“I’ve got to fly to Saint Somewhere” – Jimmy Buffett
What does the word island bring to mind? Warm sands, turquoise waters or fresh local seafood? Islands can be vast or tiny. Whatever you imagine, it’s often an escape from the normal routine. In today’s digitally-connected world, a place to just go and sit is a welcome respite.
Having traveled for five decades across seven continents, and soon to be on my sixth passport, I’ve visited my fair share of islands. Here’s my short list of favorites:
5. Deception Island, Antarctica: Not the typical tropical paradise, this far-flung spot along the Antarctic Peninsula was a well-kept secret for decades. Its unique ring shape, formed by the top of an extinct volcano caldera, adds to the mystique of this hauntingly beautiful place. Practically invisible from all angles, a narrow inlet opens into a well-protected bay, where small ships can enter to anchor and explore. Penguins and seals can be spotted, along with skeletal remains from the whaling industry.
4. Tortola, British Virgin Islands: The Caribbean Sea is full of fine islands, but this former pirate haunt is special to me. Watercolor scenes of pretty little Jost Van Dyke and Cane Garden Bay paint picturesque images that stay branded in your mind’s eye. Isolated beaches on the north shore can be explored by hiring a car for the day. On one memorable evening, a waitress explained that her husband had just returned from a Gulf Stream fishing trip with 136 fresh spiny lobsters. We ordered that and were hooked.
3. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA: A unique coastal resort developed in an environmentally-friendly style. Even a McDonald’s here is special, as the signage blends into the natural wooded background. The wide, sandy beach is gorgeous and safe for swimming. Biking and jogging on the shady paved trails that wind all over the island make for fun for all ages. Golf courses are world-class. Plenty of great restaurant and accommodation options abound, including off-season rental deals that are surprisingly affordable. We especially enjoy catching blue crabs at South Beach.
2. Praslin, Seychelles: Site of our second honeymoon, this Indian Ocean paradise is popular among Europeans, though not as well-known to Americans. Giant tortoises, sea turtles and tropical reef fish are common. Enjoy learning about the unique coco de mer, the world’s largest coconut, weighing up to 30 kilograms! On Praslin are some of the world’s most beautiful beaches; my favorites are St. Georgette and St. Lazio. Daily boat trips to enjoy the surrounding underwater scenery are fun, but you can also snorkel right from the shore in many spots.
1. Maui, Hawaii: Yes, it’s official. We love Maui. Everything about it. While expensive and a long way from anywhere, Hawaii is one of those rare places that not only lives up to the hype, but actually exceeds it. Maui is so special we chose to get married there. The food is fabulous – try everything from Maui onions to local steaks! Snorkeling and scuba diving are fun, along with watching humpback whales splashing about in the warm winter season. Aloha!
What are YOUR favorite islands?