Who wouldn’t want to take an island vacation? Just imagine yourself relaxing on the beach, laying on a towel on the soft white sands, bright blue skies above you, and crystal clear waters stretching out in front of you as far as the eye can see. Perhaps you’ll have a delicious seafood dinner later that evening. You’ll return home tan and happy, with memories and souvenirs that will make you wish you could turn around and fly right back.
But let’s be real here—you wouldn’t be alone in this dream scenario. Classic island destinations Aruba, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic attract millions of tourists from all over the world, every single year. Even exotic locations like the Maldives and Fiji are not out of reach for many people—visitors flock to islands like this, and who can blame them? But to be honest, it’s nice to get away from the crowds sometimes. Yes, it can require some more skill and planning to go off the beaten path, but trust us, it is definitely worth it in the end. Planning an island trip soon? Here are 25 underrated island destinations that everyone should definitely consider for their next adventure.
25 Lanai, Hawaii
You’ve probably heard of popular Hawaiian vacation spots like Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. But have you ever considered checking out the lesser known, smaller island of Lanai? Lanai is much less populated than many of the other islands, which makes it a great spot for a more relaxing getaway. According to Go Hawaii, it’s the perfect place to explore rugged natural areas where most tourists don’t venture! But friendly locals will no doubt show the best places to seek out.
24 San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian, Spain, is a good choice for the traveler who doesn’t want to spend their whole trip in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Madrid or Barcelona. According to Lonely Planet, the actual city of San Sebastian is quite small, and while there are some resorts in the area, it’s easy to get away from them and find a little more solitude. Naturally, visitors will want to hit the beach and indulge in some delicious Spanish food—tapas, anyone?
23 Vancouver Island, Canada
So, maybe you do want to escape the real world for a bit and spend some time on an island—but the tropics isn’t really your thing. You would trade beaches and blue skies for forests, lakes, and campfire. If that’s your vibe, then we’ve got the perfect spot for you to visit—Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. According to Hello BC, Vancouver Island is the ideal destination for whale watching, birding, fishing, surfing, and, of course, hiking in the woods!
22 Hideaway Island, Vanuatu
Vanuatu may not be the type of place that appears in all of the guidebooks, but this string of islands in the South Pacific Ocean is a hidden gem that is not to be missed. But there are so many islands to choose from—the real question is, which one to visit? Don’t worry, we’ve found the perfect secluded spot: Hideaway Island. According to Tourism Vanuatu, it’s a fantastic spot for snorkeling, diving, and visiting the world’s only underwater post office!
21 Sumba, Indonesia
Obviously, Indonesia is a super popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world—this group of islands is so beautiful that people are willing to fly for days to get there just to spend a week or two in paradise. While many tourists choose to just stay in Bali, The Crazy Tourist recommends checking out Sumba Island instead. The crowds are much smaller, the beaches are just as amazing, and it is home to some of the world’s best resorts.
20 Sal, Cape Verde
Cape Verde is an island just off the northwest coast of Africa—it’s a group of islands formed by volcanic eruptions, where many people live and vacation to this day. According to Telegraph, the island of Sal is one of the best to visit if you don’t want to rub elbows with a ton of other tourists. Sal is a fabulous island destination if you want to immerse yourself in the local music scene and hang out on the beach.
19 Roatan, Honduras
Honduras may not have the best reputation out of all the countries in Central America, but you can’t always go by what the media shows you. There are many little corners of Honduras that have a lot to offer visitors, and Roatan, one of Honduras’ Caribbean Bay islands, is one of them. According to Tourism Roatan, this island is not super packed with tourists, and it is home to some incredible wildlife, including impressive marine animals like whale sharks! Sounds amazing!
18 Alonissos, Greece
You may see photos of Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Ios all over your Instagram feed—but the Greek islands have so much more to offer than these three major tourist destinations. Have you ever heard of the more laid-back island Alonissos? According to Visit Greece, Alonissos is the best destination for travelers who want to experience all the beauty of the Greek islands without the crazy party atmosphere! The rugged natural landscapes are unique amongst the islands.
17 Martinique, Caribbean
Yes, Martinique DOES get a lot of buzz amongst tourists to the Caribbean, but the truth is that it is actually not as popular of a destination as some of the other islands. So if you want all of the beauty and luxurious amenities of the Caribbean without fighting the crowds, Martinique is your best bet. According to US News, this island is a tropical paradise with a French twist, and tourists can enjoy lush rainforests, intense hiking, and lazy beach days.
16 Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Cambodia may have had a troubled history, but today, the country is developing fast—and the prices are still low no matter where you go! While Cambodia’s beautiful beaches are no secret to the backpacker crowd, certain islands still have some untouched charm. According to Don’t Forget to Move, Koh Rong Samloem has a local population of only 300 people, and it is possible to snag a hostel bed right near the beach for less than five dollars per night!
15 Tasmania, Australia
We all know that Australia is an amazing country with unbelievable landscapes and an endless list of activities for adventurous travelers. But have you ever considered venturing out to the Australian island of Tasmania? According to Discover Tasmania, this island is a wonderful place for travelers who want to see a totally different side of Australia that you may not get on the mainland. The highlight of Tasmania? The many nature preserves and protected national parks you can visit to see the wildlife.
14 Isla Holbox, Mexico
You may have already visited some of the major resort hot spots in Mexico. From Cancun to Cabo, there seems to be a party going on everywhere you look! But there is another side to Mexico that you need to get away from the resorts to see. According to CNN, Isla Holbox is one of Mexico’s best beaches—and so far, it is still not attracting tons of tourists! This little island sounds like it would be ideal for a romantic getaway.
