with powder-white sands and shimmering azure waters is the classic
daydream cliché. Pondering what essentials you’d take with you may
be followed by rescue mission fantasies starring Tom Hardy. But why
should this only exist in make-believe land? We’ve combed the earth
to find little-known pockets of paradise with just enough domestic
amenities that you don’t have to start spearing your own fish in
order to survive. Unfortunately, we can’t promise Tom will turn up
– but your neighbour/boss/ex probably won’t either.
A mix of French and
Caribbean cultures defines Martinique’s cosmopolitan capital of
Fort-de-France – but we’re headed to the south of the island, where
you’ll find Grande Terre des Salines. This largely untouched
stretch of coastline is covered with rainforest vegetation and
icing-sugar beaches. Pick up a bottle of rhum agricole, the local
liquor, and reset your body clock to island time as you listen to
the gentle lapping of waves.
With a population of just 271, there’s no chance of bumping into
Mykonos party crowd on this minute isle in the Cyclades.
Instead, swap bottle popping and bass-line beats for donkey carts,
white-washed houses and virginal beaches. Gorge on fresh fish and
local honey at dune-covered Roukounas beach or sunbathe on golden
Flamourou. If you tire of your own company, Santorini
is just a 90-minute sail away – but you’ll be back as soon as you
realise you’ve swapped solitude for smug couples.
Only recently accessible to tourists, Ko Kood has yet to be
covered in UV paint and cocktail buckets, instead topping the list
as one of our favourite
Thai islands thanks to regional cuisine and limited phone
signal. For those who struggle to erect a tent, Soneva Kiri offers 36 luxurious
pool villas, as well as treetop dining for two, meaning it’s never
been easier to escape other guests.
Away from the crowds of the Amalfi Coast lies this volcanic
landmass in the Gulf of Naples. Covered with mineral-rich thermal
waters and natural spas, spend days soaking in the hot
springs at Terme Cavascura or hit up the rocky beaches of
Sorgeto. It’s free and open to the public, so slot yourself between
the rocks and lather up in grey volcanic mud for some DIY beauty
Fernando de Noronha
After Darwin’s expedition here in 1832, this verdant islet
became known as a mecca for ecologists. Today 70% is protected,
while the other 30% remains a sort of domesticated wilderness.
Praia do Sancho is the ideal tropical beach with not a bar or
deckchair in sight – which is probably why Naomi Campbell chooses
to chill out here following São Paulo fashion week. To reach it,
descend a rickety ladder down a deep cliff face – precarious, but
worth it for the creamy sands and playful dolphins that await
Cascading waterfalls and black-sand beaches make up Flores
Island in the Azores
archipelago, where rare birds and volcanic lakes create a
playground for nature lovers. Book into self-catering Casa da Cascata, where
accommodations cling to the side of waterfalls, overlook the
Atlantic Ocean or nestle deep in the trees. On the south side of
the island you’ll find Por do Sol, which serves local delicacies
including octopus stew, algae burgers and raw limpets – the
ultimate desert island diet.
Japan’s answer to the Galápagos
are also known as the Ogasawara Islands, reachable via a 24-hour
ferry ride from Tokyo,
which departs just once a week. You’ll be met by albatrosses
circling the Minami-jima Lagoon, while sandy beaches at Kominato
are backed by dramatic limestone rock formations. When you tire of
marvelling at the scenery, head to bento-box restaurant Gorosuke
for a mean papaya curry.
Translating to mean “enchanted bay”, sling your hammock between
swaying palms and get ready to bask in the simple life somewhere in
the Gulf of Panama. There are no resorts or restaurants here, so
food orders are shouted through kitchen hatches and what you
receive never quite matches you asked for – and all the better for
it. There is a sort of beach club that is “sometimes open”, but
make family-run B&B El Remanso your base.