“The island had come to seem one of those places seen from the train that belong to a life in which we shall never take part”
There’s something magical about the lure of islands, as the cast of Swallows and Amazons know well.
The perfect island doesn’t have to have palm trees and white sand beaches (although that helps). Instead, it’s a place of escapism on which to seek sanctuary from everyday life.
A truly great island draws you in and makes you feel like it’s speaking uniquely to you; even with other people around. It seems to play to its own time zone, unhurried by the rest of the world.
Here are five of our favourite islands to explore in a lifetime:
Palawan, the Philippines
Regularly voted one of the best islands in the world, Palawan in the western Philippines is the stuff that dreams are made on. Impossibly turquoise waters meet rainforest-shrouded coves and pristine beaches, with sunsets that will blow your mind.
This part of the world is becoming increasingly popular, however, so at Flash Pack we take the fantasy one step further by taking a private boat around the Bacuit archipelago, with overnight glamping on a remote secret beach.
Bled Island, Slovenia
This tiny tear-shaped isle in northwest Slovenia gives Disney a run for its money in terms of sheer fairy tale prowess. Its calling card is a 15th Century turreted church that pierces the pink-blue horizon of lovely Lake Bled.
It’s easy to catch a boat over, but we like to mix things up at Flash Pack with a spot of paddle-boarding. Glide over the mirror-like stillness of the water, and climb the 99 steps to the clock tower. Legend has it that if you ring the bell three times, you’ll be granted a wish.
Isla Incahuasi, Bolivia
If it’s the surreal factor you’re after, look no further than Isla Incahuasi in the heart of Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats. Once home to a vast prehistoric lake, this hilly outcrop is peppered with ancient cacti, some of which tower more than 12 metres into the air.
These fragile giants have for centuries survived on the world’s largest salt plain, at 3,656 metres above sea level. Walking among the coral-like silhouettes, with the shimmering flats stretching out in the distance, is an experience not to be missed.
Do Oysters and Chablis float your boat? Pop the small island of Miyajima on your hit list. Japan’s “Island of Gods” near Hiroshima is best known for its giant Torii gate – part of the ancient Itsukushima Shrine – which appears to float on water at high tide.
There’s also many wild deer here, along with charming ryokan inns, and tucked-away waterfalls and beaches. One of our most treasured spots, however, is the serene Miyajima waterfront, where you can feast on local wine and seafood overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.
Rosario Islands, Colombia
Not technically a single island, this archipelago of islets off the north coast of Colombia is a delight to discover for all would-be Robinson Crusoes. Jump aboard a private speedboat to zip your way around a paradise playground of secluded beaches and coves wreathed by thick tropical foliage.
There’s 27 islands to explore in total, some uninhibited and others private, with clear azure waters beckoning from every angle. A rich ecosystem makes for magnificent coral reef that you can paddle around; that’s when you’re not busy splaying out on a powdery white patch of sand.
Images: Shutterstock, Unsplash