If the winter is getting you down, how about dreaming about an island escape instead? From the best diving spots in the world to the most pristine beaches, here is my choice for 10 of the most beautiful tropical island escapes…
1. Bora Bora – one of the most beautiful and famous island escapes in the world
Luxury holiday favorite Bora Bora (located near Tahiti) is best known for its iconic overwater bungalows and circular lagoon. The turquoise lagoon is kept calm and tranquil by the surrounding protective coral reefs and the reefs are also home to huge amounts of colorful tropical fish, making Bora Bora a diver’s dream. The easy-on-the-eye romantic villas with their thatched roofs and eco-conscious designs blend in beautifully with the natural surroundings.
2. Boracay, Philippines – the stunning island which is a favorite with backpackers
This narrow 7km long island paradise is home to several award-winning beaches. Head for White Beach, which is lined with all the hotels and tourist amenities you could want and Bulabog Beach which is best for windsurfing and kite surfing. Another photogenic beach is Puka Beach which is covered in pretty Puka shells. The inland region of Boracay is also very attractive and is characterized by preserved forests and farmland.
The Seychelles are an archipelago of 115 islands off the east coast of Africa. The popular honeymoon destination has distinct influences from African, European and Asian cultures and this is reflected in the island’s art, food and architecture. Don’t miss the Vallee de Mai, a unique natural palm forest and the Aldabra which is a large coral atoll, home to the giant tortoise. There are also an endless number of pristine beaches and romantic secluded areas as well as vast forests to explore.
Fiji is a group of 333 islands in the South Pacific which is both a romantic and adventurous travel destination. Book flights to Fiji and find yourself choosing from mountain treks, water sports, shark feeding or diving in the Astrolabe Reef. You will also find many eco-friendly resorts as well as homestay opportunities where you can experience an interesting mix of Indian, Chinese, European, Tongan and Samoan cultures.
One of the most popular island escapes in the world, the nation nestled in the Indian ocean consists of over 1,190 coral islands. This is another island destination that has a mixture of cultural influences (Asian, African and Arabian) and the Maldives is certainly a place you wouldn’t forget in a hurry. The surrounding natural atolls make diving in the translucent water a sublime experience and the country lives in close cooperation with the environment making it a ‘greener’ getaway.
6. Mnemba Island – Zanzibar
Heart-shaped Mnemba can be found 1km from the island of Zanzibar (off the east African coast) and is privately owned. The island consists of perfect white beaches and a small inland forest. Mnemba is known as an ideal diving destination and here is where endangered green turtles nest, large whale sharks reside and over 600 species of fish swim around the colourful coral reefs. Although as its privately owned, you can only visit if you are a guest of the Mnemba Island Lodge.
7. Koh Lipe –Thailand
The small island of Koh Lipe lies in the Andaman Sea close to both Malaysia and Thailand. It’s actually part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and is most famous for its idyllic beaches and crystal clear water – perfect for diving and snorkeling. The beaches are lined with laid back beach bars and accommodation is available in the form of grass-roofed huts, resorts and bungalows. No cars are allowed on the Koh Lipe which gives it a very relaxed vibe and the whole island can be covered on foot within an hour. A great Thai island alternative.
8. Maui – Hawaii
No list of beautiful island escapes would be complete without a mention of Maui. The popular Hawaii resort has an unrivaled combination of pristine beaches, picturesque waterfalls and a unique Kahului culture. If you time your visit right (between January and early April) you also may be lucky enough to see the humpback whales that migrate through the waters of Maui.
9. Langkawi – Malaysia
Located off the coast of Malaysia, this archipelago of 99 islands will give you a glimpse of rural life with rice paddies, small villages and a jungle-covered interior. On the coast, beaches of fine white sand await holidaymakers. Make sure you see the Telaga Tujuh waterfalls, trek the Gunung Raya Mountain and visit crocodile Adventureland. Not only is the island a nature lovers paradise with limestone caves, a black sand beach and mangrove forests but handily Langkawi is also tax-free haven!
10. Bonaire – Caribbean
Although belonging to the Netherlands, Bonaire is located in the Caribbean close to Araba and Curacao. A diver’s paradise, the diving is some of the best in the world and the entire surrounding waters are a marine sanctuary filled with beautiful coral reefs. Windsurfing is also a very popular Bonaire pastime along with snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. Wild iguanas and flamingos frequent the flat tropical island and when here you should also try to visit the resort’s surreal looking salt flats and rock art.
10 of the most beautiful island escapes was written by Petal Mashraki, Petal is a freelance travel writer who has lived and been educated in England, South Africa and Israel.