Bora-Bora has so many natural advantages it deserves its long-held
reputation as the South Pacific’s loveliest island retreat. “It’s
everything a Polynesian island should be—blue lagoon, sand-fringed
motus, soaring peaks,” says Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler.
tiny Hindu island of Bali is one of the world’s few remaining societies
where modernity and tradition coexist in harmony. With several hundred
dance troupes on the island, dance is at the very center of Balinese
Philippines: Palawan Island
outrigger canoe glides across crystal waters off Palawan Island in the
Philippines. It’s an island of Jules Verne-like vistas, where giant
eagles soar, rare seashells litter quiet beaches, and exotic orchids
bloom in dark mahogany forests.
Falkland Islands: Birds
albatrosses nest by the thousands in the remote Falkland Islands. With
few crowds or restrictions, this archipelago comprising 778 islands and
islets 300 miles (483 kilometers) off the east coast of Patagonia
provide an intimate wildlife experience that offers an alternative to
that of the more famous Galápagos.
Palau Rock Islands
with exotic marine life and Crayola-colored reefs, the more than 300
islands of Palau, in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Guam, feature some
of the world’s best dive sites and the unique foliage-frosted Rock
Islands. Palau is also a living World War II museum—WWII wrecks lie
submerged just off the Rock Islands.
New York: Thousand Islands
Photograph by Will Van Overbeek, National Geographic
dive in at Thousand Island Park, a historic community on New York’s
Wellesley Island. The community was built more than a century ago,
during the area’s heyday as a gilded summer retreat. The Thousand
Islands archipelago straddles the U.S.-Canada border in the St. Lawrence
Hawaii: Waimoku Falls
secluded Waimoku Falls in Maui’s Haleakala National Park is a two-mile
(three-kilometer) hike from the Road to Hana, the island’s most popular
scenic drive. Haleakala National Park centers around the active, but not
currently erupting, Haleakala Crater.
Paper birds festoon a street during the Santiago de Cuba carnaval,
in Cuba, the largest island in the West Indies. “Cuba’s allure lies not
just in beautiful vistas and beaches, or its colonial history, or even
in the spectacle of its entrapment in the past,” writes Jon Bowermaster.
“Its real enchantment is in its optimistic people who carry on, and
even celebrate life, in the midst of what appears to many as a failed
political and economic experiment.”
Puerto Rico: Mar Chiquita Beach
beaches like Mar Chiquita Beach draw Boogie-boarders and other
watersports lovers, Puerto Rico also offers lots of landlubber
entertainment in its main city, San Juan. Roam the largest fort built
by the Spanish in the Americas, go antiquing for wooden santos, and sample traditional Puerto Rican dishes like chicken chicharrones.
Sardinia: Emerald Coast
dusk cloaks pastel-hued Castelsardo, a fortified hilltown on the
northwest coast of Sardinia. Still little known by most Americans,
Sardinia’s northern coast is a corner of the Mediterranean adored by
Italians and in-the-know Europeans.
Australia: Lord Howe Island
scene from the Jurassic age? No, just a typically primeval slice of
Lord Howe Island, located off the east coast of Australia. Sydney-based
yachtsman Ian Kiernan calls it “Australia’s own Galápagos”; the
island stayed totally isolated and—except for a native bat—devoid of
mammals from creation until European discovery in 1788.
Mozambique: Matemo Island
fix their boats at low tide on Matemo Island, part of Mozambique’s
32-island Quirimbas Archipelago. The islands and surrounding waters
pulse with wildlife: humpback whales, hawksbill turtles, bottlenose
dolphins, and a diversity of birds, from storks and spotted eagle-owls
to crab plovers and kingfishers.
By National Geographic