Top 10 Island Vacations
Surround Yourself With Ocean And Luxury
Iceland, a northerly island on the island-lover’s vacation list is a destination not to be missed as Nasa is predicting the Northern Lights to reach its peak of an 11-year solar cycle in December of this year. Stay at the Ion Hotel for primo views of the lights. The bar has dimming lights and panoramic windows. If tours don’t repel, book a small group tour with the famous storm chaser George Kourounis. The tour includes volcano and glacier hikes. Don’t miss the warm, mineral-rich hot springs of the Blue Lagoon. There’s a host of hot springs experiences in Iceland. Check out the watery wonders of Talknafjoroue, Landmannalauger and Myvatn Nature Baths.
Corfu is an under-the-radar Greek island located in the Ionian Sea. It’s also the second largest Greek island after Crete. If you can make the trip there, you will not be disappointed, for the island has pretty mountains, hidden beaches, and lovely hillsides covered with olive groves and cypress trees. The island has a remarkably different look to it compared to its neighbors because of its Venetian influences. The charming architecture is all over Corfu town lending an elegance to the island unlike many others. Check into the Corfu Palace Hotel for the thalasso therapy spa and salt-water pools.
The Big Island, also known as Hawaii, is unlike any other place on earth and unlike any of the other Hawaiian Islands. With a landmass of over 4,000 square miles, it's bigger than all of the other islands combined and is also the largest island in the United States. Island fever is a rare malady here, given the sheer diversity of its climate and geological splendor. From black sand beaches to snow capped volcanic peaks; from rural fishing villages to strings of all-inclusive tropical resorts, there's something for every traveler on Hawaii’s most otherworldly island paradise.
When you land on the island, you arrive in Kona (on the western side) or Hilo (in the east). Kona, known the world over for the coffee produced on coffee plantations surrounding the quirky town, is a relaxed and friendly home base from which to explore the entire island. There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Kona or along the Kohala Coast. Just be sure to make a day trip up to Holualoa to take in the quaint, artistic enclave in the heart of coffee country. Thirty miles south of Holualoa and Kona is the snorkeling haven of Kealakekua Bay, the spot where Captain Cook claimed his territory and later lost his life. The bay is home to an authentic Hawaiian neighborhood, with its residential Manini Beach. From here you can walk right into the water to swim or snorkel among yellow tang fish and sea turtles. If you're lucky, you'll kayak out into the bay where Spinner Dolphins swim beside your boat. The precious animals swim in the bay daily. If you have the pleasure of meeting them along your journey, you'll have stories to tell for the rest of your life.
Bora Bora is the island of once-in-a-lifetime honeymoons, over-the-top romance, and an ambiance so seductive you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Bora Bora is part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia. Originally inhabited by Polynesian settlers in 4 A.D., this paradise is now home to almost 9,000 island-dwellers today. Bora Bora is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, while the island's interior contains the now extinct remnants of a two-peaked volcano - Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. The interior is largely untouched and there's not much exploration to be had save making the challenging ascent up the mountain. For views of a lifetime you can make the treacherous hike to the top of both peaks but physical fitness is key, as the hike is enduring and can take the greater part of a day. However, those magnificent peak views will certainly be etched in your memory for a lifetime. The scenery here is dramatic to be sure and the island has been named time and time again as the most beautiful island on the planet. For the ultimate in luxurious dining experiences, you won't want to miss a dinner at La Villa Mahana, where you are given cuisine avec amour. The wildly-intimate setting on a candle-lit patio is the perfect place to bring the love of your life. Signature specialties include mahi mahi with curry and banana served over mango sauce, paired with the perfect Sauvignon Blanc. However, the tasting menus are quite popular and you may wish to go all out while you're here. If that's the case, opt for the "Menu Exotique&" or the "Menu Epicurien".
Bora Bora is where you'll find those other-worldly five-star resorts with glass-floored bungalows which seem to float effortlessly over technicolor blue seas. This is where breakfast is served to you by outrigger canoes and five-course dinners by candle-light while you and yours toast the jaw-dropping sunsets are de rigeur. Some of these dreamy resorts include The Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa, the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa, The Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora and the Intercontinental Bora Bora and Thalasso Spa. Bora Bora is truly a valhalla in the middle of the South Pacific. May you be fortunate enough to see it at least once in your lifetime.
Taking a step onto the island of Cuba is like taking a step back in time. Those classic vintage cars still roam Havana's city streets. Women strut along with an air of in-your-face sensuality and yes - grandmothers do smoke Cuban cigars while lazing on the steps of their front porch.
