Islands are harder to get to than resorts on the mainland. They often have more wildlife, more beaches and many offer a microcosm of habitats. They can offer coast and beach as well as mountain, forests, swamps and more. The Islands below are far off the beaten track and remain unspoilt.
1. Kangaroo Island, Australia
Kangaroo Island is a concentrated version of all the wildlife in Australia in a secluded, unspoilt wilderness off the coast from 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, platypus 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.
2. Langkawi, Malaysia
Beyond Langkawi’s perimeter of white sand beaches, a tangle of dense jungle and tropical rainforest hums with life. Colugos – flying lemurs – glide from tree to tree. Great hornbill birds, identifiable by the protruding yellow and black casques on their bills, soar above the canopy and distribute the seeds from their frugivore diet, making them crucial to the rainforest’s ecosystem. In the understorey’s penumbra, strangler figs smother the trunks of existing trees and use them to climb towards the light. Keep your ears pricked as twilight descends: the island’s cricket population, who chirp away merrily for most of the day, suddenly stop in perfect synchrony as soon as the sun sets.
You don’t necessarily need to venture deep into this island’s interior to discover its bird and plant life: it’s all around you. The Datai resort, which is set in the rainforest, even has a resident naturalist who leads nature walks into the primary rainforest surrounding the property.
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 snorkelling 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 marvellous. Swim among local fish including yellow fin snapper, Spanish mackerel and green or hawksbill turtles.
4. North Island, Seychelles
With just 11 jaw-droppingly gorgeous private villas. The North Island is only accessible by helicopter and as it was the honeymoon destination chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton followed by George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, it can’t be bad!
We have also visited where George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin stayed in Venice for their wedding; The awsome Aman Canal Grande and the Belmond Cipriani and can vouch that they understand what makes the ultimate luxury hotel.
North Island’s exclusive villas overlook the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to benefit from the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, nothing is too much trouble. All villas open up onto your private garden and the beach and offer plunge pools and outdoor showers. And the beach itself couldn’t be more perfect.
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 primaeval 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 kilometres 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, there are a variety of island treasures waiting to be discovered.
A truly fantastic example of these hidden gems are a pair of islands found off the coast of Nicaragua, the Corn Islands. The larger of the two, Great Corn Island, is dotted with brightly coloured 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. The Brando In The South Pacific
Surrounded by the great blue expanse of the South Pacific, The Brando is an ultra-luxury hotel on its own private island named Tetiaroa. It combines stunning environmental purity, luxury, sustainability and a remarkable historical and cultural legacy.
You will be so close to nature here that you may have sea turtles nesting in front of your villa, or watch whales and dolphins just off the reef. You can explore the island paths on bicycle, stroll along deserted white sand beaches, spend the afternoon in a Polynesian spa overlooking a lily pond, sail to a neighboring motu, or snorkel or dive with tropical fish.
The award-winning cuisine of Guy Martin of the Michelin two-star restaurant Le Grand Véfour in Paris is featured in all dining venues and in-room dining. The resort’s two restaurants showcase Polynesian-inspired dishes, East/West fusion and classic French cuisine. Les Mutinés is The Brando’s fine dining restaurant with a world-class wine cellar. The Beachfront Café offers indoor and beach dining. The resort’s Te Manu Bar features lagoon views and private tree-top seating areas reached on walkways through a palm canopy. Bob’s Bar is a casual setting on the beach.
Tetiaroa was once Marlon Brando’s personal retreat. He was passionate about preserving its cultural richness, natural beauty, and incredible biodiversity, and he wanted the world to know and love Polynesia and its people the way he did. He dreamed of finding a way for Tetiaroa to serve as a model for the world. The Brando is that dream brought to life.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.