Whether you're looking at where to travel winter 2020 to find the best tropical vacation, or for more of an adventure trip, or maybe a wellness holiday, I've got the best places to travel for you if you're seeking those island vibes. Women traveling alone or those looking for a vegan-friendly vacation...I've got suggestions for you too! While of course the list contains a couple Caribbean Islands, there are some far-flung more exotic places to visit as well. And not all of them just sun and sand. As well a number of them are less-touristed alternatives to some very popular islands. My hope is that I've got something for everyone on the list!
BEST OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Bequia, (pronounced 'Beck-way') is tucked into the lush embrace of the remote St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the unspoilt Southern Caribbean. With gorgeous beaches dotting the shoreline, accommodations that fit a range of budgets and a slow pace of life, the end result is simply paradise. There are yummy restaurants, shops that retain their local ties and enough warm sand and blue water to keep everybody blissing out.
WHEN TO VISIT: mid-November to May
BEST FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL LOVERS
Niue is a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand. While there aren’t any sandy beaches to lounge on, it is known for its limestone cliffs and coral-reef dive sites. Between July and October, migrating whales swim the local waters. In the southeast you can find the Huvalu Forest Conservation Area, where trails through fossilized coral forests lead to the Togo and Vaikona chasms, while the northwest is home to the rock pools of Avaiki Cave and the naturally formed Talava Arches.
WHEN TO VISIT: Many visitors prefer to come during the drier months from May to October, when the risk of cyclones has gone and the temperatures are slightly cooler.
BEST FOR A WELLNESS HOLIDAY
A cluster of over a thousand coral islands, The Maldives is already on many people's bucket lists. And while it has long been a popular spot, some exceptional resorts offering wellness retreats are quickly zooming the islands to the top of the list for wellness vacations. Everything from Asian-inspired healing therapies to more fitness-focused programs to dedicated spa programs and even romantic wellness getaways. Many of the resorts rate high on the eco-friendly scale as well as an added bonus.
WHEN TO GO: the best time to visit the Maldives is between November and April. The high season falls between December and March.
BEST FOR SCUBA DIVING
I think you'll agree that the Republic of Palau simply magic. It's hard not to be blown away by its extraordinary array of natural wonders: this is an archipelago of about 200 largely pristine limestone and volcanic islands, blanketed in emerald forest, surrounded by a shimmering turquoise lagoon. Diving is top dog here. Oft called the 'underwater Serengeti' because of it's wild seascape, interested wrecks and crazy diverse marine life, you will find world-class dive sites.
WHEN TO GO: Palau is outstanding year round with the best diving between November and April
BEST OFF THE GRID
SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA
The San Blas Islands are a group of 378 islands located in the Northwest of Panama facing the Caribbean Sea. Mostly undiscovered by the massive tourism industry and fully in control of the native Kuna’s, this makes them unique if you are looking for untouched nature and culture. The Kuna people protect their lands against massive tourism and keep them both beautiful and healthy. You will sleep in eco-friendly accommodation made by the Guna’s Indians from natural materials which they found on the Islands and in the jungle
BEST TIME TO VISIT - there are two different seasons, the rainy season from June to December, and dry season from January to May. The rainy season may be preferable due to less crowds, less wind and in actuality only minimal rain and clouds.
BEST FOR WILDLIFE
KANGAROO ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA
On a single island you can experience some of Australia's most memorable nature, wildlife, wine and seafood. Kangaroo Island is 13 kilometres off the coast of South Australia. You will find yourself surrounded by wildlife, pounding ocean and odd rock formations. Plus you can walk on the beach through a colony of sea lions and stay at one of the world's top four hotels. Fresh air, delicious food and unique wildlife...what's not to love?
WHEN TO GO: Kangaroo Island is a year-round destination but the warm summers bring higher prices and more crowds.
