When you think of an island vacation, you might think of the powdery sand beaches, palm trees, and crystalline waters you see on a postcard. But the perfect island vacation can be much more. Your idea of the perfect island vacation might change with age, life circumstances, budget, past experiences, and travel goals. Below you will find the perfect island vacation for every type of traveler to help you plan your next exciting getaway.
Backpackers: Koh Rong, Cambodia
If you are looking for a tropical island getaway with minimal amenities frequented by other young backpackers, Koh Rong, Cambodia, is the place for you. Koh Rong is located a short boat ride away from Sihanoukville, a seedy town on the coast. With more than 25 miles of unspoiled beaches, no roads, and inexpensive accommodations, Koh Rong draws backpackers from around the globe. Although some luxury resorts have begun to pop up on the island, most backpackers prefer the less costly bungalows and guesthouses. Some even choose to stay for a few months at a time and trade room and board for working in a bar or restaurant. Aside from enjoying a good book on the beach and partying at night, Koh Rong offers visitors the opportunity for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and other water sports. You can also experience glowing plankton if you go for a night swim.
Thrill-Seekers: New Zealand
New Zealand's varied landscapes offer thrill-seekers all kinds of adventurous activities to get their adrenaline pumping. Plus, you have two main islands and 600 smaller islands to choose from during your stay. Whether you want to skydive, bungee jump, sky jump, ski, or go zip lining, New Zealand has you covered. It's not that you can't do these things in other parts of the world. But these mountains, fjords, cliffs, beaches, caves, and volcanoes provide backdrops which are sometimes difficult to find in other island destinations. Some thrill-seeking activities unique to New Zealand include exploring the Waitomo Caves to see their spectacular glowworms; canyoning in Waitakere Ranges Rainforest where you can navigate cliffs, leap into pools, and repel down huge waterfalls; and bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown on the South Island. It's one of the world's most famous jumps because it was the first.
Beach Lovers: Maldives
The Maldives is a beach lover's paradise nestled halfway between Africa and Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. The country is made up of 26 ring-shaped atolls that encompass almost 1,200 islands, of which less than 400 are inhabited. This expansive island country is one big collection of sandbars and lagoons filled with sparkling turquoise water so clear it almost looks fake. With countless beaches and reefs to explore, Maldives is the perfect island vacation for beach-lovers as well as those who want to snorkel and scuba dive. Make sure to take a break from the beach and dine at Ithaa, the world's first undersea, all-glass restaurant, located five meters below the surface of the ocean. Another beach break includes spending a few hours or a day in the capital city, Male. There, you can visit the colorful fish market, the National Museum, and find local treasures around every corner.
Culture Seekers: Santorini, Greece
If you're looking for the perfect island getaway to a place with a distinctive culture, history, food, and architecture, Santorini will satisfy your every desire. Culture seekers will find they can immerse themselves in Greece's ancient history, myths, and ruins while enjoying an island getaway at the same time. Originally named Thera, Santorini consists of a half of a dormant volcano, providing stunning vistas from the caldera and throughout the island. Akrotiri is one of the most famous sites on the island, which shows the city that was destroyed when the volcano erupted in 1613. History buffs will especially enjoy a visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera which provides context for the story of Akrotiri. The white-washed homes scattered across the island with blue dome roofs are distinctively Greek, offering an opportunity for unforgettable photos. Santorini also has its own vineyards. When you head out to the local restaurants to enjoy fresh seafood and Greek fare, you can also enjoy a glass of crisp white wine or Visanto, the island's dessert wine.
Budget Travelers: Sri Lanka
Whether you are traveling solo, as part of a couple or group, or with your family, if you want the perfect island getaway on a budget, head to Sri Lanka. The airfare might be a little pricey depending on your departure city, but once you arrive, you will find excellent value for your money. For example, you can dine on scrumptious vegetable, fish, or seafood curries with rice for about one dollar per person. Travel around the island is also inexpensive whether by taxi, bus, or train, but those who have visited will tell you that you have to take the train. First-class fares are under $10, and the trip through the mountains from Kandy to Ella is often touted as the most scenic train ride in the world.
Families: Sanibel Island, Florida
So many islands are family-friendly vacation destinations. But the perfect island vacation for families is close to home in Sanibel Island, Florida, if for no other reason than collecting seashells. Sanibel's beaches are protected from the rugged ocean because of its location in the Gulf of Mexico. So, unlike other coastal areas or islands, children can wander along the beach and collect perfect seashells for hours. Sanibel Island also has more than 25 miles of paved bike paths that offer a great opportunity for exploration with children of all ages. Some resorts offer bikes to their guests, but if not, you can find several rental places throughout the island. Another favorite family activity on the island is Sanibel Sea School. Families can go for outings, discovery tours, and participate in fun activities like scavenger hunts.