Find tran­quil­ity on these low-key is­lands.

These lo­cal gems have man­aged to stay off the tourist cir­cuit.

Metro USA (New York) - - Front Page -

While the se­cret is out about popular is­lands like Bali and San­torini, these is­lands are still un­der-ther­adar—but not for long.

Yaeyama Is­lands

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.

Prov­i­den­cia

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.

Sylt

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.

Pan­tel­le­ria

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.

Vis

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.

ALL PHO­TOS GETTY IM­AGES

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.

Sylt

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