island-escape

A desert island 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.

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Martinique, Caribbean

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.

Anafi, Greece

With a population of just 271, there’s no chance of bumping into the 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.

Ko Kood, Thailand

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.

Ischia, Italy

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 therapy.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

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 below.

Flores Island, Portugal

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.

Bonin Islands, Japan

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.

Isla Saboga, Panama

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.

Discover More:

Five Island Retreats Getting Conversation Right

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