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.
U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to explore this trio of Caribbean islands (St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix). While the 133-square-mile chain has history in spades — Christopher Columbus touched down in 1493 — 2017 marks a banner year as the USVI celebrates its Centennial, with special events (festivals, parades and presumably lots of rum cake) continuing throughout the year. Also historic, Caneel Bay, the 60-year-old, 170-acre escape in St. John’s Virgin Islands National Park founded by environmentalist and preservationist Laurance Rockefeller, just celebrated its diamond anniversary. The property is bringing back the original beauty of its pared-down, 1950s-inspired Scandinavian style.
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.

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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.
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.

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.
The Ionian Islands are a quite different entity to the more familiar Aegean islands. There are in effect only seven of them plus a sprinkling of satellite islands that make for a very enjoyable package. They are different from the point of view of flora – they are greener and less barren than their Aegean cousins and they share a different history to the rest of Greece and the other islands, having absorbed much Venetian and Italian influences over the years. This is particularly apparent in the Old Town of Corfu where you could be forgiven for thinking you might be somewhere in Italy.
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.
Fiji is poised for a comeback after 2016’s Tropical Cyclone Winston, the most severe on record. The quintessential Fijian Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on Savusavu Bay reopened in September with 25 newly thatched houses known as bures. For total seclusion, guests are ferried via seaplane to the remote Kokomo Island, a new collection of 21 bures and five villas on uninhabited Yaukuve Island.

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.
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.

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?
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.

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We are two guys in our early 30s, we have 12 days for the Greek Islands. We like to swim, ride bikes, or drive on the islands to explore villages, culture, local life, love to eat local food, rest and have beers on beach, stroll and walk around in evening, etc. We will go to Santorini for 3 nights and select Fira according your suggestions, we are confused for next island between Crete and Naxos. Crete is huge but if we choose Naxos as it’s easy to reach from Santorini than does 8-9 days will be boredom in Naxos? Please suggest what’s best and on which place we should look for accommodation in either island you suggest..
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.

Located in the Caribbean Sea, this Dutch-owned island is perfect. Voted one of the best in the Caribbean, Curacao is like being in tropical Holland. The town is built in the Dutch style, but the surrounding areas are all tropical. Hit the beaches, lay in the sun, and party the night away. This may not be Gilligan’s Island, but what it lacks in privacy, it makes up for in romance and fun.
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 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.
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.

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.
Barbados is one of the most multifaceted Caribbean islands, offering a wide range of accommodations and activities. It has places to stay for visitors of every budget, and a diversity of landscapes and cultural activities. Visitors especially enjoy visiting the lively city of Bridgetown, which dates back to the 17th century. One of the island’s most spectacular attractions is Harrison’s Cave, an amazing formation that can be seen on a tramway. 

Located just off the coast of Western Sahara in Africa, the Canary Islands are actually a Spanish archipelago and therefore owned by Spain. There are 7 main islands in the Canaries, with each offering something different for the intrepid traveler looking to kick back and enjoy island life. Tenerife is the largest of the islands and has a bit of everything, including one of the largest Carnival festivals in the world each February.
Fabulous site Dave! I am taking my daughter to Greece for 12 days in late May 2017 as a grad gift (yeah I know…, I think my Dad gave me a Timex watch, but I digress) and we are flying into Santorini expecting to spend 5-6 days there then ferrying over to Mykonos (not really sure why?) for a couple days. A couple days there and then flying into Athens for 2-2.5 days to inject some culture into what is otherwise somewhat hedonistic trip. I was wondering, after reading about other islands whether it is worth going to Mykonos. I’d love to go to Crete but it seems to be tough to squeeze that in. The original plan was to go to Istanbul for a couple days but it seems really sketchy right now. So is Naxos a better idea than Mykonos? Should we stay longer in Santorini? Is 2.5 days too much for Athens? Any and all info is appreciated.
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.

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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.
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.
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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.
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.
Located on the eastern coast of Malaysia, the Perhentians consist of two islands. Both are stunningly covered with a lot of palm trees, wide beaches, and crystal blue water. There’s not much to do here, and visitors typically lay on the beach all day, resting from last night’s drinking. It’s the perfect place to put up a hammock. A strong monsoon season limits when to go to between March and October. During the other times, it’s best to head to Thailand, where the weather is nicer.

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.
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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).

I think it depends on where you live when it comes to expensive holidays, and what sort of accomodation you want. I’m from London and went to the Maldives in oct 2010 2 wks all Inc, £1150. Which was a bargin as previous years I been to Spain spending over £100 day on food and drink etc. I went to the addu atoll on the island of gan which is the most southern chain of islands. The hotel was everything I could have dreamed of, it wasn’t posh or extravergant but who cares when ya in the Maldives. Another great reason to go to the addu atoll is that when the British were there they built bridges and causeways connecting the south and west islands which means u can get on a bike and go and meet the locals, they were so friendly and I recomend the addu atoll to anyone !!!!!


Located in the Caribbean Sea, this Dutch-owned island is perfect. Voted one of the best in the Caribbean, Curacao is like being in tropical Holland. The town is built in the Dutch style, but the surrounding areas are all tropical. Hit the beaches, lay in the sun, and party the night away. This may not be Gilligan’s Island, but what it lacks in privacy, it makes up for in romance and fun.
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).

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.
I’m traveling to Greece for the first time, and I’m so fortunate to be staying for about 9 weeks (peak season, unfortunately, I’m an educator and it’s summer!). I have ample time planned in Athens, and the Peloponnese (with rental car). Here’s where I need some help and suggestions. I have 5 weeks saved for the islands and I’m still trying to figure out how to spend them. I’m not sure if I’d like to cover just a few islands and soak them in a bit deeper with longer stays…or to travel at a quicker pace covering several islands in each main area (the Cyclades, Ionians, Crete-Rhodes Dodecanese, Eastern Islands) I’m an easy traveler and enjoy diversity. I crave spending time with locals and interacting with families – home stays at times, I enjoy the water and I’m an avid diver, I like hiking and exploring. Also, want to perhaps relax a bit – food/wine tasting welcomed). I’m excited about the trip and my ideas are racing all over. Do you have some ideas and suggestions to share? A rough sketch itinerary for Greece? Thanks so much!
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.
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.
Java, with a population of 140 million, makes its first appearance on this list. Celebrated for its ancient culture, breathtaking vistas, and UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Borobudur Temple Compounds, the island also offers the opportunity to indulge in modernity (five-star hotels abound). Waterfalls, volcanoes, protected parks, and white-sand beaches also allow visitors to get away from the thrum.
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