The Best Island Adventure Destinations: Unveiling Nature's Gems Across the Globe
Are you ready to embark on the ultimate island adventure? From the sun-drenched shores of Greece to the remote beauty of Lord Howe Island in Australia, and from the picturesque landscapes of Scotland's Isle of Skye to the vibrant Caribbean havens, this article will take you on a journey to some of the world's best island destinations. Get ready to dive into crystal-clear waters, explore ancient ruins, and immerse yourself in the rich cultures that make these islands so special. Join us as we unveil the hidden gems and thrilling experiences that await you on this extraordinary island-hopping escapade.
More than just your typical Aegean island
Don't misunderstand us -- we absolutely adore the Greek islands. But sometimes, they can start to blend together. The dry, rocky hills that abruptly meet the crystal-clear waters. The charming whitewashed chapels nestled on cliffside ledges. You've seen the photos. You get the idea.
Crete, however, has a distinct personality all its own. Throughout its history, Crete has been influenced by various empires, including the Roman, Venetian, and Turkish. If you look closely, you'll notice the convergence of these cultural and architectural influences on the island. For example, you might stumble upon a unique, rounded gift shop that seems out of place along Chania's stunning old Venetian waterfront, until you discover its past as a Turkish mosque. And in this part of Greece, ordering a raki won't get you the Turkish anisette drink rakı; instead, you'll be served a Cretan version of grappa. As the largest Greek island, Crete is also home to Europe's most awe-inspiring canyon, the Samaria Gorge, perfect for a day-long hike amidst breathtaking mountainsides. Keep an eye out for the rare Cretan wild goat, known as the kri-kri. And if you're seeking those iconic rocky hills and crystal-clear waters, look no further than Balos beach, truly a treasure of the Mediterranean. -- Conor O'Rourke
Society Islands, French Polynesia | maloff/Shutterstock
Corsica, located in France, is a paradise for adventure seekers. The best time to visit is from late June to early September. This island is renowned for its wild trails and massive granite mountains. It is home to the GR20, which is considered Europe's most spectacular trail. This trail takes about two weeks to complete and traverses various terrains, offering the opportunity to witness the majestic Gorge du Tavignano.
Lord Howe Island, Australia
The cleanest place on Earth that is a stargazer's dream
Situated approximately 480 miles off the coast of Sydney, Lord Howe Island is a remote haven where, on a clear night, you can witness more stars than you ever thought possible. But that's not all. This 6.2-mile-long island offers much more, including a diverse array of plant and animal species, some of which were once thought to be extinct. To discover these wonders, embark on a half-day hike up Mount Gower, the island's tallest peak. Local guides are available to accompany you on this adventure, provided you make arrangements in advance. Many of the island's 382 residents can trace their ancestry back to the first settlers -- a fascinating mix of English and American pioneers who established themselves shortly after the island's discovery in 1788. Don't miss the weekly fish fry at the lawn-bowling club, where you might hear tales of family rivalries and alliances formed and broken over the years.
In addition, Lord Howe Island was once a popular honeymoon destination for Australians, before more accessible flights made it less exclusive. Besides lounging on idyllic beaches, you can also explore some of the world's most pristine coral reefs through snorkeling. Take a day trip to see Ball's Pyramid, the largest freestanding seastack in the world, and make a stop at the sea arch on your way back. If the tides cooperate, you might even get to jump off the deck and swim back to shore. -- Danielle Elliot
Uros Islands, Peru | Rafal Cichawa/shutterstock
A thriving contemporary arts destination in a tranquil rural setting
Naoshima is just one of the many small islands that adorn Japan's picturesque Seto Inland Sea. While these islands are characterized by their sleepy, rural charm and sparse population, they have recently transformed into thriving hotspots for art enthusiasts. The Seto Islands now feature countless extraordinary outdoor sculptures, installations, and museums.
