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.
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.
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 need to finalize plans for a mid-June trip, looking to stay 9-10 nights. Traveling with my wife and two sons (24 and 16). Definitely want to go to Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. Was considering 3 nights at each, but after reading on your site, I am thinking about stealing a night from Athens and spending 2 nights at Naxos. We want to see the major sights in Athens, can we do that in a day? Any comments on the itinerary given our group is welcome.
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.