BEST FOR HISTORY BUFFS
THE EGADI ISLANDS
Located on the west coast of Sicily, the Egadi archipelago consists of three major islands - Levanzo, Favignana and Marettimo - as well as several beautiful uninhabited islands, which are also accessible. The most important hallmarks of the archipelago are caves dating back several thousand years. Scientists have discovered significant part of prehistoric artifacts in that caves, which now tourists love to explore. Beyond this you will find immaculate beaches of all sorts - from azure waters to black volcanic sand, natural beauty, historic monuments and small but charming hotels.
WHEN TO VISIT: a year-round destination
BEST FOR RAINFORESTS & ORANGUTANS
It's a jungle out there for real! Borneo has some of the world's most wildlife-rich equatorial rainforests, incredible landscapes both on land and underwater, plus a rich indigenous culture. The varied backgrounds of the people also result in a mind-blowing culinary melting pot.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Hot, humid and wet year round - the best time to visit Borneo is during the drier months of April to September
BEST FOR VEGANS
This is not only an unforgettable country to travel for anyone, it’s also home to some of the most delicious and varied vegan food you’ll find. You'll find an overwhelming variety of unique home cooked curry, rice and bread dishes, alongside a rainbow of exotic fruits. Fresh, spicy, cheap and it’s always served with a smile. You can't assume vegetarian = vegan here but English is widely spoken so that makes navigating food-related hurdles.
WHEN TO GO: The best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO OVERTOURISTED BALI
RAJA AMPAT, INDONESIA
Situated off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on Papua, the most eastern Island of the Indonesian Archipelago, Raja Ampat, meaning "The Four Kings", is an archipelago made up of over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. For underwater enthusiasts, Raja Ampat definitely offers the some of the world’s ultimate experience with a diversity of marine life and its huge pristine coral reef sytems. Yes, its underwater splendors are beyond outstanding, but the landscape above the surface is equally breathtaking. Add in vibrant wildlife and the distinct hospitality of the Papuan people...paradise found.
WHEN TO GO: during the dry October-April period,
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO OVER-TOURISTED ICELAND
FAROE ISLANDS, GREENLAND
Perhaps Europe's best kept secret,the Faroe Islands are made up of 18 rocky, volcanic islands in the wild North Atlantic about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The are beautifully and uniquely structured, with mind-blowing viewpoints ideal for hikes and long walks. The incredibly fresh air and landscapes will amaze you. Puffins, grazing sheep, quaint houses and lush green hills add to the charm. Bonus social media hasn't ruined it yet.
WHEN TO VISIT: The best time to visit s from May to September. Late spring and early summer bring longer days, wildflowers, and Atlantic puffins.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO OVER-CROWDED THAI ISLANDS
Koh Surin Nua, Thailand
You've probably heard of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi, and maybe Koh Samui, all trampled by tourists. Instead consider this pristine beauty, in Thailand's Mu Koh Surin National Park. Best known for its marine wildlife, Ko Surin is also home to healthy populations of monkeys, snakes, monitor lizards, crabs of countless varieties, and abundant bird life. Untouched jungle covers most of the islands. If you're looking for crowds and high-end hotels this isn't the spot for you. Instead there are just small bungalows and camping under the stars. While there, take the opportunity to visit a local Moken Village built on wooden stilts. The Moken people are known as “sea gypsies” since they used to be sea nomads, but they have now settled in small villages and islands like this one.
WHEN TO VISIT: The very best time for snorkeling is from late January to the end of February. Of course keep in mind, this will be the busiest too
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO OVER-TOURISTED SANTORINI
Corfu is dotted with whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches, and the remains of Venetian fortresses and Greek temples. Exploring Corfu Town, the capital of the island, you’ll see the glorious past of Corfu on imposing palaces, noble mansions, beautiful museums, and charming squares. Moving away from Corfu Town, you’ll discover picturesque seaside villages, tiny verdant islets, luxurious Corfu resorts, and wild natural landscapes. From lush green hills to noble mansions and from idyllic Corfu beaches, to interesting museums, this island has everything it takes to please any type of traveler.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT: April to May and September to November
BEST FOR BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
In a country chock full of beautiful beaches, this little-known island is regarded by Brazilians as having the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. With warm, clear water and abundant marine life, diving here is an outdoor lover’s dream. That's saying a lot! It is reminiscent of Bora Bora with its steep hills soaring up from undeveloped gold and white beaches. Explore by dune buggy and snorkel just feet from shore where you'll see stingrays, sea turtles and so many colourful fish. The water surrounding the island is actually a national marine park.
