Lord Howe Island, Australia
This seven-mile-long island, off the eastern coast of New South Wales, is less than a two-hour flight from Sydney, but it feels like a world away. There’s no cell phone reception, and there’s a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit (for the few cars allowed; bikes are the best way to get around). These are just a couple of the endearing castaway qualities of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed island. But who has time for cars and cell phones anyway, when you have one of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs to explore? It is a scuba diver’s dream, with over 90 species of coral and 500 species of fish, some of which are not found anywhere else on earth. Prefer dry land? Hire a guide for a five-hour hike to the summit of Mount Gower for a 360-degree views of the island and – if you’re lucky – an aerial display from one of the world’s rarest birds, the Providence Petrel, commonly found here.
It is one of the wildest and most beautiful of all the Adriatic islands, yet very few tourists to Croatia ever venture to this lovely island, located just a 90-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik. Its beaches, such as Saplunara on the south-eastern tip, are sandy, secluded, surrounded by pine forest and perfect for swimming. But to really experience the best of Mljet you have to venture inland; the entire northwestern part of the island is a National Park, home to two saltwater lakes, Malo Jezero (Little Lake) and Veliko Jezero (Big Lake). Hire a bike at the village of Pomena and follow the well-marked paths that circle the lakes. You can also rent a kayak at Mali Most (the bridge that joins the two lakes) to paddle around the lakes. Head for the 12th-century Benedictine monastery, perched on an islet in the middle of Veliko Jezero.
Rhodes. Santorini. Kos. Greece has its fair share of beautiful islands. But what about islands off the beaten track? Enter Aegina. It is only one hour by ferry from Athens, but often gets overlooked by visitors and offers a wonderful retreat from the heat of the city mid-summer. And, best of all, you don’t have to compromise on your sightseeing when visiting Aegina, because it has historical sights in abundance. Spend a morning visiting the splendid fifth-century Temple of Aphaia, one of the best-preserved ancient temples from ancient Greece; 25 of the original 32 Doric columns still stand today. The Byzantine ruins of the old town of Paleohora are also worth a visit, located high in the hills. No Greek island is complete without an idyllic beach, and Aegina has plenty. For swimming, Marathonas beach is hard to beat.
This small mountainous island is part of the Egadi archipelago, located off the west coast of Sicily. It is arguably the most beautiful of all the Italian islands, with its fragrant pine woods, carpets of wild flowers, and whitewashed houses tumbling down towards azure blue sea. The best way to explore the island is on foot, following the network of hiking trails past dramatic coastal lookouts and secluded beaches, like Cala Nera on the south-western coast. Or take a boat trip round the island, exploring the various grottoes that pepper the shore. Feeling peckish? The seafood on Marettimo is excellent. Try Trattoria Il Veliero (22 Corso Umberto, Tel: 390 923 923 274), where chef-owner Peppe Bevilacqua serves up Sicilian classics like pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines), fresh from the daily market.
Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Nicknamed the “Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean,” Saba looks like something out of a fantasy film: a luscious densely-forested island, with a volcano rising from its belly and bordered by impossibly clear azure waters. Located just south of St Maarten, it has only one road, no large resorts and some of the most beautiful flora and fauna in the Caribbean. Scale the 1,064 steps to the top of Mount Scenery and you’ll pass through a rainforest where wild orchids bloom alongside begonias, ferns and giant elephant ears, rich with colourful birds and tree frogs. With so much natural beauty, it’s no surprise the island has produced a number of artists. The Peanut Gallery (thepeanutgallery.vpweb.co.uk) in the village of Windwardside – Saba’s commercial heart – showcases a variety of paintings, prints and sculptures by local artists.
This article was originally published on SilverKris.com.
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