8 Secret Island Paradises You've Only Dreamt About  

by Pool Builders on 11-15-2009 in Articles

You want to plan that vacation to that glorious tropical island but you've only heard of the tourist traps like Nassau, Bahamas or Montego Bay, Jamaica. You want a place without fifteen-story hotels, screaming crowds, and a thousand souvenir shops. You want a place where you can finally relax and recuperate from the smash and grab daily grind. Well, worry no longer. Below you will find eight of the most peaceful paradises in the world. But don't wait a decade to choose one. By then, they may no longer be some of the best secret travel destinations.

1. Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico: Because this little gem was controlled by the U.S. Navy until 2003, it lacks the crowds, tourist traps, tall buildings, and traffic of commercialized vacation spots. This is truly an unspoiled island with lush, rolling hills, tranquil lanes, and a pristine beach with bioluminescent waters. At night, under glittering stars, the surf truly lights up with glowing living organisms. It's like an ethereal wonderland. Besides the stunning beauty, the island offers view of the final Spanish fort built in the Americas; it offers snorkeling, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding on sleek horses. The residents are warm and personable and you will likely make a few friends before you leave. If you want a little more excitement for a few days, ferry the six miles to San Juan and perhaps stay at the fabulous La Concha Resort with multi-level, infinity pools and five restaurants to fit your every mood and taste.

2. Secret Beach, Kauai: Nestled at the base of a sheer cliff just north of Kilaua, it's hard to find anything about this hideaway to criticize. Cottages nestled on the mountainsides offer a panoramic view. The cottages are furnished with quaint furniture, Jacuzzi, kitchen utensils, appliances, Kauai guidebooks, beach supplies, and even laundry detergent. Enjoy at least a few meals gazing out from your own deck. The beach is private and easy to walk to. Snorkel on Tunnels Reef, have lunch at the Tropical Taco, view the Waimea Canyon (Grand Canyon of the Pacific) and Wailus and Opaeka Falls. Kayak peacefully on the Lanalei River, buy something sweet from the Kilauea Bakery and buy fresh seafood from the fish market across from the King Lung shops. Grill the fish yourself at your cottage for a meal you'll never forget. This is a Hawaii worlds away from the crazy commercized chaos of Waikiki.

3. Waykaya Club and Spa, Fiji: This is a private 2,200-acre retreat belonging to Fiji's 333 islands, featuring serene lagoons, majestic cliffs, gorgeous beaches, and encircled by a virgin coral reef. Start off with the stunning orientation walk to begin tasting the wild natural beauty and charm. You will see tropical forests, spectacular lookout points, pristine beaches, and a wildlife sanctuary teaming with feral horses, pigs, deer, and goat. At the Club and Spa you will find a 9-hole golf course, lighted tennis courts, and equipment for a quick game of croquet. The Club will pack a gourmet picnic lunch for you take anywhere your heart leads you. Play a game of billiards or do a vigorous workout followed by a luxurious massage. Tour the organic gardens, the Fijian wood carvers, the cooking demonstrations, or the exotic bird watching. Play beach volleyball, or sit back and enjoy a native dance pageant or Kava ceremony. Then on Sunday, if you like, attend the Village Church to hear the Fiji choir and enjoy the 30-minute service. You will never get bored at the Waykaya Club.

4. Jellyfish Lake, Palau: Palau is a wonderland located about 500 miles from the Philippines. The limestone islands in this area were formed by many thousands of year of coral accretion slowly lifting out of the sea. The one jellyfish lake open to the public is on the uninhabited island of Macharchar. Somehow along the way, the jellyfish have lost their sting, so divers or snorkelers can swim safely among the 1.2 million translucent, orange orbs ranging in size from marble- to volley ball-sized. As they pulsate through the azure waters, they bump harmlessly against snorkelers and drift on. It is doubtful that you will be able to tear yourself away from the jellyfish, but, if so, the sea kayaking among the Rock Islands is superb, and there are fascinating World War II relics to be found on the island of Peleliu. For breathtaking view and nice accommodations, try Koror's Cliffside Hotel.

5. Santorini, Greece: This island is actually a live volcano, but it isn't expected to belch again in our lifetime. The volcanic yield has resulted in black sand beaches and soil that grows some of the best wine grapes in existence. Because of the volcanic soil Santorini also grows some of the sweetest tomatoes in the world. You must sample the fried tomato balls (Keftadas). You may never see a more awe-inspiring site as when you gaze from the rim of the volcano and watch tiny boats cross the royal blue waters. If you can tear yourself away from that, you must visit the nearby town of Oia, with its stunning sunsets. Two terrific restaurants to visit are the Saltsa and the Nyhteri. Perhaps you can find lodging among the villages overlooking the submerged volcano. And two hotels that can be recommended are the Villa Kalimera and the Volcano View Villas.

6. The Caves Resort, Negril, Jamaica: The resort sits atop honeycomb, limestone cliffs overlooking the sea. It features eleven exclusive Cliffside accommodations, two main dining gazebos, and private cave dining. If you ever get tired of the view and the pampering, you can watch dolphins, jet ski, go horseback riding, or enjoy the sauna, Jacuzzi, or the saltwater swimming pools. The rooms of the resort overflow with ambience: music for whatever your vibe, candles and scented oils, the most comfortable beds, and gracious hospitality. Rick's Caf is one of the greatest places to eat. Sheddy Williams has been the head chef for 15 years. Enjoy the rich Jamaican coffee, the fresh fruit plate, mango daiquiris and a full course dinner. It is guaranteed that no matter how frayed your nerves when you arrived, you will leave the Caves refreshed.

7. Christ Church, Barbados: Why would you visit the Barbados? Well, for one thing, the residents love tourists and the crime rate is almost non-existent. You can cruise on a catamaran, swim with sea turtles, and watch the antics of hilarious green monkeys. The surf is consistently perfect for surfing, kite surfing, or windsurfing. You can watch a cricket game or play on a world class golf course. You can stroll the plantations, lush gardens or the rum distilleries. Then there are wonderful restaurants such as Oistin's Fish Fry, the Restaurant at the South Sea, and Just Grillin'. You will love it.

8. Long Island, Bahamas: We're not pushing Long Island alone. It is just an example of the Bahamian islands that are still beautiful, serene, and unspoiled by raucous crowds and unabashed commercialism. A massive spine of ancient reef gives the 80-mile island two faces: the sheer cliffs and caves of the east coast and the soft, sandy, mangrove-lined lee side which washes into the Bahamas Bank. Long Island does have numerous shallow and deep scuba diving sites. But it is best known for Dean's Blue Hole, a vast abyss that tunnels down about 600 feet. Travel writers grow bored and jaded after seeing hundreds of beautiful island sites. However, a writer for Trip Atlas raved, "Long Island is a true hidden gem---the real paradise island of the Bahamas!" This island is also home to Columbus Point, towering memorial to Christopher Columbus, perched high atop a hill at the island's northernmost tip. You will find everything in this place: sloping hills, vast beaches, high cliffs, gardens, caves, old plantation ruins, quaint villages, and pink sand with intricate seashells.

I feel a little sorry for you now, my friend. You're going to have to choose between all these incredible places and that's the hardest part!

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