Bahamas, Bali, Hawaii, Fiji and their likes have ruled the roost since as long as we can remember. Filtering out these common destinations, here’s a list of the lesser-known treasures across the globe that celebrate their sublimity, distant from all the outer chaos.
1. Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile:
Located 700kms off the Chilean coast in the pristine blue waters of the South Pacific Ocean, lies the Robinson Crusoe Island. Formerly known as Más a Tierra, the island is a peaceful solitude, with only a few hundred tourists visiting the Islands and surrendering their selves into the arms of nature. The archipelago is known for its active volcanoes and sumptuous lobster meals. The majestic landscapes coupled with a rife ecology and wildlife, make this island a perfect escape. Diving, snorkelling and hiking are the main adventure sports that take place in the island.
When to visit: October to March
How to reach: Getting to the island is a quest in itself. Lassa and ATA are the only airline that operates flights between the island and Santiago twice a week.
2. Folegandros Island, Greece:
Forming a part of the Cyclades, this tiny piece of land located in the Aegean Sea is seclusion at its best. With only a little over 750 inhabitants, the island basks in its serenity, spotless coastline, azure sea. Although it neighbours famous islands like Rhodes, Mykonos and Santorini, the charm of Folegandros isn’t threatened. Such is the alluring beauty of this treasured land. Through 3 of its quaint villages – Ano Meria, Karavostasi (port) and Chora (main town), Folrgandros Island serves as a perfectly relaxing and breathtaking hideout. Scuba-diving and hiking are popular sports. A special mention must be given to the church of Panagia located on a hilltop, for its stunning sunrise and sunset eyeshot.
When to visit: January to September
How to reach: Since Folegandros Island doesn’t have an airport, the feasible way to reach here is by flying to the nearby Santorini Island and taking a boat from there. Alternatively, you may also take a boat directly from Athens, via two of its ports – Piraeus and Rafina.
3. Pemba Island, Tanzania:
Cradled in the Indian Ocean, the Pemba Island lies only a 100kms away from the mainland of Zanzibar. Connoted as “The Green Island”, its lush greenery can be seen through Ngezi Forest Reserve and Kidike Sanctuary. The shifting sands of its beaches, crystal waters and untouched coral reefs turn Pemba into nothing short of paradise. The island dominates the production of clove in the world, thus reiterating its bountifulness. Ample of safari excursions and diving activities make the island even more striking.
When to visit: July to October
How to reach: Pemba Island is best accessible via charter flights from Zanzibar Airport. Zanair, Auric Air and Coastal Air are the main airline services that operate frequent flights to the island.
4. Montague Island, Australia:
Surrounded by the Tasman Sea, Montague Island stands solitary 9kms away from the town of Narooma. Home to the largest penguin colony, fur seals and shearwaters, the island has a plush wildlife. Guided tours take place across the island, with the lighthouse being the major touch-point, giving a full 360-degree view of the riveting landmass. Whale-watching has also gained popularity over the years. Snorkelling and scuba-diving experiences are a class apart, as you take a dip into the glistening sea.
When to visit: August to June
How to reach: The National Park & Wildlife Services (NPWS) is a body that oversees the island, and hence access is restricted to tours conducted via them. Prior bookings need to be made with the NPWS for visiting the island.
5. Mabul Island, Malaysia:
Mabul Island is a tiny spec on the world map, located 15km away from its sister-island, Sipadan. The meticulously aligned coconut palm trees and hypnotizing seascape, makes the island a perfect antidote for stress. The marine wonderland of Mabul makes muck-diving, snorkelling and scuba diving the drawcards of this little zone. The proximity of Mabul to plenty of other landmasses makes island-hopping very easy.
When to visit: The best way to time a trip is during the days of Regatta Lepa (usually April), the annual festival of the Bajau Laut, commonly known as Sea Gypsies.
How to reach: Mabul Islands can be reached by taking a flight to Tawau Airport from major cities like Kuala Lampur, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, etc. From Tawau you can reach the city of Semporna by road. The island is a 30-minute boat ride from Semporna.
6. Anna Maria Island, USA:
“The Hidden Gem” as many would like to call it, Anna Maria Island brings to life the idea of a slow-paced and relaxing holiday. The slender strip of immaculate sand beaches barricades Florida from the Gulf of Mexico. The island is sectioned into 3 major cities – Anna Maria City, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach. The comforting warmth of the island invites tourist to dive into the sea. Surfing and fishing are the predominant tourist activities on the island. When not getting baffled by the marine wildlife, visitors often find themselves indulging in Anna Maria’s gastronomical delight.
When to visit: Anna Maria Island can be visited all year round, depending on a personal preference of weather.
How to reach: The best way to reach Anna Maria Island is by hitting the road. One is by driving through the Gulf Drive from Longboat Key in Manatee County, Florida to the island. The second is by driving across the Cortez Bridge from Cortez in mainland Florida to the Bradenton Beach.
7. Havelock Island, India:
Deemed to be the most picturesque of all the Andaman Islands archipelago, the untainted Havelock is a big promoter of eco-tourism. The scintillating charm of its clear beaches makes it the perfect setting of honeymooners and couples. From Sea Walks at the Elephant Beach, to the tropical forests of Kalapathar, the island is an exquisite destination to unwind. Adventure sports like scuba diving and snorkelling are both, thrilling and calming, as you jump into the emerald waters of the Bay of Bengal.
When to visit: January to May
How to reach: The ferry service is the best way to reach Havelock Island. Multiple ferries operate from Port Blair to the Andaman Islands. Another option is to reach the island via Pawan Hans, which operates helicopter flights.