10 Must-Visit Islands That Will Take Your Breath Away
Published on 18 March 2023
I am very fortunate to have travelled extensively, for business and for pleasure. I also absolutely love islands. They are so different from their mainlands, with their own character, landscape, light, cuisine, and sometimes unique flora and fauna – maybe even their own language. Islands within the same group are usually very different to each other too.
So, what are my personal favourite islands? Check out these Must-Visit Islands.
Kauai is the most spectacular of the Hawaiian islands, with a great combination of rainforest, pure white beaches, and stunning mountains and valleys. The waterfalls there are the best I have ever seen. It is known as the “garden isle” for good reason. It is the fourth largest of the island chain, and has a laid-back atmosphere suiting its remoteness.
Australia’s largest island, Tasmania is a true marvel. Towering mountains, beautiful beaches, quiet roads, friendly atmosphere, and perhaps it’s main feature is the unique wildlife which is there in abundance. It’s a great winter destination for us Europeans, with warm but not overly hot weather.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Off the coast south of Adelaide sits Kangaroo Island, where there are more koalas than people. It’s a wonderful island to explore, ideally by camper van so that you can stay in different places each night. It feels very remote, and there is little in the way of services, so stock up on food. The scenery is amazing, and being surrounded by kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas and lots more will make your trip very memorable.
La Gomera, Canary Islands
The Canaries may conjure up visions of party and cruise ship islands, but La Gomera is so different to that. This gem of a volcanic island has stunning deep valleys, and an abundance of excellent walking trails. It is much quieter than it’s neighbours, and driving there is an experience in itself with snaking roads passing through different vegetation as you ascend. Reached via Tenerife by ferry, the climate is perfect for a winter getaway with plenty of low-cost flights available.
Pangkor is a wonderful, friendly island off the west coast of Malaysia. Lush jungles tumble down to lovely beaches, with villages dotted around the coast. Best explored by scooter, you will always find a different corner of the island to enjoy each day.
Misool, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Misool is an absolute paradise for divers and snorkelers. It is a fascinating marine reserve, and I have never seen such a variety and quantity of incredible marine life. It has a pristine reef system, and the resort is constructed entirely from reclaimed wood washed up on beaches in the island group.
The Faroes are absolutely stunning in scale and unique topography. Towering cliffs plunge thousands of feet into the sea, as it seems that mountains there have been sliced in half by some ancient giant. The islands are connected by tunnels, boats and even helicopters. In the summer months, there is never total darkness as the islands lie so far north.
Off the north west coast of Norway lie the Lofoten islands, which are like alps sitting in the ocean. We went there to see the northern lights, and were well rewarded. The scenery is wonderful, and the experience unique – just be prepared for eye-watering costs for food and drink!
Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
Lying off Tortola is Jost van Dyke, a small laid-back island and home to the soggy dollar bar – which caters to boats mooring up off shore and the occupants wading in to the bar. The white sands require sunglasses to subdue the glare, and the warm waters invite you in for swimming and snorkelling.
Harris, Outer Hebrides, UK
Last but the very best of them all is Harris, the jewel of the Outer Hebrides. I know that I am biased, but the combination of sheer beauty and the island light is very special. Harris has it all – the hills, the amazing beaches, the landscape, and the people. Its moods change from wild and stormy to peacefully calm, sometimes all in the same day, revealing different colours sometimes accentuated by vivid rainbows, and on clear nights the stars are marvellous to behold.