10 amazing undiscovered islands
Tobago, British West Indies
For Eco-Rich Vacations
The tiny island of Tobago—unlike its boisterous cousin, Trinidad— is a Caribbean island made for travelers seeking peace, quiet, and time spent with pristine nature. Visitors can hire a guide and hike through the western hemisphere’s oldest protected rain forest, accompanied by song from some 58 different species of birds. The island is also ringed by shallow-water reefs, giving snorkelers, divers, or passengers in glass-bottomed boats the chance to spot some 300 types of coral, plus giant tube sponges, massive rays, graceful sea fans, and fish sporting more colors than Crayola.
Hike the trail along Tobago’s North Coast for great photos. Kids love to swim in the Nylon Pool, a fish-rich shallow area in the Lagoon. The hotels, including the award-winning Coco Reef Resort & Spa, have a delightfully local feel. It is said that Tobago cooks have “a sweet hand,” creating dishes that magically blend Creole, African and West Indian flavors, often complemented by good local rum. Best of all, Tobago is very eco-friendly. In 2007, the island won the “World’s Leading Green Destination” honor at the World Travel Awards.
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
For a New Definition of Pristine
Tourism is developing in Vietnam so quickly that last year’s great island “find” swiftly becomes this year’s overcrowded destination. Pretty Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island, currently remains pristine and affordable. There’s a betting chance that that may last, since 70-80 percent of the mountainous island is protected as the Phu Quoc National Forest. The island‘s close proximity to Cambodia also means that there is an almost-invisible military presence on the north coast.
This still-affordable destination is home to plantations and fish-sauce factories and miles of deserted beaches, including the aptly named Long Beach. Nights are so dark that constellation spotting becomes a competitive sport. Rent motorcycles (and drivers too if you want) to visit camera-worthy fishing villages. Take out a sea kayak or dive the reef. The Sea Star Resort, one of many fine beach hotels, is close to good restaurants. Don’t expect a wild bar scene. Do expect to cherish the extraordinary quiet—at least for now. If Vietnam is smart, it will help keep this beach-rich island green and pristine.
Mnemba Island, Tanzania
For Ultimate Privacy
It is so quiet on Mnemba Island, just off Tanzania’s larger island of Zanzibar, that you can hear the silence. This very private African island, managed by &Beyond Africa, consists of only 10 luxurious bandas – cottages hand-woven from palm matting. Sit on your spacious front porch and watch adorable, dog-sized miniature deer amble by. Scuba dive, deep-sea fish, or snorkel to your heart’s delight, or simply enjoy a massage for two in the cool of your banda. Dinner is served on the beach by candlelight.
The tab here is high: $1,500 per person, per night in peak season (all meals and activities, including multiple dives, are included) and $1,155 per person, per night at other times. The high price tag is justified by the level of laid-back luxury, privacy, and service. Guests also typically tour Zanzibar, home to historic mansions built by Arab traders and visit gardens rich with the scent of spices. While in the capital, Stone Town, shop for colorful local crafts and snap photos of the statue of Freddy Mercury, the late Queen lead singer who grew up there.
Guernsey, Channel Islands
For Book Lovers
A few years back, it seemed like every second person was galloping through the pages of The Guernsey Potato Peel and Literary Society, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey during World War II. Fans of that novel will find that Guernsey—far sunnier and warmer than England, and just two-and-a-half hours away by boat—has changed little since the 1940s. While the island remains “loyal to the British crown,” it is, in fact, much closer to France than England. It is also a major off-shore tax haven, which means that it is both prosperous and pretty (as in well kept).