Naoshima, in particular, boasts one of artist Yayoi Kusama's famous yellow pumpkins, which stands proudly at the edge of a dock. Other notable attractions include the Chichu Art Museum, located atop a hill, and the Art House Project, where abandoned homes have been transformed into captivating installations by artists like James Turrell. If you're seeking accommodation, consider staying at The Benesse House, a unique blend of museum and hotel. However, there are also plenty of guest houses scattered across the two small towns on the islands. Don't forget to indulge in the delectable culinary delights offered at the charming hole-in-the-wall eateries, where you might just find the most amazing karaage chicken you've ever tasted. Naoshima is an ideal destination for solo female travelers, offering a tranquil escape from the fast-paced world and encouraging you to detach from your smartphone (if you can resist the temptation to photograph everything in sight). -- Emily Zemler
Cactus garden in Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, Spain | Daniel Carmona Ruiz/Shutterstock
A hidden gem in the Adriatic Sea, away from the crowds of Hvar
While Croatia has seen an influx of sun-seeking tourists in recent years, the island of Vis, located just 20 miles off the mainland, has managed to remain a hidden gem. It is considered one of Europe's finest islands, yet it has somehow evaded the typical tourist crowds. Although it is a small island with fewer than 4,000 residents, you'll find a warm and welcoming community, free from the usual tourist traps.
To reach Vis, fly into Split and take a scenic two-hour ferry ride from the city's port. Upon arrival in Vis' enchanting seaside downtown, which dates back 2,400 years, you'll be captivated by its beauty. The island offers a variety of stunning beaches, and we highly recommend treating yourself to a boat charter for a day. However, don't overlook the interior of the island, which resembles a Mediterranean paradise with its ancient taverns, olive groves, and vineyards producing exceptional white wines.
Where to Stay: Royal Belize
Bohol, the Philippines
Home of the famous "chocolate hills" and delightful little monkeys
Part eerie, part adorable, the Philippine tarsier is one of the tiniest primates in the world, resembling a frog with disproportionately large eyes. Out of the more than 7,000 tropical islands in the Philippine archipelago, these peculiar creatures can only be found on a small number of islands, including Bohol.
But that's not the only reason to visit Bohol. This island is also home to a geological wonder known as the Chocolate Hills. Spanning 30 square miles, more than 1,200 of these enormous hills resembling camel humps can be found. During the dry season, these hills take on a brown hue, hence their name. Additionally, Bohol offers world-class scuba diving opportunities and the highly Instagrammed Hinagdanan Cave, an underground swimming hole surrounded by stunning stalactites. -- Erik Trinidad
Madiera Island, Portugal | Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock
The Islands of the Uros, Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia
If you create an archipelago, people will come
Lake Titicaca, located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, boasts several remarkable features. It is not only the highest navigable body of water in the world and the largest lake in South America, but it is also considered the center and birthplace of the universe according to ancient Incan beliefs. Today, it is home to the Uros people, who reside on their unique floating islands.
To explore this fascinating archipelago, start your journey from Puno, Peru. From there, you can visit the Uros Islands, which the Uros people constructed using totora reeds found in the region. These islands are sturdy enough to support a community of approximately 1,200 locals, as well as the tourists who come to experience this extraordinary way of life. Almost everything on the islands is made from totora reeds, including the huts, furniture, and boats used for transportation and fishing. Animal lovers and Instagram enthusiasts will appreciate the intricate reed weavings depicting animal heads, such as roosters and cats, adorning the bows of the boats. -- Erik Trinidad
Scotland, United Kingdom | Stanley Chen Xi/Moment/Getty Images
Okay, so technically Belize isn't a Caribbean island, but it still deserves recognition! Belize may seem like a laid-back and tranquil vacation spot, but it is far from that. In fact, it has become a haven for thrill seekers and adventure enthusiasts from around the globe.
With its diverse landscape and natural attractions, ranging from dense jungles to pristine beaches, Belize offers something for everyone, whether you're an adrenaline junkie or a nature lover.
Adventurous Things to Do in Belize
The Great Blue Hole: This popular destination is a must-visit for thrill seekers and scuba divers. Located off the coast of Belize, this enormous sinkhole plunges more than 400 feet deep and spans nearly 1,000 feet wide. It is one of the world's largest underwater caverns and teems with diverse marine life, including sharks. The Great Blue Hole is a dream spot for diving and snorkeling, attracting visitors eager to experience its unique underwater ecosystem.
Ziplining: For a thrilling bird's-eye view of the jungle, ziplining is the way to go. And there's no better place to experience it than in Belize's lush rainforests. The ziplines here are among the longest and fastest in the world, offering awe-inspiring views of the rainforest. Soar through the canopy and let your adrenaline soar!
