With the first hints of the bitter cold winter in the air, many of us have immediately taken to scouring vacations for that perfect paradise escape. And what could be dreamier than a remote island getaway? Blue skies, sea and white sand are beckoning you; a far cry from the humdrum of the office.
To give you some island-spiration, our friends at Booking.com have uncovered top must visit destinations for an experience of true island paradise. From majestic Japanese volcanoes to charming Cornish archipelagos, these are the best island destinations to visit in 2017.
One of the very few Mediterranean islands to remain untouched by mass market tourism, Pantelleria is a rarity. Its ability to fly below the radar is no doubt due to the fact that it has no sandy beaches; its entire coastline is dominated by dark, volcanic rock. But don’t let that put you off. What the island lacks in sand, it more than makes up for in seclusion and serenity. Lazing in aquamarine rock pools and diving off boulders straight into the sea with not another soul in sight isn’t so bad. What’s more, inland you’ll find Specchio di Venere (Venus’ mirror), a stunning lake in a volcanic crater that’s fed by hot springs and rainwater. The mud is mineral-rich so lather it on and rinse off with a swim to the centre for silky soft skin.
Covered in pine and carob trees and surrounded by crystalline sea, Kolocep is the smallest of the three main Elafiti islands and the most tranquil. It has only 163 residents, is car-free and has two irresistibly pretty villages sitting on little bays. Lull yourself into the island’s gentle way of life with meandering walks past olive groves and pre-Romanesque churches.
Isles of Scilly, UK
The allure of the Isles of Scilly lies largely in their nostalgic feel. Visiting this cluster of quaint islands off the Cornish coast is like visiting a bygone era. Its tiny population has created an impressive sense of community, its buildings and landscape have a quintessentially British appeal and the Isle of Tresco has even become a haven for the red squirrel after it became extinct on the mainland. The isles have ample pretty coves and beaches but the star attraction is the magnificent Tresco Abbey Garden. The island’s mild climate means sub-tropical plants thrive here, so the garden is a transfixing combination of colours. Exotic plants and vines clamber over crumbling archways and palm trees tower over terraces that run down to the sea.
Though most of the Greek islands rarely need an introduction, Meganisi isn’t quite yet a household name despite its textbook Mediterranean charm. With a colour palette of bright blues and dazzling whites, a fishing harbor and local gatherings of coffee and backgammon, it’s very easy here to quickly forget about life back home.
Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Saint John is a paragon of tropical island life escapism. One of the Virgin Islands, almost all of its surface is a national park, so it feels far more low-key (and thus special) than its more built-up neighbours. Trekking, wildlife-spotting and snorkeling the island’s abundant coral reefs are the most popular tourist pastimes. Though the Caribbean might have been typecast as a place for luxurious and somewhat detached, all-inclusive resorts, Saint John is a breath of fresh air. With the chance to swim with turtles, lounge on the spectacular Trunk Bay beach and pitch a tent in one of the island’s campsites this locale is a 2017 bucket-list must.
Rishiri Island, Japan
A tiny island on the northern tip of Japan, Rishiri is a remote and lesser-known destination but one that has numerous strings to its bow. The island is formed by the conical Mount Rishiri, an extinct, snow-capped volcano rising out of verdant forest and endless greenery. Even though it’s only a two-hour flight from Tokyo, Rishiri definitely feels further afield. Enjoy the unblotted landscape and captivating quiet on a hike that takes in the island’s many natural sightseeing spots. Or gaze at a sunset over the ocean and the reflection of the volcano in one of the island’s lakes.
Isola di Capraia, Italy
Capraia’s protected national park status means it is a nature lover’s paradise. An island of volcanic origin, it features colourful, jagged rock formations, beautiful caves and sheer cliffs that stand out dramatically against the deep blue sea. Heading off on a hike is a recommended visitor activity, with guided trails leading you past Roman ruins and old terraces to sensational viewpoints. Besides the port, which is dominated by the grand fortress of San Giorgio, there is a little pebble beach where locals swim accompanied by a number of peaceful rocky coves that are perfect for a quick dip.