When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford to go away overseas. Clearly we couldn’t afford a hotel either because for us, camping was the holiday of choice.
There’s nothing like bunkering down with only a thin film of fabric between you and the Great British summer – it’s a harrowing thought. For that reason, the attraction of glamorous, far away retreats in distant parts of the world are even more attractive to me.
As for Mrs Romance, it’s in her blood. Her family lived in Fiji for the first couple of years of her life. The rule there is if you’ve lived in Fiji for more than half your life, you are a Fijian citizen. Mrs R went there when she was a few months old and returned not only a few years older but also a fully fledged Fijian warrior princess!
Now we live on the world’s only island continent, though to think of Australia as an island is a bit like thinking the rest of the world is an archipelago.
We’re lucky that we’ve been to a lot of incredible places in the world, not just islands. But we thought we’d give you a quick run-down of our best island holidays.
#1 Aitutaki & Rarutonga, Cook Islands
This is without a doubt my favourite place. I could write forever about the Cook Islands. No one is friendlier than the Cook Islanders and no wonder when you live somewhere like that.
The main island, Rarotonga, is small enough to ride around on a scooter in about 45 minutes but it’s still big enough to house excellent hotels, remarkable beaches and some great places to eat.
Aitutaki is an atoll about 30 minutes north of Rarotonga and it’s a paradise on earth. The blue of the water, the white of the sand the smiles of the locals… you can see why I love this part of the world.
We also got engaged here.
#2 Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
We visited this little island in the Andaman Sea on our way to a friend’s wedding in Phuket. Amidst the weird towering rock islands that are peculiar to this part of the Thai coastline, Koh Yao Noi is the perfect excuse to do as little as you want in a paradise setting. The most energetic thing we did was a spot of kayaking, but that’s another story.
It’s a little way from Koh Yao but if you’re ever in Bangkok, you’ve got to check these bars out.
We went to Iceland in the middle of winter, so the place really lived up to its name. It’s a remarkable country, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. Barren ice fields, enormous roaring waterfalls, majestic glaciers, volatile geysers and of course volcanoes.
It’s also a great place to see the aurora borealis – the Northern lights… when it’s not cloudy. 🙁
#4 Efate & Tanna, Vanuatu
Vanuatu has a fascinating history of French and British colonial rule, so there are weird influences everywhere. The string of islands stretches for over 1750km (1090 miles) through the Pacific Ocean. Its volcanic heritage gives Vanuatu an impressive landscape.
Efate – the capital island – sports a magnificent waterfall while Mount Yassur on Tanna Island is the world’s most accessible active volcano.
The people – the Ni-Vanu – are incredibly friendly, even though it seems everyone lugs around huge machetes all the time. Don’t worry though, they’re more for opening fruit than heads.
If you want more information about Port Vila on Efate Island, click here. If you want to know more about Manna Island and its volcano, click here. And if you want some fun facts and beautiful pics of Vanuatu, click here.
#5 Zakynthos, Greece
There are so many islands in Greece it’s almost impossible to choose which one to go to. Our friends chose this place for their destination wedding, so we felt we had to attend!
Zakynthos is everything you’d expect of a Greek harbour town. The hustle and bustle, the boats full of craggy old fishermen, the tavernas to sit and relax. The island’s most famous landmark is the ship wreck where, in 1989, smugglers foundered on Navagio Beach on the southwest shore.
Here’s a more in-depth article about Zakynthos.
The idea for this post came from looking at Trip Advisor’s top islands newsletter – here’s the link: www.tripadvisor.com.au
While I’ve only been to Aitutaki, I couldn’t agree more. It is SO beautiful! If I could take my dog & it had better internet access I’d be living there!
Iceland is on my list of places I dream of visiting & most people look at me as if I’m crazy when I mention it!
Aitutaki is an incredible, isn’t it, Natalie? Would really like to explore some of the other islands in the Cooks. I’m glad you said you want to visit Iceland. Don’t worry what other people think – it’s a brilliant place – and quite a bit cheaper than when we were there. Hope you can get there some day!
mum & dad
We didn’t take you to any islands when you were very young because of your strange fascination for running headlong into the sea! Haha xx
Hi Mum, hi Dad! Thanks for reminding me about that! You know, I’ve learnt from that first moment in the sea. Now it takes me ages to work up the courage to go in for a dip! Especially when the water’s cold!
We didn’t have enough time to squeeze Zakynthos into our last visit to Greece because we really wanted to do Mykonos, Paros and Santorini (all of which are wonderful). The Ionian Islands are very underrated! Thailand is also such a wonderful place, I absolutely love Krabi. If you’re into Southeast Asian islands, check out Indonesia. Plenty of underrated places in the archipelago.
Ah yes, Mykonos and Santorini really have a reputation for their beauty, Andrew. Haven’t heard of Paros though. Will have to check it out. Zakynthos is an interesting one as most of the architecture there is very new. The island was all but demolished by an earthquake some years ago. Very sad. Still, it has that classic Greek feel to it you just can’t replicate.
Yes, we’d love to explore more of Indonesia. It’s funny, these places are right on our doorstep living in Australia but I don’t think many people get there. Definitely on the list though.
Cheers – Jim