Where to Stay: Royal Belize
Hawaii is a haven for adventure seekers. With its multiple islands to explore, such as Big Island and Maui, there's something for everyone. Maui may be smaller than the Big Island, but it offers an abundance of adventures. Sail away on a boat trip, go snorkeling to witness rays, small sharks, turtles, and a plethora of fish. You'll feel as though you've stepped into your own Little Mermaid world. For those who prefer leisurely strolls and exploration, a visit to Haleakala National Park is a must. Witness the edges of the volcano, catch a stunning sunset from one of the trails, or embark on a scenic road trip to witness breathtaking waterfalls.
Meanwhile, the Big Island lives up to its name. This expansive island beckons you to explore its waterfalls, relax on its black sand beaches, and visit the Volcanoes National Park. What's more, you can snorkel with manta rays and create your own itinerary on either the Hilo or Kona side of the island.
More than a pretty face
While most Americans may have heard of Madeira thanks to "The Bachelorette" in 2013, this island is far more than just rocky landscapes and breathtaking views. Madeira has emerged as an extreme sports capital, not unlike New Zealand's Queenstown. Unlike the latter, Madeira boasts little flat terrain, making it a thrilling destination for downhill mountain biking. Riders of all skill levels can enjoy the trails, some of which feature jumps over obstacles, dirt roads, and regular streets, spanning more than 15 feet in length. For beginners, there are plenty of options to explore as well. Various companies offer gear rentals and transportation to different tracks across the island. If biking isn't your thing, don't worry. Madeira offers other adventures, such as scuba diving, whale-watching, walking across the glass-bottomed skywalk, and experiencing the exhilarating wicker sled rides. Ernest Hemingway was a fan of this incredible destination. -- Kastalia Medrano
Naoshima Art island, Japan | Kenneth Dedeu
Bluff Island (Sha Tong Hau Shan), Hong Kong, China
Discovering Hong Kong's hidden non-concrete jungle
When most people think of Hong Kong, they envision skyscrapers and a bustling population of over 7 million. However, the truth is that this concrete jungle only covers a mere 30% of the vast area. The majority of Hong Kong is made up of barrier islands, wetlands, woodlands, and protected country parks. Among these natural wonders lies the Hong Kong National Geopark, formed 140 million years ago, and hidden within is one of the region's most stunning secrets: Sha Tong Hau Shan, also known as Bluff Island.
To reach this hidden gem, hop on a boat at Sai Kung Pier and embark on a journey past towering mountain formations reminiscent of Jurassic Park. Once you arrive at remote Bluff Island, you'll be greeted by powder-white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and trees adorned with red pineapples (though they aren't edible). The island itself bears a resemblance to a turtle, with four extended legs. It is teeming with lush trees, wooded areas, and an array of natural rock formations that even the most luxurious spas can't replicate. Don't miss Sha Tong Hau Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the eastern waters, ideal for diving into the surrounding South China Sea. You can explore the area by kayak, scuba diving, or simply floating on your back, pretending you're a temporary resident alongside Wilson. -- Liz Newman
Visayas Islands, Phillippines | Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Stone/Getty Images
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Experience the best of the Mayan Riviera
At just 4 miles long and less than half a mile wide, Isla Mujeres is a small and peaceful island located a short ferry ride away from the busy atmosphere of Cancún. The northern tip of the island is adorned with beautiful white sand beaches, palm trees, and turquoise waves that are simply perfect for a relaxing nap after exploring the abundance of beach bars. If you manage to tear yourself away from the sand, there are several options for exploring the island. You can rent a bike or moped, or take a leisurely stroll along the paths that run alongside the Caribbean side of the island.
Resisting the temptation to sleep in, make sure to catch the sunrise on the southern end of the island. Here, wind-worn cliffs overlook the open sea, with a small pyramid dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility and healing. If you're staying for a while, consider taking a day trip to colonial Valladolid, a town built around a stunning cenote (a partially underground swimming hole). For dinner, visit La Justicia de Don Pino to try some fresh shrimp caught by the local fisherman's cooperative, or simply wander down Hidalgo Street downtown and follow the enticing aromas. With a large Cuban population on the island, the evenings are perfect for dancing salsa. Don't miss Rincón Cubano for a taste of Havana. Dance until you drop and then sleep it off on the beach the next day. -- Luz Corral
Ung King Islands/Hong Kong | lai Ching yuen/shutterstock
Puerto Rico is a beautiful and somewhat developed island in the Caribbean. Despite still recovering from the devastating Hurricane Maria, it remains an excellent destination for tourism and adventure.
