7 secret islands around the world that you’ll want to visit
It’s hard to find an island paradise nowadays that isn’t a tourist trap. Crowded beaches and commercialised cultural attractions can ruin the experience for some people looking for a quiet escape. Fortunately, there are still some islands around the world that are relatively untouched by tourism and perfect for the secluded getaway that you may be craving. Here you can enjoy the beaches all to yourself and see natural wonders without having to negotiate hordes of people with selfie sticks. There is of course a catch – many of these islands aren’t easy to get to, hence why they’re unspoilt and fairly quiet. Here are just 7 beautiful islands that have remained fairly secret and how you can get to them if you’re prepared to take on the adventure.
Off the coast of Colombia, you’ll find the exotic island of Providencia. Palm trees line it’s beaches and there are impressive rock formations sticking out of the sea such as Morgan’s Head. Given its location, it’s technically a Caribbean island, only you won’t find any crowds on its white sanded beaches as you would on other nearby islands. There are a few friendly locals living in settlements and only a few tourists who happen to be in the know. The architecture is very historic, with many building dating back to when the Spanish first colonised the island several hundred years ago. The marine wildlife meanwhile is also one of the main attractions – there are several scuba centres around the island where you can rent diving equipment and explore the vibrant reefs. Providencia can feel like a different world from Columbia and it has managed to stay free of crime, making it a safe and peaceful retreat.
Getting to this island paradise is no easy task – a 20 seater plane or a 3 hour catamaran ride from San Andres are the only ways to get here. You have to book your tickets beforehand online as there are limited spaces on the planes and catamarans leading to this islands meaning that they are often full.
This sleepy island features in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as the secluded spot where protagonist Mikael Blomvist retreated to relax and write. It’s long been a popular getaway for wealthy Swedes, but has remained largely a secret from the rest of the world. You’ll find plenty of beautiful cottages here and a scenic harbour, as well as some traditional Swedish cafes and luxury restaurants offering fine dining. There’s a museum on the island where you can learn about the history and geography of the location, and there are other sights such as a chapel. The natural scenery of the island is also very beautiful, consisting of lush forests and beaches (although, given that it’s Sweden, you might not be doing a much sunbathing on these beaches as the other islands on this list!).
A ferry from Stavsnas is the best way to get to this remote island – there are coaches from Stockholm to Stavsnas if you’re visiting Sweden’s capital and want to take a trip from here.
The Malaysian island of Mabul is inhabited largely by local fishermen. It’s also home to the legendary ‘sea gypsies’ who live out on the sea in homes on stilts. Only recently has it become a popular spot for divers due to its diverse and rare marine wildlife including bobtail squids and paintpot cuttlefish. Its golden beaches are virtually empty – you could end up with a whole beach to yourself. There are a couple luxury hotels on the island that you can stay at and a few restaurants and bars, most of which are aimed at divers, but anyone is welcome to travel here.
As with the other islands on this list, getting there is not simple and you could end up having to take a chain of flights from Kuala Lumpur followed by a speedboat trip. The most common route from Malaysia’s capital is to head from Kuala Lumpur airport to Tawau, where you can get a 90 minute transfer to Semporna. It’s from Semporna that you’ll be able to catch the speedboat to Mabul island – this boat journey takes about 45 minutes. It may be a complicated journey, but it’s worth it.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Necker Island is privately owned by British billionaire and owned of Virgin, Richard Branson (yes, he owns a whole island to himself). Whilst it is his private island, you can visit it and stay there. Branson allows visitors to rent out the island and invite as much as 21 other guests. This could allow you to have the whole island to yourself! Staff on the island greet you as you arrive and are able to meet your every need – the facilities are expectedly luxurious given that this is the holiday home of a billionaire.
There is one condition that may put many people off travelling to Necker Island – the only way of getting there is via private jet. You’ll need to look into how much to charter a plane, unless you’re lucky and wealthy enough to already own private aircraft. Once you’re there, everything will be accommodated for you. More information on this private paradise can be found online here.
Skopelos is an untouched Greek Island that has only recently become more travelled after being featured in the 2008 Abba-themed musical Mamma Mia! It’s still far from being the next Mykonos or Santorini – Skopelos is difficult to get to, which has helped to preserve its sense of secrecy. The only way to get to Skopelos is to book a flight to Skiathos and then take a 45 minute boat ride.
One you get there, you’ll be treated by the sights of pine-stacked hills, olive groves and whitewashed coastal houses. The bars here are more chilled-out than other Greek islands – it can be a peaceful getaway from the busy bar streets of it’s louder neighbours. It’s also got a castle situated on the cliff tops, which you can hike up to and explore.
When travelling to Malta in the Mediterranean, few people are aware of the tiny island of Gozo just off its shore. This hidden gem has many sights to see including the Azure Window – a scenic rock archway on the coast – and the historic citadel in Victoria where you can take in impressive views of the island. There are many places to stay on the island including a rustic farmhouse and several hotels situated in historic buildings.
Gozo is one of the easier islands to get to on this list – there’s a ferry which you can take from Malta and a bus service which takes you on the ferry.
One of Prince Harry’s favourite destinations largely due to being secluded and paparazzi-free, this exotic island in the Indian Ocean is what most people think of when they imagine a tropical island paradise. It’s surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and is covered in mountains with breath-taking views. It’s a sleepier version of its big sister Mauritius with a few bars, restaurants and hotels, but none of the heavy tourist feel of its counterpart – many of the locals still live a traditional lifestyle and the atmosphere is more relaxed.
You can reach Rodrigues by taking a flight to Mauritius and then taking a 90 minute flight from here to Rodrigues.