Island-hopping

written by Julia Hammond

Ever had that dilemma of being unable to decide between two or even three destinations for your next holiday? Choosing doesn’t need to mean cruising. Instead, take advantage of local ferries and be a little more adventurous. Next time you travel, why not pick a place where it’s easy to flit from island to island and add a little variety to your vacation. Here is a selection of some of the world’s best destinations for island-hopping.

Greece

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The port of Piraeus, near Athens, is the jumping off point for trips to the Greek islands. One of the most popular island groups is the Cyclades, which includes trendy Mykonos, pretty Naxos and the breathtaking crater views of Santorini. Rhodes is a good place to begin a trip discovering the Dodecanese. Highlights include the nightlife on Kos, diving off Karpathos and Nisyros for its volcanic landscapes. Alternatively, how about the Ionian islands? Kick off in Corfu and tour its fortresses. Slow down the pace in Paxi, Lefkada or Ithaki. Wind up in Zakynthos to watch loggerhead turtles on the beach or in the water.

The Seychelles

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While many visitors to the Seychelles opt for a single, luxury resort, you don’t need to confine yourself to a single island. This Indian Ocean archipelago offers frequent and reliable ferry connections between the major islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. International flights land on Mahé, but the Cat Cocos high speed catamaran takes little more than an hour to reach Praslin and has a dedicated business lounge. There, visit the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai and check out the curious coco de mer palm, which boasts the largest seeds in the world. The inter-island ferry travels on to La Digue. In only 15 minutes you can be enjoying the laidback vibe of this unspoilt island paradise, best known for the breathtaking Anse Source d’Argent beach.

Hawaii

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Most inter-island trips in Hawaii are by air. So, if you want to hike through the tropical rainforests of Kauai or visit Kilauea’s lava fields on Big Island you’ll need to book a flight. However, it’s possible to hop on a boat from Maui to neighbouring Lāna‘i. The ferry journey to Manele Harbor takes an hour. That leaves plenty of time for a round of golf at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Manele Golf Course at the Four Seasons. You don’t have to be an overnight guest to book in for lunch at this upscale resort either. Many visitors come simply to experience Hulopo‘e, one of America’s most beautiful beaches. It boasts plenty of white sand and clear blue water. You’ll often see hermit crabs and limpets occupying tide pools cut by the waves from the volcanic rock and, sometimes, dolphins swimming in the bay.

The Faroe Islands

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You’ll need to get your skates on if you wish to island hop in the Faroes. This North Atlantic nation is steadily connecting its islands by underground tunnels. One’s already in operation between Vágar island and neighbouring Streymoy. It makes it quick and easy to get from the airport to the charming capital Torshavn and its characterful turf-roofed wooden cottages. Another tunnel, linking the island of Streymoy to the island of Eysturoy, opened in December 2020. It even has an undersea roundabout. Streymoy and Sandoy will be next; the tunnel should open to traffic in 2023. It will replace the ferry that currently departs from Gamlarætt near Kirkjubøur and delivers passengers to Skopun. Until then, to enjoy the wild and unspoilt countryside with breathtaking waterfalls and free-roaming shaggy sheep, for the most part you’ll need to take to the water.

The Caribbean

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Island-hopping in the Caribbean takes a little planning. However, there are a few routes which can add some variety to your holiday itinerary. Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes, Dominica, Martinique and Saint Lucia are linked by L’Express des îles. However, most ferry connections tend to be local. These include the boats that leave from Ceiba on Puerto Rico to the outlying islands of Vieques and Culebra. There’s also a fast ferry from Osprey Lines which shuttles between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Finally, the Barbuda Express takes passengers to St John’s over on neighbouring Antigua. Of course, if you’re keen to cover a wider area, there are many excellent cruise ships offering itineraries from a few days to a few weeks.

Keen to put together your own island-hopping itinerary? Mundana’s experts would be happy to suggest some of their favourites if you get in touch.

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