Cuba is one walking contradiction of a country. It is poverty-stricken yet culturally-rich. Its fine architecture is magnificent even as it crumbles before your eyes. The country can be utterly confounding with its many, many layers. You will have to travel here a thousand times and then some before you even begin to scratch its perplexing surface. Havana, Cuba's capital, is the largest city in all of the Caribbean. Its nightlife is legendary, its people wise beyond their years - all this set against the backdrop of colorful colonial palaces and tropical sunsets. Havana is celebrated in literature, poetry and art. There's much to discover in Cuba, and with the doorways opening to outside visitors, a trip to Cuba is no longer an impossible reverie.
Jamaica is home to Rastafarian culture, reggae music and turquoise blue waters sparkling in the middle of the Caribbean sea. This is Jamaica, mon - where you can do just about anything you please. It's the perfect destination to let go of all your cares and worries. The sun is shinin', the weather is sweet - make you want to move your dancin' feet. Bob Marley said it best, and you can do all this and more on the beautiful island of Jamaica. Culturally and historically, Jamaica is different. Its African roots are strong. The Jamaican capital of Kingston was once the epicenter of a slave trade where African slaves were dropped off in exchange for rum and sugar. Today, the Africans are drinking that rum and enjoying their laid back culture on an island of sand, sea and mountains. These mountains (the Blue mountains) produce world-class coffee and you'll want to sample a cup every morning as you watch the sun rise. That is, if you're up that early. Jamaica's nightlife is part if its draw and the music scene here is vibrant. In fact, Jamaica produces an insanely large amount of talented musicians so you'll want to take in a show or two during your visit.
Ko Samui is one of the most famous island vacation destinations in Thailand. Begin your Ko Samui adventure on its lovely Chaweng beach, the island's longest stretch of sea and sand. Boats, bathers and photo opportunities abound here. Spend the day working on your tan and swimming in the crystal clear blue waters. If you're looking to retreat yourself or immerse yourself in a yogic cleanse, Yoga Thailand is the island's best spot for a holistic health adventure. The retreat center offers everything your body-mind is seeking. From yoga teacher training to Ayurvedic detox programs, this retreat center will soothe your senses and restore your spirit.
Retreat yourselves at the Zazen Boutique Resort and Spa, also on Koh Samui. This place nestles itself on private beachfront property and offers all the usual Thai treats - yoga, massages, fine dining, swimming, windsurfing, hot tub-ing and even high tea.
Barbados is an intelligent, developed island in the southern Caribbean and also the most British of all of them. There's cricket, which is the island's passionate national past time. There's afternoon tea - another national favorite and fancy dinners to which one dresses to impress. And yet, with over 70 miles of pristine coastline, Barbados is still distinctly Caribbean in nature. One might call it a sort of sophisticated Caribbean island. The people are well-educated (with a 98% literacy rate) and its capital Bridgetown is cosmopolitan and many of its people well-heeled. Barbados is one unique island, and most definitely worth-seeing.
Of the four main islands, Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, is probably the most spectacularly lush island of them all. Mother Nature pulled out all the stops when she formed this one - home to the fluted cliffs of the Na Pali coast and the dramatic carvings of Waimea Canyon. Here you'll need nothing more than a bathing suit and a pair of hiking boots and your most amiable companion. The island is heaven on earth, with no string of major resorts or island nightlife - it's the perfect setting for a little rural romance in a true tropical paradise.
Kauai is Hawaii's oldest island and one of the most gorgeous places ever created by Mother Nature. If you've ever dreamed of seeing this paradise on earth, don't hesitate to make a trip here. Finding a place to stay on the island is half the fun. The Waimea Plantation Cottages, once the Waimea Sugar Mill Company Plantation, now houses 53 beautifully renovated 1930's era cottages with kitchens, grills and lanais. Hammocks and a black-sand beach make this spot one of the top places to stay. In Po'ipu, the Koa Kea Hotel and Resort offers up a boutique hotel experience that is more contemporary than Hawaiiana in its style.
Antigua is a beautiful little tropical island floating in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, just seventeen miles north of the equator. As you can imagine, warm, tropical waters and an endless string of white sand beaches make Antigua a quintessential Caribbean paradise. It's known as the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean islands with average annual rainfalls of only 45 inches. Carlisle Bay is an amazing luxury resort hotel, if you’re looking for an all-inclusive Antiguan experience. However, with all the cultural fun the island offers, you may wish to simply pop in for a massage at the spa. Antigua has amazing tropical fruit and vegetable markets where you can shop like a local and sample fresh melons or West Indian locust fruit. You'll also want to try the famous black pineapple, the national fruit of Antigua and Barbuda. It's grown on the southern part of the island and is undoubtedly one of the world’s sweetest. Fish markets also abound, where you’ll be tempted to chat up the local fisherman, letting them talk about their catch of the day. Wahoo, parrot fish, conch, and snapper are all bountiful in these waters. Try the local favorite, "fish water" a fishy stew medley served in calabash bowls made from the native calabash plant.
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