Part of what makes a vacation so great is choosing the right spot to spend your time. Knowing whether you’re looking for a major metro or a place with more relaxing vibes will help set the tone for your trip and make it easy to put together the ultimate itinerary. Since we love off-the-beaten-path destinations and uncovering local gems, we rounded up seven amazing islands that are still *mostly* under the radar. Keep reading, and then round up your best traveling companions. Adventure in unspoiled paradise awaits!
1. Martinique, Caribbean: Not far from its well-known neighbor, St. Lucia, Martinique is a Caribbean destination that offers the ultimate mix of activities, which range from shopping and sightseeing to fitness-based adventures like mountain biking or hiking. The island, which is part of France’s overseas region, has a unique vibe that beautifully blends French and West Indian influences with its narrow streets and a gorgeous seaside garden (La Savane) surrounded by cafes and shops. People also rave about the pristine white sand and luxe accommodations — so if you’ve been looking for a place to splurge or are planning your honeymoon, this could be a perfect pick.
2. Skopelos, Greece: We’d be surprised if you’ve heard of Skopelos, but you might’ve seen it before — Mamma Mia was filmed here. The little-known Greek island is a dreamy backdrop full of forests, orchards, and quiet beaches, all of which will make your jaw drop as the sight of them unfolds when your ferry approaches. Good food and Greek culture round out what sets this place apart. With three main ports, Skopelos is pretty accessible too; start your journey in Athens to get a history lesson before heading out for the ultra-relaxing portion of your Mediterranean getaway.
3. Flatey, Iceland: While most people flock to dip in the bright blue hot springs, photograph the colored houses in the capital, or see glaciers and Icelandic ponies IRL, you can branch out with a ferry trip to Flatey, a super-tranquil and mostly isolated island off Iceland’s northwestern shores. The largest island in a cluster of nearly 40, Flatey has just one road, a few brightly colored homes, and many migratory birds. Note that if you’d like to spend the night there’s also just one hotel open during the summer season; we’ve heard it has a charming, hometown feeling that makes it really special.
4. Pico, Portugal: Often called the Black Island or Ilha Preta for its impressive volcanic appearance (you’ll love looking at Ponta do Pico, the highest mountain in Portugal), this cool spot has historical, UNESCO-designated vineyards that helped aid its development. Though still relatively unknown compared to other cities, Pico is a great pick if you’re looking for an outdoorsy island adventure, with tons of walking, hiking, and bike trails, as well as horse or donkey rides. When the day is done, kick back to enjoy some local wine while watching a colorful sunset from a sailboat.
5. Ponza, Italy: This small island is considerably close to famous places like Ischia and Capri but far less known to tourists. Off the coast near Latina and just a few hours from both Naples and Rome, Ponza offers some of Italy’s most adored experiences without the foreign crowds and spiked prices. Enjoy your authentic Italian getaway like a local by swimming in warm, crystal-clear waters, sunbathing on umbrella-lined beaches, and treating yourself to an afternoon gelato between boat rides and long walks along the shore. La bella vita indeed!
6. Aran Islands, Ireland: We recently learned that glamping is a thing in Ireland too. To do it “Wild Atlantic style,” plan a trip to the Aran Islands, off the nation’s western coast. Inis Mór (Inishmore), the biggest island, boasts a center for glamping right on the mouth of the Galway Bay at Frenchman’s Beach. Known for its rugged landscape and cultural heritage, it’s a super-unique place to experience Ireland away from popular spots like Dublin, Galway, or Shannon. You’ll be able to scope medieval ruins and the “worm hole” (a rectangular natural pool) while perched atop your quiet cliff by the ocean.
7. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia: Remarkably, there’s no motorized traffic allowed on this zen-calm Indonesian island. Said to be something like Bali was before it blew up in popularity, Gili Trawangan still isn’t your typical tropical escape. You’ll find casual cool bars, delicious restaurants, and bohemian vibes. While the west coast has been developed more in recent years, you’ll find quiet on the super-tranquil north side of the island. Head inland to get a sense of local life — you’ll see children playing games like hopscotch, wild chicken crossing the streets, and bustling horse carts and bikes. Basically, there’s something here for *every* type of traveler.
(Photos via Getty)