Find tranquility on these low-key islands.
These local gems have managed to stay off the tourist circuit.
While the secret is out about popular islands like Bali and Santorini, these islands are still under-theradar—but not for long.
When thinking about Japan, subtropical jungle, mangrove swamps and white beaches that rival the Caribbean probably don’t come to mind. But the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are a beachy paradise where pineapples and sugarcane grow. Known as one of Japan’s best diving spots, the underwater world includes coral reefs, dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays.
Although it’s part of Colombia, Providencia feels like a laid-back Caribbean island. English, Spanish, and English Creole is spoken by the locals who are still living by their own traditions and customs, far away from Colombia’s capital Bogota. The ocean surrounding the island has the world’s thirdlargest barrier reef filled with coral reefs, sponges, and countless exotic fish. There’s no mobile reception, but you’re trying to get away from it all, right?
The Isles of Scilly
What might be Britain’s best-kept secret, the Isles of Scilly are a subtropical (yes, you read that right) paradise with 35 white sand beaches, exotic plants, and azure blue waters — and only a 15-minute flight from the mainland. There is an abundance of bird life and snorkeling safaris to encounter sharks, seals and dolphins. Getting to the islands and staying there can be rather expensive, but it’s worth it to experience a way of life that’s hardly changed over the last few decades.
Called the “Côte d’Azur of Germany” and quite simi- lar to the Hamptons, this is where the country’s rich and famous mingle. The island has a warm microclimate thanks to the gulf stream, white, windswept beaches and mud flats from the surrounding Wadden Sea. If you have the money, you’ll be spoilt for choice between spa and wellness facilities, golf clubs and Michelin-starred restaurants. The special climate and salty, iodine-rich air are supposed to be very beneficial and locals have been flocking to Sylt since the 19th century.
Ile de Re
Picturesque harbor villages, fresh seafood from the market and golden beaches — it’s easy to see why Ile de Ré is a preferred hideaway for stressedout Parisians. Towns like popular Saint-Martin-de-Ré have whitewashed houses with blue and green shutters (the only colors allowed) and distinct terracotta clay roofs. The countryside, best explored by bike (60 miles of lanes) or on horseback, is marked by salt marshes, wildflowers and vineyards.
Closer to Africa than Europe, Pantelleria is one of Italy’s least known islands. Located between Sicily and Tunisia, the “black pearl of the Mediterranean” features no real beaches, but a fascinating black, volcanic landscape instead. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are mostly off rocks and in secluded coves. Pantelleria features unique, traditional houses called dammusi that are built with lava rocks and have cisterns to collect rainwater. Major sights include a nature reserve and a volcanic lake Specchio di Venere (Venus’ Looking Glass) which is fed by thermal springs. Maybe due to the lack of beaches, Pantelleria has never attracted mass tourism, however a number of shy, local celebrities like Giorgio Armani own property on the island.
Croatia has 1,246 islands (counting every rock and islet) out of which 50 or so are inhabited and only 15 have more than 1,000 people living on them. Romantic Vis with its sheltered, emerald green coves is a local secret with Croatian food lovers thanks to its traditional cuisine. There are plenty of vineyards, olive groves, orchards and more than 300 species of herbs and pine, palm, fig and mulberry trees, all used in the island’s simple but delicious dishes.
Croatia’s Vis island is known among the country’s culinary world for its fresh and simple cuisine.
Escape to the French seaside without the crush of the Riviera on Ile de Re.