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.
That all sounds good though I would recommend Naxos over Mykonos in March as there’s more to see and do there when not beach weather. And if you do decide to do Mykonos be sure there’s a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini for your dates. And same for Santorini to Crete. There should be ferry service but the route starts different times every year so you do want to be certain.
Question: Is it worth taking the evening ferry on the 4th Sep to Crete (Heraklion) from Santorini, then the bus onto Chania so that we can do the Samaria Gorge on the 5th? Spending the full day in Chania on the 6th and taking the last flight out of Chania that night back to Athens? (or do you think this is trying to squeeze in too much in too little time)?
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The island’s next hotspot may be The Shore Club, the only development on Providenciales’ Long Bay Beach with 106 ocean view suites and six luxury villas on a nine-acre stretch. On popular, pristine Grace Bay Beach, Grace Bay Club’s tropical-chic redesign led by interior designer Thom Filicia includes redesigned lobby and guest rooms, the new Infiniti Restaurant and Raw Bar and The Residences, a trio of freestanding, beachfront villas. To get off the radar, the eco-conscious Sailrock Resort debuts this year on untouched South Caicos Island — secluded beaches are the buzz.
My fiancee and I are heading to Greece in July. We’ve been to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini. This time we plan on being there July 1 to 23. We’re definitely including Milos, and one of Paros or Naxos. Any recommendations for other islands? Any particular ferry routes we should consider? Some “less touristy” islands are a must (for at least one island). We can be lively or very chilled. Thanks and best wishes!

Hi Dave! I’m planning my honeymoon for early September, starting from Santorini. I’d like to hit Naxos, Paros and finally Milos before returning to Athens. Is this order of islands doable? I’m most concerned about ferries being available to each of the islands, especially Paros to Milos. Are ferries routinely available daily in September? Also, for all these islands would three full days each be too much or not enough? My wife and I aren’t into nightlife, just looking for relaxation, great beaches, beautiful water and amazing food! Thanks!
Panama is an underrated destination in Central America, including the San Blas Islands. This is a popular spot for sailing and boat tours, though there are also some resorts in case you’re looking for a more luxurious stay. Generally, the islands are quite rustic and make for a great off-the-grid island getaway. There are tons of beautiful spots for good sailing, diving, and snorkeling.
Excellent choice of islands, though getting between them presents one or two challenges (they are not as conveniently connected like the Cycladic or Dodecanese islands so island hopping is not as popular in this island group). All three islands are served by airports with year-round connections to Athens and in the Summer with international charter flights from Europe. Let’s take the pros and cons of each island.
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Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
Also heralded for its seclusion — as well as its beaches, diving, and mountainous beauty — is Indonesia’s Lombok, an island just east of Bali that one reader dubbed “Romance Island.” In fact, Indonesia seems to have the joys of island life down to a science, laying claim to the top three spots people most enjoy visiting. Read on for the full list of 15 winners.

My fiancee and I are heading to Greece in July. We’ve been to Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini. This time we plan on being there July 1 to 23. We’re definitely including Milos, and one of Paros or Naxos. Any recommendations for other islands? Any particular ferry routes we should consider? Some “less touristy” islands are a must (for at least one island). We can be lively or very chilled. Thanks and best wishes!
Harbour Island, part of Eleuthera, which is actually a chain of islands itself, seems as if it made specifically for romance, with the beaches on the three-mile-long isle filled with tiny foraminifera, red-shelled creatures that give the sand its rosy hue. Its hub, Dunmore Town, was once the capital of the Bahamas, and it still retains picturesque Georgian architecture, marked by pastel-hued buildings, white picket fences and bougainvillea-draped door frames. The island is home to less than 2,000, and only a small number of tourists visit at any given time, providing a laid-back atmosphere that ensures a peaceful escape from the chaos of day-to-day life.
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.

Barbados is a vibrant island with a great nightlight. Bridgetown is one of the nightlife capitals of the area, so if you’re looking to stay up until the wee hours then this might be the island for you! Like Bermuda, you’ll find amazing beaches and caving here. You’ll also find some world-class surfing. The food here is amazing, and you’ll be able to enjoy expensive, delicious meals alongside cheap local food.
Located in southern Thailand, this semi-off-the-map island is one of my favorites and the month I spent here remains one of my most fond memories. Here on Ko Lipe, the super-friendly locals bring in the daily catch for amazing seafood, as the island’s water is teeming with life. Accommodation is still basic, and most places turn off the electricity around midnight.
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.
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. 

