Everyone is familiar with the exotic islands of Bora Bora, Mykonos or Bali. However, if you are looking for some lesser known islands to unplug and slow down, here are five gorgeous islands to get your Zen on.
San Juan Islands, WA
The archipelago, San Juan Islands, is tucked between the state of Washington in the United States and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The island chain comprises of 172 named islands and reefs. The Washington Ferry system services four of the Islands; San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Shaw Island and Lopez Island. Most of the San Juan Islands are hilly, and hikers like to make their way to Mount Constitution, the tallest peak on Orcas Island (elevation of .5 of a mile). A mix of sandy and rocky beaches make up the coastline. The Islands experience less rainfall than Seattle (about 65 miles south). If you are looking to escape the summertime heat, temperatures peak around 70 °F (21 °C).
Why do you want to go there? For a start, the Islands are spectacular. Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, hosts artisans, art galleries, bookstores, and antique shops. Explore the alpaca ranch, lavender farm, and vineyards. Visit the Whale Museum or the lighthouses. The San Juan Islands are a popular Pacific Northwest tourist destination for sea kayakers and whale watchers. Its landscape is simply breathtaking, making it a perfect place to find your inner zen. Visit the San Juan Islands
Harris is the southern mountainous part of Lewis and Harris, the largest island of the archipelago Hebrides, Scotland. Although not actually an island itself, Harris is often referred to as the Isle of Harris. The west coast of Harris is the home of the most scenic beaches in Britain, specifically Luskentyre and Scarista. Harris has a rich history including the 16th-century St. Clement’s Church in the village of Rodel, famous for its three carved tombs. East Harris boasts of miniature fjords. The Bays are dotted with small sleepy villages. By the way, Harris is also the original home luxury handwoven cloth, Harris Tweed. Summer temperatures hover around 65-70°F (18-21°C).
Why do you want to go there? Go for the sugar white sandy beaches and the surfing. Explore the nearby volcanic islands of St. Kilda and discover the medieval ruins of a village. The Harris Outdoor Adventure Centre offers win karting, sailing, mountain biking, and kayaking excursions. The Island of Harris is a serene place to reconnect with nature. Visit the Isle of Harris, Scotland
Isla Bastimentos, Paan
If you are looking for someplace warmer, explore paradise in Panama. Isla Bastimentos is one of Panama’s larger islands at about 24 square miles (62 square kilometers). Bastimentos which means “provisions” was the landing place for Christopher Columbus in 1502. Enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the Caribbean. The average yearly temperature is in the 80s°F (26°C). Late December through April is the most ideal to visit as it has less precipitation.
Why do you want to go there? Take the Canopy Zipline Tour on the island at the Red Frog Beach Resort or explore the underground cave tour at Salt Creek. Soak up the sun on one of the five sandy beaches or snorkel along the coral reef. Take a boat ride to the Isla Bastimentos Marine Park and hike through the lush rainforest. You just might spot a howler monkey, caiman or poison-dart frog. Long Beach provides a nesting ground for the Leatherback sea turtles to lay eggs. If you want to get away from it all, Isla Bastimentos, Panama, just might be for you. Visit Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Koh Lipe, Thailand
If you have always wanted to see Thailand, check out the exotic tropical paradise island of Koh Lipe (Paper Island) in the South Andaman Sea. Koh Lipe is a part of the Adang-Rawi Archipelago. The island natives, Urak Lawoi, have a rich history as Chao Ley (sea gypsies). Koh Lipe is a favorite among underwater adventurers. Temperatures don’t vary much on the island and tend to hover around the lower 90s°F (32°C) all year round.
Why do you want to go there? Enjoy the warm waters and the white sands of three main beaches. Take a boat trip or go snorkeling and diving in the coral reefs. Hike up Koh Adang to catch a view of the teal waters and the Tarutao National Marine Park. You can also take a day trip to one of the nine uninhabited islands in the Adang-Rawi. There are plenty of restaurants with delicious international cuisine to satiate your appetite after a long day of basking in the sun. For romantic accommodations stay in one of the four-star resorts or at one of the bamboo and thatch bungalows. Visit Koh Lipe, Thailand.
Located in the Central Visayas, Cebu is a province of the Philippines. One of 7,106 islands, Cebu is one of the Philipines’s best-kept secrets. Lush vegetation flanks the mountainous island spine. Check out the nearby “Chocolate Hills” of Bohol. It’s made up of 15,000+ symmetrical geological wonders. Climb to the top of Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete for incredible vistas. The optimum time to visit Cebu is from May to October, where the temperatures are generally 78-90°F (25-32°C).
Why do you want to go there? You can go rock climbing, cliff jumping, scuba diving, swimming with whale sharks, or simply meditate on the dazzling white beaches. Hike to Kawasan Falls and the other spectacular island waterfalls. If you are feeling peckish, try the decadent coconut pies, juicy mangos, and delectable fresh seafood. Visit Cebu, Philippines.
You’d be surprised at how many of the lesser-known travel destinations are every bit as inviting and magical (or more) as the famous tourist traps. Don’t be afraid to find your inner zen at one of these picturesque destinations.
Where is one of the more lesser-known places you love to get away to?