With a population of just over 3 million residents, Puerto Rico offers a vibrant and exciting experience for visitors.
Adventurous Things to Do in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Forest is a sprawling forest covering 29,000 acres of mountains, waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. The forest is home to unique waterfalls, including the popular La Mina Falls. After a long hike on one of the 14 trails in the rainforest, you can take a refreshing dip in the falls' pool. Don't forget to bring your rain jacket!
Where to Stay: Condado Vanderbilt Hotel
Visit the largest island in the Caribbean for an abundance of excitement.
Cuba is the perfect destination for scuba diving and snorkeling, with its clear waters and diverse ecosystem. The island is also known for its historical and cultural significance, as well as its famous cigars!
Adventurous Things to Do in Cuba
Jardines de la Reina is a renowned diving location that is carefully protected to maintain its ecosystem. It is also a popular spot for shark sightings, making it a thrilling destination for underwater enthusiasts. Take a dip in the shark-infested waters and discover why Cuba is one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure.
Discover the Caribbean's untouched paradise
Blessed with over 300 rivers, Dominica is a treasure trove of gurgling hot springs, black sand beaches, breathtaking hikes, and pristine reefs that offer some of the best scuba diving experiences in the Caribbean. As one of the least developed islands in the region, Dominica offers a unique and unspoiled experience.
With larger luxury hotels beginning to take notice of Dominica's spectacular beauty, now is the time to visit before it becomes crowded. This enchanting island, recognized as one of our top 20 destinations for a big trip, is situated between Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Eastern Caribbean. Unlike other popular destinations, Dominica lacks overcrowded beaches and overpriced cocktails. Instead, it embraces visitors with its raw and untamed nature. The tropical rainforest terrain is abundant with waterfalls and offers countless opportunities to immerse yourself in its pristine beauty. -- Terry Ward
Santa Maria Beach in Sal Cape Verde | Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock
Raiatea, French Polynesia
Explore a hidden paradise in the South Pacific
Raiatea, known as the "faraway heaven," lives up to its name. With jade peaks, swaying palm trees, and countless shades of brilliant blue, this island seems like something out of a travel magazine cover. Despite being a bit harder to reach than popular destinations like Tahiti and Bora Bora, Raiatea offers a quieter and more authentic experience of French Polynesia. And the best part? It's only a 45-minute flight from the capital, Papeete.
The most popular activity on the island is quite simple: doing nothing. Find yourself a hammock and breathe in the hibiscus-scented air. While Raiatea doesn't have traditional beaches, you can take a boat to a nearby motu (an uninhabited patch of palm trees and white sand in a lagoon) and live out your desert island fantasies. For a taste of culture, visit the UNESCO-approved archaeological site at Taputapuatea, which features impressive stone structures. Inland, you can hike up the lush Mount Tapioi or venture through bamboo jungles to discover three cascading waterfalls. If you're feeling brave, go for a dive to explore a shipwreck (don't worry, even black-tip sharks enjoy it down there). But don't forget to continue your relaxation and enjoy the serenity. That's why you came here. -- Jonathan Melmoth
South Island, New Zealand | Andrew Peacock/Getty Images
If you're seeking adventure in the Caribbean, there's no better place than the famous "Seven Mile Beach" in Grand Cayman.
Dive, kayak, and explore the crystal-clear beaches of the Cayman Islands, hike through the nature reserves, and unwind at some of the most beautiful resorts in the Caribbean!
Adventurous Things to Do in the Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are home to over 100 caves waiting to be explored. Some of the most popular caves include Crystal Caves, Bat Cave, and Devil's Grotta, which is also a popular diving spot.
During your dives around Grand Cayman, you'll encounter shipwrecks, underwater statues, and a diverse range of marine life in the island's coral reefs.
Make sure to visit Stingray City, an area of shallow waters where you can swim and interact with stingrays to create unforgettable memories.
Where to Stay: Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, located on Seven Mile Beach
Nevis may be a small Caribbean island, but it offers big adventures! That's why it's included on the list of the best Caribbean islands for adventure seekers. From hiking volcanoes to soaking under waterfalls in the rainforest, Nevis has it all for those craving exploration.