Close to this island is a little island that provides excellent snorkeling opportunities. You may even spot a few reef sharks. Bathtub-warm water and fine sand beaches kept me here for over three weeks. It will do the same for you. Visit between November and March for the best weather and the fewest people. May through October sees a harsh monsoon season that shuts the island down. The best way to get there is by boat from Pak Bara.
Argostoli is the capital on the mid-west flank of the island and is not really a destination itself, that moniker falling to the contiguous beach scene running from Lourdata south eastward to Skala. While development might have caught up here by now, it should still be a pleasant beach scene and focus for a relaxing stay. The Melissani Cave on the east coast is a must attraction and while it can be visited on a day excursion from anywhere on Kefallonia the two villages or Agia Efthymia and Poros are low-key ‘resorts’ pulling in a regular crowd of travellers and may warrant a look-in. The port of Pesada (just west of Lourdata) is the home of the local ferry to Zakynthos (Zante).
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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.
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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!
I am moving to Bali next month. I am currently on another Indo Island, less popular and not really paradise but has some pretty destinations (Batam Island). I must say I am so interested in visiting the other places well but if you are visiting Bali it is definitely a romantic experience. It’s the perfect place for a honeymoon and the best part is… it’s cheap! The most expensive thing will probably be the airfare unless you reside in South East Asia.

Lefkada is the island that’s not an island. You can drive to it across the causeway from the mainland, but it feels every bit an island. Aristotle Onassis bought the satellite island of Skorpios here as his own bit of getaway paradise. Beaches, windsurfing, boat hire, good food and wine are all here and there are few built-up package resorts. The main tourist area is centred on Nydri.
Hi, Dave! My husband and I will be going to Greece 8/26 – 9/4. We are flying into and out of Athens for cost efficiency. We really want to see Navagio Beach on Zakynthos for a day, and we realize this will likely be an overnight trip, or even 2 nights depending on the travel options. What is the best way to get from Athens to Zykanthos? What is the best way to get from Zakynthos to Santorini? Or is it best to just go from Zakynthos back to Athens and then to Santorini? We are trying to avoid additional flights but realize we may have to fly from Zakynthos to Santorini.
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.
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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?!
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!
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.
I loved you website, congratulations. Me, my wife and a couple of friends are traveling to Greece in march/2018 (I know it’s not the best time of the year to visit Greece, but it’s the time we have available). We are in our late 30’s and are looking forward to some beautiful views, chill out time and good food. We’re not after huge parties but some local music wouldn’t be bad. We have 13 days in our hands, so by reading your texts I’m considering spending some 2 days in Athens, 3 days in Mykonos, 4 days in Santorini, 4 days in Chania.
Naturally, there are some amazing coral reefs for snorkeling and diving and pristine beaches (my favorite is Whitehaven Beach). Upon arrival, you’ll instantly see why this is one of the best tropical islands in the world — and why over half a million people visit a year. One of the most popular way to see the islands is via a multi-day sailing tour (which is what I did when I visited). It was an amazing experience — especially diving! Prices start around 450 AUD for multi-day sailing tours.
Travel here is now easier than ever thanks to recent renovations at both international airports. One of Grand Cayman’s first hotel openings in years, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa opened in November, with 266 design-centric guest rooms along a 500-foot coral sand stretch of Seven Mile Beach. At the grass-and-teak filled, flip-flop friendly Margaritaville Beach Resort, which will open in early 2017 with 286 guest rooms, kids can cruise down the two-story waterslide and you’ve got a License to Chill at the bar with the same name.
Those are 3 great islands. Corfu is much more green than Crete and Santorini and does have a different feel (more Italian but it’s no where near Turkey). The trouble with doing all 3 is that Corfu is on the opposite side of Greece from Crete and Santorini so you’d need to fly via Athens. It’s better for most people to visit another Cycladic island (Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros) instead of splitting up their trip between the two sides of the country.
Also, if there are any other suggestions you have in general for Athens and Santorini I would love to hear them. I would like to be able to leave Athens early morning on Day 3 so that we can have almost a full day on our first island. We would like to see as much as we can without feeling like we are running around from island to island the whole time.
Since St. John is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens can visit without a passport. There are quite a few bargains on both St. Thomas and St. John right now, so it’s a good choice for travelers on a budget. Snorkelers should not miss visiting Trunk Bay, one of the best snorkeling spots in all of the Caribbean for seeing amazing marine life.
Went to Fiji for my honeymoon and i don’t think that trip can be topped. We wanted seclusion, privacy and romance and thats what we got. Our bure was 20 feet from the beach where we could relax and maybe see 1 or two people all day. It was incredible. The resort was called Matangi island resort. Great staff, great food…. It’s as close to perfect as you can get.
Transport between them can be patchy, but a new service linking Zakynthos with Corfu which started this year now brings all the islands (bar Kythira) together. Zakynthos is otherwise linked to Kefallonia with an old-style open deck ‘slipper’ ferry; Kefallonia includes Ithaki on its local small ferry route to Nydri on Lefkada. There is no link (except for the new service) from Lefkada to Paxi/Corfu. Corfu has links to Paxi and its little know satellite islands just to the north. Kythira has an airport with flights to Athens and ferries to Crete (Kissamos) and the Peloponnese (Gythio, Kalamata, and Neapoli).
My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece in late May/early April. We already plan to spend a few nights on Santorini, and are trying to choose one other island to pair with it (will have 3 nights on other island). We are in our late 20s and are more interested in outdoors (hiking, exploring, beaches, boat trips). I’d like to keep travel time to a minimum, so I have been looking at the closer islands – Milos, Paros, and Naxos. Do you have any recommendations or thoughts on a good island to pair with Santorini? 

