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Let’s be real—Hawaii is downright astonishing, from its cuisine, variety of islands, both modern and deeply cultural experiences and, most noticeably, cinematic landscape. But it can be pricey, and crowded, with the number growing every year. But fear not introverts, a multitude of islands are sprinkled through the world, amongst breathtaking oceans, featuring similar dramatic landscapes. So if you’re feeling like finding a bit more seclusion, or just something different, consider these other island getaways instead of Hawaii.
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Cyprus is both partially Turkish, and independent, divided into north and south Mediterranean regions. However, there is much Greek influence within the culture of the island. Cyprus is noted to have the cleanest, most beautiful beaches in all of Europe, which is perfect for swimming and water sports—with vast forests and mountains set as the backdrop. Along with vibrant veggie oriented cuisine to predominantly sunny warm days, the island is enriched with history, all the way back to the B.C. days—Goddess Aphrodite is believed to have been born here.
A group of volcanic islands with a variety of terrain and wildlife habitat, the Galápagos Islands reside in Ecuador. With stark contrast from the dark soil to sugary sand, this cluster of visual wonder is highly protected, and to visit some of the islands you’ll need an official guide. Considered a must-see destination in South America, you can go snorkeling or diving and spot a penguin puttering by, or maybe a sea lion treading the bold blue waters. Even if you don’t get in the ocean, some of the rare wildlife through the serene environment might cross your path. Bartolome Island features a cool hike with wooden stairs and beach views, and Isabela Island houses Sierra Negra, a walkable active volcano.
Phuket, Thailand is pronounced “poo-ket” by locals, in case you were nervous about attempting to say it. This captivating (and budget-friendly) island is smothered with mountainous rainforest and milky aqua waters. Probably having been your screen saver at some point or another, it’s hard to find anywhere on the island that’s not photo worthy. Live the luxurious life at one of the lavish resorts, or spend the night along the bustling Bangla Road. Old pagodas, giant Buddha monuments and cultural markets are key components of dreamy escape.
Called “the other Eden” by Lonely Planet, The Azores are an archipelago, or group of islands, in Portugal. Part of the land has been classified as biospheres, and locals work to protect the precious wildlife and indigenous foliage of cedar tree canopies and wildflowers. Sustainability is key to keeping The Azores intensely pretty, with scenic hiking trails offering views of impossibly blue water. Many visitors traverse São Miguel, the largest hunk of land in the group. Here you’ll find all the staple aesthetics, from lakes, boiling mud pots from geothermal heat, awe-inspiring whales and mineral pools for soaking.
A blend of French, Venetian and British culture, Corfu, an island in Greece, is lined with olive trees and mountainscape—it’s the greenest island in the country. In Kavos, a fun nightlife scene dominates, while Agios Georgios is the spot to find ultimate relaxation and romantic ambiance. April to November is the optimal window for water activities. Corfu is a diverse Mediterranean retreat offering an array of heritage immersion, with the landscape just as or possibly more stunning than Hawaii, and will give you the opportunity to relax or live it up.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
Koh Lanta, another slice of paradise in Thailand, is defined by two separate regions, Noi and Yai. The latter is considered to be more touristy, but that’s a bold term given most opt to visit other, more well-known islands wrapped by the Andaman Sea. Explore the monkey laden Mu Ko Lanta National Park, stroll the picturesque Long Beach, stay at a beachfront hotel or see the historic Old Town adorned with bamboo huts and charming eateries. But at some point, get out in that strikingly hued water whether it be via snorkeling or kayak.
Canada isn’t the first place one thinks about when tossing the idea around for an island escape, but many slices of land surround the massive country. Vancouver Island sits on the west side and is considered to be one of the very best Canadian options, thanks to its vast wine scene, historic town of Victoria, and a mesmerizing array of wildlife. Even traversing to the island is exciting, as you’ll drive your car aboard a ferry to make the four-hour scenic journey—or you could take a short flight. While not tropical, the scenery is pristine with totally transparent waters, mossy rocks and trees like the western hemlock, red cedar, Pacific silver fir, yellow cedar and Douglas fir.
Indonesia’s beautiful Bali isn’t really an unknown paradise, but can be an incredible alternative to Hawaii. You still get the towering mountains and jungles, while also diving into a different culture. Gaze out over expansive rice paddies, break way at a meditation retreat, and much like Hawaii, find solace at one of the many posh retreats. One can find temples, and ritualistic monuments through the serene area, as Bali is also quite a spiritually powerful island to see.
While Anguilla sets within the Caribbean, it’s a British Territory. Much of the cultural influence hails from Africa, thanks to descendants who make up the majority of locals. Intricate coral reefs have created an ideal location for snorkeling adventures, filled with glimpses of tropical fish and underwater fauna. The cuisine is downright mouthwatering, featuring an abundance of seafood and goat dishes.
Palawan in the Philippines is also an archipelago, and its beaches are touted as being less crowded, and more tranquil than others in the region. For a multitude of reasons, the group of lands is considered some of the safest amongst the Philippines, partially because little seismic activity impacts the area. Scuba dive, explore caves and try to spot a variety of animals that call this heaven on earth home.