Of the world’s seven continents, Asia is by far the largest. But let’s look at the other geographical extreme: islands. Nobody knows how many islands there officially are on Earth, but the number is estimated to be in the millions!
Sadly, tourists and travelers often overlook these tiny specks of land, but there are so many worth visiting.
Today, we’re taking a look at 5 such exceptional island destinations. The unique adventure, culture, and secluded relaxation are some things that make these islands on our list among the best in the world to visit.
Pack your bags and backpacks for these top 5 island travel destinations:
Within the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is the most famous island holiday destination in the country, perfect for honeymoons and romantic getaways. Bali Island is home to a local culture well-known for its friendliness and warm hospitality. Some of its top tourist attractions are the exotic palaces and temples scattered around the island, with nature providing spectacular backdrops; these places are perfect for photo ops.
Further inland, thrill seekers can explore unspoiled jungles and tall volcanoes. However, most people can’t wander away from the beach too long. Luxury resorts and hotels can be found in the main areas of Bali.
After sundown, the island is thriving with nightlife, with exhilarating nightclubs and packed dancefloors. When it comes to dining, the restaurants in Bali offer numerous options for both local and international cuisine.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Located in the Pacific Ocean lies an out-of-this-world destination where unique endemic wildlife species flourish. Formed by volcanic eruptions more than 3 million years ago, the Galápagos Islands is composed of 19 chain islands and dozens of smaller islands. Some of the volcanoes are still active, and volcanic eruptions are a part of the life cycle in the Galápagos.
The islands are best known as the place where Charles Darwin drew his inspiration for his most famous work. Back in 1835, after staying on the islands for 19 days, Darwin’s study of the flora and fauna was included in his book “On the Origin of Species”. After it was published, the book introduced the theory of evolution and the Galápagos Islands to the world.
Since then, the popularity of the islands has grown steadily over the years. Back in 1959, the Galápagos Islands became Ecuador’s first national park, and in 1978, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, the Galápagos Islands receive more than 200,000 visitors annually – adventurous travelers hoping to see the landscapes and animals unique to this part of the globe. A truly unique experience awaits anyone who makes the journey to these islands.
Boracay Island, Philippines
Of the over 7,000 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago, the island of Boracay really stands out. The powder-like white sands and the cool pacific breeze that blows through Boracay are any beach bum’s heaven. Don’t get too carried away by the palm trees and the tranquil scenery, though; this island paradise wears a different face at night.
With cheap bars and nightclubs and the night performances of pyro dancers at White Sand Beach, Boracay can give off that wild-hearted party vibe for those looking for it. The thriving nightlife of Boracay is something worth experiencing, especially during the first week of May when the island celebrates LaBoracay, a weeklong party celebrating the start of summer in the Philippines and Labor Day. There’s a reason people call Boracay “the island that never sleeps”.
For thrill seekers, Bulabog Beach is the perfect place for adventure. Kiteboarding is the main attraction here and many outfitters and tour operators stand by to give visitors a thrilling experience. Parasailing, windsurfing, and other high-octane activities are offered as well – take your pick!
At the southernmost tip of the island lies the more tranquil Tambisaan beach. Away from all the partying of the main areas, Tambisaan is where you’d want to go for snorkeling or picnics. It’s also the main home of the island’s teeming marine ecosystem.
The Maldives is unarguably one of the most popular island travel destinations in the world. Situated between Africa and Indonesia, this low-lying nation (rising only 4 feet above sea level) attracts thousands of visitors worldwide. The geography of the Maldives is similar to an art piece; over one thousand islands connect with several atolls to form the beautiful mosaic of this tiny Indian Ocean nation. The marine life that surrounds the islands has also made it a favorite destination for scuba divers.
To fully experience the beauty of the Maldives, one must venture beyond the confines of hotels and resorts. One of the most highly recommended activities here is island hopping. Explore the many untouched islands, prepare your scuba diving gear, and swim along with the fishes (and, if you’re lucky, a giant whale shark).
Another unforgettable activity you must experience is eating at the Ithaa, the world’s first all-glass underwater restaurant. Even though it’s quite popular among tourists (not surprisingly), you can still get a chance to dine at this romantic restaurant. In order to make advance reservations, you must be a guest at the prestigious Conrad Rangali Hotel.
The number-one island destination in our list comes again from the Philippine archipelago. Limestone rock formations, white powder-like beaches, and clear turquoise waters make Palawan look like an out-of-this-planet paradise, away from the worries of today’s world. That’s why travelers call Palawan “the last frontier”.
It’s not just the beauty of Palawan that captivates the hearts of tourists. The heart-warming hospitality of the locals and the Filipino culture play a big role in making the island 2nd to none on our list. Add to that the colorful, float-filled parades and the delectable cuisine the island offers to its visitors.
Another reason to love Palawan is that it offers many activities for different kinds of tourists/travelers. Being home to more than 600 different bird species, bird-watching is one such popular activity in the area. We highly recommend visitors also explore the Puerto Princesa Underground River, one of the longest subterranean rivers in the world.
You may not be able to find these destinations easily on a map, but don’t dismiss them just because they’re tiny and remote. All of these islands are beautiful and unique in their own way. They may be a little harder to reach, but these 5 beautiful island destinations will reward you with unforgettable experiences – we guarantee it.
Also published on Medium.