Adventurous Things to Do in Nevis 🌏
Nevis Peak is a dormant volcano that offers a challenging yet rewarding hike. At 3,232 feet, it's considered one of the most challenging hikes in the Caribbean. However, the stunning view from the top makes it all worthwhile!
Nevis is also a fantastic destination for mountain biking, with options for big mountain riding. You can even take a one-of-a-kind gondola up the mountain and bike your way down.
Where to Stay: Golden Rock Inn Nevis – Boutique Hotel
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Discover fairy pools, towering mountains, and cozy country pubs
Skye, located in Scotland, is a place where mist shrouds the mountains and oystercatchers search for food among the rocks while golden eagles soar above. The main town of Portree boasts pastel-colored cottages along the sea, and the small villages are filled with charming whitewashed crofts. Since the controversial bridge was built in '95, Skye has been connected to the rest of Scotland, but it still offers enchanting fairy glens and inviting fairy pools to explore. Skye is simply stunning.
Embark on the Skye Trail, a 79-mile trek that takes approximately seven days to complete. Along the dreamy Trotternish Ridge, you'll encounter purple heather, basalt pinnacles, and breathtaking views. Finish your hike at the northern tip of the island and spend the night at the Lookout Bothy. Here, you can enjoy the stunning sea cliffs and might even spot minke whales, basking sharks, and dolphins swimming in the plankton-rich waters. If you prefer a less challenging adventure, visit Glen Sligachan valley for an afternoon of exploration before warming up at Seumas' Bar with a choice of 400 Scottish malts. -- Ailsa Ross
Borneo, Malaysia | Andrea Pistolesi/Getty Images
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands consist of three main islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. As US territories, they offer smooth and easy travel options for American citizens, without the need for a passport.
With three islands to choose from, there is something for every adventure seeker. If you're looking for true adventure, consider exploring either St. Thomas or St. John, or travel between the islands by ferry.
Adventurous Things to Do in the US Virgin Islands
St. John is home to the stunning Virgin Islands National Park, which offers hiking trails, secluded beaches, and hidden gems of the US Virgin Islands. You can also find off-the-beaten-path hikes in St. Thomas that lead to stunning white sand beaches with breathtaking shades of blue.
Any of the three islands are perfect for exhilarating activities such as parasailing or skydiving. From above, you'll get unbeatable views of neighboring islands, including the British Virgin Islands. Kayak to Cas Cay for a day trip filled with floating through lagoons, hiking on untouched land, and snorkeling in the stunning off-shore coral reefs. Alternatively, you can head to Buck Island National Reef, home to Turtle Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Here, you can snorkel or dive in the vibrant and colorful coral reef, protected as a national treasure in the Caribbean.
Where to Stay: Green Iguana Hotel, Charlotte Amalie
Jamaica is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, making it one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure. As the third-largest island in the Caribbean, it offers a diverse range of experiences. From ziplining through the rainforest to swimming in the turquoise waters, Jamaica has it all.
Adventurous Things to Do in Jamaica
A must-do adventure in Jamaica is cliff jumping at Rick's Café in Negril. With jumps ranging up to 40 feet, it's one of the best cliff jumping spots in the Caribbean. Afterward, you can enjoy food, music, and drinks right on the cliff.
For a unique hiking experience, conquer Blue Mountain, the tallest mountain in Jamaica. You can backpack and camp along the way, with the longest trip covering 25 miles one way. Along the journey, you'll encounter waterfalls with natural pools, campsites, and breathtaking nature.
Where to Stay: The Caves Hotel
South Island, New Zealand
Escape the northern hemisphere's chilly climate and embrace an epic adventure
If you're tired of winter weather and yearning for outdoor adventures, look no further than South Island in New Zealand. While the northern hemisphere shivers, South Island experiences long, hot summer days perfect for exploring nature by kayak, surfboard, or bike.
