I’ve visited all the islands that I’m going to mention here and they’re all included for different reasons, but they are all, in my opinion, islands that are worthy of a visit. So, not in any particular order;
Several years ago we visited Mauritius for a significant birthday for my wife. I won’t let on which one. We stayed in what was then Legends Hotel complex in Grande Gaube. One of the days out included in our all-inclusive trip was a day out to Coco Island ( L’Ile des Deux Cocos) off the South-East coast of Mauritius. This tiny island was originally the home of the governor of Mauritius and has a villa available for rental for weddings and parties. The bay that this stunning jewel is situated in is fantastic for snorkelling or simply lazing about enjoying the calm.
Visitors to the island can enjoy locally sourced food in a fantastic barbeque, enjoy a trip on a glass-bottomed boat or stroll around the island, as well as visiting the beautifully restored governor’s house.
This is an island at the other end of the scale to Coco Island and certainly, from our point of view, the two couldn’t have been more different.
We visited Mauritius in the steamy heat of their summer and our trip to Roosevelt Island was in the bitter cold of a New York winter. Believe me, walking down 5th Avenue in -5 is no joke!
Roosevelt Island is a tiny oasis of calm in the flurry of activity that is New York. It is reached by what the Americans call a tramway, it isn’t, it’s a cable car.
The island has gone through many identities as a penitentiary, a lunatic asylum and a hospital for victims of smallpox. From the tramway stop, it is a short walk to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park which is an oasis of tranquillity with marvellous views towards Manhattan Island.
The island has also retained some significant examples of early architecture notably The Octagon, built in 1834 as the entrance to the lunatic asylum but now high-end apartments and The Blackwell House, the sixth oldest house in New York and one of the city’s few remaining examples of 18th-century architecture.
I have already written about the charming island of Armona and why you should take the opportunity to visit. If your nerves are frayed and your stress levels rising with the demands of 21st-century living, you could do a lot worse than spending a week on Armona.
It is an island that has remained steadfastly unchanged with no hotels, no pools, no cars and no internet access. It is accessible only by regular ferries or a boat taxi and villas are available to rent for the whole holiday period.
If you’re looking to recharge your batteries and get away from it all, then get yourself over there.
A short ferry trip from the main island of Malta, Gozo is an island of roughly the same proportions as New York’s Manhattan Island. That is probably where the similarities end though.
The island is certainly worth a visit from the point of view of historical interest. It has been inhabited since 5000BC and the island is rich in historic locations such as the Ggantija Temples which are amongst the oldest free-standing structures in the world.
It is also home to many beautiful beaches and breathtaking natural geographical features like the Inland Sea and the Wied il-Mielah window.
More recently, blockbuster TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ filmed scenes at the Azure Window in Dwejra which has since sadly collapsed after heavy storms.
One time prison and now UNESCO World Heritage site, Robben Island is a definite must-see on any trip to Cape Town. There is nothing more humbling than being shown around the inside of an infamous prison by one of the ex-inmates who points out during the tour that in the corner of the room you are standing in was his bed for 6 long years.
This is not an island visit like others that I’ve listed here. It isn’t a pretty place or architecturally noteworthy, nevertheless, it is worth visiting if only to remind ourselves of how far the world has come since the days of apartheid not so very long ago.
The tour itself takes in the prison and the surrounding area and the tour guides, all ex-inmates or guards, are well-stocked with anecdotes and historical facts.
While Robben Island was visited for very serious reasons, Skopelos was visited for entirely the opposite, utter frivolity and the desire to see a church made famous in a film based on the songs of Abba, Mamma Mia.
The trip to the island takes about an hour and passes several picture-perfect scenes. Once on the island, a bus takes you to the view that everyone wants to see, the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri.
You will need a good head for heights and also a decent pair of shoes. The steps to the church are very steep and there are a lot of them. But, once there, the views are worth the trip. It is an exceptionally beautiful natural feature and our trip, which ran from the neighbouring island of Skiathos, was advertised as ‘The Mamma Mia Trip’. It wasn’t expensive and it is a lovely day out, giving you the opportunity to sample the delights of another Greek island.
Well, those are the islands that I think everyone should make the effort to go and see at some point.
What do you think? Are there any I should have included that you’ve been to. Let me know below.