The world is a wonderful place, filled with thrilling and beautiful places. Still, people insist on visiting only the most popular places, like Europe’s major Western cities and well-traveled resort cities in Mexico. Only the most intrepid travelers seek out the rare and untouched places, and they are heavily rewarded with unique and sensational sights, sounds, and smells.
If you want to be one of the elite, pack up your bags, charge your satellite phone, and head to one of these fantastic and far-flung island paradises.
1. Christmas Island
The Galapagos are tired and well-trodden, but “Australia’s Galapagos,” officially known as Christmas Island, is fresh-faced and thriving. Christmas Island is topped with thick, tropical rainforest filled with rare plants and animals. The keyhole beaches offer unparalleled beauty, as plenty of them are studded with limestone outcrops offering bathing pools and exciting blowholes when the tide rolls in. Plus, Flying Fish Cove has some of the safest and most scenic snorkeling and diving in the region.
The biggest draw for many travelers is the annual red crab migration. Red crabs live primarily in the forests, but during mating season they flock in droves to the beaches. While you’re watching, you might also spot a sea turtle or a whale shark.
While there are only about four flights in from Australia every week, and they can be quite costly, planes are the only reliable way to get to Christmas Island for a longer stay. Most travelers see certain sights during yacht and cruise tours, but there are no chartered boat services that take passengers directly to the island.
2. Rabbit Island
Cambodia isn’t the most popular travel destination as it is, despite its stunning landscapes and distinctive culture, but tiny Rabbit Island, or Koh Tonsay, is so infrequently traveled it’s practically deserted. The island is so small that the only means of transportation is your own two feet; a complete circuit hike will take no more than three hours total. On your trek, you’ll see a handful of empty beaches that rival the beauty of any resort town with the added benefit of solitude. There is some snorkeling offshore, but the best part of Rabbit Island is its quiet serenity.
To get to Rabbit Island, head to the overcrowded resort town of Kep and book a boat trip. You can plan a day trip like most visitors, or you arrange to stay on Koh Tonsay overnight in one of the beachside bungalows with the proper preparations.
3. Corn Islands
Either of these two islands off Nicaragua is the picture-perfect incarnation of the typical tropical island: white sand beaches, groves of palm trees, bright blue sky, and crystal clear ocean. While these islands are not entirely undiscovered — Big Corn Island has a population of 6,000, and Little Corn Island is crawling with a whopping 1,000 dwellers — they still offer travelers the prototypical comforts of island paradise.
Big Corn buzzes with island culture, including the welcoming camaraderie you’d expect. Beach bars and restaurants thrum with activity, though not the hectic cruise-and-resort activity you’d find at a larger island paradise. Meanwhile, Little Corn is so bereft of recognizable sounds (growling engines, angry voices, and the general loud hum of city life) that it has been known to gift visitors with a lifelong calmness.
Big Corn is, understandably, the larger of the two islands, so one must fly into the airport located here. A twice-daily ferry shuttles people between islands. It is not advisable to wait until the end of your trip to see Little Corn; most travelers spend much more time than they anticipated soaking in the tranquility of its shores.
4. Quirimbas Archipelago
Mozambique declared this island and its sister chain to the south, the Bazaruto Archipelago, national parks in the 1970s, and in doing so the country has made these gorgeous islands into some of the most untouched land in the world. However, Mozambique still welcomes travelers to the region, hoping to impress on the world the importance of preserving Africa’s unique ecological places. The Quirimbas chain is made up of 30 distinct islands, and the oceans and rivers in between offer some of the world’s best diving and fishing opportunities. On Ibo Island, visitors can learn more about the history of the space and participate in more popular activities like boat tours, but even nearby islands are rarely visited by tourists and offer plenty of thrilling adventure for interested travelers.
It is easy enough to fly into Mozambique and head north to the archipelago. There are a sufficient number of hotels, inns, and resorts on Ibo to meet any traveler’s lodging desires, so one can explore the untouched islands during the day and sleep soundly under a down comforter at night.
These destinations are unmarred and largely unknown, which make them the perfect vacation spots for many travelers tired of tourist-tamped trips. To be safe in any remote region, you should understand your satellite phone rental options and prepare your pack with all the necessities of travel in a foreign land. These places are exciting in their novelty and relaxing in their peace, but you should be prepared for a disaster no matter where you go.