13 Nosy Be, Madagascar
There is so much more to Madagascar than those adorable lemurs! Although we must admit, they are super cute and definitely one of the highlights. But there are some islands just off the coast of Madagascar that are still unspoiled by tourism. According to Travel Madagascar, the island of Nosy Be has been rated as one of the country’s top beach destinations—but tourism numbers remain low. If you want to see the best of Madagascar, that’s where to go!
12 Faroe Islands, Denmark
Here’s another one for those of you who don’t like getting sand in your pockets or dealing with sunburn on vacation! The Faroe Islands, which are owned by Denmark, are definitely a unique place for open minded travelers to visit. According to CN Traveler, the Faroe Islands is a small Nordic chain of islands formed by volcanic eruptions, and they are famous for their amazing hiking trails, towering cliffs with views of the sea, and local wildlife like flocks of seabirds.
11 Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Myanmar doesn’t exactly have a booming tourism industry—but that’s exactly what makes it the perfect destination for a traveler with a taste for the unusual. The best of Myanmar isn’t even on the mainland. According to CNN, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago, a chain of over 800 islands, is the ideal vacation if you want to spend some time cruising through this incredible region. White sand beaches, relaxing afternoons on the water, peace and quiet, and amazing seafood? Sounds like a dream!
10 Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Vietnam is a rapidly evolving nation with a vibrant culture and lots of spirit—but like many of the other countries on the list, getting off the mainland and on to its islands will show you the best that it has to offer. According to Lonely Planet, Phu Quoc Island is tough to beat—it has gorgeous resorts along the shore, but most of the island is a national park with rainforests, mountains, and a wide variety of local wildlife.
9 Isle Of Palms, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, Folly Beach, Charleston…South Carolina’s tourist hot spots are all lovely places to visit. But what if you don’t feel like dealing with the crowds and would rather experience a more laid-back side of South Carolina? According to Trip Advisor, the Isle of Palms, one of South Carolina’s barrier islands, is the right destination for you! Enjoy fishing, golfing, long swims in the ocean, and easy access to Charleston without all the distractions back on the mainland.
8 Upolu, Samoa
Samoa is still one of the best kept secrets in the entire South Pacific. Okay, it’s not totally a secret—but compared to countries like Fiji, it is still much more relaxed with fewer crowds. What makes the specific island of Upolu so great? Well, it is truly perfect for the adventurous traveler. According to Samoa Travel, on Upolu you can go swimming in caves, go surfing, trek through the rainforest, and swim under waterfalls. Sounds like a true paradise!
7 Bequia, St. Vincent’s And The Grenadines
It’s just like the name of the boat in the picture above—when you’re hanging out on the island of Bequia, there is no reason to complain! Bequia is actually one of the islands that makes up the Grenadines, but it draws much smaller crowds than some of the more popular islands. According to Bequia Tourism, your Bequia itinerary should absolutely include diving, sailing, fishing, visiting the local markets for crafts and spices, and even visiting the sea turtle sanctuary!
6 Isles of Scilly, England
Did you know that even the United Kingdom has some lovely island destinations for your next vacation! It’s true! You might not want to hop in the water for a swim, but you can still enjoy some incredible coastal scenery and fun activities. According to The Guardian, the Isles of Scilly are a fantastic, fun getaway: visitors can enjoy long chats with the welcoming locals, walks on rocky beaches, and even the sub-tropical botanical gardens! It’s a quaint, adorable region.
5 Aran Islands, Ireland
If you’re already thinking of swinging by the Isles of Scilly for a visit one day, you may want to add one more stop to that itinerary. Yes, Ireland is an island, but the cities on the mainland can get packed—instead, you can venture out to the isolated Aran Islands to get away from it all. According to Rick Steves, travelers can visit ancient Irish historic sites, learn a few words of Irish, and buy locally knit cozy sweaters!
4 Guadeloupe, Caribbean
Another French island destination makes the list! But just to be clear, the Guadeloupe cluster of islands isn’t actually in France—it’s part of the French Caribbean. According to Forbes, they are the perfect place to enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere without the chaos of some of the bigger islands! These islands are considered a biosphere reserves, which means that the government and local citizens aim to keep their environmental impact minimal to preserve the natural beauty of the amazing landscapes.
3 Reunion Island, Indian Ocean
As you may be able to tell from the gorgeous photo above, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean looks like a place that could be on another planet, one that you could only make up in your own imagination. But no, it’s real, and yes, you can visit. According to Traveller, it has barely any tourists, so planning a visit will take some extra effort—but when you see the volcanic craters and beautiful villages, you’ll know it was a good choice.
2 Lamu Island, Kenya
You may not think of Kenya as the kind of country where you can chill for a week at an island paradise—but the media does not always give the best representation of this beautiful country. According to Trip Advisor, Lamu Island, right off the coast of Kenya, is a highly underrated beach destination that will impress any traveler who decides to visit. One of the best parts of this island? The local markets with amazing cuisine and handcrafted art!
1 Cavallo, France
You may have heard about how gorgeous the south of France is—not to mention the incredible food that awaits visitors to this region. But have you ever considered visiting one of the French islands in the Mediterranean? According to Telegraph, Cavallo is technically a private island, but tourists are still welcome to visit and stay. It’s only about a mile long, so there are never that many people visiting—you will get to enjoy total privacy on the seaside.
References: gohawaii.com, lonelyplanet.com, hellobc.com, tourismvanuatu.com, thecrazytourist.com, telegraph.co.uk, tourismroatan.com, visitgreece.com, usnews.com, dontforgettomove.com, discovertasmania.com, cnn.com, cntraveler.com, tripadvisor.com, samoa.travel.com, bequiatourism.com, theguardian.com, ricksteves.com, traveller.com