30 Secret Island Escapes Around the World

Escape reality and leave the crowds behind at these secret islands where hordes of visitors are replaced by serenity and relaxation. These are the spots that locals and insiders keep for themselves, but now you'll be able to call your personal paradise too.

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Pico, Portugal

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Don't be deceived by the small size of this Portuguese gem in the Azores; although it may be small (only 10 miles at its widest), it's the home of the tallest mountain in Portugal (Ponta de Pico), and actually the largest (though one of the least known) islands in the Azores triangle. Its black volcanic soil has given the local vineyards UNESCO World Heritage designation. It's a perfect destination for crowd-free sipping, strolling, and exploring.

Jicaro Island, Nicaragua

Courtesy-Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge
Set on Lake Nicaragua, this private island getaway is about 15 minutes by water taxi from the Colonial town of Granada. Since the entire island is a private ecolodge, it has a secluded Swiss Family Robinson appeal, with thatch casitas built into the lush foliage, surrounded by local flora and fauna. Bonus: Jicaro Island Ecolodge is one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World, and Mombacho Volcano and Lake Nicaragua are visible from all of the nine casitas. These are private islands you can rent for your next vacation.

Laughing Bird Caye, Belize

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Ten miles off Belize's palm-fringed Placencia Coast, this tiny (only 1.414 acres) national park is a day-visit hop only, ideal for snorkeling and diving on the coral reef, the largest in the Northern Hemisphere, and spotting, and swimming with spotted Whale Sharks, the gentle giants of sea. Stay overnight at beautiful beachside Naïa Resort and Spa, where speedboat outings to the island and reef leave from the private dock.

Con Dao, Vietnam

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The only inhabited member of the stunning 16-island chain, less than an hour's flight from Ho Chi Min City. Visit Con Dao for the azure water, nesting turtles, and stunning cliffs; stay for the luxurious Six Senses Resort (and don't be surprised if this posh new property means this isn't a secret for much longer).

Palmaria, Italy

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While a UNESCO designated heritage site (along with the neighboring Cinque Terre), Palmaria, an island off of Portovenere in the Ligurian Sea, is still off the radar for travelers visiting the Italian Riviera. A nature lover's paradise, the island presents ample opportunities for hiking along its idyllic trails against a backdrop of amazing views of the sea and the watercolor village of Portovenere in the distance. CountryBred tours, who specializes in travel to the region, suggests relaxing over rustic regional fare at a local fish restaurant and cooling off with a glass of crisp white wine from Liguria.

Denis Island, Seychelles

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Curved like a wishbone, rimmed by beaches of silky fine-grained sand, covered in coconut palms and takamata trees; Denis truly feels like a castaway island. The island can only be reached by a 45-minute light aircraft flight from Mahé, the Seychelles' main island. If you're not content to doze on the beach there are plenty of activities, from deep-sea fishing, diving and snorkeling to canoeing, sunset cruises, and guided nature walks. Audley Tours can help book the only hotel on the island, a chic ecolodge, where you take off your shoes when you arrive, and you won't need to put them back on until it's time to leave. For other getaway ideas, don't miss the beaches with the clearest water in the world.

Peanut Island, Florida

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Off the eastern coast of The Palm Beaches, Florida, the island is a family sanctuary, which features snorkeling, overnight camping, and swimming. One unique attraction: You can take a tour of the John F. Kennedy Bunker, a historical reminder of the Cold War of the 60s. The best way to visit is by taking a water taxi from nearby Sailfish Marina or Riviera Beach Marina for an island paradise with no passport required.

Kamalame Cay, Bahamas

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To reach this private island resort, you'll first need to fly to Nassau, then grab a cab to a smaller commuter airport, hop a puddle jumper for a 15-minute flight to Fresh Creek, then grab another cab to a boat, and voila, you're at Kamalame Cay! Why go through all the trouble to get to this 96-acre hideaway across the turquoise inlet from Andros? Well, it's an oasis of lush tropical foliage and deserted white sand beaches with unfettered access to the Andros Great Barrier Reef and some of the world's finest coral gardens. Oh, and there's award-winning designed individually designed West Indies cottages and gourmet food and beverages that all add up to an upscale, vacation island paradise.

St. Pierre, France (Canada)

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A piece of France... in North America! Just 12 miles off the southern coast of Newfoundland and Labrador lies France's only remaining claim in North America: The tiny archipelago of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Travelers in search of a unique culture and way of life need look no further than these little-known islands, where the smell of fresh baguette fills the narrow streets each morning and locals (of Basque, Norman, and Acadian descent) greet one another with a kiss on each cheek—far from the customs of their Canadian neighbors. The smaller of the region's three major islands, Saint-Pierre is home to most of the archipelago's inhabitants. In this quiet harbor town, you'll find mouth-watering bakeries, a wide variety of French wines and cheeses, and quaint boutiques filled with European products.

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Courtesy-Haig-Point
This island with no bridge, no cars and no crowds is a unique destination for a family beach getaway. Located between Hilton Head, SC, and Savannah, GA; deeply rooted in area Gullah culture, it's accessible by boat only, making it a truly secluded oasis. Golf carts and bicycles are the primary mode of transportation to traverse the 5-mile-long island (although horseback riding along the 3 miles of golden beach is a popular activity). Island visitors can stay at Haig Point, with two unique, historic lodging beachfront options—The Strachan Mansion or The 1873 Lighthouse—overlooking the Calibogue Sound, a 13-mile-long stretch of curving waterway abundant with natural wildlife that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Port Royal Sound.

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