Little Gems Around The World

An island escape appeals to the romantic in us all – luckily there are plenty of wonderful islands which are still relatively unknown

Travelling to an island is a type of vacation that appeals to both people looking for an adventurous break and to those seeking some relaxing time off.

Islands are, most of the time, heavenly locations where travellers who enjoy sightseeing, doing sport, photographing or simply relaxing will be in their element.

Maldives, Bora Bora, Seychelles, Santorini or Bali are among the more well-known islands to tourists, but there are some gems around the world too few people are aware of. These are amazing destinations for travellers who want to explore uncommon parts of the globe, immersing themselves in the bountiful, colourful nature and getting in touch with unique flora and fauna.

With that in mind, CALIBRE has put together a list of islands you could think of visiting on your next break.

1. TSARABANJINA ISLAND – Madagascar

This little gem, one of the world’s best-kept secrets, located off the northwest coast of Madagascar in the Mitsio archipelago, is the perfect location for a luxurious and relaxing holiday.

It is a volcanic island with white sandy beaches, coral and untouched marine life, particularly renowned for its diving. Nature walks, guided snorkelling and private cruises are among the best activities to do on the island.

Tsarabanjina received some fame when the BBC Reality TV programme Girl Friday featured Joanna Lumley spending 10 days on the island; since then, the location has been taken over by a luxury hotel.

The island is also considered a sacred place, that is to say, it is the burial site to the Sakalava Kings. The Sakalava are one of the smaller ethnic groups of Madagascar and their name means, ‘people of the long valleys’.

Average cost: £400 – £900 per person per night

2. SONG SAA – Cambodia

Song Saa is a private island in the Koh Rong archipelago, in Cambodia. There is nothing to disturb the peace of the place other than the natural sounds of waves and of the local fauna.

Meals can be served overlooking the ocean, even on the beach, therefore this is a great place for romantic travellers, in particular, for couples looking to reignite their spark.

“There is nothing to disturb the peace of the place other than the natural sounds of waves and of the local fauna”

Kayaking, water-skiing and scuba diving are among the outdoor activities travellers love to do at Song Saa. Cooking classes prove very popular as well.

Also, since Cambodia sits close to the equator, the sun rises early and sets around 6pm. For this reason, Song Saa has established its own time zone, which it refers to as an ‘island time’.

Average cost: £600 – £1,700 per person per night

3. PERHENTIAN ISLANDS – Malaysia

The Malay word ‘Perhentian‘ can be translated as ‘stopping point’. The Perhentian Islands in Malaysia are composed of two islands: Perhentian Kecil (small) and Perhentian Besar (big).

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The laid-back atmosphere and the natural beauty of Perhentian Islands make it one of the best spots for tourists to relax and release the stresses of everyday life. Easily reachable from the east coast of Malaysia, the islands are still relatively untouched.

Average cost: £35 – £55 per person per night

4. CAPRI – Italy

Among the best destinations if you want to combine your passion for sightseeing and your desire to relax with in front of beautiful scenery, Capri is located in Italy’s Bay of Naples, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

With its picturesque landscapes and its striking blue sea, it can be both a romantic and a cultured destination. Capri is also well-known for its history: Villa Jovis was the former palace for Emperor Tiberius…and you can still visit it!

“It can be both a romantic and an cultured destination”

Other natural beauties are The Blue Grotto, a sea cave illuminated by the clear sunlight passing through the seawater, Mount Solaro, the highest point of Capri, Faraglioni, a coastal and oceanic rock formation eroded by waves and the botanical gardens of Augustus.

Average cost: £100 – £200 per person per night

5. BORNEO – Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia

With its rainforest, which combines a great variety of flora and fauna, Borneo is a great destination for travellers looking to get in touch with nature.

Its tropical climate and incredible biodiversity feature many unique species, such as elephants, rhinos, proboscis monkey, sun bear and clouded leopard.

Borneo also offers great opportunities for sports such as scuba diving, caving, fishing and diving.

Nature and wildlife tours lasting up to a day can be arranged at hotels: visitors can spot orangutans and unique birds, walk in the rainforest and get an idea of the local culture.

Mount Kinabalu, Sipadan Island and Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary are among the most sought-after destinations.

Average cost: £60 per person per night

6. KEFALLINIA – Greece

Kefallinia is the largest island in the Ionian Sea. Even though it has some modern and urban areas, it still remains a natural paradise for travellers.

Its allure comes from its cave system which starts above ground and descends until it meets the water. Visitors can take boat tours to visit the caves.

From mountainous villages to Byzantine monasteries to amazing beaches, Kefallinia has it all. It is a great destination both for outdoor sports and for exploring the natural environment.

Its capital, Argostoli, offers visitors some beautiful sceneries, in particular, its mountains, white beaches and dizzy cliffs.

Average cost: £60 per person per night

7. ISLE OF SKYE – Scotland

The Isle of Skye is famous for its scenery and landscapes. It has a rich history covering topics as diverse as dinosaur fossils and the Jacobite Rebellion. It is also a great destination for wildlife watching: otters, seals, red deer, whales and dolphins are among the most impressive creatures visitors can spot.

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“Otters, seals, red deer, whales and dolphins are among the most impressive creatures visitors can spot”

Skye is also a great location for walkers and climbers, thanks to some of its high peaks.

From swimming in the Fairy Pools, to walking up to the Old Man of Storr, the Isle of Skye offers plenty of activities for its visitors.

Average cost: £100 per person per night

8. NAVARINO ISLAND – Chile

Navarino Island belongs to the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. The island’s typical landscape is made up of mountains, lakes, forests and waterfalls. Navarino has approximately 3,000 inhabitants that live in several villages.

In terms of archaeology and history, this is a great destination. In terms of nature, the island presents unexploited natural resources, due to its difficult accesses and extreme weather.

The island is north of Cape Horn and it is the place where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Navarino Island competes with the Argentinean city of Ushuaia for the title of ‘the world’s end’.

Average cost: £100 – £150 per person per night

9. MARETTIMO – Italy

Marettimo is part of the Egadi Islands off Sicily’s western coast: it can be reached by ferries from Trapani. The island lies within a marine nature reserve and is the perfect location for walkers, divers, swimmers and for travellers looking for a quiet holiday, close to nature.

“Marettimo is the perfect balance between a relaxing and historical island”

Marettimo is the perfect balance between a relaxing and historical island, therefore, attracting all sorts of visitors. Grotta del Tuono and Grotta del Cammello are two renowned caves visitors like to explore.

For diving lovers, Marettimo Diving Center organises outdoor and water sports activities.

The English author Samuel Butler and the poet Robert Graves believed Marettimo was Ithaca, the island home of Odysseus.

Average cost: £100 – £200 per person per night

10. CORSICA – France

Corsica is well-known for its outdoors activities. Here you can practice every kind of open air activity from mountain climbing to sailing to walking and deep sea diving.

The island’s rich history makes it very intriguing. Napoleon was born in 1769 in the Corsican capital of Ajaccio. His hereditary home is now used as a museum.

“The island’s rich history makes it very intriguing”

Thalassotherapy, balneotherapy and hydrotherapy are among the best activities to relax and remove the daily stress: these spa treatments employ water to sooth any ailments and their benefits are recognised all over the world.

Average cost: £100 per person per night

If this list has made you think about organising your next holiday soon, let us know in the comments where you would go.

Chiara Fiorillo