Budget airlines and looser visa requirements (at least in some countries) have made traveling more accessible these days. So much so that true-blue explorers and adventurers are running out of places to explore. Meanwhile, other tourists are finding it more challenging to enjoy their excursions with swarms of travellers and selfie sticks blocking the view of major vacation destinations. So it’s understandable why some people have been disillusioned from travelling and deceptively deserted sceneries on social media. Fortunately, the world is vast, and with a little know-how you can have your own island adventure away from the throngs of crowds.
Rather than remain in your bubble, imagining the lush landscape and fabulous origins of those exotic flowers your order from your online florist, why not go straight to the source and give in to your wanderlust. Step out of your comfort zone and follow the path less travelled at these underrated island destinations.
Astypalaia, Greece[INSTAGRAM POST]
There’s more to Greece than Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Venture to less publicised islands and you’ll find more to love in Greece. Case in point: Astypalaia. At this less touristy Greek destination, you get the same sun-drenched rows of whitewashed structures, the island charm, and rich history sans the stressful crowds. Apart from the inviting waters of the beaches, you can also go hiking and camping on its vast, mountainous terrain. This is a perfect alternative for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts.
Koh Mook, Trang, Thailand[INSTAGRAM POST]
Koh Mook is easily accessible via a 30-minute boat ride from Trang Province. Before you go traipsing off the island’s main draw, the Emerald Cave, experience the other activities and sights of this peaceful place by going cycling, fishing, and swimming. Cap off your day by watching the stunning sunset at Had Farang aka Charlie beach in perfect view of the rocky cliff.
Nishihama Beach, Hateruma Island, Japan[INSTAGRAM POST]
Japan may not be known as a beach destination, but the white sands of Nishihama Beach at Hateruma Island might change your mind. This southernmost inhabited island of Japan is also an ideal place for astrotourism because the lack of light pollution allows stargazers to view the Southern Cross constellation in all it glory. So when you’ve had your fill of metropolitan Tokyo or finished your food trip at Osaka, take some time to unplug and just gaze up a blanket of stars.
Re Island (Cu Lao Re), Quang Ngai, Vietnam[INSTAGRAM POST]
Re Island, aka Ly Son Island, has caught the attention of travellers worldwide for its rugged cliffs, inviting waters, and all-around picturesque landscape. Some people even call it the “Maldives of Vietnam” for its clear, turquoise waters. Apart from the stunning white fields of garlic and the shimmering sea during sunrise at mount Thoi Loi, another oft-photographed part of the island is the To Vo Gate, an arch-like rock formation which perfectly frames the island’s dramatic sunset.
Sambawan Island, Biliran, Philippines[INSTAGRAM POST]
For a country with over 7,100 islands, it’s not surprising that there are still a lot of undiscovered gems. Of course, quite a number of those islands are uninhabited and inaccessible. Fortunately, Sambawan Island is one of the more accessible yet less commercialised island destinations on the Philippines. Though not as popular as Boracay or as acclaimed as the beaches of Palawan, Sambawan Island holds its own with stunning panoramic views visible from the hut on the hilltop—the island’s highest point. The warm and inviting waters surrounding the island is ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and diving.
Sumbawa, Indonesia[INSTAGRAM POST]
A healthy dose of curiosity is just what you need to get off the touristy route in Indonesia and venture to Sumbawa. It’s not a popular side trip for travellers who just want to chill in Indonesia, it’s certainly not ideal for family vacations, but for thrill-seekers, especially if you’re a serious surfer and a diver, you may want to set aside some time to explore this off-the-radar spot. Here’s a helpful guide on how to get to Sumbawa from Bali.
Vieques, Puerto Rico[INSTAGRAM POST]
When it comes to saltwater adventure, the Caribbean is high up on people’s bucket list. If you fancy rubbing elbows with fellow travellers in the tropics, then you’d have a blast at the usual suspects—Jamaica, Bermuda, or Aruba. However, if you want a relaxing retreat, the island of Vieques off the coast of Puerto Rico is the idyllic island of your dreams. Devoid of any commercial establishments, you can let your worries melt away in this unassuming island. At night, you can even witness the glowing waters of Mosquito Bay, aka the bioluminescent bay, from luminous organisms called Dinoflagellates. They’re best seen during the New Moon cycle when the sky is at its darkest.