Ask people to draw up a bucket list of islands they would most like to visit and Zanzibar, Barbados,, Tahiti and Sri Lanka are the likeliest candidates to top the polls. Here, we look at a quartet of smaller, lesser know islands that offer an intriguing alternative to the A list and might well be the answer to those in search of something a little different.
For beauty: Vamizi, Mozambique
Often referred to as the ‘new Maldives’, the Quirimbas is an archipelago of sparkling islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of northern Mozambique. Aside from some of the most jaw-dropping beaches on the planet, the islands are home to a huge amount of protected wildlife, including turtles, whale sharks, dolphins and Manta rays.
Vamizi Island, slender and crescent-shaped, was home to the first lodge in the Quirimbas. The island now boasts a collection of luxurious private villas, each with a chef, housekeeping and hospitality manager; there are also ten smaller, beachfront villas. Daily life revolved around beach barbeques, remote picnics, diving, big game fishing, pampering and sunset dhow cruises.
For topography: Lord Howe, Australia
Few Australians have ever been, but Lord Howe is a true gem. A two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane, this World Heritage Listed island is Australia’s very own South Sea island. Dominated by volcanic highlands and fringed by a lagoon that is protected by the most southerly reef on the planet. . There are many endemic species of wildlife, including a flightless woodhen, so it is no wonder Sir David Attenborough described the island as “so extraordinary it is almost unbelievable”.
For the real Caribbean: Bequia
Other than to yachties island-hopping the string of Grenadines, Bequia (only seven square miles) is one of the least known of the Caribbean islands, but has all the usual assets of warm seas and sunshine.
Those wanting to get involved in local life and hang out with local fishermen and boat builders – the Frangipani on the harbour is its heartbeat – will fall in love with Bequia. The island has excellent beaches, Princess Margaret and Lower Bay, are both walkable or a short water taxi from Port Elizabeth, the village-size capital.
For history: Nantucket, USA
Nantucket, the so-called ‘Faraway Island’, lies as far from US mainland as France does from Folkestone. Fourteen miles long and four miles wide, the island has become one of the most affluent vacation spots in the USA. As well as fantastic beaches, Nantucket also boats an incredible history. In the 1800s it was the whaling capital of the world until, with the demise of whaling, the population shrank. Today, however, the whole island is classified as a National Historic Monument, an America without shopping malls, traffic lights and McDonald’s.
The lack of development lies at the root of its charm. Nantucket is about old money, its ‘cottages’ owned by people whose names mean less than the corporations they skipper.
Nick Van Gruisen is Managing Director of The Ultimate Travel Company.