12 Untamed Islands To Get Lost On

With the rampant increase in cheap flights and package deals, even once hidden islands are now full of tourists on journeys of personal discovery. Try this dozen for size...
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With the rampant increase in cheap flights and package deals, even once hidden islands are now full of tourists on journeys of personal discovery. Try this dozen for size...

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

This magnificent and remote island is a triangular-shaped 'almost'-atoll, rising 13,123 feet (4000 metres) from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Consisting of three volcanic and 12 coral islets (motu), the first European visitor was probably Captain Bligh who passed by on the Bounty in 1789, just days before his crew famously mutinied. Life on Aitutaki probably has not changed dramatically since then and the impressive lagoon remains at the heart of daily life, whether for gentle canoeing, snorkelling or the fantastic saltwater fly-fishing for bonefish.

Block Island RI, USA

Part of the state ofRhode Island, Block Island is considered one of the last truly unspoilt places on Earth. Featuring 17 miles (27 km) of pristine beaches, protected by lighthouses and spectacular bluffs, many of the beaches encompassing the island are isolated and nearly untouched, providing breathtaking views and almost complete tranquility. Known as the Bermuda of the North, the island recently made it onto The Nature Conservancy’s list of ‘Last Great Places’ and around 20% of the island is currently set aside for conservation purposes.

Andaman Islands, India

The Andaman Islands are a group of islands located in the Bay of Bengal, making them a part of Andaman and Nicobar Islands union. Geographically, however, Thailand and Burma are much closer to the Andaman Islands than India. The Andaman chain includes around 301 islands, most of which are inhabited and these islands are gifted with sandy beaches, clear seawater, and spectacular coral reefs.

Dunk Island, Australia

Australia’s most spectacular and breathtaking tropical rainforest island, the Aboriginal people called this place Coonanglebah, "the island of peace and plenty". Located off the north eastern coast of Australia, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, Dunk Island is a short boat ride from Mission Beach, 88 miles (141 km) south of Cairns, and 147 miles (236 km) north of Townsville.

Islands of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Isolation kept this small island protected from the rest of the world for centuries. 211 miles (340 km) off the Brazilian coast, the beaches today are just as beautiful as they were 500 years ago. When Noronha became a prison for Brazilian convicts in 1832, the natural forests were completely devastated to prevent the prisoners from building boats to escape the island however, by 1988 the island was named a National Marine Park and became a major tourist attraction. Today an environmental tax is collected from each visitor to discourage long stays. Expect to pay around R$100 for a one-week sojourn, but over R$1,000 if you stay one month.

Sovalye, Turkey

This quiet Turkish retreat is the only inhabited island in the gulf of Fethiye, where only a few summer villas disturb the wild nature. Densely wooded and with Roman and Byzantine ruins baking under the Mediterranean sun, the island is only 20 minutes from Fethiye town. For pedestrians only, with shady walkways through scented pine forests, a leisurely walk from end to end takes around 45 minutes or you can circumnavigate Sovalye by canoe in about an hour, paddling over submerged houses and a Roman cistern that were cast into the sea after an earthquake in 1958.

Saba, Netherlands Antilles

Known locally as the 'Unspoiled Queen,' Saba has strikingly little tourism - the island isn't a typical powdered-sugar beach destination - in fact, it has hardly any beaches at all. Created by a now extinct volcano, Saba’s Mount Scenery is, at 2877 feet (877 metres), the highest point of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Instead, Saba has beautiful scenery, good hiking and pristine diving. Its handful of villages (The Bottom, Windwardside, Hell's Gate and St. Johns.) are close-knit and peaceful communities, but perhaps this idyllic isle’s highlight is the Saba Marine Park which has some of the most impressive shallow diving on earth.

Mljet, Croatia

The Dalmatian coast of Croatia has become in recent years a popular European holiday destination with its pleasant climate and unspoiled beaches. Mljet Island takes this relaxed holiday appeal one step further. 23 miles (37 km) from Dubrovnik, more than 60% of the island is covered by forest, with the western side of the island designated a National Park. Lonely Planet calls Mljet "the most seductive island in the Adriatic" and according to legend it was here that the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus captive for seven years – although some sources suggest the ancient Greek hero was simply too comfortable on this attractive island to want to leave.

Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

Koh Yao Noi is a large island in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, equidistant to Phuket and the Krabi mainland. While the pace of development is accelerating on Koh Yao Noi, the island remains a quiet refuge, far removed from the crowds of Phuket. In 2002, Koh Yao Noi gained worldwide attention after receiving the World Legacy Award for Destination Stewardship from Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler magazine for the eco-friendly homestay programs offered by its local residents. The islanders are keen to preserve their traditional ways, so dress modestly and refraining from drinking alcohol outside the restaurants and resorts.

Orcas Island, Washington State, USA

The largest of the San Juan Islands, located an hour and twenty minutes from the northern coast of Washington State, Orcas is home to an eclectic community of artisans and small cottage businesses. Its spectacular landscape of mountains, wooded countryside and rugged bays make it ideal for a few days camping and cycling and throughout the summer months visitors flock to the area to get a glimpse of the Orca whales who come here to breed. Moran State Park is a favourite camping location and Mount Constitution, which towers 2,409 feet (734 metres), affords a spectacular 360° view of the surrounding parklands and islands.

Marettimo Egadi Islands, off Sicily, Italy

Lying a few miles off the coast of west Sicily, the three Egadi Islands offer charm and diversity; yet have somehow remained largely unchanged over the years. It is still possible to find isolated bays and coves, deserted mountain paths and a pace of life unchanged in decades. Which is not to say that the island has not known periods of high excitement in its chequered history: in 241BC Catulus defeated the Carthaginian fleet here resulting in Sicily being handed over to the Roman Empire.

Pamalican, Philippines

Pamalican Island is a small island dotted with lush coconut trees and three miles (five km) of white sand beach. The crystal clear turquoise waters are flanked by coral reefs just 164 – 984 feet (50 - 300 meters) from the sea shore. The island is located southwest of Manila, east of Palawan. You can get there via a small 19 passenger charter plane which takes about an hour. The island is privately owned, exclusive only to the Amanpulo Resort guests and the resort has plenty of cottages, so you can stay by the hillside, in the treetops, or in a villa. The weather is tropical, so the perfect time to go is from November to May when the island is hot and dry.

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