We have picked 10 of nature’s most stunning hideaways. These unusual destinations are packed full of wildlife and will give you a truly memorable vacation. Travel to these natural gems now while they remain unspoiled.
1. Sal Salis, Australia
Near the top of Western Australia sits the Ningaloo Reef. This reef is incredible, largely because you step directly off the beach and straight onto the reef. It also remains relatively undiscovered due to its remote location, making it far less touristy than the Great Barrier Reef, and because the reef is steps from the shore, far more accessible once you have transported yourself to this coastline.
Sal Salis resort has just sixteen solar-powered eco-luxe wilderness tents, this resort offers exclusive wilderness luxury on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Enjoy luxuries such as a bed and en suite bathroom with a natureloo, and running water, set in the dunes which border the beach and the reef.
Dunes surround each luxury safari-style tent, and you enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors; a red kangaroo grazing amongst the dunes, the beautiful song of a butcherbird, or a humpback whale breaching just beyond the reef. Before breakfast, pop on your snorkel gear and paddle into a world of reef sharks, turtles, clownfish, manta rays, and dolphins.
2. Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroo Island is a concentrated version of all the wildlife in Australia in a secluded, unspoiled wilderness off the coast of Adelaide. A patchwork of farmland and red dirt roads in the interior gives way to eucalyptus forests and a rugged coastline with unusual rock formations and wide, sandy bays. It’s home to many endemic species, but perhaps its most special feature is the inquisitiveness of its wildlife due to a lack of natural predators. A little way off main roads, doe kangaroos laze under trees nursing their joeys, or you can walk among seal colonies, stepping over adorable pups as they lie across the beach’s wooden boardwalk. Expect to see koalas, wallabies, echidna, possums, goannas, bandicoots, platypi, and more. Stay in luxury at Southern Ocean Lodge on the edge of a cliff and right next to the beach. The views are fabulous.
3. Miniloc and Shimizo islands, The Philippines
Miniloc and Shimizo islands in the Bacuit Archipelago are celebrated for their marine life. Some of the best diving and snorkeling sites lie close to the idyllic El Nido Miniloc Island Resort, along the coral ridge that stretches between Miniloc and Shimizo islands. The current that runs between the isles means that all food is brought directly to the coral ridge’s residents, and so they thrive. Snorkeling here is marvelous. Swim among local fish, including yellow-fin snapper, Spanish mackerel, and green or hawksbill turtles.
4. The Galapagos Islands
Famed for its unique flora and fauna, the Galapagos archipelago lies 500 miles West of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The wildlife here is unbelievable. Even on the main island, you will see brown pelicans fishing in the harbor, friendly sea lions hoping to grab a treat from the fish market and giant tortoises that roam freely in the coffee plantation at Semilla Verde. A great way to experience these islands and their wildlife is from the water. See how we chose to enjoy the wonders of these beautiful islands in our review of Galapagos Island Tours.
5. Yakushima, Japan
Yakushima is an island that is like no other part of the Japanese archipelago. Yakushima is the land that time forgot: the entire island is a sea of green, a primeval temperate rainforest with soaring vegetation and a bamboo grassland at its highest points. It’s carpeted in ancient Japanese cedars, the oldest of which is 2,300 years old. The island is also the largest nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the North Pacific (you can only access their beaches with a guide). Stay in luxury on the island at Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima.
6. Mafia Island, Tanzania
Covered in baobab trees, Mafia Island is a marine reserve, but it’s worth looking to the skies as well as the sea to discover its wildlife. From Pole Pole Bungalows, you can take a short trip over to Chole, a smaller island, where a local guide will show you fruit bat colonies who roost in huge fig trees there. During daylight hours, while they are hanging upside down from the branches, they really do resemble giant fruits. Mafia’s mangroves are also worth exploring: seahorses flourish in their shallow lagoons, and at low tide look out for decorated coral crabs crawling over the sand.
7. Medjube Island – Mozambique
Nestled around twenty kilometers off the coast of Mozambique are the stunning islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago. These islands enjoy more than pleasant weather and picturesque beaches, they offer an opportunity to explore the unique human history of Mozambique, with many of its settlements dating back centuries. The clear waters around the islands are teeming with marine life and are also one of the finest diving spots off the western coast of Africa.
8. Mergui Archipelago – Burma
During the dying hours of the day, the sky above Burma comes alive. Ablaze with a hundred shades of red, orange, and yellow, there aren’t many better sunset spots than the islands of the Mergui Archipelago.
The crystal clear waters around the islands are some of the best in the world for divers, home to a wide array of marine wildlife, including Dugongs and Manta Rays. The islands of the archipelago are perhaps the best in this article if you are looking to truly escape the hustle and bustle. Tourism to the area is very much in its infancy, and many islands remain uninhabited. It is likely that when relaxing upon an island shoreline, the Mokens are the only people you’ll see. They are the archipelago’s indigenous inhabitants who live a nomadic life almost entirely on water.
9. Corn Island – Nicaragua
The Caribbean Sea is well famed around the world for quintessential island getaways. This is with good reason, the sunshine is consistent, and its seven thousand islands offer resplendent scenery. But if you are willing to look further than Antigua, the Caymans, and Saint Martin, a variety of island treasures are waiting to be discovered.
A truly fantastic example of these hidden gems is a pair of islands on the coast of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands. The larger of the two, Great Corn Island, is dotted with brightly colored houses which house its indigenous Creole population. When visiting this island, be sure to sample the fresh and delicious produce that acts as the island’s largest industry, Lobster!
The smaller island, Little Corn, has no roads or major urban development and is where you will want to head if you’re seeking to escape the stresses of modern life.
10. Marshall Islands, Pacific
A stay on the Marshall Islands is a trip to paradise. Surrounded by 750,000 square miles of ocean, the low-lying Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) offers white sand beaches, coral atolls and utter tranquility. The privacy here is unrivaled, this is no bustling tourist resort, but a calm, small, private boutique resort can be found on Bikendrik Island. The resort can be reached via a direct airport transfer from Brisbane, Australia. From Majuro airport, you cross the lagoon by boat to reach Bikendrik Island, which takes about 45 minutes.
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