Owning a private island may be a secret dream many of us keep tucked away in the back of our minds, retrieving it sometimes when work becomes dull or life, in general, gets stressful. While the reality is many of us will never own our own rock in the middle of some gorgeous ocean, we can come very close.
How? Well, I have compiled a list of five incredible island locations that are not only accessible but have retained much of their natural beauty and are not ruthlessly assaulted by millions of tourists each year. Let’s take a look at these quiet, island gems.
The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 dazzling islands which are a hop, skip and jump away from the Florida coast. The capital island of New Providence attracts millions of people each year. If the busy mega-resorts, casinos and cruise ports of New Providence don’t appeal to you, take a look a little further south in the island chain to Great Exuma. You can swim in unspoilt crystal clear waters from almost empty beaches and take excursions to wonderous desert islands inhabited by iguanas and swimming pigs without having to compete with a throng of tourists. There are direct flights to Exuma offered by a number of major airlines like Delta and Air Canada or you can grab a connecting flight from New Providence.
Now I would like to introduce you to another nearly hidden gem of the Caribbean, Nevis. Nevis, along with its sister island of St Kitts, constitute the nation of St Kitts and Nevis, the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere. Alongside enjoying the obligatory stunning beaches that accompany most of the islands in the Caribbean, you can hike volcanoes, tour the ruins of sugar plantations, take in the quaint aesthetic of 18th-century buildings, commune with the island’s thick interior forests and acquaint yourself with a monkey or two. The island sees less than 50,000 visitors all year so if it is quiet and unspoilt natural beauty you're after, Nevis is your island.
Koh Yao Noi
The Caribbean doesn’t have the monopoly on stunning tropical islands of course. Thailand is a gorgeous, well-visited corner of Asia with many wonderfully beautiful islands. While Thailand is a very popular tourist destination, there are many islands that are not as well discovered as Phi Phi Island, for instance. Take Koh Yao Noi. In less than an hour, a speed boat can take you from the clogged beaches of Phuket to this island paradise dotted with wooden bungalows and villas perched on stunning mountainsides. Here you can experience rural Thai life at its best with exciting local markets and amazing, mouth-watering cuisine.
In the Indian Ocean, the French territory of Reunion Island is a wonderful destination and a great alternative to the better known Maldives. The island has some of the best beaches in the region and thick, lush tropical rainforests that have a bounty of flora and fauna waiting to be experienced by ardent nature lovers. There are numerous forest trails and paths up volcanoes that will keep the active traveller engaged for quite some time. The island is accessible by a number of direct flights from major European cities and Perth.
Prince Edward Island
Off the coast of Nova Scotia is Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island. PEI is one of the Great White North’s best-kept secrets. While not a tropical island by any means, PEI still has much to offer anyone looking for a quiet getaway off mainland Canada and away from the hectic pace of daily life. If you’re a photographer or just someone with a penchant for using their camera phone, be prepared to give your fingers a workout. Between breathtaking vistas, rolling emerald green hills and lush scenic farmland there will always be images ready to capture. Foodies will be delighted to know that PEI has a bounty of the freshest seafood on the planet just ready to tantalise your palate.
Island getaways offer more than the promise of exotic cocktails and balmy weather. They offer a chance to unplug, recharge and rejuvenate the overworked and overstimulated body and mind of the modern-day traveller. Perhaps it is the fact that these spots tend to be detached from the mainland, pushed off from nearby continents that makes the promise of peace more attainable. This benefit is probably more pronounced when you consider the islands I’ve mentioned above. They are a world away from the stresses of modern life.