WHEN TO GO: Avoid New Years Eve and Carnival in February, when hotels are booked up well in advance and the sea is rough; go between July and October, the best time for surfing and diving in the turquoise waters.
BEST SCANDANAVIAN GEM
LOFOTEN ISLAND, NORWAY
Majestic fjords make this archipelago off Norway a dream come true. This group of islands, home to charming fishing villages, lies above the Arctic Circle - and on the same latitude as northern Siberia and northern Alaska - but has a much milder climate due to Gulf Stream currents.
WHEN TO GO: Head here between May to early August for 24 hours of daylight.
BEST OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD VIBE
Socotra Island, Yemen
The island of Socotra is part of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, roughly 250 miles off the coast of Yemen. It is so isolated that a third of its plant life is found nowhere else on the planet. And some are very bizarre-looking. Notable are the dragon’s blood trees that look like flying saucers perched on trunks. You will also find pristine beaches amidst landscapes of sandstone and limestone.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: November to March are cooler and less windy.
BEST YOU'VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF
ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA
This group of more than 200 islands in the Bay of Bengal belongs to India but is geographically closer to Thailand and Myanmar. The remoteness (1370km east of the Indian mainland) only adds to their intrigue for many. Powder-white, uncrowded beaches, lush forests and exotic marine life, and sunsets to die for, make travel to these remote islands worth the trip. And the ultimate way to end a trip to India.
WHEN TO GO: The islands are a year-round destination, and November through May is considered the best time.
BEST FOR CHILLING
Tobago, the lesser-known sibling island to Trinidad, is the place you go when you want to sit on a quiet beach in the Caribbean and not be surrounded by yachts or spring breakers. Unlike it's party-hardy big brother, Tobago is content to be a laid-back and natural Caribbean beauty. It’s worth experiencing both Tobago’s beaches and its wild interior. Nature lovers can explore its protected rainforest, marine parks, and secluded white sand beaches—and, even better, you can do it pretty cheaply.
WHEN TO GO: The best time to is from January to May when the skies stay clear. Although the islands aren't on the hurricane belt, afternoon rain showers are daily occurrences from June to December.
BEST FOR WOMEN TRAVELING ALONE
My country, Canada, attracts solo travelers for its safety, solid women's rights record, and diverse range of scenery. Located off the northwest coast of BC, Haida Gwaii is an ideal destination to experience the rugged and remote wilderness that British Columbia is known for. This chain of islands is home to the Haida Nation, and it is one of Canada’s most historically, culturally, and geographically unique areas. And an adventure-lover's paradise. Many solo women's travel companies are now offering unique adventure tours here.
WHEN TO VISIT: You can visit anytime but if it's adventure activities you're after, October to May is surfing season and for hiking, water sports and fishing, June through August is best
BEST FOR AN ADVENTURE TRIP OF A LIFETIME
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR
Ending the list with a bang! The Galápagos Islands, in Ecuador, offer wildlife and landscapes that you will find nowhere else on earth. Spectacular, isolated...this group of volcanic islands and its fragile ecosystem has taken on pretty much mythological status as a showcase of biodiversity. But don't worry you don't have to be some sort of biologist to enjoy; just a modern-day explorer. Curious sea lions and spiky marine iguanas breach and bask between island and shore, while goofy hammerhead sharks patrol the depths and the famed blue-footed boobies fly overhead. The wildlife experiences rival Africa I'm told.
WHEN TO GO: Seasons are split into cool and dry (June - November) and warm and wet (December - June), with the warmer season being the best time to visit for warmer, calmer seas and good underwater visibility.
There you have it folks, where to travel 2020, the 20 best islands to visit edition. Which one would you like to visit. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know...
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