If you’re craving a sunny tropical getaway but turned off by crowded beaches and sky-high prices, consider skipping the oft-beaten path. There are plenty of remote islands where you can swap frigid temps for warm waters and bright skies—without facing the high-season crowds that swamp the most popular winter vacation destinations.
Best Remote Islands for a Tropical Getaway
There’s a whole wide world out there with plenty of beautiful, peaceful spots to explore, including some lesser-known Caribbean islands and many of the world’s most pristine tropical getaways. Here are seven remote islands to check out for your next beach vacation.
Located between Nevis and Antigua, the tiny, lush island of Montserrat feels a long way away from more popular Caribbean islands like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Though an active volcano has restricted access to the southern part of Montserrat, the northern half remains a gorgeous tropical getaway with a quiet vibe and plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. You can view the volcano via helicopter, hike through miles of rainforest teeming with wildlife, veg out on a black sand beach, or engage in a variety of boating excursions and watersports.
Where to Stay: For sweeping sea views and a welcoming vibe, stay at the family-run Gingerbread Manor. Lodging options range from an affordable efficiency unit to the aptly named Heavenly Suite with its two private verandahs.
San Andres, Colombia
San Andres is a popular vacation spot among Colombians and other South Americans, but it remains mostly unspoiled compared to many other less remote islands in the Caribbean. Located off the coast of Nicaragua, San Andres is tiny—just 10 square miles—but visitors will find plenty to keep them occupied. There are a variety of accommodations, including all-inclusive resorts, and activities include caving, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating. Those who want to be less active can relax on pristine beaches and indulge in fresh local seafood. History buffs can also check out some lesser-known World War II sites while visiting the island.
Where to Stay: The laid-back Hotel Bahia Sardina sits right on the beach (spring for an ocean-view room). The on-site restaurant serves Colombian and international fare.
Islas Secas, Panama
There is only one property on Islas Secas, an archipelago of remote islands off the Pacific coast of Panama, which is currently in a “preview season” with a grand opening date of January 2019. Most visitors stay in the nearby city of David and travel to Islas Secas via boat for day trips and eco-adventures. These remote islands have something for everyone; both beach bums and outdoorsy travelers can enjoy the stunning beaches or opt for a more active visit with boating excursions, jungle treks, wildlife hikes, water sports, and more.
Where to Stay: The rooms at Hotel Ciudad de David are chic, modern, and clean, featuring hardwood floors and complimentary Wi-Fi. Buffet breakfast is included.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
On the opposite side of Panama, along the Caribbean coast, travelers will find Bocas del Toro, a province that includes a small chain of islands as well as a strip of mainland. The primary island is Isla Colon, where you can enjoy the restaurants, bars, and shops of the province’s capital city, Bocas Town. Throughout the islands are plenty of unspoiled beaches where you can while away long, sunny days, as well as options for watersports, snorkeling, and hiking. There’s even a national rainforest to explore on the nearby strip of mainland.
Where to Stay: The Tropical Suites Hotel is convenient to just about everything, from restaurants and shops to water taxis and the airport. Some rooms offer ocean views.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
If you like your beach days with a side of undisturbed nature, Fernando de Noronha may be the destination for you. Located in an archipelago off the coast of Brazil, this remote island has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, the entire island is actually a marine national park. Warm-water beaches teem with dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea life, making the island a prime location for divers. Even snorkelers will find plenty to see beneath the island’s many waterside cliffs and caves. There are also a handful of historic sites, some small museums, and an aquarium to check out when you’re not on the beach. Note that only 420 tourists are allowed here at a time, so you’ll want to plan your visit well in advance.
Where to Stay: Whether you choose a bungalow or a luxury apartment, you’ll enjoy incredible bay views at Pousada Maravilha. Treat yourself to a massage at the on-site spa.
Encompassing some of the most remote islands on the planet, Tuvalu is an independent nation in the South Pacific. Its capital, Funafuti, features a conservation area where visitors can enjoy some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling. Five of the islands are atolls surrounded by magnificent coral reefs. There are also some interesting World War II relics around the islands. Tuvalu is difficult to get to and not particularly well developed, but for travelers who enjoy marine life and quiet beach days, it should definitely make your bucket list. Don’t wait too long to plan your trip: Scientists predict that climate change could cause these islands to disappear entirely within the next century.
Where to Stay: Tuvalu doesn’t yet have many lodging options, but Filamona Guesthouse Funafuti is the best of the bunch. Rooms are clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned.
The Philippines are one of the least visited countries in Asia, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for travelers. In fact, it means you can get a decent deal on one of the world’s most spectacular islands. Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and covered with lushly forested mountains, Palawan is home to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, the world’s longest navigable underground river and home to fossils that are tens of millions of years old. Visitors can explore small fishing villages, hike through jungles, and go swimming in lagoons and sinkholes. Despite its small size, Palawan offers various accommodation types including everything from luxury resorts to overwater bungalows and vacation rentals.
Where to Stay: Located right on the beach near the Puerto Princesa Underground River, Daluyon Beach & Mountain Resort is the perfect spot to relax. All rooms have minibars, DVD players, and private balconies.
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Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a freelance writer with expertise in all things travel, food, and parenting.