Landmarks: 9 Dazzling Islands You Can Actually Visit

Stunning shores, all within reach.

By Terry Ward

Have you ever come across a photo of some gorgeous shore only to find out that it’s inaccessible? Not so with these beauties, where you can do some serious exploring between bouts on the beach.

Lorde Howe Island

Australia

Only 400 visitors are allowed at a time on this seven-mile-long isle a two-hour flight from Sydney. Nearly half of the plants here are found no place else on earth. You can summit Mount Gower, a volcanic peak, or go snorkeling with Lord Howe Environmental Tours. Then dine on kingfish at Pinetrees.

iStockphoto

Curaçao

Netherlands Antilles

Think you know this ABC island in the Dutch Antilles? Go beyond its 35 beaches to the capital of Willemstad, where bohemian restaurants and bars are taking over historic buildings in the Pietermaai district. Luke’s Cocktailbar spotlights local ingredients, such as West Indian cherries, while Bar 27 hosts live music.

Curaçao Tourist Board

Senja

Norway

Just above the Arctic Circle, Senja is Jurassic-like with its spiky peaks and plunging valleys. From November to January, Mefjord Brygge, in Mefjordvær, leads boat trips to see orcas and humpback whales migrate. Or book a sauna session and quayside dinner at Hamn I Senja.

Reiner Schaufler

Ischia

Italy

Capri’s sister island is known for hot springs and Castello Aragonese (site in Italian), a medieval castle atop an islet just offshore. Take a dip at Sorgeto Beach, where thermal waters bubble up from the sand, or at L’Albergo Della Regina Isabella (site in Italian), a spa with healing mud treatments.

Evannovostro/Shutterstock

Huahine

French Polynesia

The shores of this lesser-known island look much the same today as when Capt. James Cook landed here, in 1773. You can visit vanilla plantations and ancient worship sites called marae on a 4×4 tour with Pension Fare Maeva. On the southern tip, Chez Tara serves a Tahitian take on ceviche: coconut-spiked poisson cru.

iStockphoto

Vancouver Island

Canada

Get ready for adventure. On Long Beach, Pacific Surf Co. gives private, group and family surfing lessons (wet suits included). With Hello Nature Adventure Tours, in the village of Ucluelet, you can hike through old-growth forests or scout for sea urchins and starfish in tidal pools.

Cristina Garneau

Faroe Islands

Denmark

You can fly to this string of 18 islands between Norway and Iceland from Copenhagen. Bundle up with sweaters of Faroese wool at Gudrun & Gudrun, in Tórshavn. The Mulafossur waterfall is a must, as is the Michelin-starred Koks, whose menu features the islands’ blue mussels.

iStockphoto

Fernando de Noronha

Brazil

Roughly 220 miles off Brazil’s northeast coast, most of this 21-island archipelago falls within a UNESCO-designated marine park. Atalaia Noronha (site in Portuguese) leads snorkeling tours and boat trips to view dolphins and relax on hidden beaches. Come evening, watch the sun set over the ocean at Bar do Cachorro (site in Portuguese).

Breno Lucio

Bali

Indonesia

This island lures travelers with its heady cocktail of culture and creature comforts. The Bali discovery package at The Mulia Spa includes a sunrise volcano hike and a half-day treatment program. In Ubud, head to Mozaic, where the Cordon Bleu–trained chef prepares Balinese favorites.

richardernestyap/Shutterstock
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: Fall 2018