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4 unmissable island experiences

I’m often asked which are my favourite island destinations. Between ourselves, it’s one of those questions I dread, as it is almost impossible to choose! I like so many destinations for so many different reasons. When really pushed though, I suppose there are one or two places that really stand out from the crowd, either for their unique scenery or extraordinary ambiance: Hong Kong Any list has to include this throbbing Asian hub because it such as mish-mash of contradictory experiences that nowhere else could co-exist. There is the calm serenity of its parks, where old folk practice Tai-Chi, rubbing shoulders with luxury shopping malls and the towering glass of big business. There are some of the best Chinese dining options, often found in tiny, steamy dens tucked neatly behind a brand new Starbucks, or Dunkin Doughnuts. There are secluded beaches and jungle hikes, unless of course you prefer to get on down at a fancy club! Hong Kong is such a varied and incessant assault on the senses that it reminds us what it really is to feel! Hong Kong Sipadan, Borneo Situated just off the East coast of Sabah in Malaysia, Sipadan gets a high rating because of its outstanding natural beauty and rich marine life. It is a protected area and a heaven for scuba- divers, who often list it as amongst the ten best dive sites in the world. And I can confirm that a dive here is a truly unforgettable experience, for as you plunge into the turquoise waters, you are almost guaranteed a sighting of hawksbill turtles, moray eels, barracuda, eagle rays and perhaps if you’re really lucky, a whale shark. I spent a few days on nearby Kapalai which is an exquisite resort built on stilts out over the water, and hand on heart, it was one of the most breath-taking breaks of my life. Sipadan, Borneo Panglao, Philippines This is the chill-out option, and one of the ultimate beach destinations, where white sands and coco palms are as common as rain showers in England. I love it as it represents everything a beach holiday should be: fun, relaxing, a little indulgent and exotic. Here you can enjoy a massage on the beach at sundown. You can eat by candlelight as the waves wash the shore, and you can enjoy the novelty of zipping across the island on a noisy, juddering tuk tuk. It’s where the dream becomes the reality – what more can you ask for? Green Island, Taiwan If you’ve read any previous posts, then you’ll know I have a weakness for Taiwan. But did you know that Taiwan is more than just one island? There are in fact a number of small isles that can be visited from the Taiwanese mainland, one of which is Green Island. It’s located just of the East coast and makes for relatively safe exploration by moped. Being volcanic, the landscape is rocky and wild with a beautiful and craggy coastline. When I went we camped overlooking the shore and were the only people there – which given that the population sits at only about 2,500 residents, must often be the case! This is the outdoors option, for those who are looking for something a bit different and well off the beaten track. Jane Downs is Co-founder of Islandesia. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. What a fantastic selection of islands. I agree that choosing just one island would be nearly impossible, but you have assembled some of the greats.

  2. All of this places make me want to visit Asia that much more. Panglao, Philippines looks amazing. Have always wanted to stay in a bungalow over the water.

  3. Ow! I’ve been to these countries but I haven’t visited all the islands mentioned here. So sad.. I must definitely comeback. Anyway I’ve been to Bantayan Island in Cebu – such a lovely resort.

  4. Love the emphasis on the far east in this article! Could not agree with you more about your obsession with Taiwan- its such an incredible travel destination where gorgeous views and fabulous culture are combined.

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