a succession of fjords and glaciers excite climbers every year. For two whole months the sun doesn’t go down. So you can come for a sun tan or soak up the arctic escapism.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Hit the land down under and there are a few essential sights to tick off. Boomerangs, kangaroos, koalas, hat with corks…that kind of thing. Introduced species have helped decimate the indigenous marsupial population on the mainland, but man hasn’t had an influence on Kangaroo Island. Located off the southern coast, it’s a last remaining stronghold for koalas. Kangaroos literally hang out besides your hotel balcony and there are even some seal antics to add extra entertainment.
Pulau Sipadan, Borneo
Divers need to hear about this tiny point off Borneo’s Northeastern coast. Jacques Cousteau once described it as “untouched piece of art,” referring to the otherworldly marine life that circles the island. You can walk around Sipadan in 20 minutes. But the island is just the tip of a narrow pinnacle that drops 5000 feet to the ocean floor. Step off from the beach and you’re immediately suspended in the abyss, facing a vertical reef wall. A strong current whips around, taking divers, turtles, sharks, and millions of fish on a circular journey around Sipadan.
Navarino Island, Chile
Increasingly sought after by intrepid backpackers, Navarino Island is the edge of the world and an outdoor enthusiasts island paradise. Atlantic and Pacific Ocean waters clash beside the beach on this tiny outpost in the very south of South America. Gaze out and there’s nothing between you and Antarctica. Go inland and there’s nothing but you, the fishermen, the fjords and the seals. It’s wild, ridiculously difficult to reach, and astonishing to look at. Which is why it tops the backpacker coolness scale.
Koh Rong, Cambodia
Six years ago there was nothing on Koh Rong other than a fishing village and some untamed jungle. It’s since developed and now features a few bamboo huts. When the chaos and rush of Southeast Asia gets too much, take a two-hour boat from Sihanoukville and lose a few days on this reef surrounded paradise. It’s simple, endearing, and slow. Exactly how Southeast Asia used to be before the influx of tourists.
The Azores, Portugal
A clump of volcanic rocks halfway between Europe and the States, how the Azures remain so free of tourism is unfathomable. The nine islands are covered by a carpet of forest, surrounded by migrating whales, and dotted with blue green lakes. You can hike along volcanic caldera rims, enjoy some seriously fresh seafood, and attempt to finding another person on the beach. Despite having a population of just a few thousand, the Azores have a very distinct culture that’s developed in isolation from the Portuguese mainland. It adds another dose of intrigue to a trip here.
More info: The Traveling Islanders Guide To The Azores
Croatia’s coastline is dotted with paradise islands that have been attracting tourists since the 13th-century Venetians needed a vacation. However, many of them remain unknown outside of Europe. Hvar is the prettiest, with an ancient stone town overlooking a harbor of opulent yachts. If you weren’t sure whether to do beaches or culture on your Europe trip, then Hvar strikes the perfect medium.
More info: The Traveling Islanders Guide To Hvar Island
While visitors to East Africa rush to the famous spice island of Zanzibar, its sister island of Pemba goes completely unnoticed. You’ll find a real sense of life and culture that hasn’t been adulterated by modernity. That means husking coconuts, heading out to fish, and always finding time for a siesta. Pemba’s beaches easily rival Zanzibar, the difference being that you’ll be the only person creating footprints.
Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Isla Bastimentos fulfils all the desires of any paradise island hunting adventurer. Sea turtles hatch on the white sand, mangroves add green to contrast the blue waters, and some funky Afro-Caribbean culture provides evening entertainment. As most travelers hit South America or Central America, few have heard of Isla Bastimentos that sits on the boundary between the two.