There are thousands of islands around the globe, but some are more special than others.
These 12 secret islands definitely worth the visit:
1. Vietnam: Con Dao
Located along a stretch of golden sand are 50 airy villas that look out onto the South China Sea. You may be tempted to never leave the resort, but the 20-square-mile island is well worth exploring.
Hire a private guide from the hotel, who will bring you via motorbike to the area’s most remote spots, including a 19th-century hilltop lighthouse and the spectacular Dam Tre Bay lagoon.
2. Indonesia: Gili Trawangan
Looks like the Bali 1970, Gili Trawangan - a tiny island near Lombok dotted with countless waterside cafés. No motorized traffic is allowed here - the best way to get around is to rent a bicycle or use your own two feet.
The daily agenda involves nothing more than fishing, diving, or kicking back with a cold beer at Scallywag.
3. Portugal: Pico
When Columbus made his expedition in 1492, Pico was considered a last outpost before you, well, fell off the earth - and it remains virtually unknown.
It’s a shame, what with wines unlike anywhere else, and footpaths that weave through beautifully eerie landscapes of lava. In the middle of a Unesco-designated vineyard is the Pocinhobay, where six basalt bungalows take in views of the Atlantic.
4. Sweden: Sandön
There’s a reason mystery writer Stieg Larsson chose Sandön as a setting for his popular Millennium thriller trilogy: the island is covered in a forest of moss and pine trees, and a light fog shrouds the windblown beaches.
5. British Virgin Islands: Scrub Island
The name may suggest otherwise, but a trip here hardly constitutes roughing it. Once a pit stop for explorers, it’s been virtually uninhabited for decades — until last year, when the luxe Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina opened its doors. What to expect? Spacious hillside villas, guided trips to nearby Norman Island, and sunset nature hikes.
6. Greece: Skopelos
A one-hour ferry ride from Skiathos, the island of Skopelos is so picture-perfect that Hollywood chose its Kastani Beach as a set for Mamma Mia.
7. Belize: Caye Caulker
There’s nary a traffic light on this laid-back island - five-mile strip of land that’s a 15-minute flight from Belize’s main airport.
8. Bahamas: Sampson Cay and Exuma Cays
Partially protected from commercial activity since 1959, the Exuma Cays are normally the domain of cruisers - and a few privileged landowners such as Johnny Depp.
But guests at Sampson Cay have access to the area’s thriving patch reefs and isolated islets. At the Sampson Cay Club, the five modest villas include wide patios that are perfect for watching the sunset. While the limestone karst terrain may be rugged, every path ends on a stretch of secluded white sand.
9. Iceland: Flatey
Don’t expect to see much night sky here: in summer, daylight shines for up to 21 hours on this rocky one-mile hideaway in Breiðafjörður Bay.
Lush meadows and multicolored timber houses dot the scenery, and the mainland’s Snæfellsjökull volcano is always within eyeshot.
10. Malta: Gozo
This tiny Mediterranean island is where Odysseus was “held captive” by Calypso after the Trojan War. Take one look at the landscape, and it’s no wonder he stayed seven years.
Rolling hills, crumbling castle walls, and a Bronze Age fortress are some of the most endearing features. Check in to Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa, with 85 stone bungalows overlooking the sea.
11. India: Andaman Islands
These 550 atolls in the Bay of Bengal have all the prerequisites for an idyllic getaway - with an added dose of culture. You can still see a few ancient indigenous tribes. The island of Havelock, a two-hour ferry ride from Port Blair, is arguably the most appealing, thanks to its bone-white beaches.
12. New Zealand: Great Barrier Island
At 104 square miles, “The Barrier” is the largest island off the Kiwi coast, but it’s also the most untouched. Spend your days hiking through dense kauri woods or exploring jagged inlets.