Six destination islands in the sun to visit this year
RUGGED adventure, soft beds, peaceful evenings, lively experiences: the choice is yours to make from any one of these islands in the sun that are waiting for you to discover.
BEDARRA ISLAND, AUSTRALIA
IT'S the most perfect place to hide away from all the stresses of life, to chill out in warmth and warm up in luxury.
Located 10km off Mission Beach in tropical north Queensland, access to the island is via the daily fast boat or by helicopter from Cairns.
On the island are 10 villas in among the 45ha of tropical rainforest with a front yard view of the sublime views over the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
The open terrace restaurant, bar and lounge are the heart and soul of Bedarra, where the maximum of 20 guests meet to indulge in a delicious and ever-changing menu which changes daily, or at the open bar.
A candlelit dinner for two on your own private beach, a gourmet hamper and your own dinghy for a romantic picnic on one of the nearby deserted islands or the entire resort with a group of friends, all is possible.
For the more active guests there are sea kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, snorkelling, fishing, tennis and self-guided interactive walks through the verdant rainforest. For adventurers there is outer Great Barrier Reef snorkelling or SCUBA trips as well as deep sea fishing charters.
For more information, go to www.bedarra.com.au.
MERGUI ISLANDS, MYANMAR
THE Andaman Sea archipelago, which is located off the far south coast of Myanmar, is comprised of 800 hundred islands that have coral reefs and beaches. It offers opportunities for exploration and diving among spectacular marine life and untouched coral reefs. Access to the area is usually with a tour group.
It's not just the scenery which makes the Myeik Archipelago such a fascinating place to visit: its indigenous inhabitants, the Moken people, also known as the Salone or sea gypsies, are one of the most distinct of Myanmar's many ethnic groups, living a nomadic, sea-based life here. They are the masters of free diving, being able to focus their vision underwater and hold their breath far longer than most other humans can.
There are three places to choose from that have good accommodation - MacLeod Island with its 22-bungalow Myanmar Andaman Resort which boasts outdoor activities including CMAS certified dive centre, snorkelling, island hopping tours, sea kayaking, hiking the island's peak, swimming in the bay and traditional massage to bring an adventurous day to a close; the nearby Nyaung Oo Phee Resort, with luxury tent-style lodging; and the further out, the Boulder Bay Eco Resort on Boulder Island. They are open October to the end of April.
It is also possible to do day trips to the archipelago from Kawthaung and from the town of Myeik as well as multi-day trips with overnight camping on the islands.
For more information, go to www.go-myanmar.com/the-myeik-archipelago.
MACKERAL ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA
This is the place to reconnect with your true nature at the stunning Mackerel Islands which are a two-hour flight and boat transfer from Perth.
Only two of the 10 pristine islands and atolls scattered across 22 miles off the coast of Onslow welcome guests - Direction Island and Thevenard Island.
You can go completely wilderness and rent the sole beach shack on Direction Island, or stay connected on Thevenard Island in a choice of beachfront cabins and club village accommodation. If you are already in Onslow in the Pilbara region, you can take a 20-minute boat ride day trip out to the islands.
Soak up the fishing, diving, snorkelling, swimming, boating, nature watching and relaxation in protected, calm waters and watch Sea turtles haul themselves up the beach to lay eggs, glimpse dolphins and whales playing in the blue-green waters, admire the kaleidoscope of colourful fish, crabs and stingrays among the coral reefs while you snorkel, or wrestle in the catch of your life from the Pilbara's fishiest waters.
As the sun goes down and the night sky lights up with a dusting of silver, you can simply stargaze in awe and breathe in the quietness.
This is the amazing, off the beaten track experience.
For more information, go to https://mackerelislands.com.au.
COCOS KEELING ISLANDS
They are Australia's last unspoilt paradise, lying in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean and offering spectacular snorkelling, world-class diving, excellent fishing and the adrenalin-rush of kitesurfing.
You can relax on empty beaches, visit uninhabited islands by canoe, watch spectacular birdlife or catch the ferry to Home Island to stay at the original Clunies-Ross residence and discover the culture and traditions of the Cocos Malay people.
Located 2750kms north-west of Perth, the Cocos Keeling Islands are a group of 27 coral islands that form two atolls. Only two of are inhabitated.
Virgin Australia flies twice-weekly to the CKI from Perth. There are eight accommodation places to chose from between West Island and CKI.
Hire a car and go adventuring, play golf, learn Malay cooking, practice your wildlife photography with a local expert, experience a motorised canoe tour and a whole lot more while you drift along enjoying year-long warm days and balmy nights.
For more information, go to https://www.cocoskeelingislands.com.au.
Located in the western Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles are made up of 115 granite and coral islands which extend from between four and 10 degrees south of the equator. The climate is always warm with the temperature rarely dropping below 24°C or rising above 32°C.
Fifteen of these islands, each with its own particular geography, character and history, have some form of accommodation. There are affordable, new and refurbished hotels, self-catering and charming Creole guesthouses joining the ranks of existing 5-star hotels and exclusive resorts.
There are four main islands - Mahé, Praslin, La Digue and Silhouette, with ferry services, domestic flights and helicopter transfers available on a daily basis. The capital Victoria on Mahé has the National History Museum which is tiny, but full of information on music, local customs and superstitions and, of course, the prized national plant coco de mer.
The Seychelles are renowned for their diversity: for their multi-ethnicity, culture and flora and fauna. They offer lots of experiences - fishing, sailing and cruising, diving and snorkelling, spa retreats, island-hopping, golf and trekking.
The islands's geography includes lofty, cloud-covered, mist forests that are home to ferns and other moisture-loving species, through lower woodlands with their variety of palms, right down to a shoreline fringed in some places by mangroves and their associated ecosystems.
For more information, go to http://www.seychelles.travel/en.
The 80km wide island is located between Bali and Sumbawa in eastern Indonesia. Its capital is Mataram.
Lying just eight degrees below the equator, the climate is a very pleasant 21°C to 33°C. The best time to travel there is during its dry season of May to October.
Lombok is dominated by 3762m Mount Rinjani. The island centre has rich alluvial plains and fields irrigated by water flowing from the mountains. There are various vegetation and animals that are found in Australia because this Island is like a line that divides Asian and Australian flora and fauna.
The natural beauty of the island is beguiling. You can stretch the legs on amazing walks and mountain hikes, surf, dive, snorkel, horse cart riding, cooking classes, cycling, learn to weave, immerse yourself in the many cultures of the islands, and shop for stunning pearls.
Some of the attractions that should be on your list are Senggigi beach, Gili Air, Cakranegara, Mount Rinjani, Gili Trawangan, Lombok Kuta Beach, Narmada Park and Mayura Park. The diving is not to be missed with the underwater life of Lombok incredibly beautiful. Surfers also come to Lombok, especially South Lombok.
There are simply numerous choices of resort, luxurious and affordable hotels dotted across the island.
You can choose from several airlines that fly Australia to Lombok with one stop on the way.