Jamaica attracts travelers of many different types. Some come to see the amazing flora and wildlife, including many exotic species of birds. Others come to experience the famous Reggae music scene, which had its birthplace on this island. Others are drawn to the many great deals available on Jamaica, especially when it comes to all-inclusive resorts. Finally, many golfers come to Montego Bay, known for having the best golf courses in all of the Caribbean.
They are packaged tourist places, though not quite in the extreme league of the north coast of Crete, but certainly they look to the ‘managed’ traveller more than the individual. September is a good time, though the start of September is still pretty close to high season and you will need to make bookings in advance. The waters of the Ionian are a bit chillier than the Aegean, but the islands sport some very spectacular beaches and seaside resorts. They are very popular with Italian travellers in their boats and motorhomes.
Unlike its luxurious Caribbean neighbors, here you’ll only find more budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Everything needs to come by ship or airplane, so it’s not super cheap. However, since no non-natives can own property there is no influx of overdevelopment, keeping the island simple but beautiful. For a more rustic, non-touristy getaway, this might be the island for you!
Considering your interests (great food, hiking, beaches, nightlife unimportant) then Naxos should definitely be your other island. (And Naxos has many daily ferry connections with both Santorini and Athens.) Also, Athens needs at least one full day to explore so you should drop any thoughts about Delphi or Nafplio. Also, I would look into flights from Athens to Santorini on your night of arrival. If you could get to Santorini that night (and move your day in Athens to the end of your trip) you’d almost gain an entire day and could spend two nights on Naxos.
This 80-mile-long island is home to one of the oldest dive operations in the Bahamas. It hosts multiple shallow and deep dive sites, but is most well known for Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest recorded blue hole in the archipelago at over 600 feet. Friendly turtles and tiny sea horses come to the warm, saltwater pool for a break from the ocean currents, while the coral caves and sand banks on the side of the entrance harbor all types of tropical reef life, from colorful tropical fish to groupers and snappers. The western shoreline of  Long Island has soft, sandy beaches edged with rich green mangroves. With the Atlantic to the east, the island is also a fishing, sailing, and yachting paradise.
Between Nydri and the next main tourism centre is the little port and beach of Mikros Gialos (small bay) that is a great little base for individual travellers for a day or three. The port village of Vasiliki on the southern underbelly of Lefkada is a haven for windsurfers: see this page or this one for more information. The little village is very pretty and is a good base for general holiday-making (as are the two other places). From Vasiliki there is a regular local ferry that runs to Fiskardo on Kefallonia (via Ithaca/Ithaki).
I think Naxos would be the best island for you: incredible beaches, wonderful villages, great restaurants, and some very good hotels (though I don’t think I’d go so far as to call them hip – but nice, for sure). The farther south you go from Naxos Town the quieter the beaches get – so keep going to find the balance you prefer. If you want an island with a little more hip but beaches not quite as perfect then try Paros. If you want to err on the quieter and idyllic side then Antiparos or Ikaria.
Another South Pacific island group (see a pattern here?), the Cook Islands are pretty far off the map. OK, not too far, but they are considerably less visited than some of their neighbors. These tiny islands are named after James Cook, the intrepid man who discovered them. With few amenities, this is the best place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. The islands see similar weather to the rest of the area, with temperatures hot and humid all year round.
Which of these great locations would you recommend for a family with teenagers who like to dive and surf? We have been to Hawaii, Costa Rica and Tahiti. We are looking for a safe, yet different, cultural experience with exotic plants, fish and animals. We would prefer to stay in one villa, as opposed to multiple rooms in a hotel. We don’t mind if it is far away from Southern California. I realize this may be painful financially. 

Lefkada is an island, but is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the northern tip and its access airport is on the mainland at Aktio (Preveza). It is an island popular with Greeks and mainly European visitors. Italians and Brits predominate. It is green, verdant, has good beaches and facilities and is compact enough to get around easily. Tourism is centred on the east coast around the port village of Nydri. It is low-key accommodation with villas and small family-run hotels predominating. Off-shore from Nydri are a couple of islands worth visiting on excursions: the sizeable Meganisi (car ferries run to and fro’) and the private Skorpios Island which belong to the Onassis family. On your own hired motor boat, you can heave-to on just one private beach on the north side of the island and swim and claim boasting rights to having swum on Aristotle Onassis’ private piece of Greece.

Aruba offers a diverse number of activities for people of all ages. On the one hand, it’s extremely family friendly, with many resorts catering to families with kids. On the other hand, you can find many adult-centered activities, such as nightlife and a wide assortment of casinos. Aruba also has a slightly different landscape from many Caribbean islands, having more of a desert appearance rather than forests. 

