While many well-known islands inhabit prominent spots on the average bucket list, there’s another group of outposts that only the truly island-savvy know about.
These under-the-radar islands have sea views and ocean breezes but are blessedly lacking in crowds, fabricated attractions and recreation “ambassadors” leading the Macarena.
These are 15 little-known islands that time, Club Med and maybe even your favorite guide forgot.
This little paradise is only 11 kilometers long, but it has 60 dive sites, 18-meter whale sharks (don’t worry, they’re vegetarian) and some of the cheapest scuba prices in the Caribbean.
For as little as $140 per night, you can get your own deserted island, complete with a fully furnished two-bedroom house.
Most of the 2,500 locals live near Eastern Harbor, a tiny village with nothing but locally owned hotels, restaurants and dive shops.
Water Cay, one of many “caylitos” that make up Utila’s collection of tiny islands, hosts Sun Jam, a two-day music and dancing fiesta the first weekend of August.
3. Marettimo, Italy
The whitewashed houses, colorful fishing villages and year-round mile climate feel almost African, but this beauty is in Italy, in the Egadi Islands, just an hour by boat from Sicily.
There are no cars on the island — that means no carbon fumes, no gunning motors, no taxi drivers honking for you to step it up.
What Marettimo specializes in is peacefulness.
4. Tsarabanjina Island, Madagascar
Hard to pronounce, let alone get to, this island northwest of Madagascar is where Joanna Lumley was “cast away” for 10 days in 1994 filming a BBC documentary called “Girl Friday.”
Although she spent half her time in a cave nicknamed “The Albert Hall,” this remote island now has an exclusive resort, the only one in the Mitsio archipelago.
Constance Tsarabanjina has 25 villas to go with its three white sand beaches and, if you pack a magnifying glass, you might spot the world’s tiniest chameleon. Fully grown, it barely exceeds one centimeter.
5. Mou Waho Island, New Zealand
It’s an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island in an ocean.
Near the center of pristine alpine Lake Wanaka, on New Zealand’s southern island, Mou Waho is a glacial remnant of the last Ice Age.
Once a stopover for steamers and log rafts, this island has a trek to the top of Tyrwhitt Peak and Arethusa Pool, a nice spot for ambitious picnickers.
Co-owned by ex-Antarctic ice diver Chris Riley, Eco Wanaka Adventures offers tours to this unique island that serves as home to several threatened species.
6. Magdalen Islands, Quebec, Canada
If Cape Cod’s golden beaches and Ireland’s green hills had a love child, it might look like Magdalen Islands, a getaway for Montrealers.
Each of this Gulf of Saint Lawrence archipelago’s dozen or so islands has its own history and dialect, but they’re all connected with an efficient road system that takes in sweeping dunes, ochre cliffs and pastel-colored homes.
Beaches are everywhere and the islands’ many inns and restaurants know what to do with fresh-caught lobster, scallops, crab and fish.
7. Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Known as the “Unspoiled Queen,” Saba, in a rather ironic twist, is a favorite with the LGBT community.
Same-sex marriage is legal here and its director of tourism is openly gay.
With 1,800 residents, four villages and only a small harbor, the volcanic island (Mount Scenery is still capable of erupting) near St. Martin is the smallest municipality of the Netherlands and the only one that speaks English and uses the American dollar as its official currency.
Saba has the shortest commercial runway in the world and its one main road, built nine years before there was even a car, was masterminded by a local who defied Dutch and Swiss engineers who said it couldn’t be done. Josephus Lambert Hassell started building in 1938 with five friends after taking a correspondence course in engineering.
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