16 Secret Islands You Should Know About Before Booking Your Next Trip

There’s nothing quite like escaping to some far-flung island, unplugging and letting relaxation take hold. That’s exactly what you can expect at these secluded locales around the world. Not for folks looking to shack up at an all-inclusive and limbo alongside fellow wristband-wearing vacationers (that’s a totally different experience entirely), these best-kept-secret spots are made for wanderers who prefer the road—er, island—less traveled.

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Courtesy of Discover South Carolina

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina

Maybe you've heard of Daufuskie Island, more likely not. That’s because this pint-size islet—with just 400 residents—is the ultimate unplugged escape. It’s accessible only by ferry, virtually free of crowds and golf carts are the main method of transportation. Sounds like a dream, right?

bequia saint vincent and the grenadines
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Bequia, Saint Vincent And The Grenadines

At just seven square miles, Bequia (pronounced "beck-way”) is easy to miss. There are no traffic lights, chain restaurants or big-name resorts. What you will find? Turquoise tides, green hills and a carefree attitude. Sink into vacation mode at the Bequia Beach Hotel.

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Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island is a Chilean territory, though it resides in the South Pacific. Between the archaeological sites, scuba diving and horseback riding, this remote and mysterious volcanic isle offers Indiana Jones-level thrills. Plus, Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa is nothing short of spectacular.

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Koh Yao Noi, Thailand

We hardly ever throw around the word “Shangri-la” (in fairness, few destinations deserve such a descriptor), but there’s something particularly special about Koh Yao Yai with its soft sands, mangroves, sapphire waves and laid-back vibe. A stay at Six Senses Yao Noi definitely ups the appeal.

bahamas ministry of tourism and aviation
Courtesy of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation

Mayaguana, Bahamas

Ready to reel in the catch of the day? The easternmost island in the Bahamas, and the only one that still retains its original Lucayan name, Mayaguana stays true to its roots. Development is minimal, and with fewer than 300 inhabitants, you’re more likely to come across bonefish than people.

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VestvÅgØya, Norway

You don’t need bikini weather for a glorious getaway. Part of the Lofoten archipelago, Vestvågøya is an Arctic cloud nine with turbulent seas, fjords, rare birds and Viking history. Depending on the season, you might even view the midnight sun or the northern lights.

turtle island
Courtesy of Turtle Island

Turtle Island, Fiji

So your net worth doesn’t come close to that of Richard Branson; at least honeymooning like a billionaire is still on the table. Turtle Island—which BTW served as the backdrop for the 1980 drama The Blue Lagoon—is a private, 500-acre playground with a maximum occupancy of 14 couples.

aero denmark
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ÆrØ, Denmark

Just three hours from Copenhagen lies Ærø, a storybook isle in the Baltic Sea. The quaint town of Ærøskøbing lures shutterbugs with its cobbled streets and colorful cottages. Visitors can also learn about maritime heritage at the Marstal Søfartsmuseum.

havelock island india
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Havelock Island, India

Perched in the Bay of Bengal, Havelock Island is a haven of biodiversity with swaying palmyra trees, unspoiled beaches and fascinating wildlife. (Rumor has it that elephants outnumber locals.) Need another reason to go? Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans typifies barefoot luxury.

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Imagine a secluded island where your closest neighbors are 2,051 miles away. Kerguelen is one of the most isolated places on the planet. Its Antarctic climate and glacial terrain also explain the lack of humans. There are, however, plenty of albatrosses, seals and penguins.

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Ischia, Italy

If Capri’s volcanic landscape and cerulean coves are alluring, but you could do without the crowds, we’d suggest a sojourn in Ischia. This lesser-known locale off the coast of Naples has all the scenic beauty and charm (hello, L'Albergo della Regina Isabella) sans hordes of tourists. (It also happens to be the vacation island from Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.)

japan national tourism organization
Courtesy of Japan National Tourism Organization

Iriomote Island, Japan

Nearly all of Iriomote Island is covered by dense jungle. It boasts the largest mangrove forest in Japan, plus breathtaking cascades and an abundance of interesting critters—including the Iriomote wildcat. The surrounding waters are teeming with coral reefs and tropical marine creatures.

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Symi, Greece

There’s more to Greece than Lindsay Lohan-owned clubs. Which brings us to the Dodecanese. (No, not Rhodes or Kos.) Venture to the edge of the Aegean’s here that you’ll discover Symi, an under-the-radar gem with neoclassical architecture and a blissful absence of tourists.

lord howe island australia
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Lord Howe Island, Australia

This tiny speck in the Tasman Sea brims with sandy shores, lush rainforests and masked boobies (FYI, that’s a type of bird). Adventure seekers can hike up Mount Gower, while the calm tides and colorful fish of Ned's Beach are a big hit with snorkelers.

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Lopud, Croatia

Want to switch up your summer plans? Although we’ll always have love for Hvar and Vis, these days our heart belongs to Lopud. Not far from Dubrovnik—yet somehow eons apart—this Adriatic alternative remains miraculously unchanged since its 17th-century peak as a stomping ground for aristocrats.

Courtesy of Yemaya

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua

What if we told you that 50 miles east of mainland Nicaragua sits a covert enclave? Little Corn Island doesn’t show up on most maps, and that’s kept it a splendid little secret. After hours of snorkeling, catch some z’s in an oceanfront room at Yemaya.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...