Zakynthos is an island of certain extremes: beauty and crass, mass tourism of the worst sort. The islands – like all the Ionian islands is lush and verdant and boasts the now famous ‘shipwreck beach’ (Navagio) that many seek to travel to and swim at. Yes, it’s worth it and numerous excursion boats make the run from ports on the west side of the island. Environmentalists and capitalists clash daggers at Laganas where the mass tourism trade is carried out to the detriment of the Caretta Caretta, or loggerhead turtle that loves the beach as much as British tourists on a binge. Read this page for the background. There is an alternative scene to Laganas at Vasilikos over to the east, but it is much more low-key and less busy.

I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos and with 12 days you could easily add Paros too. With Santorini, Paros, and Naxos you’ll get a good mix of different delights and some ferry island hopping too which is fun in itself. 1.5 days in Athens is perfect for most – 1 day for the Plaka, Parthenon, Acropolis Museum area; and a half-day to visit the Archaeological Museum which is a short drive or walk from the Plaka but hard to fit in one day along with the other sights.
They are located north of Australia and east of Bali and offer stunning tropical scenery, a remarkable history, friendly villages, and some of the globe’s most pristine, biologically diverse coral reefs. The only way to reach them is to island-hop the Indonesian archipelago by small planes, ferry services, or eco-friendly cruises for serious divers but it is more than worth the trouble.
These groups are generally better connected among themselves than with other groups, so you are probably better advised to target them on this basis. As it’s your first time to Greece, you may want the full-on Greek island experience and you could easily fill your five weeks flitting from one island to the other in the Cyclades. You could start in Kea and work your way down to Milos via Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos then segue to Paros and Naxos. Dip down to Santorini, up to Mykonos and back to Piraeus. The map will also show plenty of other Cyclades islands to pick and choose from such as Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Syros, Tinos and Andros – yes! too many choices, but you will find that sticking to one group it will be easier to get between them. Realistically for a period of five weeks you will not want to be doing more than 6-8 islands.
Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - LGA) $91+ Flight Atlanta - Newark (ATL - EWR) $99+ Flight Orlando - Newark (MCO - EWR) $105+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - Newark (FLL - EWR) $114+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - New York (FLL - LGA) $127+ Flight Houston - Newark (HOU - EWR) $138+ Flight Houston - Newark (IAH - EWR) $138+ Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - JFK) $140+ Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - LGA) $140+ Flight Dallas - New York (DFW - LGA) $153+ Flight Miami - New York (MIA - LGA) $167+ Flight Atlanta - New York (ATL - JFK) $182+ Flight Chicago - Newark (ORD - EWR) $188+ Flight Los Angeles - Newark (LAX - EWR) $191+ Flight Oakland - Newark (OAK - EWR) $193+ Flight Houston - New York (HOU - LGA) $201+ Flight Dallas - Newark (DFW - EWR) $209+ Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - LGA) $210+ Flight Oakland - New York (OAK - LGA) $213+ Flight Seattle - New York (SEA - JFK) $217+ Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - JFK) $231+ Flight San Francisco - Newark (SFO - EWR) $231+ Flight Ontario - New York (ONT - JFK) $237+ Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - JFK) $237+ 

There are 700 islands that make up the Bahamas, which extend 760 miles from the coast of Florida nearly all the way to Haiti. Of course, the majority of those islands are uninhabited, but those who want to visit still have practically an overwhelming number of destinations to choose from. If you’re hoping to truly get away from it all, don’t head to the most popular isles like Grand Bahama, consider one of these instead, then explore some of the country’s other top attractions.

Nine weeks in Greece is a dream itinerary it certainly gives you lots of flexibility. As you seem to have Athens and the Peloponnese sorted, you just need to sort out your five weeks on the islands. What you need to realize, however, is that the islands are not all mutually interconnected, but rather they are ‘grouped’ – both administratively and from the point of view of transport routes. Here are the main groups.


Be cautious with Santorini and kids. Some hotels don’t do kids (check carefully) and not all hotels are suitable for kids along the caldera lip. Many steps, confined spaces and other guests who don’t actually want to hear kids … Here’s an idea – look for a child-friendly hotel (perhaps on the beach at Perissá) and base yourself where the kids will like it and then take them to the caldera scene. There are a couple of child-friendly hotels on the Caldera, but they get booked very early in the year.

