Island life can be more than sunsets and snoozing; there’s culture to be had beyond your sun lounger. Explore ancient ruins, release your inner biologist, or just go downright crazy and give into jungle fever in an island bar. While we agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it also happens to be on many on the beaches in the Pacific. We’ve collated a list of some of the most picture perfect island destinations for 2014, so you can escape the cold to find blue skies and white sand in Fiji, Chile, Thailand, just to name a few … …
1. Easter Island, Chile
Looking for somewhere remote? Check this out. It’s 2,000 miles off the Chilean Coast, and it’s only accessible from Santiago or Tahiti. If that hasn’t scared you off, you’re in for a treat. Explore the 1,500 year old volcanic rock sculptures (maoi), or climb up Rano Kau for a panoramic view of the Pacific.
2. Ko Tao, Thailand
Join in the Ko Taoism of the gulf of Thailand, Ko Tao forms part of the Chumphon archipelago and it has more than just beautiful beaches. Go all Robinson Crusoe in a trek around the coastal rainforests, frolic with the sharks and rays or take advantage of the thriving bar scene on this tiny island.
3. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
In Malay, Perhentian appropriately translates as “stopping point”. It’s appropriate, because that’s what most travellers seem to do here. Pick a palm tree, set up your hammock, and snooze under the Malaysian sun.
4. Aitutaki, Southern Cook Islands
This is a little island encased by a triangular barrier reef, boasting some crystal clear waters, and excellent snorkelling grounds. Due to its remote location, it’s still off-the-beaten-sandbar and a perfect escape from the humdrum of everyday life.
5. Galapagos Islands
A point of interest for marine biologists and tourists alike, it should come as no surprise that this untouched archipelago is one of the best islands to visit. There’s copious amounts of wildlife both on land and in the water, so you can get your Darwin on.
6. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
French Polynesia is made up of over 118 islands, but Bora Bora is still the big daddy of them all. Those huts on sea stilts in the brochures? Bora Bora. For many travellers it’s the ultimate island paradise, attracting hordes of honeymooners and celebrities year on year. The lagoon is the perfect playground for paragliding, jet skiing and kayaking.
7. Tasmania, Australia
Everyone knows about Tassie, but no one seems to visit – all the more reason to go. Still technically an island, it has beautiful bays, excellent wine and friendly locals. All the R&R of the tropics, minus the sunburn.
8. Whitsundays, Australia
If you need a tropical quick fix, a sailing trip through the Whitsundays will quench that thirst like no other. Spend a few nights aboard a sailing boat, slowly cruising through the ocean, stopping only to admire Whitehaven beach and the crystalline waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
9. Yasawa & Mamanucua Islands, Fiji
Fiji is like a chocolate box of island destinations, and we couldn’t honestly pick one for you. The Yasawa Islands are excellent for budget travellers, the Coral Coast is ripe for adventure, and the North is still relatively untouched if you’re truly wishing for the Castaway experience – funny enough, this is where Castaway was filmed. WILSOOOOON.
10. Gili Islands, Indonesia
You can find Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan off the coast of Lombok. Together, these create the Gilian are an awesome choice for budget travellers wanting a taste of island life. Trawangan hosts the occasional Full Moon Party, whereas Air and Menos are more likely to serve you snorkels than shots.