Transport between the three islands relies on local ferries and these are unsophisticated ‘landing-craft’ style boats that do little more than ferry passengers and vehicles in Spartan comfort, but they are very functional and vital to the inter-island communication. There is plenty of on the ground support excursions and infrastructure and the islands are well-used to tourism; the only exception is that travellers will need to use a bit of independence in getting between the islands.
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.
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Bermuda is recognized as one of the most elegant of the Caribbean islands, and also on the formal side. It has a strong British influence, and you can still find many places that serve traditional afternoon tea. Cricket matches are also easy to find. Bermuda is also a great destination for golfers, as the island has many world class courses. This island is extremely convenient to reach from the Eastern U.S. Flights from New York to Bermuda are only two hours.
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?
The other groups are best tackled individually. For example, the Ionians have no ferry connections to the rest of the Greek islands; the same story with the Sporades and the Argo-Saronics. The NE Aegean islands do have a link to the Dodecanese and the Cyclades but are probably best left for another trip once you have got the feel of the rhythm of the Greek islands.
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?
Antigua is a small island that is often grouped with its nearby neighbor Barbuda. A popular gambling destination, Antigua has a good selection of casinos. It also has plenty of other exciting nightlife, including great restaurants, cafes and discos. The beaches are also spectacular, and you can find literally hundreds of them, with both white and pink sand.
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.

Crete, Santorini, and Naxos look quite doable within the 12-day block, but Crete’s beaches are scattered throughout a very LARGE island, Santorini really only has Kamari and Perissá (and some southern coast bays) and Naxos does have nice places to swim. If you choose only to visit those three islands in your relatively short time, you will do well.
But Indonesia has more than just Bali. The nearby Gili Islands are another incredible island getaway. Both destinations make for a more active tropical vacation and the weather remains pretty constant all year round (though April to October sees slightly drier weather). Both Bali and the Gili Islands are close enough that you should be able to visit them both on your trip to really get the most out of this idyllic corner of the world.
Have just discovered your blog today and love it! I am a student from NZ and want to travel to somewhere fantastic next year for a few weeks to get away from the hussle and bussle of study and work. Originally thought Thailand would be fantastic, and I see you agree with me here so great! But I also did not realise Bali was also so cheap. For a first trip overseas for a poor student (apart from Aus), where would you recommend? Bali or Thailand?
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a chain of 1,000 islands (200 are inhabited, and only 5 have any substantial population). The country is actually just a series of coral atolls that are barely above sea level. During the 2004 Tsunami, many of these islands were completely washed away. The government has built flood barriers to help lessen the impact of any future tsunamis.
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. 😉
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But Indonesia has more than just Bali. The nearby Gili Islands are another incredible island getaway. Both destinations make for a more active tropical vacation and the weather remains pretty constant all year round (though April to October sees slightly drier weather). Both Bali and the Gili Islands are close enough that you should be able to visit them both on your trip to really get the most out of this idyllic corner of the world.
Close to this island is a little island that provides excellent snorkeling opportunities. You may even spot a few reef sharks. Bathtub-warm water and fine sand beaches kept me here for over three weeks. It will do the same for you. Visit between November and March for the best weather and the fewest people. May through October sees a harsh monsoon season that shuts the island down. The best way to get there is by boat from Pak Bara.
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