Great list Matt! Indeed, there obviously there are some spots on this globe I have to visit. Can confirm the Maldives though. Has changed over time, but then again, the first time they were still “exploring” their “tourist economy” potential. Been there twice now and although definitely more crowded still holds its appeal. Be prepared for culture shock though. If you return to the “civilised world” you will wonder about the rest of the grubby world and catch yourself day dreaming regularly. 😉
Under a constellation of dazzling lights, the Strip throngs with glamorous folk and star-struck visitors. The Eiffel Tower is illuminated against the night sky, boats punt along Venetian canals, and the roulette tables heat up with anticipation. Las Vegas is the city of fantasy, where dreams are realized and where fortunes are lost and won. It’s bold, brash, and it doesn’t hold back – you have to surrender to this exhilarating city and let it do with you whatever it desires.
These groups are generally better connected among themselves than with other groups, so you are probably better advised to target them on this basis. As it’s your first time to Greece, you may want the full-on Greek island experience and you could easily fill your five weeks flitting from one island to the other in the Cyclades. You could start in Kea and work your way down to Milos via Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos then segue to Paros and Naxos. Dip down to Santorini, up to Mykonos and back to Piraeus. The map will also show plenty of other Cyclades islands to pick and choose from such as Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros, Amorgos, Syros, Tinos and Andros – yes! too many choices, but you will find that sticking to one group it will be easier to get between them. Realistically for a period of five weeks you will not want to be doing more than 6-8 islands.
Another South Pacific island group (see a pattern here?), the Cook Islands are pretty far off the map. OK, not too far, but they are considerably less visited than some of their neighbors. These tiny islands are named after James Cook, the intrepid man who discovered them. With few amenities, this is the best place to find your inner castaway and escape modern life. The islands see similar weather to the rest of the area, with temperatures hot and humid all year round.

I’m sorry if you covered this in another part of your site, (either I’m technically challenged or there just isn’t a search function for your site) but I’m curious about Corfu. From what I can tell, you mentioned it once in your site under your post about best beaches. The Paleokastritsa area is something that has caught my attention for a while and is on my list, and then I saw pictures of Nissakids Bay and that looked kind of amazing.
There are 700 islands that make up the Bahamas, which extend 760 miles from the coast of Florida nearly all the way to Haiti. Of course, the majority of those islands are uninhabited, but those who want to visit still have practically an overwhelming number of destinations to choose from. If you’re hoping to truly get away from it all, don’t head to the most popular isles like Grand Bahama, consider one of these instead, then explore some of the country’s other top attractions.

Hawaii’s biggest island has everything you could ever want to do and more. But what separates it from the other islands is Volcano National Park. Explore volcanoes, climb through old lava tubes, and watch as new lava oozes into the ocean. Then there are all the waterfalls on the island, too. Big Island has it all. I mean it’s Hawaii — how could you go wrong?!


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It’s best to visit Greek islands within the same group. For example, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Corfu and Santorini on the same trip as they’re on opposite sides of the country. Instead, visit islands in the same island group: the Cyclades, the Sporades, the Dodecanese, the Ionian, the Saronic, and the Northeastern Aegean. For one, they’re close to each other. And two, they have frequent ferry connections with each other. For first time visitors to Greece, the Cyclades make the most natural and convenient introduction.
As a starter to explore ferry services, go to the Ferryhopper.com and punch in your route searches. Note: air travel between islands is not generally good. Air travel is normally only feasible between Athens (or other mainland destinations) and the island in question. Some exceptions do exist – Rhodes Kastellorizo, Kos-Leros-Astypalaia, Thessaloniki-Limnos-Ikaria etc. but again you will need bookings weeks in advance.

Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - LGA) $91+ Flight Atlanta - Newark (ATL - EWR) $99+ Flight Orlando - Newark (MCO - EWR) $105+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - Newark (FLL - EWR) $114+ Flight Fort Lauderdale - New York (FLL - LGA) $127+ Flight Houston - Newark (HOU - EWR) $138+ Flight Houston - Newark (IAH - EWR) $138+ Flight Chicago - New York (ORD - JFK) $140+ Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - LGA) $140+ Flight Dallas - New York (DFW - LGA) $153+ Flight Miami - New York (MIA - LGA) $167+ Flight Atlanta - New York (ATL - JFK) $182+ Flight Chicago - Newark (ORD - EWR) $188+ Flight Los Angeles - Newark (LAX - EWR) $191+ Flight Oakland - Newark (OAK - EWR) $193+ Flight Houston - New York (HOU - LGA) $201+ Flight Dallas - Newark (DFW - EWR) $209+ Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - LGA) $210+ Flight Oakland - New York (OAK - LGA) $213+ Flight Seattle - New York (SEA - JFK) $217+ Flight Los Angeles - New York (LAX - JFK) $231+ Flight San Francisco - Newark (SFO - EWR) $231+ Flight Ontario - New York (ONT - JFK) $237+ Flight San Francisco - New York (SFO - JFK) $237+


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This quiet island is waking up. Luxe boutique Zemi Beach House recently opened with classic details and a laid-back vibe that call to the local natural beauty of Shoal Bay East beach. On Merrywing Bay next to sister property CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, The Reef by CuisinArt recently unveiled 80 new suites. Here, farm-to-table fare means local fish and fresh produce from the on-site Hydroponic Farm. The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla took over the former Viceroy Anguilla with villas that overlook white-sand beaches and the rugged coral coastline.
We are wanting to hit 3 islands and have narrowed it down to Corfu, Crete, and Santorini. I was feeling pretty good about this but I haven’t seen a lot of hype for Corfu. I was thinking it would be more unique as compared to the other 2 with its proximity to Italy and Turkey and Albania. Am I missing something, do you have any insight you could provide, please?
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