Top 10 AMAZING ISLANDS You WON'T BELIEVE Exist
Thinking of planning an island getaway in the future? Your sites may be set on some staple tourist island where the alcohol is overpriced and the resort subdues the nearby culture with luxurious accommodations, but you’d be missing out on some real treasures. Instead, try vacationing on one of these 10 islands that you’ve likely never heard of!
Fakarava Island, French Polynesia
We’ve all heard that Tahiti is a great place to visit, but as so many people know about this large island in the French Polynesia, it may be best to sneak off to somewhere a little less known – such as Fakarava Island. Part of the Tuamota atoll, Fakarava offers plenty of history and an environment that can only be described as serene. Some 700 residents call the villages of Rotoava and Tetamanu home, while the rest of the island acts as a sort of ecological preserve for rare birds. Dive sites spread along the coast present an opportunity to catch a glimpse of unique crustaceans. To preserve the beauty of Fakarava’s natural habitat, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization deemed it a Biosphere Reserve.
Traveling to Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia is a lot like entering a completely different time. The island itself is actually believed to be made up of four smaller islands separated by small straits of water but connected by a common coral reef. The indigenous society on Yap uses a caste system made up of 7 tiers and the people of the State of Yap use stone money, or Rai, as their common courtesy. It’s a unique world that seems to have little influences from the outside world and may even be considered a little lost in time. Visitors to Yap island can partake in snorkeling and diving in the beautiful reefs surrounding the island to get close to manta rays. Despite the simpler life that the people of Yap live, accommodations are available for all sorts of travelers, even those that enjoy the finer things in life.
It may be the smallest island in Honduras Bay, but Utila has plenty to offer those that venture off to it. An 18 mile or 29 kilometer journey from the Honduras mainland brings tourists to the near 7 mile or 11 kilometer long, 2 mile or 4 kilometer wide tropical paradise of Utila. Once the home of the Paya as far back as 600 AD, Utila was involved in a sordid history of slavery and piracy. In 1671, Captain Morgan raided Panama, and it is believed some of his lost treasures sits at the bottom of the waters surrounding Utila, making it a popular diving location. Utila is home to more than 80 diving sites where experienced divers can get up close and personal with local marine life, including the docile whale shark. One popular dive site is the wreck of the Halliburton, an inter-island transport which was intentionally sunk in 1998 to create an artificial reef for dive training.
Mou Waho, New Zealand
In Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, curious travelers will find Mou Waho Island, one of two large islands that can be found in the lake. Mou Waho is a bird watchers dream, as the island has been prepped specifically to house endangered avian, with pests like rats and possum removed entirely to allow for the flourishing of these endangered species. Insect lovers will thoroughly enjoy the weta houses, built by a local high school to protect the insects from their abundant avian predators. Besides the “Weta Motels”, Mou Waho is free of human engineering, so don’t expect to find a Starbucks. The highest peak, Tyrwhitt Peak, stands at 1,552 feet or 473 meters and gives an unobstructed view of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountain ranges. A picturesque view, if ever there was one.
If you’re ever looking to get lost in forestry that is over 2,000 years old, you will want to add Yakushima Island to your list of getaways. The island, which is approximately 194 square miles or 504 square kilometers, houses around 13,000 people – a considerably low number considering the 1960 headcount of 24,000 – but it’s likely not the locals that you’re going to want to spend your time getting to know. Yakushima is home to a beautiful, ancient natural display. While much of the flora and fauna succumbed to logging that ended in the 1960s at the behest of a desire for conservation, a portion of the primitive forest remains standing – and it’s likely to be one of the most beautiful natural exhibits you’ll experience. Within the original forest is said to be a cedar that may be anywhere from 2,000 to 7,000 years old.
