We all know the popular Bali, the gorgeous Zanzibar, and the quirky Aruba. They are all great, and they deserve the attention, but what about other places that are not on the radar yet are equally gorgeous, and in some cases, give us even better experiences since they haven’t been spoiled? Here I’ll present to you ten islands that you didn’t know about, but you must visit.
1. Koh Muk, Thailand
You’ll never hear of this island in Thailand unless you go there. Besides being off the beaten path, it has some beautiful deserted beaches that can be easily reached by hiking or kayaking. Among those beaches, there’s the Emerald Cave, which is a cave reached by kayak along the seashore, and once you kayak through the cave, you come out onto a hidden beach on the island. It’s a small surreal beach surrounded by rising cliffs on all sides.
2. Providencia, Colombia
Even though the remote Caribbean paradise of Providencia is located quite close to Nicaragua, it is a territory of Colombia. Due to how hard it is to get there (first, reach San Andres Island and then a flight or three-hour boat to Providencia) you can be sure that you won’t share this piece of paradise with the typical package holiday tourist. While the island can be seen in a day, it is best to stay longer to relax in a hammock enjoying the tropical breezes.
3. Vieques and Culebra, Puerto Rico
These sister islands are considered to have the best beaches in all Puerto Rico, including Flamenco Beach in Culebra, which was named the 6th most beautiful beach in the world by Trip Advisor (2016). But Vieques does not fall far behind. In addition to having equally beautiful beaches, it has the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
4. Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand
This is actually a collection of three small private islands connected by two strips of white sandy beach during low tide. When there’s high tide, the beaches disappear, and the islands stay unconnected until the next low tide. Even though they are private, you can visit this beautiful paradise on a day trip from Koh Tao, or you can stay overnight at the only small resort on the island. It is quite rustic and budget friendly, so it is worth staying there to enjoy the islands with almost no one there since only the resort guests can stay there after the last afternoon boat leaves back to Koh Tao.
5. Holbox, Mexico
Even though it is relatively close to Cancun, Holbox hasn’t been overrun by tourists (yet). This laid back island in Mexico is perfect to relax on thanks to those beautiful beaches the Yucatan Peninsula is known for. Also, it is a good base to go swimming with the giant whale sharks during their mating season.
6. Ilha Grande, Brazil
Located close to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ilha Grande is an excellent choice to step away from the crowds and enjoy other beautiful Brazilian beaches almost alone. Ilha Grande has no cars, so every beach there has to be accessed on foot – with hikes that can take up to 8 hours round-trip. This alone almost guarantees that most of the beaches there will be isolated.
7. Socotra, Yemen
You’ve probably seen pictures of this island since it is one of the weirdest places in this world. It has such a unique flora that makes it look very surreal and psychedelically colorful. While this island is not famous for the gorgeous beaches as described on the other islands, it is worth going there since I guarantee you there is no other place on earth like Socotra. (Please note that RoamRight travel insurance policies do not cover travel to Yemen.)
8. Big Corn and Little Corn, Nicaragua
Another pair of sister islands that share the very laidback living style that is famous in the Caribbean and Central America. As their names describe, Big Corn is the bigger and more developed of the islands, while Little Corn still keeps an even more laid back scene with little wooden cabanas and hammocks over the beach.
9. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
This is considered the "Galapagos of Brazil," not because it has unique fauna and flora, but because it is very far from mainland Brazil and its scenery can be simply described a gorgeous! This island, while expensive to visit, deserves a spot on your bucket list. Its most famous beach, Baia do Sancho, is often named among the most beautiful beaches in the world by Trip Advisor, currently taking the second spot on the list (2016).
10. Caye Caulker, Belize
The first thing you see when you step off the ferry is the motto of the island, "Go Slow." And may I say, Caye Caulker takes its motto seriously in everything it does, so this is the best place to relax and go slow. There are no cars on the island, except for golf carts, which are the primary form of transportation for most residents, aside from bikes. Sometimes you might need a bit of patience when it comes to service in a restaurant or bar, but remember, you’re on vacation, so go with the flow of the island and enjoy the beautiful tropical scenery.
What other lesser-known islands would you recommend visiting?
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