There are thousands of islands on Earth. Many are wondrous places. For those seeking a once in a lifetime adventure, filled with luxuries which fill the senses in not so ordinary ways, there are some... farther away from tourist crowds. And for as long as humans have inhabited the earth we are still discovering new lands, animals, and parts of the universe we never knew about on a daily basis. While it may seem we've covered just about everything there is to cover on this planet, each day brings us something new.
These 10 islands are a simple reminder that there's still plenty left to be explored.
1. Vinga Island
Vinga is a Swedish island located 10 nm off the southwestern coastal port of Gothenburg, which is a major university city. Vinga is part of the Gothenburg archipelago. Cars are not allowed within this island group. It’s not accessible with any form of public transit, but there are special summer ferry trips which provide visitors access. It is a charming, small island with a smooth, sandy bed under the ocean, which makes it very nice for swimming. There is good fishing on the island, too.
Vinga is the birthplace of the Swedish poet laureate Evert Taube. He lived on the island for 14 years. The home where he grew up with his family is preserved as the Taube Museum. It includes a variety of island tools, but also chronicles his work and life. The path to the swimming beach leads from his former home down to the bay. The path is identified with white arrows and dots.
Vinga is Sweden very much as it was in years gone by. It is one of the most remote islands in the grouping, and often passed by for other well-traveled tourist spots. There is a famous lighthouse there, and a snack kiosk for purchasing the official Vinga t-shirt, some bites to eat and something refreshing to drink. The entire island is just 1 km wide, and the cool sea breezes and quiet beauty offer a day trip back in time for explorers looking for something unique.
2. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
This historic island is just off the coast of the northeastern corner of England. The closest mainland town is Berwick-Upon-Tweed. The tidal island has a few more than 160 dwelling on it year round. Access to the island is via a causeway, but this is completely covered by North Sea tides two times during each 24 hours. The tide tables are posted online and locally because so many have been swept away to their deaths when the tides caught them unprepared.
Two unique features bring over 650,000 visitors to the island over the course of each year: the 16th century Lindisfarne Castle and its medieval religious history. Yet,Lindisfarne never feels crowded. Rather, it feels magical. Those who spend the night, a weekend or a week feel lucky to be able to arrive at this tranquil spot. It is an island of spiritual pilgrimage, and many come to rest, hike the quiet island, sample the exquisitely delicious Lindisfarne Mead, take photographs, yacht off the coastline, explore the vast variety of local produce, investigate ancient battle sites, and see the sheep, seals, and coastal birds.
3. Inishturk Island
The small island of Inishturk is situated in the North Atlantic 9 miles off the western coast of Ireland. It is a compact 2.5 by 5 kilometers in area and it is comprised of steep hills in the north, cliffs to the northwest, and several historical sites. These include the 16th century Old Church ruins, the Pagan Center and Graveyard and the heliograph signal tower built to discourage Napoleon’s passing ships, and several 1500 BC Beehive houses.
Visitors come to loop walk, swim, scuba dive, hear Irish music, have meals at the local pub, cliff hike, explore the fauna and flora and fish. The Caher View Bistro, part of the Community Club, offers spectacular Irish scenery of landscape and seascape, while offering freshly caught fish and lobster with local produce and home baked goods.
A visit to Inishturk offers an extraordinary combination of top quality traditional Irish folk music with what some say is the best views of any in Ireland. To get there, visitors take one of the scheduled rides on O’Malley Ferries from the Ferry Port at Roonagh Pier on the Mayo coast
4. Whitsunday Island
Whitsunday Island is one in a group of 74 islands which are bordered by the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The island group is collectively called the Whitsunday Islands, but each has its own name. Visitors come to Whitsunday Island to enjoy the beaches of white sand, and the vivid turquoise seas. The area is a tropical paradise without all the hustle and bustle. Some of the islands in the group have world class resorts, while others are just a thin strip of sand from the coral reef held together by just one palm tree’s roots. Many opt to sail from island to island, taking a day for exploring each one.
The largest of all of them is Whitsunday Island. It’s Whitehaven Beach is iconic island pleasure mixed with deserted white sand. Snorkeling in nearby Heart Reef can be a private and remote experience. Accommodations range from resorts to sleeping aboard a chartered yacht.
5. Dominica Island
This is one decidedly different Caribbean island. It is far off the tourist radar, and it doesn’t have miles of white sand beaches to lounge on. What is does have is 365 rivers to explore. There are no huge resorts with all amenities included. But, there are delicious boutique restaurants serving the style of meals home cooks would serve, create by expert chefs. It is a mere 298 square miles of year-round whale watching, monstrous surfing waves, indigenous handicrafts, and intimate ocean, rain forest and river.
