Warm island breezes, sandy beaches, and perhaps a refreshing beverage make up a common enough dream for many vacationers. Yet there are some places that still pique our interest more than others. In no order, here are some beautiful islands that should be on your Bucket List.
Naxos and Delos
Naxos is said to be the location where an ungrateful Theseus left Ariadne after she saved him from being eaten by the Cretan Minotaur. However, the princess met up with Dionysus shortly after that and they lived together quite happily for some time. The island is well-known for its beaches and kitron liquor. Visitors to Naxos should take the time to journey out to the village of Halki. Not only can guests see how kitron is made at the Vallindras Distillery tour, they can take the time to shop at the village stores selling locally woven goods, ceramics, and culinary items. Stop by Yianni’s Tavern in the Halki for some good local cuisine as well.
It is easy to book day trips from Naxos to nearby Delos (around $60), a place which was thought at one time to be the navel of the world. Bring water and a sun hat if you choose to make the voyage over. As the island has a population of zero and overnight stays are forbidden, the nightlife is bound to be far livelier on Naxos, so be sure not to miss the return ferry.
This island has been taken over by one large city, meaning the beaches are close to restaurants, hotels, and a myriad selection of other activities. The Dry Tortugas National Park here is a favorite, as is the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. For new movie releases, the Tropic Cinema in town is recommended, but for live action shows try the Waterfront Playhouse. The Earnest Hemmingway museum is another stop for tourists to see the famous five-toed cats that the author collected. While the beaches can be overcrowded at times, there is always something to do in Key West.
The Hawaiian Islands
Comprised of 8 main islands and surrounded by hundreds of little ones, it is no surprise that this group is a favorite destination. While it is certainly possible to spend the entire visit lounging by the beach or participating in watersports, there are plenty of other things to do in Hawaii. Guests might enjoy a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, especially at night when the lava flows are more visible. Pearl Harbor in Oahu has several poignant memorials commemorating the surprise attack that plunged American forces into the Second World War, including that of the S.S. Arizona.
Those who enjoy museums should check out the Bishop’s museum on Oahu ($20 for adults), which explains the local Polynesian culture in depth and has artifacts from earlier historical periods. The Waipiʻo Valley Hike on the Big Island is also recommended, but don’t forget your bathing suit for when you reach the falls at the trail’s end.
Top beach choices in this island chain include Gold Rock Beach at Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island, Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island, and Cable Beach (which is located near Nassau) on New Providence Island. For scuba diving and snorkeling, visitors should try out Thunderball Grotto on Staniel Cay, which was featured in two James Bond movies. The Marine Habitat at Atlantis, Paradise Island is worth visiting as is Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau, New Providence Island. The Hermitage on Cat Island is another religious site, but it provides visitors with views that are well worth the hike.
Legions of religious devotees have flocked to the island for centuries, but even the most devoted atheist should add this island to their list due to its natural inherent beauty and Venetian architecture. The Church of Panagia Evangelistria is anything but austere. Inside the statue of the Virgin Mary is draped with silver, gold, and all manner of gems. The Museum of Marble Crafts is another place worth a visit and several scuba diving centers exist on the island for those who want to partake in some deep sea fun.
There are plenty of beaches here, as well as the Sanctuary of Amphitrite and Poseidon for those that wish to visit and hopefully appease the wrath of the ocean gods. On certain Orthodox holidays, this island becomes quite crowded so be sure to book well in advance.
Bathways Beach and Levera Beach at Levera National Par and also Grand Anse Beach on the south coast are among the top choices for swimming on the “Spice Island”. Grenada also has some great places for both snorkeling and scuba diving, such as Moliniere Bay, with its underwater sculptures, and L’Anse Aux Epines Beach, which features rainbows of colorful fish. Several nearby botanical gardens showcase the locally grown spices found on the island and chocolate lovers should make for the Belmont Estates. The estate’s $4 tour teaches visitors all they need to know about how chocolate is made, from tree to bar.
Which islands do you think we should add to the list of beautiful islands that should be on your Bucket List?