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.
The next big island north is Corfu, the grandmother of all holiday packaged islands, but with plenty of other individualized retreats. Arguably the prettiest of all the islands, it is lush, green and clean though it can get a bit cluttered in high Summer. Pretty well all the options you want are on offer, but the best hikes and ramblings are to be had away from the central east coast. Author Gerald Durrell chose well in Corfu: his famous White House in the north-west of the island is at the little seaside village of Kalami.
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.
The largest of the Bahama islands, Andros is also the least populated, offering the chance to own a piece of your own island without the high price tag. Here, locals make waterproof straw baskets, batik and other crafts, and visitors will also find mesmerizing blue holes, excellent bonefishing and diving. The island is home to the world’s oldest dive shop, the second largest coral reef in the Western hemisphere, and is covered with vast areas of wetlands that create channels perfect for bonefishing. Many visitors come to experience this “Bonefishing Capital of the World,” by staying at Bair’s Lodge, a plantation-style lodge situated between Deep and Middle Creek on the south end of the island offering a beachfront paradise with a picture-perfect white sand beach, swaying palms, fire pit and access to a flats skiff. The tidal paths found on this part of Andros provides water pathways to access the famous west side while offering protection from the winds, and creating a fertile, bait-rich environment that bonefish prefer.
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.
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?
This small island isn’t quite as popular as some of its neighbors, and many visitors consider that a good thing. Vieques is perhaps the best Caribbean island for truly getting away from it all. It has fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, giving it a bit of a deserted island look. The island is a popular honeymoon destination and it’s also a favorite of eco-tourists, who are drawn to the protected area known as Mosquito Bay.
My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Greece on August 1-11th. We have 10 days. Is this a feasible itinerary for a couple in their early 30s who want beach, relaxation, good food, boating, and some history? Fly into Athens have one full day there then fly to Naxos for a day and a half, Milos for 3 nights, then Santorini for 3 nights, then back to Athens for our flight? We chose Milos over Naxos at first, but after reading your blog it seems the beaches in Naxos may be better?
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.
– Any advice on where to go after for around 5 nights? Back to Naxos (we didn’t really move from the town last year unlike in Paros where we rented a car and saw the whole island)? What about Folegandros? Tinos? Milos? We would like somewhere with a nice town to walk around, upmarket, more couple less family, nice bars and things to see during the day bit also nice beaches etc?
Ferries are not really cheap any more – certainly not like they used to be – but the vessel fleet is better, safer and faster than in previous years so the cost is justified. You can get exceptionally cheap deals on longer-haul routes if you are prepared to forego a booked seat: €14 v €40 on a run to a mid-distant island, but it’s probably wise to consider taking fast catamarans to get to core islands (Mykonos, Santorini, Paros etc.) and even then, go the extra 10/15% for Business or even VIP class for the extra comfort. On longer hauls it can be cheaper to fly if you seek out flights online and book beforehand.
I’m a little worried I’ll get bored in Milos. My husband likes to stay in one place, but I like exploring. We would have split our time more evenly but we want to stay on the caldera and it’s just too expensive to stay any longer than two or three nights. Alternatively, we could stay in Santorini for longer but move to a cheaper hotel. Perhaps Santorini 6 nights and Milos 6 nights?
Hydra is great but it does take a bit of time and effort to get to from the Cyclades. You’ll need to ferry to Athens, then might have to overnight there, then ferry to Hydra. Whereas Naxos, Paros, Milos, Folegandros, etc. would all be one direct ferry from Santorini or Mykonos. If you do go to Hydra then Leto Hotel is a great choice close to the port and shops and restaurants.
Thank you for putting together such a great site. My husband and I are planning a trip to the Islands in May – neither of us have been and, honestly, have no idea where to even start putting together an itinerary. We have at least 14 nights to spend there (and may be able to push that to 17). I’m in my early 30s, my husband’s in his early 40s. Our priorities are culture and history, swimming, beautiful views, nice towns, and food and drink. We’re not interested in clubbing at all, but more laid-back late night bars definitely appeal. This is probably our one big holiday this year so while the budget is more mid-range than sky-high, we can push it a bit for the right places or experiences. We’re happy to take in quite a few islands, or with a mix of longer and shorter stays.
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.
The Abacos is situated in the Northern Bahamas, made up of its own 120-mile-long island chain, with Great Abaco Island and Little Abaco serving as the “mainland,” and a string of barrier islands separating them from the Atlantic. Known as the most accessible of the Out Islands, this family-friendly destination boasts white and pink sandy beaches as well as the four national parks, where parrots, orchids and all types of exotic marine life can be spotted. Seeing the famous swimming island pigs makes a visit to this archipelago and especially unforgettable experience. One of the most popular attractions in this remote region, you can see them adorably lounging on the beach, soaking up the Bahamian sun and treading through the clear azure waters. There are also villages that seem locked in another time, turquoise flats, spectacular coral reefs, untouched forests and uninhabited cays, all waiting to be explored.
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.
These little coral islands are surrounded by excellent diving, snorkeling, and white sand beaches, and are filled with friendly locals. Private resorts litter the islands, and a vacation here is also very pricey. Luckily, Bangkok Airways offers cheap flights to and from Thailand. The best time to go to the Maldives is from November to May, when the weather is cool and dry. June through October sees wetter and hotter weather due to the monsoon season.