Lamu Island, Kenya
Lamu Island is home to Lamu, Kenya’s oldest town which was believed to be settled in 1370. The island itself may seem a little forgotten by time.; dirt roads connect any of the four settlements found on the island and trade and travel are done on foot, by boat, or via donkeys. Along with the town of Lamu, Lamu Island is also home to the villages of Shela, Matondoni, and Kipungani, all of which reside at different parts of the island’s coastline. Travelers will get to sink their teeth into Lamu’s rich history via the Lamu museum in between sinking their toes into the white sand of Shela Beach. Though the island is rustic, it is not without resorts and hotels to attract outside tourism.
Magdalen Islands, Quebec
This archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence makes up a generally unknown aspect of the great Canadian province of Quebec. The Magdalen Islands are made up of Havre-Aubert, Grande Entrée, Cap aux Meules, Grosse-lie, Havre aux Maisons, Pointe-Aux-Loups and Brion islands, and had once been used by the Mi’kmaqs as part of yearly harvest of walrus. Seven of the 8 islands are inhabited, and though Brion is currently without residence. The remaining islands are a tourists dream, complete with tourist shops that stock replica molasses barrels to commemorate the winter of 1910. Then-residents of the island lost communication with the mainland after a telegraph cable broke. To request help, letters were sealed up in molasses barrel and set adrift for the shore of Cape Breton Island. With the cries for help received, a wireless telegraph system was installed within years to allow for uninterrupted communication during the harsh winters.
The North American state of Hawaii is composed of numerous islands, some more notable than others. Among the lesser known islands of Hawaii is Moloka’I, or the “Friendly Island.” Of Hawaii’s islands, Moloka’I is the fifth largest, coming in at around 380 square miles or 984 square kilometers, though only 260 square miles or 670 square kilometers is considered usable. Created through the persistence of three volcanic masses, Kamakou, Maunaloa and Kauhako, that broke through the Pacific Ocean over 1.5 million years ago, Moloka’i is thought to have been inhabited around 650 AD by settlers from the Marquesas Islands. Today, it is home to an estimated 8,000 people and houses no building taller than the palm trees. It is an ideal tropical getaway, showcasing the best of the Hawaiian islands with a comfortable temperature that teeters between 60° and 80° F or 15° to 26° C all year-round.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
To step foot on Mackinac Island, you’d think you’d have stolen Marty McFly’s DeLorean and zapped yourself back to somwhere in the 1850’s. Set in the middle of the lake is an island filled with history that dates back to around 900 AD, during which time it was settled by Native Americans. It was the site of two battles during the War of 1812, between the Americans and British, in which the British were successful capturing and defending the island, until the Treaty of Ghent of 1815 forced the British to return the island and surrounding mainland to the United States. Today, the island stands as a peaceful resort area and population of approximately 490 people who choose to live there all year. Stop in one of the local shops to pick up a slab or two of your favorite flavors of Mackinac Island Fudge, rent out a colonial-style hotel room at the Grand Hotel, or check out the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House, where 50-60 species make up some 800 individual free-flying butterflies in this 1,800 square feet or 167 square meter exhibit. On Mackinac Island, you can breathe easy, since there are no motorized vehicles here, nor hasn’t there been since 1898, when the townspeople banded together and made it law that no personal vehicles are allowed. So if you want to put Mackinac Island on your bucketlist, remember to get your walking shoes on, dust off your Schwinn, or get over your fear of horseback riding.
Kodiak Island, Alaska
It may get a bad rap here and there due to harsh weathers and isolated villages and towns, but there is plenty of beauty to be had in Alaska, especially on Kodiak Island. Separated from the Alaskan mainland by the Shelikof Strait, Kodiak Island is the second largest island in the United States, sporting an area of 3,595 square miles or 9,311 square kilometers. Home to the small town of Kodiak, Kodiak Island once belonged to the Sugpiaq, an Alutiiq nation of Alaskan Natives. Today, visitors to Kodiak Island will find an expanse of green vegetation and the majestic Kodiak brown bears that can be observed. Whale watching and fishing are among the many activities for visitors, but 6 tiny villages with populations ranging from 87 to 224 beg to be explored. Despite the many tragedies that struck, from the eruption of Mt. Novarupta in 1912 to the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, Kodiak remains a beautiful sight to behold.