Summer is the best time to witness the wonders of South Island and discover why it's known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. The impressive glaciers, such as Franz Josef and Fox, offer breathtaking sights, but expect some company along these popular trails. Take advantage of the abundant surf spots, especially off the coast at Farewell Spit, Dunedin, and Whangamata Beach. -- Jonathan Melmoth
Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Nisian Hughes/Getty Images
Located 350 miles off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde is a unique island nation comprised of some of the most stunning tropical islands in the world. In addition to its sparkling beaches, historic colonial towns, and majestic mountain vistas, Cape Verde boasts a rich and complex culture influenced by Portugal, Brazil, Ghana, and France.
Cape Verde has overcome great challenges to forge a modern and vibrant culture across its 10 breathtaking islands, each with its own distinct character. Throughout the islands, music serves as a guiding force, with the mournful yet beautiful tones of morna, Cape Verde's national musical style, reflecting joy, sorrow, struggle, and celebration all at once. Whether at oceanfront eateries or during the incredible Carnival celebration, music is a constant reminder of Cape Verde's layered history and lively spirit. -- Becki Iverson
The Dominican Republic, consisting of about 100 small islands, offers a plethora of activities for island adventurers and thrill seekers.
For those who love the sea, there are breathtaking mountains waiting to be explored through hiking trails. On the other hand, if you prefer to stay on dry land, there are numerous zip lines and ATV trails to satisfy your adventurous spirit. In short, the Dominican Republic has something for everyone, no matter their preferences. Prepare yourself for an exciting challenge in the Dominican Republic!
Adventure Things to Do in the Dominican Republic
One of the highlights in the Dominican Republic is Pico Duarte, the highest mountain peak in the Caribbean, towering at 10,125 feet. Hikers flock to this popular destination to conquer its heights. Additionally, the Dominican Republic is home to some of the world's best snorkeling and scuba diving spots, making it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts.
Due to its vast size, the Dominican Republic allows travelers to conveniently visit all their favorite spots, such as participating in jungle tours in Punta Cana, embarking on day trips to Isla Catalina, and experiencing incredible snorkeling adventures in Cayo Arena.
Where to Stay: Iberostar 5-Star Grand Bavaro
Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, Spain
Lanzarote, a volcanic island that offers a journey into the depths of Timothy Leary's mind, is part of the Canary Islands, although geographically closer to the coast of Morocco. Within Tenerife, you'll discover one of the world's finest black-sand beaches, Playa Jardín. However, the archipelago's newest gem is Lanzarote, where you can engage in activities such as surfing, hiking, and enjoying beautiful beaches. It may sound ordinary, but wait until you set foot on the black-and-red ash landscape that resembles something out of Mars. The vibrant colors alone will transport you to a different state of mind. The buildings on the island follow a striking contrast of white wash with a Kelly green trim, as per government regulations, complementing the surrounding land perfectly.
The island itself served as an inspiration for César Manrique, a native artist from the Canary Islands, whose work beautifully intertwines with the natural and man-made elements of the island. While we cannot confirm if he was under the influence of LSD, you'll certainly feel like you are. Manrique's vision encompasses abstract expressionism, pop art, and new sculpture, seamlessly blending with the island's landscape. A notable example is Jameos del Agua, a fascinating system of caves with an unexpected surprise. Lanzarote's terrain conceals subterranean volcanic riverbeds, and Manrique transformed one of these caves into an underground space reminiscent of Fraggle Rock, complete with captivating lighting and hidden surprises, including a restaurant. - Meagan Drillinger
Lord Howe Island, Australia | Michael Runkel/robertharding/getty images
Caves, mountains, and unique wildlife like nowhere else in the world await adventure seekers in Borneo. Borneo is home to Malaysia's five highest mountains and two longest rivers, ensuring endless opportunities for thrilling experiences. The island is shared by three countries, with Malaysia and Brunei in the north and Indonesia in the south. Malaysia's segment is divided into two states: Sabah and Sarawak. Only a short two-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, you can find Sabah's capital, Kota Kinabalu, as well as Sarawak's capital, Kuching.
