Almost everyone loves the idea of a dreamy escape to an island paradise. But sometimes, that means crowded beaches, restaurants, and resorts. Are you looking to really get away? Consider one of these four off-the-beaten path islands, each offering something unique.
Pristine beaches meet azure waters in the Seychelles, a favorite among divers and nature lovers who find respite in the untouched beauty of these remote islands in the Indian Ocean. This archipelago of 115 islands 900 miles off of Africa’s coast is an exclusive retreat, a favorite among celebrities and travelers seeking under-the-radar seclusion.
The islands of the Seychelles typically fall into two categories: the Inner Islands, comprising the cultural and economic center of the archipelago, and the Outer Islands, more remote, pristine, and wildlife rich, but often lacking in accommodations. See the rich mixture of European, Asian, and African culture in Mahé, the Seychelles’ largest island and an international hub, or pay a visit to Praslin, home to Vallée de Mai, a nature preserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies
This dual-island nation tucked between the Atlantic and the Caribbean offers two incredible options for the intrepid island traveler, each with its own personality. St. Kitts, almost twice the size of its sister island (the two are separated by a 2-mile channel), boasts more of the nightlife, restaurants, and amenities typical of a Caribbean retreat. Nevis, on the other hand, embraces its natural beauty with a more laid-back environment.
Because neither island has participated in mass-market tourism campaigns, they’re relatively untouched compared to the rest of the Caribbean, adding to the low-key charm. Explore the islands’ colonial history with a tour of Alexander Hamilton’s childhood home on Nevis, or opt for world-class snorkeling on St. Kitts’ Cockleshell Beach.
Grenada, West Indies
Nicknamed the “Spice Isle,” Grenada boasts a storied history of spice plantations and pirates. But these days, it’s the perfect out-of-the-way destination to catch the Caribbean breeze, scented with nutmeg from the island’s signature crop. Stroll down both black-sand and white-sand beaches, and partake in a rum tasting at River Antoine Rum Distillery, open since 1785. And for a truly unique experience, dive in the waters off St. George’s, Grenada’s capital, to see the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, a fascinating—and slightly eerie—installation by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.
Explore a further layer of this hidden gem with a visit to Carriacou or Petite Martinique, the two other islands that comprise Grenada. Petite Martinique in particular offers a deeply authentic Caribbean experience—there’s hardly any lodging on the small island (population: 900), but it’s worth a day trip to experience the serene, untouched beaches.
Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
A little slice of paradise just a 30-minute ferry ride from Phucket, Koh Yao Noi isn’t a regular tourist stop—which is exactly what makes it the perfect place to get away from the traditional hullabaloo of a heavily visited island. Tranquility abounds on this scenic stretch of land in Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay, with plenty of swaying palms and secluded beaches that you’ll likely have all to yourself. There’s also not much traffic on Koh Yao Noi—hop on a bicycle or motorbike and explore without the added stress of avoiding cars.
The island’s step-back-in-time appeal reveals itself among shady mangroves, lumbering water buffalo, and rice paddies. There are few restaurants, bars, lodging options, or ultra-modern amenities on Koh Yao Noi—the biggest thing that’s come to the island in the last few years is a brand new 7-Eleven—but the lack of frills is exactly what makes it perfect for those island hoppers looking to truly get off the grid.