As soon as I think of travel, it’s not long before my mind drifts to white sand beaches, azure blue water, and palm trees in tropical locales. When most people think of paradise, chances are they’re thinking of tropical islands is far-flung corners of the world. Lounging with a good book, drinking from coconuts, soaking up the rays. Does it get any better than that?
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!
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.
Private jet is the best new way for VIPs to travel south: Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, now offers direct seaplane air service with Key West Seaplanes from Florida airports to the property’s private beach pier. Slightly farther north on Key Largo, Playa Largo Resort & Spa debuted last summer with signature Sunshine State coral reefs and sea glass, plus 144 rooms and suites, 10 secluded bungalows and a standalone luxury guesthouse.
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?
Finally, and this is perhaps the best tip of all – as it’s the old-style romantic one – book transport to and accommodation on one starter island (Paros is a good choice). Sail/fly there, sit down relax, pour cold drinks and eat healthy Greek foods for 4-5 days while working out where to go to next with your tablet under an umbrella on the beach. Book your next stop online and go there. Repeat the exercise. No hassles about being locked into a fixed itinerary and if you like a place, you stay longer. If not, you move on. You will generally find transport tickets for a day or three ahead and hotel owners often know someone on the next island who can fit you in. In Paros, Petres Hotel is a good starting point. Good luck and happy sailing!
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?!
This long and slender island is the most historic of the Out Islands, with the first English settlers arriving back in 1648.  Much of the architecture and way of life was influenced by these British Loyalists. Here you will find some of the island’s luxury resorts, massive coral reefs that create breathtaking backdrops, and miles and miles of beautiful beach that can often be enjoyed all to yourself, with many stretches of sand relatively deserted thanks to their secluded locales. Although Eleuthera is the fourth most populated island in The Bahamas, home to about 11,000, most who live here either fish for bounty or farm the rolling acres of pineapple plantations. The bakeries lure visitors in with their mouth-watering pineapple tarts from the island’s signature crop – Henry Sands homemade bread even won him an invitation to Princess Di’s wedding.

My husband & I were planning to go on an organized Hiking the Greek Isles tour in May 2017, that we just found out is cancelled. It is our 10 year anniversary so we’d still love to plan a trip on our own for about 2 weeks in length. We are a bit apprehensive because we are from Canada and have never been to Europe before. I have several questions I’m hoping you can help me out with. One, how much should we budget/day for eating out for lunch & dinner? Most of the hotels look like they include breakfast. Two, how much should we budget for ferries? We are considering around 2 days in Athens, 2 days in Tinos, 2 days in Naxos, 3 days in Santorini & 4 days in Crete. Our main goals are seeing the beauty of the Greek islands, getting some physical activity in (walking & hiking), and spending time together. Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks very much! Jennifer
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.

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.
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. 

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.
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.
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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.
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.

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.
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 !!!!!
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.
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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.
We are having trouble deciding on another island to go to besides Santorini (we both want to go there). I was hoping you might be able to make a suggestion. We are not really into late night partying/night life. We LOVE good food..quite possibly the most important item on our list. We also like to hike, my husband is very into history, we love beer/wine, we could definitely be into in a less populated/touristy type spot. Gorgeous beaches and great views are also a plus.
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.
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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.
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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.

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.
The only ferry from Kusadasi to Greece goes to the Greek island of Samos. It’s a great island and certainly worth a few days. From Samos, there are usually direct ferries to Mykonos and Syros. These are very different islands that have a very different vibe – but both appealing in their own way. From Mykonos there will be direct flights to Western Europe (most likely Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, and London) though not every flight flies every day so requires some planning. Santorini would be another ferry ride from Mykonos. And Crete farther still. So you wouldn’t have time to get to either island.
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. 😉
You seem to have your heart set on Zakynthos but I have to say it’s not a good use of time for a sort-of overrated payoff. Your time is much better spent (in my opinion) seeing another Greek island in the cyclades (maybe taking a ferry to Naxos or Paros sitting outside on the deck drinking a bottle of wine) rather than taking a bus and connecting flights. Zakynthos and Santorini/Mykonos are on opposite sides of the country and the only way from one to the other is by flying (or some combination of bus and ferry). So, my recommendation is to consider spending those Zakynthos days in Naxos, Paros, Milos, or some other Cycladic island.
It’s a tough call. The good news is that whatever you decide, it will feel like the right thing after you’ve done it. You’ll almost certainly say to yourself, “I’m so glad we saw both islands” or “I’m so glad we had 6 full days on Santorini.” In deciding I would ask whether a return trip to Greece is likely or possible in the next couple of years. If so, then spend your 6 days on Santorini and explore that island, then return to Crete at some time in the future for a deserving 7 to 10 days. But if this is a one-time deal for the foreseeable future then do 3 days on Santorini and 3 days in Crete. (Whatever you decide don’t do a day trip to the other island as it’s not worth the time and effort.)
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.
My fiancé and I are interested in the Greek Islands for our honeymoon in early August. I know it’s not the ideal time to go, but it’s right after our wedding. We are two women in our late thirties. We’d fly into Athens and then I was thinking Santorini for 4 nights and then possibly one other island. We’re into the beach, snorkeling/boat trip, maybe a hike or bike ride and amazing food. We’re not interested in the party scene, but definitely want to explore amazing restaurants. You know, the perfect amount of romance and relaxation combined with culture and epic scenery. Suggestions? Thanks in advance!
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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.
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.
Hi dave – very cool and informative site! We’re a family of 6 (all adults) traveling to Greece for the first time…and most likely the last time. We’d like to visit some historic sites, but more interested in experiencing Greek life in small towns. Beaches and nightlife are not important. I’m looking to put together a balanced itinerary covering 10 days (11 nights) and had the following in mind:
It’s rare to have a sizeable international airport just minutes from the main attractions of a place, but Las Vegas has always been a place to break the rules. Its airport handles flights from all over the world, and it’s just 2 miles from the Strip. Free shuttle services and an onslaught of taxis await to whisk you to your hotel. Minutes later, when you’re out exploring, there are numerous ways to get around. It can often be quicker to walk between casinos especially when the traffic’s gridlocked, but taxis and buses ply the Strip and surrounding areas too.
Culebra Island is beautiful. I just got back to Canada from Puerto Rico. I was there for a month. I loved Culebra so much I went back twice. On my second trip I spent two nights camping at Playa Flamenco. I paid $20 USD per night for a sweet little camping spot (section E). I saw turtles, amazing, colourful fish and met some wonderful people. The snorkelling was okay in terms of being able to see under water but the reefs are not healthy. There was plenty of coconut to pick to drink the water inside and eat the meat. I found passion fruit, mangoes (not ripe), almonds (not ripe) and another really weird looking fruit I don’t know the name of. While I didn’t enjoy the main island of Puerto Rico as much as I’d hoped, I would go back to Culebra if the opportunity ever arose. I made some friends (Perri and Hector–owners) at a little place in town called, “Aqui Me Quedo” who I will never forget their kindness and hospitality.
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.
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