These places may not be immediately recognizable as top destinations due to their relatively small size and their overshadowing by the region's diverse natural wonders. However, if you're seeking adventure, Sarawak is a great place to start. Begin your journey at Lambir Hills National Park, where you can test your physical endurance by hiking to the summit of Bukit Lambir, the highest peak in the expansive 17,000-acre park. But most travelers choose Sarawak for its crown jewel, Gunung Mulu National Park, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and renowned for its Mulu Caves. Among these caves lies the Sarawak Chamber, the largest underground cave on the planet, estimated to have the capacity to hold 40 Boeing 747s. Nearby, Deer Cave boasts the title of the world's most enormous cave passage, capable of accommodating five structures the size of London's St. Paul's Cathedral. In Sabah, immerse yourself in the wonders of the Kinabatangan River, famous for its wildlife safaris. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, orangutans, elephants, and proboscis monkeys, which are exclusive residents of Borneo. - Meagan Drillinger
Stiniva beach, Croatia | Matthew Baker/Getty Images News
Saba, a small island in the Caribbean Netherlands, offers a unique and thrilling experience for adventurous souls.
Adventurous Things to Do in Saba
Embark on a hike through the rainforest of an active volcano and reach an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level. Mt. Scenery, also known as the "Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean," presents a challenging climb that can take up to four hours round-trip, depending on your chosen trail.
Saba offers a unique twist with the opportunity to boulder on mountains, which is not commonly associated with Caribbean islands. Considered the Best Caribbean Island for outdoor adventure, Saba is a must-visit destination for mountain and island enthusiasts alike!
Corsica, an island located in France, beckons adventure seekers with its long-distance hiking trails. Late June to early September is the optimal time to visit this island. Corsica boasts wild paths and majestic granite mountains, with GR20 being the most spectacular trail in Europe. This two-week journey takes you through various terrains and presents the opportunity to witness the beauty of Gorge du Tavignano.
The Caribbean is a vast collection of islands that offer more than just beach bars and endless blue skies. Here, you can discover breathtaking views, lush rainforests, and unique wildlife. One of the standout islands in the Caribbean is St. Lucia, known for its vibrant greenery and volcanic peaks. This natural gem, surrounded by azure waters, is home to the Pitons, twin peaks designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the top tourist attractions in the region.
Saint Kitts, situated in the northern part of the Caribbean, is another notable island. It is characterized by its rainforests and serves as a National Park teeming with green vervet monkeys, elegant hummingbirds, and rare lizards. Mount Liamuiga, standing at 1,210 meters, dominates the island and showcases a dormant volcano.
Last but certainly not least, we have Saba, an island enriched with a marine park and resilient cliffs. Diving and hiking enthusiasts flock to Saba to explore its vibrant underwater sites, colorful fish, and captivating coral formations. Adventurous hikers can conquer Mount Scenery, starting from Windward Side.
US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands, comprised of three main islands – St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John – are US territories, eliminating the need for a passport for US citizens and ensuring easy travel arrangements.
With three stunning islands to choose from, adventure seekers of all kinds will find an array of thrilling activities. For the ultimate adventure, consider exploring either St. Thomas or St. John, with the option of traveling between them via ferry.
Adventurous Things to Do in US Virgin Islands
St. John is home to Virgin Islands National Park, which boasts incredible hiking trails, secluded beaches, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Likewise, St. Thomas offers off-the-beaten-path hikes that lead to stunning white sandy beaches and mesmerizing shades of blue.
All three islands are excellent destinations for parasailing or skydiving on clear days, offering unbeatable views of neighboring islands, including the British Virgin Islands. Venture to Cas Cay by kayak for a day trip floating through lagoons, hiking on untouched terrain, and snorkeling in offshore coral reefs. Alternatively, visit Buck Island National Reef, where Turtle Beach awaits, showcasing one of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches adjacent to a protected national coral reef known for its colorful and diverse marine life.
Where to Stay: Green Iguana Hotel, Charlotte Amalie
Embark on the ultimate island adventure and discover the breathtaking beauty of some of the world's most fascinating destinations. From the sun-kissed shores of Crete and the pristine landscapes of Lord Howe Island, to the vibrant cultural haven of Naoshima and the idyllic sandy beaches of Puerto Rico, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring experiences waiting to be explored. Whether you yearn for turquoise waters, lush rainforests, or captivating heritage sites, these island paradises offer a diverse range of activities and memories to last a lifetime. So, grab your travel companions, pack your suitcase, and get ready to make unforgettable memories in these best island getaways across the globe!
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Unveiling the best travel destinations in October, embark on an enchanting autumn escape as we delve into the most captivating spots. From vibrant fall foliage to charming cultural experiences, discover the top destinations to embrace the beauty of this season. Plan your perfect October getaway now!