Almost everyone knows about the islands of Capri and Santorini. Along with destinations like Tahiti and Hawaii, they are some of the most famous island getaways for the summer. But if you want to travel to a similarly idyllic place with fewer crowds, pack your bags and head to these amazing lesser-known islands this summer. From lush green isles to intimate islets, here’s our pick of the world’s best-hidden gems.
1. Koh Tapu-Nail Island, Thailand
Popularly known as James Bond Island, Koh Tapu-Nail rises dramatically from the emerald waters of Phang Nga Bay. It appeared in two James Bond films – The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – and is close to the popular resort areas of Phuket, Khao Lak, and Krabi.
2. Yaeyama Islands, Japan
Located in the far south of the Japanese archipelago, the white sands of the Yaeyama Islands look like they’ve been lifted straight out of the Caribbean. Its bright blue waters are also home to coral reefs, turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, and many dolphins.
3. Martinique, Caribbean
Dominated by the 4583 ft Mount Pelee, Martinique is often called the Caribbean’s best-kept secret. Full of unusual sights, like a trail of suspension bridges or 18th-century theater ruins, Martinique is both the rum capital of the world and the Isle of Flowers.
4. Palawan, Philippines
Dubbed “the last frontier” of the Philippines, Palawan has some of the best views in the country. Majestic limestone formations, empty lagoons, prehistoric caves, and waterfalls cover the coastal regions.
5. Vis, Croatia
While most visitors flock to the Croatian island Hvar, the nearby Vis remains blissfully empty and unspoiled. Once a naval base, Vis is now full of peaceful coves, stone cottages, and authentic seafood eateries.
6. Paxos, Greece
With its sheer cliffs, rock arches, and sea caves, Paxos is absolutely stunning. It distills everything stereotypically Greek, from olive groves to stone villas, and bottles it on a tiny Ionian island. Visit the nearby Antipaxos for sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
7. Cocos Keeling, Australia
This remote destination is made up of 27 coral islands that form two atolls in the Indian Ocean. Without any high-end resorts, big restaurants, or large crowds, you can truly enjoy the unspoiled paradise that is Cocos Keeling.
8. The Isles of Scilly, UK
Located off the coast of Cornwall, this almost tropical archipelago is heated by the gulf stream. While the largest island is St Mary’s, perhaps the most popular is Tresco Island, an oasis of palm trees and exotic plants.
9. The Azores, Portugal
These nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean is home to dramatic landscapes, fishing villages, enclosed vineyards and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas. It is a must-see for fans of adventure sports.
10. Ulleungdo, South Korea
Off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, Ulleungdo is known for its peaceful seas, lush mountain scenery, and breathtaking sunsets. The major fishery of the eastern coast, it also boasts some delicious seafood.
11. Havelock Island, India
This picturesque natural paradise is home to sandy beaches, rich coral reefs, and lush green forests. One of the few inhabited islands in Ritchie’s Archipelago of the Andaman Islands, the pace of life here is slow and relaxed.