We all love islands… there’s something very special about them. The magic of being cut off and secluded, the waves lapping on the shore, palm trees waving in the breeze. Here are three of our favourite island paradises. Which is yours?
Bali for Adventure
As many great beaches as there are, holidays to Bali needn’t be all about sun worshipping and cocktails on the sunlounger. The interior has a wealth of lush paddy fields and is surprisingly mountainous. Two volcanic peaks dominate the island, Mount Batur and Mount Agung, with the former being the ideal shorter trip for first time or casual hikers. Be sure to have an early night: your guides will likely wake you at 3am in order to get a head start and arrive at the peak in time to see the sunrise, an unforgettable sight as you recuperate with a hot meal served fresh from the huts at the top. You don’t have to skimp on home comforts, either. Hotels such as the Maya Ubud Resort and Spa have five-star amenities amid the hillside gardens, complete with atmospheric, Balinese design.
If you prefer to see the fauna and flora of the island from the water, then the Ayung River is ideal for a half day rafting, guided by expert locals along the 8km stretch of rainforest. There are a couple of minor rapids to speed you along, but mostly you’ll be awestruck by the towering gorges and unspoiled forest. Although you have modern rafts and the latest safety equipment, it feels like an escape to a tranquil spot that hasn’t changed in thousands of years. To get up close and personal to some of the island’s favourite locals, the Bali Elephant Safari Park was opened in 2000 to the highest international ethical standards. Take a safari ride atop one of these gentle giants through the Taro forest and help feed and bathe them.
Seychelles for luxury
Over a hundred coral islands form this Indian Ocean archipelago, the smallest sovereign state in Africa. The main islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue welcome the romantic and the jet set and there is no shortage of luxury boltholes, with the necessary spas and fine dining restaurants to accompany them. Holidays to the Seychelles easily keep you in the manner to which you may quickly become accustomed.
Mahé, for example, boasts the luxury property of Hilton Seychelles Northolme, overlooking the crystal waters of Beau Vallon Bay. The inspiration for the Bond adventure "For Your Eyes Only", it’s only a short walk from your private villa to the Duniye Spa, where herbs and flowers scent their traditional treatments. At Constance Ephilia Resort, you can wander around 120 hectares of landscaped gardens and look out over the Port Launay Marine National Park. The Constance Lemuria Resort on Praslin is an equally elegant retreat, surrounded on all sides by secluded beaches. Also on Praslin is one of the Seychelle’s best restaurants, Le Dauphin at Le Duc Resort, set in an orchid garden and serving gourmet seafood dishes. You can even find the ultimate in luxury experiences: Denis Private Island has just 25 deluxe Seychellois cottages, and basks in truly idyllic surroundings.
St Lucia for romance
For some time, this Caribbean island has been synonymous with romance, a haven for honeymooners and couples looking for the perfect escape. St Lucia holidays offer beaches as lovely and pristine as any lovebirds would expect, but even beyond the sands and the palm trees, there is a diverse range of activities. They are as romantic as you want them to be, and will definitely stay a shared memory for years to come.
The St Lucia Volcano and sulphur springs may not sound particularly romantic, but the peak looms dramatically above and you are surrounded by stunningly beautiful scenery. The warm volcanic waters appear elsewhere on the island, where you can bathe under tropical waterfalls in secluded pools. After a day exploring, how about a sunset horse ride along the beach? And top the night off in style with dinner under the stars, either on the beach with a lapping ocean for a soundtrack, or within view of the Pitons – the twin peaks that jut out into the St Lucia skyline.
St Lucia also specialises in tranquil, sophisticated couples-only resorts, such as the sultry Rendezvous resort near Malabar beach, close to Castries. There is a host of Sandal’s Resorts too, with amenities especially for couples and a mouth-watering choice of gourmet restaurants. Or opt for the private beach experience at Smugglers Cove Resort and Spa, a village atmosphere with laid back elegance.