Best Island Destinations to Cruise
There’s no better method to see the islands of the world than aboard a cruise. What looks like a dot on the horizon grows larger and larger as you approach by ship, eventually ending up being a swath of land just begging to be checked out. From sunny specks of white sand beaches to volcanic outcrops of towering peaks, and historic ports with sordid pasts, Luxury Vacation Network visits islands in every corner of the world.
Here, we note ten not to miss.
Just recently have Americans been permitted to check out Cuba and find the picturesque island they’ve been missing. Go back in time amongst the weathered facades and cobblestone streets of Old Havana. Stroll the seawall of the romantic Malecón. Take a ride in a perfectly preserved classic car. Cuba is among a kind.
The island of Kauai is the greenest of all the Hawaiian Islands. It’s often called “The Garden Island,” for the rich tropical rain forest that covers most of its interior. Trek the well-known Napali Coast Trail through emerald valleys and along 3,000-foot-high cliffs offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean listed below. Go To Lumahai Beach, setting for the movie “South Pacific,” or head inland to photograph one of the many cascading waterfalls that grace this tropical paradise.
The Greek island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea was formed by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC. This jewel of the Mediterranean is defined by high cliffs ignoring a fantastic blue caldera, and of course, the whitewashed houses and blue domed churches that cling to the rocky cliffs. Volcanic activity created beaches of black, red and chalk-white sand. Check out the website of ancient Akrotiri, a Minoan settlement dating to the Bronze Age.
Roatan off the coast of Honduras is a favorite stop on the Western Caribbean cruise. This unspoiled island sits atop the world’s second biggest coral reef, so the snorkeling and diving are magnificent. Kick back at peaceful Tabyana Beach, or join an eco-tour for zip lining through the jungle, or just walking among monkeys, parrots, and iguanas.
5. Ko Samui
Ko Samui off the coast of Thailand in Southeast Asia is a jungle paradise ringed by stunning beaches. Head inland for a trip on an elephant, to see a monkey show, or to photograph the Na Mueang waterfalls. Go to famous Chaweng Beach and attempt the spicy regional cuisine. Trek to the lavish Secret Buddha Garden at the highest point on the island.
6. New Zealand
The nation of New Zealand is two islands using a wide variety of sights and experiences. From cosmopolitan capitals to beautiful fjords to world-class red wines and spectacular settings utilized as a backdrop in the Lord of the Rings movies, New Zealand accommodates every explorer. Adventurers will enjoy kayaking the fjords, nature fans will get up close and personal with penguins, and professional photographers will have a field day recording the landscapes.
In addition to stunning beaches and azure waters, the island of Bermuda is abundant with history. It started in 1609 when an English ship bound for the colonies of Virginia ran aground on the reefs surrounding the island. The shipwrecked passengers chose to stick it out on the island and claimed the land for England. They developed a colony on Bermuda’s St. George Island, and today the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk the cobblestone courses of what is the oldest continuously populated English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
8. French Polynesia
The archipelago of French Polynesia is 137 of the most beautiful sun-kissed islands in the world. Check out three of those islands on the 17-Day Cruise of the Fabled South Pacific. In addition to stops in American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia, you’ll check out Tahiti, Raiatea, and Bora in French Polynesia.
Called the “Queen of the Pacific,” Tahiti is home to sharp volcanic peaks, black pearls and the cosmopolitan city of Papeete. Raiatea suggests “Faraway Heaven,” and this island is considered the most sacred in all of the South Pacific. Visit the biggest outside temple in French Polynesia, believed to be the center from which all Polynesian migration began. Bora Bora, a well-known honeymoon destination, is fantastic in its charm. Pictures do not do it justice.
Iceland is a volcanic island in chillier climes, complete with active geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. Go to the national forests to explore massive glaciers. In Between September and April, aim to the skies for the Northern Lights. The majority of Iceland’s population resides in the capital Reykjavik, so that’s the hub for museums, dining establishments, nightlife, and culture. Visit the Settlement Exhibition, featuring artifacts from a 9th century Viking settlement.
10. U.S. Virgin Islands
At or near the top of every list of most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, are the United States Virgin Islands: St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. On St. Croix, go to the Buck Island National Reef Monument, an 880-acre marine nature preserve featuring a snorkeling trail. Or walk the historic streets of Frederiksted, lined with Danish colonial and Victorian-era houses.
On St. Thomas, come by Fort Christian, a United States National Landmark, for a primer on the island’s rich history. Or go to the Synagogue of Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim, the earliest synagogue in the United States. Climb the 99 actions made from merchant ship ballast stones to Blackbeard’s Castle (constructed in 1679), for a few of the best views on the island. Legend has it that the fierce pirate Blackbeard utilized this now National Historic Landmark developed as a lookout post.