Ecology minded lodgings such as Rosalie Bay Resort caters to guests with ocean views and spacious cottages. The Emerald Pool waterfall grotto beckons for visitors to take a dip and enjoy the magnificent rain forest which surrounds it. Hot springs offer natural relaxation soaks. Indian River provides guided excursions deep into the rainforest. Dominica is the place of secret experiences and sights to feed those desiring the exceptional.
6. North Andros, Bahamas
Kamalame Cay private island resort is one spot where luxurious privacy is the norm. It is located just off the coast of Andros Island, which is the largest in the Bahamas, but the least populated. This private resort requires advance reservations. Guests enjoy gourmet meals, isolated beaches, scuba diving along one of the longest barrier reefs in the ocean, fishing, and exploring the island. The personalized service and uncompromising amenities make this resort a most desired treat.
7. São Tomé Island
In the Gulf of Guinea, about 180 miles from the coast of West Africa is this stunning island. It has pristine waters, beaches surrounded by palm trees, exotic birds, and a volcano distinguishing its views. The town, Sao Tome, is characterized by architecture from the colonial Portuguese era. Snorkelers and scuba divers come to swim the clear waters with sea turtles or fish. The historic Plantation Houses are exploration points for history buffs. Obo National Park is filled with exotic rainforest species. There are beautiful hotels with gentle island hospitality.
8. Isle Au Haut
People come here to see the spectacular beauty of the Acadia National Park. There are about 18 miles of trails on the island which wind through the forest and follow the rugged coastline. It takes months of advance application to get camping permits and reservations, and the island can only be reached by taking a ferry. Day hikers can complete the trails which are under three miles long. There are longer loops, too. Hikers will need to bring their own food and water. There is a very small grocery store on the island, but it requires a five-mile hike to get there when leaving Duck Harbor. It’s also not open many hours.
Isle Au Haut is five miles south of Stonington, Maine, near the coast of Deer Isle. The mail boat doubles as a passenger ferry and it leaves from the town dock in Stonington. In season, from the middle of June to the early part of September, the ferry docks at Duck Harbor. But throughout the remainder of the year, it only runs to the town landing. Most day hikers pack a picnic lunch. Campers use lean-to shelters available in Duck Harbor Campground.
A lovely place to stay is the Inn at Isle Au Haut. There are four guestrooms in a restored 1897 home on the waterfront. Guests who stay there have three meals included, served in the dining room lit with candles. Meals are local produce, freshly caught fish and homemade everything.
9. Aogashima, Japan
About 358 km away from Tokyo, Japan is the small, volcanic island called Aogashima. It is the most isolated island of the Izu archipelago, though it is inhabited by approximately 200 villagers. The island is a crater made by a volcanic eruption, and inside the crater is another volcano. Its 1780s eruption classifies it as active, because nearly half of the people living there died. For more than fifty years, nobody returned.
It is a lush tropical island in the Philippine Sea with a mysterious lure. Its serenity brings travelers to unwind in its geothermal sauna. The adventurous come to hike and cook their meals in the volcanic steam vents using pots provided at the sauna. Ferry and helicopter are the only options for reaching the island. It is a bit like Shangri La, only in the midst of the sea. It also comes with a warning that nobody knows when or if it will erupt again. The brave may reap the experience of a lifetime there.
10. The Diomede Islands
These two islands are divided, but an inseparable pair. They are called Big Diomede and Little Diomede. But Big Diomede is Russian and Little Diomede is American. They are a short 3.8 km separated, but the International Date Line divides them to two time zones. The line is the official border which divides Russia and the United States. The pair has other names:
Big is often called Tomorrow Island because it is 23 hours ahead of Little. Little is often referred to as Yesterday Isle. In Russia, Big is called Ostrov Ratmanova, or in English, Ratmanov Island. The Eskimos call it Imaqliq, Inaliq and Nunarbuk. A weather station belonging to Russia is on Big. Little is also known as Krusenstern Island. The Inupiat Eskimos living there call Little, Ignaluk.
The Soviet government moved the inhabitants of Big Island to their mainland. There are about 170 Inupiat Eskimos living on the west side of Little Island in Diomede Village. There is a school there and a store. When the weather permits, helicopters deliver the mail. Local Inupiats are famous for the art of carving ivory.
These two rocky islands are in the center of the Bering Strait, and plans exist to connect Alaska and Siberia by building a bridge, or perhaps a tunnel to span the distance, with the Diomedes anchoring in the middle.
Extreme eco-tourists do visit, as do research scientists. Access to Little Diomede is by private boat or helicopter. Cargo is delivered on one boat per year. Because of its high waves, rocky shores and lots of ice, it doesn’t have a sea or airport, but an ice runway is usually built during winters. Landings are hazardous, so only the experienced should attempt air or sea arrivals. The lure for extreme travelers is to stand on Little to “look into the future” while gazing at Big.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker