What is it about islands that makes them so enticing for us travellers? Perhaps it’s the seclusion, being cut off from the rest of the world, and the special qualities that arise from that separation. We’ve handpicked our top ten islands that we’re daydreaming about right now, from the mythical Easter Island in Chile to the classically romantic Capri in Italy; from the dramatic ‘end of the Earth’ that is Canada’s Fogo Island, to the hidden gem and diving mecca of Fernando de Moronha in Brazil. Which one is next on your travel wishlist?
10. For the edge of the world: Fogo Island, Canada
Marooned at the eastern edge of Newfoundland, Fogo Island feels so removed from the world it was once believed that if you ventured any further from it you’d drop off the Earth. Thankfully this isn’t the case, so explore its craggy coastline and dramatic landscapes during any of its proclaimed seven seasons, and stay at one of the world’s most unique hotels, Fogo Island Inn. This boutique property is an Exsus favourite, given its standout design, community-driven ethos and proximity to nature, promising an island escape unlike any other.
9. For ancient culture: Easter Island
The far-flung Easter Island – or Rapa Nui to the indigenous population – is home to over 400 enigmatic Moai statues that stand enthroned across the volcanic landscapes. Just why and how Easter Island’s Moai statues exist is a mystery, enhancing the intrigue of this totally remote island, studded some 2,200 miles from the Chilean coast (that’s a five hour plane journey from Santiago – we promise it’s worth it). On top of its head-scratching history, Rapa Nui's modern day culture can be seen in the lovely villages dotted around, while adventure-lovers will delight in the many opportunities for hiking, horse-riding and biking; even diving and snorkelling, all of which is included with a stay at explora Rapa Nui.
8. For beach after bush: Pemba Island, Tanzania
What better place to unwind after the thrill of an African safari than on the bone-white beaches of the Indian Ocean? We’re particularly transfixed by Pemba Island right now, with its laidback Tanzanian attitude and ravishing landscapes of dense forests and turquoise seas. What’s more, you can stay at your own little private island at Manta Resort Pemba, whose Underwater Room sits alone on the clear waters with nothing but the fishes for company. The bedroom itself lies beneath the water’s surface, so you’ll wake up with 360° views of the marine world.
7. For paradise: Bora Bora, South Pacific
The jewel of the South Pacific, Bora Bora is postcard-perfect. Its allure is in the impossibly blue waters lapping impeccable beaches; tropical palm trees swaying in the breeze; and emerald peaks soaring towards an endless sky, all combining to create a breath-taking backdrop that is the closest it gets to paradise. This is where you’ll find the Le Taha'a, which really is a slice of heaven with its overwater bungalows providing the ultimate watery retreat. We love combining Bora Bora with New Zealand, irresistible islands in their own right where adventure and adrenalin-fuelled activities await, topped off with some of the world’s best wineries.
6. For easy access: Santorini, Greece
It’s no wonder Santorini is a perennial favourite for honeymooners, thanks to the clusters of whitewashed villages clinging to the volcanic cliffs that peer over the spellbinding Aegean Sea. The sunsets here are infamous, while the island’s string of boutique hotels only add to the romantic appeal: we’re particularly fond of Grace Santorini, with its elegant white-on-white interiors, tempting infinity pool and champagne lounge. Best of all, the hotel is only 8km from the airport which you can easily reach under four hours on a direct flight from London.
5. For diverse landscapes: Tasmania, Australia
It may be Australia’s smallest state, but Tasmania crams in an extraordinary wealth of landscapes that avid hikers will easily fall for. The scenery is utterly diverse, from the wildflowers and bush of Cradle Mountain National Park, to the Granite Mountains and swathes of turquoise seas at Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula. If you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, fuel up on artisan cuisine and superb wine in Hobart (hit the weekly food market on Sundays), and catch some culture at the incredible MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), before discovering even more at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, showcasing more than 300 contemporary artworks.
4. For beguiling wildlife: The Galapagos, Ecuador
This extraordinary archipelago continues to enthral wildlife enthusiasts today as much as it did Charles Darwin when he came here to study its beguiling creatures. The volcanic Galapagos Islands boast incredible biodiversity; the endemic species range from unique birds like the blue-footed booby to the languid marine iguana, blithely patrolling the golden shores of the islands. An absolute must is snorkelling at night, when bioluminescent plankton light up the dark waters like stars, and diving the sea around Kicker Rock to swim with sharks including hammerheads and whitetips. Where to stay? We recommend a luxury cruise, such as La Pinta which comes complete with a gourmet restaurant and tempting Jacuzzi.
3. For diving: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Never heard of Fernando de Noronha? That’s part of its charm – the blissfully remote island lies 200 miles off the coast of north-east Brazil, and is a captivating confection of coral-encrusted coastline, jagged, jade-hued mountains and unspoilt beaches. The island is protected and only a limited number of tourists can visit, so you’ll have the kaleidoscopic underwater world mostly to yourself. Delve into the crystalline waters to swim with giant turtles, and look out for pods of dolphins from your boutique hideaway – we’re particularly fond of the sumptuous Pousada Maravilha.
2. For barefoot luxury: Menjawakan, Indonesia
Getting away from it all is the order of the day at Menjawakan, the tiny Indonesian isle ringed by a coral reef and soft sands with just one exclusive property calling it home – Kura Kura. This inviting resort is perfect for those seeking an unplugged escape: the only thing you could possibly worry about is which cocktail to sip as you watch the fiery blaze of sunset light up the horizon. By day, visit the turtle sanctuary or luxuriate by the pool, and by night gaze at the twinkling night sky and see if you can spot the Scorpius constellation.
1. For romance: Capri, Italy
Classic romance is encapsulated at the glamorous island of Capri on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Hop on a scooter and whizz around the beautiful island together, stopping off at chic boutiques along the way; or charter yacht for a different view of the island and dip into the tempting waters at hidden coves. Make like Hollywood starlets and check in to the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, the place to see and be seen. This exclusive bolt-hole showcases contemporary artwork within its luxe interiors, while the Michelin-starred restaurant is the perfect spot to toast your romantic holiday.